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Best hedge trimmers 2019: gas and electric models reviewed

Hedge trimmers are a necessary tool for anyone who wants their garden to look its absolute best. You can only go so far with manual clippers, plus a good trimmer will give you an evenly cut hedge in a fraction of the time it would take you to cut it manually. 

You can both buy and rent a hedge trimmer, which is something to consider if you only need to cut hedges and bushes very occasionally. 

To maintain the health of your topiary, you should trim them regularly, so if you’ve got hedges and bushes in your yard, buying a hedge trimmer should save money over time compared to repeated trimmer rentals. 

But which hedge trimmer is the best for you? Should you go for a gas-powered trimmer, or an electric one? If you opt for the latter, but parts of your yard are far away from a power outlet, there are battery-powered hedge trimmers available as well as corded ones. We evaluated all these types of trimmers in our latest group test to help you make an informed choice.

At the end of our analysis, we chose the ECHO HC-152 as our best pick overall. This is because of its powerful 21.2 cc engine, 15.6-fluid-ounce gas tank, laser-cut steel reciprocating blades and excellent handle design. Combined, these features make the HC-152 a balanced, durable tool that creates precision cuts, and it makes quick work of trimming hedges in average-size yards.

Best Overall

ECHO HC-152

ECHO HC-152

The 21.2 cc engine delivers enough power for any trimming task.
Its laser-cut blades make sharp, clean, exact cuts.
The handle design makes the trimmer well balanced and versatile.
At more than 11 pounds, it’s quite heavy for a hedge trimmer.
The trimmer’s 20-inch blades are relatively short considering its power.
You have to mix oil and gasoline to fuel it.

This ECHO hedge trimmer is our top choice for several reasons, and chief among them is its 21.2cc engine that delivers enough power to take on nearly any trimming task.

However, to get that power you have to mix fuel, which may be difficult for some users. It features a 15.6-fluid-ounce, clear gas tank that allows you to see exactly how much fuel you have left. But given how big the fuel tank is, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll need to stop in the middle of a job to gas up.

The ECHO HC-152 has additional features, including a muffler that both dampens sound from the engine and directs exhaust away from you as you work so you don’t breathe in toxic fumes.

Additionally, its laser-cut, razor-sharp trimmer blade makes easy work of any branch or bush you are likely to encounter. And its extra-large hoop-style front handle and ergonomically designed back handle make it dynamic and easy to maneuver.

Still, the HC-152 has some drawbacks; for example, it doesn’t come with a shoulder harness, which would make it even easier to handle. It also doesn’t have anti-vibration technology, which would make it more comfortable and less fatiguing to use. However, the features it does have more than make up for these omissions.

Read the full review

Best Value

GreenWorks 22102

GreenWorks 22102

It costs much less than the other models we reviewed.
It’s extremely lightweight – just 5 pounds.
The dual-action blades reduce vibration.
Its 2.7 amp engine is one of the weakest we saw during our research.
You need to invest in an extension cord if you want to go very far from an outlet.
The trimmer doesn’t come with a protective blade sheath.

The best hedge trimmers can cost $300 or more, and the GreenWorks 22102 costs 1/10 of that price. As you might except, it doesn’t have everything our top pick offers, but it’s a good value for the price. It’s great for occasional or light use, such as for simple hedge grooming and trimming back young and small plants. This trimmer isn’t a workhorse by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a good buy if you have a small yard that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance.

This model’s engine is only 2.7 amps, so it’s one of the weakest hedge trimmers we reviewed – don’t expect it to cut through thick branches. However, it has long, 18-inch, dual-action blades that reduce vibration to help you make clean, even cuts. One of the best things about this hedge trimmer is that it’s a corded model.

This means you don’t have to worry about mixing fuel or charging a battery – you just plug it in to a wall socket and it’s ready to go. The included cord is somewhat short, so you may have to use an extension cord if you need to go very far from your home to trim.

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Best Battery

Kobalt KHT 240-07

Kobalt KHT 240-07

It has excellent battery life and recharges in less than an hour.
Since it has a battery pack, you don’t have to mix fuel or stay close to an outlet.
It has 24-inch dual-action steel blades that make easy work of big branches and shrubs.
The handles don’t rotate, which makes it less versatile.
The trimmer is missing several high-end features such as laser-cut blades.
It doesn’t come with a backup battery.

If mixing fuel and dealing with extension cords is a non-starter for you, then the Kobalt KHT 240-06 is well worth considering.

This is a battery-operated hedge trimmer, which means you can take it as far away from a power source as you want and work as long as the battery allows. The battery is long lasting, but its exact running time depends a lot on what you’re trimming. The good news is that it recharges in less than an hour – the fastest of any battery-powered hedge trimmer we reviewed.

Another great thing about this model is how light it is – at just over six pounds, it won’t wear you out. Additionally, it has a wide loop-style auxiliary handle behind the blade, and its rear handle is at the base of the motor. This gives you a nice, balanced grip so you can make easy work of trimming back branches.

However, the handles don’t rotate, which can make for awkward handling in some situations. Another feature worth mentioning is the Kobalt KHT 240-06’s debris shield, which protects you from the occasional flying branch or twig that could be thrown your way while you work.

Additionally, this model has an outstanding warranty – it’s covered for a full five years. This shows how much Kobalt stands behind its product.

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Quietest Gas Trimmer

Husqvarna 122HD60

Husqvarna 122HD60

Very quiet for gas powered hedge trimmer
Heavy

Gas-powered hedge trimmers are the best tool for large projects because they have power and go for hours between fill-ups. But they are loud. If you want the advantages of a gas-powered hedge trimmer, but don't want to annoy your entire neighborhood, the Husqvarna 122HD60 is your best option.

Despite a powerful 0.8 horsepower engine capable of delivering 4,050 cuts per minute, this trimmer is a low-noise model. It's constructed of specific noise absorbing and vibration dampening materials to minimize the noise of the engine. It's so effective, you don't need heavy-duty ear protection, though we still recommend foam earplugs.

A downside to consider is the weight. At 10.8 pounds, it is significantly heavier than electric trimmers. Most weigh between four and seven pounds. The extra weight is only conflated when you add gas. This weight makes the handling difficult, especially with overhead cuts or large projects.

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Best Cordless Trimmer

Ryobi RY40610A

Ryobi RY40610A

Removeable battery
Handle doesn't rotate

With a 40-volt lithium-ion battery capable of running for 90 minutes on a full charge and 3,200 strokes per minute, the Ryobi RY40610A is the best cordless hedge trimmer we reviewed. It has the power to trim back large bushes while providing a nearly silent performance and no risk of electrocution from accidentally crossing the blade with the power cord.

The battery is removable, allowing you to charge additional batteries while you work, adding to your cut time. That said, it only comes with one battery. However, the battery is compatible with other 40 volt Ryobi products, so it's ideal if you already have other Ryobi tools. A downside to this hedge trimmer is the weight.

At 9.1 pounds, it's closer in weight to gas-powered trimmers. This makes it unwieldy if you use it for long periods. It also lacks shock absorption materials and a rotating handle to provide optimal cut angles. Each of these issues combine to make this hedge trimmer difficult to use for long periods.

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How we evaluated the best hedge trimmers

We researched and compared dozens of models of all types, including gas-powered, corded and battery-operated machines. We compared the trimmers’ features, drawbacks and benefits to determine which are best for particular situations. Our evaluation techniques were specifically designed by our expert reviewers to address the needs of average users. 

To find out which models are the best, we combed through each product’s user manuals, watched online videos, consulted user reviews and compared specifications. We evaluated trimmers in a few categories, the most important of which was design. We considered how much power each hedge trimmer delivers; how heavy it is; how long it lasts on a tank of fuel or full battery charge; the length, sharpness and durability of the blades; how much noise it makes; and how well it cuts branches and shrubbery. Other considerations included handle design, durability and versatility. None of the trimmers we evaluated have all the features we looked for, but our top pick came the closest to striking the perfect balance in all these areas. 

How much do hedge trimmers cost?

Hedge trimmers come in many shapes and sizes. Some have blades only a few inches long, while others have 4-foot long blades attached to even longer poles for reaching the highest branches. Here's a breakdown of the prices for hedge trimmers:

Electric Trimmers are the most common consumer models and cost between $20 and $180 depending on the blade length and quality of build. They have unlimited cut time and good power, but have limited range because of the cord.

Cordless trimmers are very similar to electric trimmers, though a bit more expensive, costing between $30 and $450. The best cordless trimmers cost between $200 and $300. They can go anywhere and there's no risk of accidentally cutting a cord.

Gas trimmers cost between $160 and $650. These are the best performing trimmers and have the most power, but they are the heaviest trimmers and often require heavy-duty ear protection due to the volume of the engine. These trimmers are ideal for professional landscapers, but may be too expensive and unwieldy for small and medium yards. 

Gas vs. electric hedge trimmers

A power hedge clipper makes trimming hedges an infinitely easier process than using manual clippers. With the right trimmer you can create clean, straight lines on varied foliage including conifers and privet hedges and any kind of shrub or bush. The right model will have all the power you need and will be safe and comfortable to use.

The type of vegetation in your yard and your degree of strength will help you determine which trimmer will work best for you. You can choose between gas and corded or battery-operated electric models. Gas hedge trimmers have considerably more power but are much heavier than electric and will put added strain on your body. Gas models are well suited for large areas and heavy-duty tasks. Professional landscapers will often opt for gas because they don’t have to worry about recharging batteries. 

Electric trimmers are not only lighter but easier to use overall. An electric trimmer provides ample power for most tasks around the yard, and they run quieter, are easy to start up and you don’t have to worry about filling the air and your lungs with emission fumes. Corded models are often less expensive than battery-powered models since you don’t have to pay for expensive batteries. They also have unlimited power since they plug into a wall, but mobility is limited.

What to consider when buying hedge trimmers

There is a lot to take into consideration when looking for a hedge trimmer, and all the choices can make it difficult to decide. Knowing what to look for can help you buy the right one. Here are some features to keep in mind:

Power source

To find a hedge trimmer that’s a comfortable weight, you may have to look for one with a shorter blade or consider a corded model, which tend to weigh less than battery-operated and gas machines.

However, the type of hedge trimmer you choose should also depend on the type of vegetation you plan to cut. For heavy-duty tasks, you likely need a gas model. On the other hand, a corded or battery-operated machine is fine for light maintenance.

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. Instead, consider a manual pruning saw or even a chainsaw to groom especially thick-stemmed vegetation.

Blade

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 your 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 16-inch blades are best suited for small or average-size hedges. Eighteen-inch blades are good for grooming average to large hedges, and 20-inch blades are best for big hedges. Since a 24-inch blade can handle a wide variety of plant types, it’s a common length for residential trimmers. If you want a model with a blade that is longer than this, be sure you can maneuver it without difficulty.

Cutting capacity

A hedge trimmer’s cutting capacity depends on the spacing between the blade teeth, or gap. The gap determines the maximum branch size the machine can safely cut. The larger the gap the greater the cutting capacity of the trimmer. Typically, hedge trimmers have a gap of 1 inch or greater, but you can find models 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. 

Extra Features

Most hedge trimmers have the same basic design, no matter their power source or blade length. So, it’s the extra features that differentiate them and make them fit specific needs.

Some trimmers come with a shoulder strap, which can relieve strain on your arms during long trimming sessions. Others have ergonomic handle designs that increase comfort and enhance maneuverability. Others still have anti-vibration technology that makes for a smoother, more manageable trimming experience. And the best of the best have laser-cut blades that make clean, straight cuts on every pass. Picking a tool that has one or more of these features ensures you get the most value and power for your dollar.

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