What is the difference between a hedge trimmer and a hedge cutter? Experts reveal

holding the Husqvarna Hedge Master 320iHD60 while on test
(Image credit: Future / Jason Cockerham)

Next time you're doing some tasks in the yard and want to tidy up your hedge, you'll need the right tool for the task ahead. 

While the best pruners (or shears) are suitable for small hedges and soft growth, for larger ones you might want to invest in one of the best hedge trimmers or a hedge cutter, which tend to be gas or battery powered. 

But what's the difference? Is there a difference? We catch up with the experts to find out more.

What is the difference between a hedge trimmer and hedge cutter?

What is a... hedge trimmer?

A hedge trimmer (like the BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Cordless Pole Hedge Trimmer, $129 at Amazon) is typically used for lighter, more precise work and is ideal for the regular maintenance of hedges, landscaping expert Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal, told Top Ten Reviews

He says: "It allows for neat trimming without removing large amounts of foliage and is available in electric, gas, and battery-operated models, which provides flexibility based on the size of your job."

Image of Gene Caballero
Gene Caballero

Gene Caballero is the co-founder of GreenPal, a gardening agency that connects lawn care professionals with customers in need. He has been in the landscaping industry for 25 years. 

What is a... hedge cutter?

A hedge cutter (like these Garden Hedge Shears, $25.99 on Amazon) is more robust and better suited for cutting thicker branches and more rugged vegetation, explains Gene. "It's the tool you’d choose for heavy-duty tasks or for initial shaping of overgrown hedges. 

"From my experience, the pros of hedge trimmers include their lighter weight and precision, whereas their cons may include less power for thick branches," says Gene.

"Hedge cutters offer great power and versatility but tend to be heavier and noisier, which can be a drawback. Your choice should depend on your garden's specific needs. For meticulous, regular maintenance, a trimmer might suffice, but for tackling thicker, tougher hedges, a cutter would be more effective."

What are the key differences between a hedge trimmer and hedge cutter?

Type of maintenance

Gardening expert Morris Hankinson, Managing Director of Hope Grove Nurseries, told Top Ten Reviews: "Hedge trimmers are more lightweight and are ideal for precisely pruning and shaping smaller hedges. 

"Whereas hedge cutters are for heavy-duty hedge maintenance where you have an already-established, large hedge and need to cut back thick branches."

Image of Morris Hankinson
Morris Hankinson

Morris Hankinson is the Founder and Managing Director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants.

Blade length

Hedge cutters are more robust than hedge trimmers and have a long blade to help cut through larger branches. With hedge trimmers, you'll usually find that the length of the blade is shorter, says Morris.


According to Morris: "With a hedge trimmer, you'll likely struggle to cut through branches that are much thicker than 3/4 inch. Hedge cutters are better for dealing with any branches thicker than that."

When cutting the hedge in my front yard recently I realised fairly quickly that my hedge trimmer was not powerful enough to cut through the thick branches, so I concentrated on trimming the top leaves until I could borrow my neighbor's hedge cutter to finish the job.

Power source

There's a lot of variety nowadays when it comes to manual, electric, battery and petrol hedge trimmers and cutters. Each type of power source has its own benefits and disadvantages but there's something to suit every need and budget.

Morris explains: "Gas is the most popular power source as gastrimmers and cutters tend to be cheaper, easy to operate and require little maintenance. However, they also tend to be louder and don't last as long as electric cutters and trimmers.

"Electric-powered hedge cutters and trimmers are now rising in popularity because they're quieter, and you can charge your cutter or trimmer up so that it lasts for longer than a gas one. However, they tend to be more expensive than gas cutters and trimmers so it will depend on your budget as to which power source works best for you." 

My hedge trimmer is electric and while it has a long cord, I still needed to buy an extension lead in order for it to reach the hedge in my front yard, so factor that into your budget if you are thinking of buying an electric one.


Hedge trimmers and hedge cutters are both used to maintain hedges and keep them looking neat and tidy in your yard, and they can save you significant time and effort, says Morris. 

"Both hedge trimmers and hedge cutters have positives and negatives depending on what you're intending to use them for. For lightweight, shaping work I'd choose a hedge trimmer. 

"For more intensive cutting back, especially on larger hedges, I'd suggest using a hedge cutter."

Maddy Biddulph

Maddy has been a writer and editor for 25 years, and has worked for some of the UK's bestselling newspapers and women’s magazines, including Marie Claire, The Sunday Times and Women's Health. Maddy is also a fully qualified Level 3 Personal Trainer, specializing in helping busy women over 40 navigate menopause.