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Unless you have an entire afternoon to spare and superhero stamina, manually whacking back the overgrowth on hedges can eat up hours of your free time and make your muscles yearn to slump into a lawn chair. There is a better way if you love the look of a beautifully groomed yard: hedge trimmers. Using a hedge trimmer saves you time and energy, and it allows you to cut through thick stems with relative ease compared to slogging along with manual hedge clippers, which can leave you with sore arms, an aching back, and overworked and painful wrists.

Hedge Trimmers: What to Look For

There is a lot to take into consideration when looking for a hedge trimmer, and the choices available can be overwhelming. Knowing what factors to assess ensures you choose the right model for you. Here are some features to keep in mind:

Best Hedge Trimmer Dimensions

One of the most important factors to consider when buying a hedge trimmer is its weight. When you are trimming, there will be times when you need to hold the device out in front of you at arm's length and at chest or shoulder height. At other times, you might need to bend down to clear overgrowth on the bottom parts of plants, all the while operating the hedge trimmer and holding it so it works steadily. Remember that you likely will be holding this machine for a long time as you work to get that hedge perfectly manicured.

To find a comfortable weight, you may have to choose a shorter blade or a corded model, which tends to weigh less than the battery-operated and gas models. However, the type of hedge trimmer you choose should also depend on the kind of vegetation you will cut. For heavy-duty tasks, you likely need a gas model, but for light tasks, you can choose a lightweight corded or battery-operated model.

If you need to cut through tough, woody branches that are 3/4 of an inch or wider, a hedge trimmer might not be the right tool for the task. You might want to look into a manual pruning saw or even a chainsaw to groom especially thick-stemmed vegetation.

Black & Decker Cordless

The Black & Decker LHT2436 is a popular cordless hedge trimmer that can take on a large volume of trimming tasks per battery charge and can handle tougher vegetation than many other cordless models. Since it is battery-powered, you do not need to worry about fuel emissions from it damaging the environment, and it operates at a quieter level than gas-powered hedge trimmers.

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Best Cutting Capacity

The cutting capacity of a hedge trimmer depends on the spacing between the blade teeth, or gap. The gap size determines the maximum branch size the machine can safely cut. Typically, hedge trimmers have a gap of 1 inch or greater, but you can find trimmers with a gap of 3/8 to 3/4 of an inch. For thick, dense or woody plants, you probably want to opt for a large cutting capacity. For young, leafy hedges with fine stems, a lower cutting capacity is acceptable.

Husqvarna

The Husqvarna 122HD60 is a powerful hedge trimmer with a healthy range of easy-to-use features. This gas hedge trimmer can handle the most challenging trimming tasks. You can buzz your way through tough, woody stems as well as take on easier trimming chores.

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Best Hedge Trimmer Features

You might not want every special feature that comes with different types of hedge trimmers, but some might be useful for your hedging tasks. The heavier trimmers sometimes come with a shoulder strap, which saves your arms the strain of holding the machine's weight. They will be busy as it is maneuvering the trimmer. Others trimmers feature an extra front handle that wraps around the device in addition to the handle at the back. This offers you an extra grasp on the vibrating machine so you can control it better; the wrap-around additional handle also makes using the machine more comfortable.

Ryobi

Easy to use and having a reasonable run time, the Ryobi RY40610A 40V Hedge Trimmer provides adequate cutting power for light- and medium-duty tasks. Because of its specifications, it may slow and struggle with some heavy-duty tasks, and it is closer in weight to a gas hedge trimmer.

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While hedge trimming is a necessary evil for many gardeners, you can make this task less onerous by using a hedge trimmer instead of poking along with manual clippers. You can make hedge trimming a relatively quick and easy task if you find the right model that has enough power to tackle your trimming tasks and is safe and comfortable for you to use.

A quality hedge trimmer allows you to comfortably cut conifer or privet hedges, as well as shrubs, bushes, and the branches and foliage on various other kinds of standing plants. With the right trimmer, you can create clean, straight lines to make your garden look orderly and neat, or you can get creative and use your trimmer to produce intricate designs and fantastical topiary shapes across your garden landscape.

Your own physical strength and the type of vegetation in your yard that needs trimming are two important factors when it comes to choosing the best hedge trimmer for your needs. Besides manual devices, you have a choice of three types of hedge trimmers: gas, electric and battery-operated. Gas hedge trimmers offer considerable power but are generally heavy. They are well suited to large areas and heavy-duty tasks.

Electric hedge trimmers provide ample power and are usually relatively lightweight. They also run quieter and are easier to start up than gas models, and they give off no emissions. However, the power cord can limit your range of motion, and you cannot use these trimmers safely in wet conditions.

Battery-operated hedge trimmers are somewhere in between: They tend to be lighter than gas models but heavier than electric trimmers. They are best suited for light tasks, since they offer relatively low power. These trimmers also require regular charging for the battery.

Hedge trimmers use blades with sharp metal teeth to slice away at vegetation. The single-sided variety of blade has teeth that face away from you as you work, a worthwhile safety measure. The double-sided models work in both directions, so you must be alert while using them, but they let you complete the task fast.

When it comes to blade length, bigger is not always better. The longer the blade, the faster you can cut your hedge. However, a trimmer with a longer blade is heavier and more cumbersome, so not only do you need more strength to hold it, but you also have to take greater care to operate it correctly to get the results you want.

In general, hedge trimmer blades extend somewhere between 13 inches and 40 inches. Trimmers sporting blades of 16 inches are best suited for small or average-sized hedges; 18-inch blades are good for grooming the average-to-large hedges; and 20-inch blades are best for big hedges. A common length for residential hedge trimmers is 24 inches, since a blade that length can handle a wide variety of plant types. If you get a blade that is longer than this, be sure that you can maneuver the appliance without difficulty.