Paul has worked as a painter and decorator; lawn care manager; bookseller; and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.
My experience with lawn and yard maintenance has taught me the importance of having the right tools for the right job. It also means that I've used a wide range of mowers and trimmers over the years.
A quality hedge trimmer is essential for keeping the bushes and shrubs in a yard neat and tidy. Trimmers are excellent for creating clean lines and defined edges, as well as providing the precise uniformity that is required.
The best trimmers are maneuverable and light enough to handle with ease, but also powerful enough to deliver effective cutting. Unless you want to throw away money, you also need them to be reliable, long-lasting, and incorporate the latest technology—I've learnt from experience that it's often false economy just to buy the cheapest tools, as they often don't last and need replacing.
My Top 3 Hedge Trimmers
- Best Corded Electric: The GARCARE GHT06 4.2-Amp
- Best Cordless Electric: The Zombi ZHT5817 24-Inch
- Top Gas Model: The Echo HC-152
I will explain my suggestions in more detail below.
Beginner's Guide: The Three Main Types of Hedge Trimmer
There are three main styles of hedge trimmer: corded electric, battery powered electric, and gas powered.
The style that you choose is largely dictated by the size and type of area that needs to worked on, as well as other factors such as noise and access to an electric supply.
- Corded electric hedge trimmers are the least hassle in terms of fuel mixing and starting procedures. Electric trimmers are generally portable, lightweight, powerful, and quiet. They are usually less expensive than other types too. The cord can be limiting, however, if working on a large or complicated yard space.
- Battery-operated trimmers have a lot of similarities with corded ones but are better suited to large or complicated areas, as they are not limited by cords. They are more expensive, however, plus you need to keep the battery charged, of course.
- Gas trimmers are generally powerful and versatile. Suitable for large yard areas, they are the favorite style for the professionals. They are noisier than electrics, however, and they can be messier.
The Best Corded Electric Trimmer: The GARCARE GHT06 4.2-Amp
An effective all-rounder with the ability to trim hedges and shrubs of all configurations, the GARCARE GHT06 4.2-Amp Corded is a reliable and durable product that provides excellent cutting power in my experience.
My favorite thing about this model is that the steel blades are titanium coated, which makes them longer lasting than the ones that you will find with some of the cheaper trimmers. They are capable of cutting through branches 5/8 inch in diameter and don't go blunt after just a few months.
Like with all corded trimmers, you are limited by the location of power supplies and the general inconvenience of operating with a cord, but otherwise, it is comfortable and convenient to use.
In terms of value for money, this model is difficult to beat.
- Very sharp. No problems with thick hedges, slices through like butter.
- Lightweight. Great for jobs where you don't want to lug around a heavier, gas-powered trimmer for a long period.
- It has a safety feature, which means that it switches off if you accidentally drop it.
- Compact design. Easier to store.
- Outstanding value.
- You will need to buy an extension cord, if you don't already have one, to use it.
- You will need a power source relatively close by.
- Like with most corded devices, the cord tends to fall out sometimes. I end up sticking duct tape around it to keep it in.
Best Cordless Machine: The Zombi ZHT5817 24-Inch
The Zombi ZHT5817 is my new favorite cordless trimmer. I've been using one for six months. It has a powerful motor and excellent battery time. I can normally use one of these continuously for about an hour before the battery runs out, which is plenty for most properties.
The rotating handle, combined with the sharp blades, which will go through 3/4 inch branches smoothly, make it a great all-around trimmer for bushes, shrubs, and hedges.
- The rotating handle gives it a versatility with cutting angles. It's easy to turn it vertically when required, which is great for cutting hedges.
- The battery takes under an hour to charge and runs for around an hour if you work it continuously, there's also a reader that tells you how much power is left, which is very useful.
- It's cordless, so you are not as limited with have far you go from a house, like with a corded. You also don't have to worry about cutting the cord accidentally, which I have done before now.
- It's a user-friendly machine that's intuitive to work with.
- The blade is nice and sharp and holds its sharpness well.
- The safety switch is built into the off-hand hoop handle. That is great for safety, but means that you always have to use this trimmer two-handed.
Top Gas Model: The Echo HC-152
For regular residential users, I would recommend the Echo HC-152. It's a heavy-duty trimmer, yet still comfortable to handle and control, and it works well on large and challenging jobs.
To start the Echo, you first need push down a switch, then push the primer bulb a few times. The choke should also be on. Give it a pull, and when it's about to fire up, take off the choke. Once it's going, the HC-152 cuts smoothly and efficiently.
- One of the most reliable gas trimmers that I've used. Starts up well in all weathers.
- Blades are sharp and durable. It can go through branches up to around 3/4 inch thick.
- Powerful motor, but without being too cumbersome to use.
- Comes with a protective shield guard for the blade.
- Outstanding value for money.
- As with most gas trimmers, it is relatively noisy compared to electrically powered products.
- I've read some negative reviews about this trimmer being a poor starter. That has not been my experience. I obviously can't comment specifically on other people's experiences, but I do wonder if everyone is following the correct start up procedure.
Before you tackle the trimming, you will usually want to prune the bush by hand. Pruning can cut away deeper and help the inner parts of the plant get more sunlight. It can also be done to thin out certain areas.
The best time for pruning depends very much on the plant. Lighter pruning can be done at any time.
Below is a summary of the three main things that need to be done:
- Lay down a tarp to collect cuttings and make clearing up easier.
- Prune the bush manually first. An electric trimmer will shape the outer areas. But first you need to provide light and air to the inner limbs by cutting farther back damaged and diseased branches and thinning out heavier growth.
- Remove dead branches near the base and avoid cutting off more than 1/3 of the plant each year.
After general pruning, bushes can be formally trimmed.
4 Useful Hedge Trimming Tips
- To make sure that you are trimming a straight line, use a nearby object as reference, such as a house or siding. For a more professional approach, you can set up stakes and strings.
- Let the blade do the work as you run it along the sides and top of the bush. The base should always be wider than the top.
- Tall hedges require a trimmer with an extended reach. Some standard trimmers can be adapted with special attachments for this purpose.
- If you live in an area where it snows, you should consider rounding the top of your hedge to stop a build up of snow.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Paul Goodman
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on July 09, 2017:
Sounds like you've given some good advice here for hedge trimmers. It's not something I would ever dare use. I'd end up cutting my arm off or something, I'm sure! =)