Most people who need to trim shrubs and other foliage in their yards prefer corded electric hedge trimmers, which are cheaper than gas trimmers or cordless electric models, quiet, and lightweight. Corded hedge trimmers are available in a variety of blade lengths; the longer the blade, the faster you'll be able to finish a big job. Manufacturers typically specify the maximum branch diameter the trimmer can handle, depending on the motor size (more amps equals more power) and the gap between the teeth on the blade, typically 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch. The main drawbacks to corded hedge trimmers are that you're tethered to an extension cord, and you must keep that cord from becoming tangled in branches while you're working. To prevent electrical shock, electric hedge trimmers should not be used when grass or foliage is wet.
In this category the Black & Decker HH2450 (*Est. $70) was the top choice among reviewers. This model has been replaced by the Black & Decker Black & Decker HH2455 (*Est. $70) , though the HH2450 is still available in some stores and online (as of October 2011). The only difference between the two hedge trimmers is that the HH2455 has a rotating handle, so reviews of the earlier model for cutting ability apply equally to the newer one. Like the HH2450, the HH2455 has a 24-inch, dual-action blade, but at 6.2 pounds weighs about the same as the Black & Decker cordless model (discussed below) with a 22-inch blade. It's able to cut up to 3/4-inch-thick branches, according to the manufacturer, and owners confirm this claim.
ConsumerGuide.com's editors cite the Black & Decker HH2450's light weight and good balance in particular, and they give it their CG Best Buy rating. Consumers at Amazon.com are also generally positive, giving it an average of 4.5 stars out of 5 in more than 140 reviews. The HH2455, also sold on Amazon.com, has accumulated only about a dozen reviews so far, but they are equally positive. Many owners say both Black & Decker hedge trimmers can easily handle heavy-duty trimming jobs, and those who own the newer model like its rotating handle. Black & Decker hedge trimmers are covered by a two-year warranty.
The less expensive 22-inch Craftsman 79442 (*Est. $50) receives a near-perfect rating from more than 60 reviewers at Sears.com. Owners say it's lightweight and powerful and praise the cord retention hook, which keeps it securely plugged in, and the lock-on switch for continuous trimming. This hedge trimmer has a 4-amp motor that the manufacturer says can cut through 3/4-inch-diameter branches. It has a lock-on and lock-off switch like the Black & Decker, and also has a four-position adjustable handle. The Sears warranty is for one year.
The Black & Decker HT018 (*Est. $45) is shorter, with an 18-inch blade, so it's better suited to trimming smaller shrubs instead of large hedges. The HT018 weighs just 5.5 pounds. At Amazon.com, more than 30 owners give it an average overall rating of 4.6 stars out of 5. They say vibration is minimal and it cuts easily. The smaller 16-inch Black & Decker TR016 (*Est. $40) weighs even less at 4.7 pounds and is rated 4.2 out of 5 stars overall by close to 20 owners posting at Walmart.com. Owners recommend it for trimming small bushes. The manufacturer says both these trimmers have a cutting capacity of 5/8-inch-diameter branches. Both feature a lock-on and lock off-switch and are backed with a two-year warranty.
Commercial-grade electric hedge trimmers are reviewed less frequently, but one brand stands out: Little Wonder. The 19-inch Little Wonder 1920 (*Est. $280) performs well in tests conducted by Popular Mechanics, which compares it against four electric hedge trimmers plus one cordless model. Editors at ConsumerGuide.com give it a CG Best Buy recommendation, noting that "it cut both old and new growth of up to about a 1/2 inch in diameter cleanly, quickly, and easily." The Little Wonder 1920 is also available with 24-inch and 30-inch blades.
Users posting comments at a GardenWeb.com forum are also generally positive about Little Wonder hedge trimmers, while editors at This Old House magazine recommend the Little Wonder Single Edge Electric Hedge Trimmer, which is also available in three blade sizes: the 1910 (*Est. $245) , 2410 (*Est. $275) and 3010 (*Est. $330) .