The author has worked in conservation and woodland management over many years.
There has never been more reason to keep backyards and gardens neatly trimmed. If you are home more than usual, especially if you are isolating, a good environment will help to keep your spirits high. The exercise will do you a power of good. And there is the satisfaction of a job well done.
Also, no matter what happens those hedges will not let up.
Why a Pole Hedge Trimmer?
The extra reach means a lot less ladder work, or none at all. That is good for your nerves and your back.
With practice you can sweep across hedges in nice, even strokes, and get a smoother finish.
For older people, it can be the difference between paying for the job to be done and doing it yourself. That is a serious cash saving.
Do you Need Gas, Electric, or Cordless?
Garden size is the biggest consideration for the type of trimmer you need. Gas might be the best option on big properties with many shrubs and hedges. Easy to use, cordless tools can be ideal for small gardens.
|Type of Pole Hedge Trimmer||Pros||Cons||Ideal for:|
Great power, use anywhere.
Can be heavy. Need regular maintenance, can be hard to start if not used often. Noisy, smelly!
Big areas, tough hedges, tall hedges, can manage many kinds of shrub.
Low maintenance, starts every time.
Needs to be near power outlets, needs extension cable, cables need careful attention or can be damaged.
Small to medium backyards, with easy access power outlets.
Low maintenance, starts every time, can be used far from power points.
Battery life limited, less powerful than other options. Expensive.
Smaller backyards, smaller hedges, accident prone people (no cables to trip over or cut).
Best Cordless Hedge Trimmers
GreenWorks 40V (Cordless)
The GreenWorks 22272 G-MAX is a very powerful cordless trimmer. It has a twenty-inch blade that can cut branches up to 5/8". That means you have no need to resort to a saw very often, if use the machine on shrubs. It will slice straight through some serious timber.
The head is adjustable, which makes switching from cutting the top of a hedge to the sides as easy as pie.
The battery gives you 40 minutes to an hour of work time, depending on how hard you push it.
On the downside, the 40V power comes at a price, and you can expect to pay over $500 for this beast. It is also pretty heavy at around 8 lbs.
On the plus side, this machine will tackle tough brush as well as hedges.
The Inexpensive Black & Decker Pole Trimmer
The Black & Decker LPHT120 cordless is a versatile machine that is ideal for smaller hedges.
It is not the most powerful cordless on the market (for power, check out the Greenworks monster above) but it is a good value and popular with users that only have small areas to keep neat and tidy.
It is forty-five inches long and, at a weight of 8 lbs, it is a good choice for older people or anyone who has not yet built up those gardening muscles!
The thickest branches it can cut are a little under half-an-inch.
Best Electric Hedge Trimmers
If your hedge is near a power outlet, a corded trimmer may be the best choice.
Earthwise 18-Inch, Corded
The Earthwise 18-Inch, 2-in-1 can be used as a conventional trimmer for the lower parts of the hedge, and then, with the (very sturdy) fiberglass extension pole slipped into place, it gives good reach for the top of your hedges. A 12-foot hedge should be no problem.
It is corded, of course, so you will need a long power extender. The pay-off is no batteries to charge or gas engine to maintain.
The rotating head gives you a choice of five positions, so there should never be an issue of not getting the cutting angle you need.
At around $90, this is a bargain.
Black & Decker HedgeHog Hedge Trimmer
Okay, this is not a pole hedge trimmer, but the 2-foot blade on Black & Decker's HedgeHog Hedge Trimmer gives you serious reach, and it is ideal for taller people with medium-sized hedges.
It is powerful, inexpensive, and almost everyone who buys one gives it a great review. The two-foot blade means that most people can trim a five-foot hedge from the ground except, of course, for the top. To trim the top, you are back to that annoying ladder.
Professional Gas-Powered Pole Trimmers
The extra power you get from gas makes for a versatile tool. Light brush and weeds can be controlled with one of these machines as well as delivering the fastest hedge trimming around.
I couldn't resist the video below. It is not quite this quick in real life, of course.
Bear in mind: Gas-powered machines are very powerful which is great for speed of working but they can be dangerous. They are only recommended for strong, fit people, with experience of this kind of machinery.
Husqvarna Gas Powered Long Reach Hedge Trimmer
The Husqvarna 327HE4X is a powerful machine with a 25cc engine that can cope with a tall hedge.
Modern engines are much easier to start and maintain than engines from a decade ago, but you will still need to carry out basic care. You might need to study its maintenance requirements if you are an absolute beginner. The video at the bottom of the page gives some good insight into the kinds of issues that can arise.
Husky trimmers can be found on the Husqvarna website if you do not have a local seller.
ECHO SHC-266 at Home Depot
Home Depot has a very capable gas pole hedge trimmer for well under $500. It has a fifty-inch shaft and a twenty-inch blade.
The 25cc engine is very powerful, but the vibration-reduction features make it comfortable to use.
It is a pretty basic model for professional use with a straight shaft and a cutting head that does not adjust. There is no shoulder strap so you will need strong arms.
It comes with a very generous five-year warranty.
Now we are getting to the big boys. This is the kind of tool you would rent for around $40 a day, but these machines are quick, and that forty dollars could save you a lot of time. They not only trim hedges but tackle groundcover too, slicing through stems and branches up to 3/4" thick.
The 25cc two-stroke engine is a low-emission model that meets standards country-wide. Its twenty-two-inch blade and 130-degree angle setting make light work of even ten-foot hedges. The drive shaft is solid steel and very hard to damage. Quality bearings transmit power smoothly and without serious vibration (whereas some other machines will leave your hands numb!).
It is not heavy by the standards of a commercial pole trimmer, but it still weighs in at around 13 lbs. The shoulder strap will take most of the weight.
It is available from the Tanaka website.
Pole Trimmer/Saw Combo Tools
Combination tools can save money.
If you need to trim hedges and prune thick tree branches, a combo like the one pictured above, can be a good choice.
The Earthwise CVP41810 10-inch saw plus 17-inch pole hedge trimmer ,allows you work at heights of up to 12-feet. The head rotates through ninety degrees for both tools.
Detached from the pole, they are comfortable handheld tools.
This is a 4.5-amp, corded machine and a great bargain at less than 130 dollars.
Renting a Hedge Trimmer
Informal hedges only really need to be trimmed once a year, and formal hedges can often be kept manageable with just two trims per year. This means that renting a genuinely powerful pro-grade machine can be a good option if you have a lot of hedges to keep in order.
Expect to pay around $60 a day.
Troy-Bilt Hedge Trimmer Attachment
This attachment will only work with a Troy-Bilt gas powered tool like their string trimmer, weed trimmer, or brush cutter.
The Troy-Bilt route can be a good option if you are looking for a range of top quality power garden tools. Troy-Bilt machines are extremely durable, and once you have the power unit, you can buy attachments for all kinds of jobs pretty cheaply.
You can also buy an electric starter if you hate wrestling with gas tools at start-up time.
They are available at Lowe's or online.
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.
© 2010 Will Apse
Jo on August 10, 2020:
The Greenworks 40V hedge trimmer is pretty good. I am in the market for something like this, for my Father and large amount of maintained hedges that we have, however, this model is / was mostly made of plastic years ago, and when you extend the pole and adjust the trimmer part to deal with a 7 foot hedge, it Snaps / breaks, off the pole where the trimmer connects to the pole. Which is bad. Especially for $180. If this was a metal pole and joint, it would be great. ( Does some company make that with a 40V - 60V battery ?
Donna on June 12, 2017:
I thought this was very helpful, thank you.
I purchased a new Toro, sekf propelled mower from a lawn shop they assembled it. This was, in fact, my 2nd purchase of this Toro rear wheel drive mower, it ran so well, we took it to the mother in laws house and purchased another fo ourselves. This second mower we took home and it started right up, but ten passes in, started to sputter almost died, but did not shut off. I took it back to store where it did not replicate my concern. It was their gas, original run, I do not want this problem to haunt me later on, thanks in advance.
jon email@example.com on May 18, 2017:
Your only choice for a corded, lightweight durable, pole trimmer was Black&decker and Earthwise 2 in1 machines, no mention of a pole hedger only(no combo).Perhaps another reputable maker should be considered that represents quality,lightweight, durable and affordable.I personaly haven't had success with above mentioned manufactures with other products,so I need more options. Thank you Jon in Puyallup 5/18/17