Hedge trimmer buying guide
Get your garden in shape with perfectly trimmed hedges
Reduce the time and effort needed to keep your hedges in great shape with a hedge trimmer. The latest models are lighter in weight, easier to manoeuvre and more convenient than their predecessors and there are different models to suit different sized gardens and hedges. Well-trimmed hedges encourage healthy growth, provide a tidy border for your garden and can add structure or even a little fun to a garden design. Choosing the right tool to achieve this is about finding the right balance between the size of your garden, the type of hedge and your comfort.
What kind of vegetation will you be cutting?
Understanding how thick your hedge is, and the type and maturity of plants and shrubs growing in it, can be very helpful.
Hedge trimmer blades are made up of a series of evenly spaced teeth, and the space between these indicates the size of branch and stem the trimmer can comfortably cut. If the hedge is mature and comprised of woody plants such as privet, holly or some conifers, it might have thicker stems, so you’ll need a tool that can handle these with ease.
If you’re regularly cutting through thicker material, consider more powerful options – or look for special features like anti-blocking systems for uninterrupted trimming, or sawing functions that help to tackle the odd thick branch.
Corded electric trimmers are ready for use at a moment’s notice, great news if you regularly maintain your hedges, as you won’t need to worry about battery charging or buying fuel. Make sure you have easy access to an outdoor power supply before you choose a corded trimmer. They’re lightweight, and quieter than petrol trimmers. The cord could be restricting if you have a large outdoor space, so they’re better suited to a smaller garden.
A corded hedge trimmer’s power is measured in Watts, the higher the wattage the more powerful the trimmer will be.
Cable length and safety
The length of the cable on corded trimmers impacts the reach and mobility when trimming. If you choose a corded trimmer you may want more cable length in order to move without restrictions. An external extension lead or cable reel will give you a bit more room to manoeuvre. And a residual current device (RCD) is a safety must-have when using electricity outside. It immediately turns it off in case of faults, or if you cut through the cable when trimming your hedges.
If you don’t have access to an outdoor power source or have a larger garden where an extension cable simply is not practical, then a cordless hedge trimmer could be perfect for you. Cordless models offer many of the benefits of corded models, being lightweight, easy to use and maintain, but offer the freedom of petrol, making them ideal for a variety of garden sizes. They are also the most environmentally friendly power type as you do not generate any emissions and do not need mains power supply.
With advances in technology, cordless models can now run for much longer and can cut larger areas versus older models. Although we state the runtime you can get from your tool where possible, in real world use there are a number of factors that influence the runtime and more information on this can be found here.
The majority of our cordless products are sold as kits, meaning you will get a battery and charger included. Products sold without these are commonly referred to as baretools. The majority also come with interchangeable batteries. This means a number of different garden power tools are part of the same battery platform and will work using the same battery. Depending on the vendor the same battery will also work on indoor power tools, giving you greater convenience and potentially a bigger pool of spare batteries.
Batteries have two important measures: The power of the battery is measured in voltage (v.) The higher the voltage, the more powerful the product will be. The other measure is ampere hours or amp rating (Ah.) This determines the batteries run time, the higher the capacity, the longer the battery will last.
Petrol-powered hedge trimmers are fuelled by a mixture of petrol and oil that is mixed together before.
A corded hedge trimmer’s power is measured in Watts, the higher the wattage the more powerful the trimmer will be pouring into the fuel tank. Petrol trimmers have a powerful engine making them ideal for more demanding tasks, such as cutting overgrown or mature hedges.
Whilst they tend to be heavier in weight, usually 5kg to 7kg before fuel is added, and noisier than their electric counterparts they offer a longer run-time than battery powered models, so are well suited to larger gardens and hedges. They’ll also help to get the job done quicker.
Look out for the cubic capacity measurement, this will help you to work out how powerful the engine is, a higher cubic capacity is better suited to more difficult trimming conditions, however it will get through more fuel and require a little more regular maintenance.
Features to look out for
The right features will help you to achieve the best cut with your hedge trimmer – look for those that suit the size and type of hedge you have, as well as features that contribute to your comfort when using.
The blade length of a trimmer will determine the width of hedge you can cut with it. For a smaller hedge, blades between 30cm to 40cm should be sufficient, but if you’re regularly cutting more mature hedges, look for models with longer blades of 50cm plus. You might also opt for a longer blade for smaller hedges that you can’t access from both sides.
Pole hedge trimmers
We also stock a range of extendable pole hedge trimmers to target harder to reach areas such as the top of hedges. Although you may not get the same finish as using a standard hedge trimmer and a ladder, you can get the job done much quicker and are safer to use. You can also adjust the angle on a trimmer head to get it as flat to the top of your hedge as possible.
The wider the teeth spacing, the larger the material your hedge trimmer blade can cut.
For more mature hedges, a wider tooth gap will make it easier to cut through thicker branches and stems. For a smaller hedge, blades with a 15mm to 20mm gap should be sufficient, but if you’re regularly cutting more mature hedges look for models with a gap of 30mm or wider.
If you’re regularly cutting larger or more mature hedges, a sawing function can be helpful for cutting thicker, unruly branches.
One area of the blade will be optimised for sawing - angle this towards the stems that need to be cut to take advantage of the extra cutting power.
Blade tip protector
Whilst hedge trimmer blades are very durable and designed to cope with a wide range of vegetation and use over a number of years, hazards such as walls and fences can cause damage to the blade. Some blades are designed to include a blade tip protector which helps to protect against accidental knocks and scuffs to masonry and paving, helping to keep your trimmer in good condition.
The sharper the blades of your hedge trimmer, the more precisely they will cut and the less vibration the tool with generate when cutting. Features such as diamond-ground or laser-cut indicate sharpness straight out of the box and should make it easier to achieve a high-quality finish.
The type of handle on your hedge trimmer will determine how comfortable it is to use.
Look for wraparound handles and/or those which rotate to help you to hold the trimmer at an angle that is both comfortable for you and offers efficient cutting. The more options your handle offers, the easier it will be to use.
Dual and triple safety switches are the safest way to prevent accidental start-ups of hedge trimmers – and a vital precaution with electric models. It’s important to remember that your tool will need to be stored somewhere safe both during breaks whilst working and between uses. Choose a spot where the blade poses no danger and accidental start up is not possible.
Everything you'll need to finish the job
Fuel cans and funnels
For petrol-powered models, invest in safe and suitable containers for fuel and a funnel for easy filling of the fuel tank.
Keep mess to a minimum
Cutting hedges can be a messy task, as you’ll create a lot of trimmings. Place a tarpaulin along the base of the hedge and move this around the garden as you work to collect the trimmings – and use a leaf rake to pull any strays off the hedge. Plan ahead so that you know what you’re going to do with your clippings when finished. A garden shredder can help break these down so they can be used as mulch or composted, or you might want to take advantage of a green waste collection scheme if your local authority offers one. Larger branches can be chopped down and seasoned before being used for kindling or firewood. Branches can also be stacked at the bottom of the garden to provide a habitat for a diverse range of insect species.
Make sure that you protect yourself when working with a hedge trimmer. Eye protection is a must, as is a sturdy pair of boots. Consider a comfortable pair of garden gloves, thick enough to protect your hands from any thorns, brambles or pointed vegetation.
Looking after your trimmer or brushcutter
There is a range of support available should you encounter an issue with your hedge trimmer at any stage. If you have bought your product within the last 6 months you may be entitled to a refund if brought back to store, however there is a variety of other support available. We stock a wide range of spare parts both instore and online with matching parts across lawnmower blades, trimmer spools and chainsaw chains to name a few, spare batteries for cordless products and a range of oils and fuel enhancer for petrol products. All our vendors also have aftersales contact support available which can help you troubleshoot any issues and provide any advice on how best to look after your product or in some cases send you spare parts or repair your product. These details can be found here.