Experts and owners agree that while the top cordless hedge trimmers are now comparable to gas models in overall power, gas-powered trimmers still cut through thick branches more easily. They're also a very good bet if you're concerned about leaving the cleanest looking cuts and lines possible -- and if you have a lot of acreage to cover quickly; users say dealing with a gas trimmer's exhaust and noise levels, as well as the higher maintenance that a gas engine entails, can be a reasonable trade-off for that power and speed.
Among gas-powered hedge trimmers, we saw good reviews for the Poulan Pro PP2822 (Est. $200). Most users love the way the Poulan Pro PP2822's 22-inch blade and 28 cc motor mow through their dense shrubbery faster than most electric or cordless models can manage; you get about a half-hour of operation from each tank of gas. It's rated for branches up to 3/4 inches thick. Most users report that it cuts reliably though just about anything asked of it, and leaves nothing but clean, crisp cuts in its wake, but we did see some reports that things can get a little dicey if you do too much cutting at that upper limit.
Feedback is more extensive than we saw with other gas hedge trimmers, and a little more positive than the norm. The bulk of the commentary can be seen at Amazon.com, where the PP2822 earns a rating of 4.4 stars based on around 275 reviews. It gets dinged a little for some of its quirks -- such as the awkward placement of the exhaust, which is a little too close to the left hand (when used right-handed) for the comfort of some -- but most users are pleased, noting strong performance and generally reliable operation. Users also love the Poulan Pro's rotating handle, which adjusts to 45 or 90 degrees to make getting into tight, awkward spaces easier.
We also think that that Echo SHC-225S (Est. $360) is worth a look-see, especially by those who need something a little more robust. The PP2822 is a residential hedge trimmer intended for occasional use and carries a two-year limited warranty. The Echo SHC-225S is rated as a commercial grade unit, with a five year residential warranty, and two years for professional use.
This Echo hedge trimmer doesn't have the breadth of feedback that the Poulan Pro trimmer enjoys, and it's a lot pricier, but reviews are largely glowing. That includes a 4.7 star rating at HomeDepot.com, though that's based on just more than 25 reviews. Still, 96 percent say that they recommend this hedge trimmer.
This 21.2 cc gas hedge trimmer has a 20 inch cutting blade that limits reach somewhat (a version with a 33-inch cutting shaft is also available) but also increases maneuverability, a major plus for most residential users -- as is its 13.7 pound weigh. The trimmer is rated to handle soft material up to 1 inch in diameter, and woody branches as thick as a half inch; users largely report no issues with the Echo handling any hedge trimming task thrown at it.
The last gas hedge trimmer that we think merits consideration is the Husqvarna 122HD60 (Est. $300). Feedback is generally good. It's the top rated hedge trimmer at StringTrimmersDirect.com, where product expert Marissa Munoz calls it "powerful and lightweight; perfect for home owners." User reviews there, though limited, largely back up that opinion. Feedback elsewhere is decent as well, including a 4.2-star rating based on more than 30 reviews at Lowes.com, and a 4.1 star rating based on nearly 40 reviews at Amazon.com
This gas hedge trimmer features a 21.7 cc motor and 23.6-inch blade for slightly longer reach than the two models above. It is recommend for branches sized 8/10 inch or smaller; user reviews indicate that performance is generally excellent. Pluses include a rear handle that rotates up to 180 degrees for easier maneuvering and an easy start system. Its 10.8 pound weight is another advantage for homeowner use. It's covered by a two year limited warranty.