Hedge shears—also referred to as manual hedge trimmers—are a critical part of every amateur horticulturist’s arsenal. However, since it’s important to select the right hedge shears for the specific situation and needs, and there are so many options available, we field-tested some of the most popular options on the market to share our detailed assessments with you.
As a highly effective tool for trimming branch tips and tidying up edges, hedge shears used appropriately can also help promote new growth. Electric hedge trimmers are often used by professionals and gardeners who perform extensive hedge work, but manual hedge shears offer unmatched precision and are a great choice for yards with just a few hedges that require trimming.
Before selecting the best hedge shears for your landscaping needs, there are a number of considerations worth weighing. This guide explores several important features to look for as you shop. We used these key criteria to choose and test some of the most popular hedge shears around. After reading up on the shopping considerations, continue reading to check out our detailed product reviews.
- BEST OVERALL: Fiskars Power Lever Hedge Shears
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Colwelt Hedge Clippers
- UPGRADE PICK: Okatsune Precision Hedge Shears
- BEST PRUNING: Felco 2 One-Hand Pruning Shears
- BEST EXTENDABLE: Corona Extendable Hedge Shear
- BEST PROFESSIONAL-GRADE: ARS KR-1000 Hedge Shears
- MOST COMFORTABLE: Fiskars Powergear2 Hedge Shears
- ALSO CONSIDER: Tabor Tools Hedge Shears with Wavy Blade
How We Tested the Best Hedge Shears
We tested these hedge shears in three areas to gauge their effectiveness on thin, flexible foliage, immature woody stems, and mature woody stems. The first area consisted of overwintered perennial grasses that we cut back ahead of spring growth. The second area was a boxwood hedge that was ready for its first shearing of the season. The third area was a cluster of hollies that needed to be cut back several inches below the height at which they had formerly been maintained.
Most of the hedge shears we tested are generalists, with relatively wide blades and blunted tips, as noted in the individual reviews. They are made for all-purpose trimming and to get jobs done quickly but lack precision cutting ability. The resulting trim was pretty good but not perfect.
The two precision hedge shears we tested, with thinner and pointier blades, were far more capable of producing tighter curves, sharper corners, and more consistent planes. The precision pruners could work well on any project, but the generalists may be found to be lacking where details are critical, such as maintaining a topiary.
Our Top Picks
After extensive research, we evaluated the following hedge shears based on the abovementioned considerations, in addition to overall quality and value. When shopping for the best hedge shears for your yard work, consider the following performance details from our testing program.
The serrated stainless steel blades on Fiskars’ hedge shears can effectively grip and cut through thick branches. While serrated blades are notoriously difficult to sharpen, this model uses patented self-sharpening technology to ensure they remain sharp. The blades also feature a low-friction coating that makes them more rust resistant and repels plant residue so they don’t gum up.
The compound-lever technology makes each cut by these hedge shears more powerful than traditional single-pivot shears, and the shock-absorbing bumpers and nonslip grip on the durable steel handles provide comfortable use. These hedge shears are 22 inches long with 7.5-inch blades, and they weigh 2.88 pounds.
In our tests, the Fiskars Power Lever shears excelled at gripping and cutting through thicker branches up to 1.5 inches in diameter. The padded oval-profile handles offered a comfortable grip, but, unfortunately, these shears were a bit on the heavy side. We found that these shears would make a great all-purpose choice for regular use, maybe an hour at a time or less.
- Blade type: Serrated
- Blade length: 7.5
- Weight: 2.88 pounds
- Grips thick woody stems easily; suitable for heavy-duty use
- Powerful cutting action; serrated blades cut through rough materials quickly
- Ergonomic handle design provides comfort for the user
- Heavy, not ideal for use beyond an hour
- Wide serrated blades are not ideal for precision trimming
Get the Fiskars hedge shears on Amazon or Walmart.
The wavy blades of Colwelt’s 21-inch hedge clippers are intended to grip tough branches, making them a powerful—and affordable—choice for shaping hedges, shrubs, and other decorative topiaries. The 9-inch blades are constructed from forged carbon steel with a nonstick coating to prevent rusting. Due to their wavy shape, these blades need to be professionally sharpened.
The ergonomic soft-grip handles and shock-absorbing bumpers make for comfortable use. Since they weigh just 1.8 pounds, these shears are easy to lift above the head for long periods of time without causing discomfort for most users. As an added safety feature, the blades can be locked when not in use.
Overall, these shears were not bad for an inexpensive tool. The Colwelt hedge shears did a fine job clipping thin grassy growth and thick woody shoots. Lightweight and fairly comfortable to use, these shears also gripped thicker stems quite well thanks to their wavy blade. This made for faster cutting, as the stems weren’t simply pushed out of the cutting area. Durability seemed like it could be an issue with heavy use, but otherwise, this would be an affordable tool to keep around for occasional trimming.
- Blade type: Wavy
- Blade length: 9 inches
- Weight: 1.8 pounds
- General-purpose design is suitable for everyday, light-duty cutting
- Lightweight construction will not cause any strain for the user with long-term use
- Padded grips are comfortable to hold
- Light-duty materials, feels less durable than others
- Bumpers are not well attached
- Blade pivot bolt is susceptible to loosening
Get the Colwelt hedge shears on Amazon.
Professionals and avid home landscapers may want to consider these high-end hedge shears by Okatsune. The blades are constructed from Izumo Yasuki steel, which has a history of being used for both forging swords and crafting sharp kitchen knives. They’re tempered to 60 on the Rockwell hardness scale, making them very hard and durable.
The shears have a total length of 21 inches, with 7-inch blades. Primarily due to the slick Japanese white oak handles, these shears are also incredibly lightweight at just 1.75 pounds, making them a great choice to avoid shoulder strain.
In testing, we found that these incredibly sharp shears would be the right tool for any detailed work like manicuring a hedge or topiary. These Okatsune precision hedge shears were dangerously sharp right out of the package and easily sliced through all test materials up to about ⅜ inch in diameter. They didn’t even show signs of wear afterward. Overall we thought they were well balanced, lightweight, durable, and extremely maneuverable for pretty much any trimming project. The only downside was the price, which was about twice that of typical home improvement store models.
- Blade type: Straight
- Blade length: 7 inches
- Weight: 1.75 pounds
- High-grade steel blade is suitable for precision cutting
- Lightweight, durable Japanese white oak handles are durable enough for long-term use
- Built-in blade stop for added safety and protection
- Highly maneuverable; can cut through most small- to medium-sized sticks and branches
- May not be ideal for very thick branches or pieces of wood
Get the Okatsune hedge shears on Amazon.
Inevitably, in the middle of a big hedge-shearing project, a few branches get in the way that are too thick for conventional hedge shears. When that happens, a set of handheld pruning shears, like the Felco 2, keeps the project rolling. Lightweight, rugged aluminum handles, a hardened steel replaceable blade, one-handed operation, and a convenient thumb-operated safety lock make these go-to pruning shears for professionals and backyard gardeners alike. Replacement parts, including blades and handle springs, are available through the manufacturer.
The Felco 2 bypass pruners were a pleasure to test. We used them to cut through hard holly branches up to about an inch thick, and the thin, hard-steel blade had no trouble at all. The thumb lock was easy to use; the handles were comfortable; and they were lightweight enough to comfortably carry in a back pocket when not in use. We found that the Felco 2 would make an excellent tool for all-around pruning, just not as the primary tool for hedge shearing. That said, they would definitely help a shearing project go much smoother.
- Blade type: Bypass pruner
- Blade length: 1 inch
- Weight: 8.48 ounces
- Rust-free aluminum construction can withstand long-term or heavy-duty use
- Hardened-steel replaceable blades can cut through most small- to medium-sized sticks and branches
- Comfortable one-handed operation for user-friendliness
- Prunes branches of up to 1 inch thick
- Not suitable for the “lead role” in hedge shearing projects
Get the Felco 2 hedge shears on Amazon, The Home Depot, or A.M. Leonard.
The handles of these Corona hedge shears extend from 13 to 20 inches, making them a great choice for trimming tall privacy hedges. The straight-edge blades are 10 inches long and are made from high-carbon steel. They are easy to sharpen at home using a millstone or sharpening stone.
The shock-guard bumper helps reduce shoulder fatigue, and the comfortable handle grips increase ease of use. The precision-made pivot bolt provides smooth cutting action. At 3.6 pounds, these shears are comparable in weight to most extendable shears.
We liked the extra reach we got from these Corona extendable hedge shears. They worked out really well for cleaning up the tall side of a hedge across the sloped front-yard area so that the job didn’t require a ladder. The extendable handle feature worked as designed and stayed securely in place once set. The longer blades provided a nice counterbalance to the extra handle weight and length, but the overall weight was more than we would want to work with for more than an hour or two.
- Blade type: Straight
- Blade length: 10 inches
- Weight: 3.6 pounds
- Blade includes a pruning notch for trimming thicker branches
- Extended reach for pruning tall hedges and plant varieties
- Twist-lock extension handles for added user-friendliness
- Heavier shears increase user fatigue if used for long periods of time
- Not ideal for precision pruning needs
Get the Corona hedge shears on Amazon, Tractor Supply Co., or Forestry Suppliers.
ARS’s hedge shears boast high-carbon steel blades, which are chrome-plated for superior resistance to rusting and sap damage. The shears are 25.7 inches long with a blade length of 7 inches, making them suitable for trimming tall hedges. Despite their size, these hedge shears are extremely light at less than 2 pounds.
The straight-edge blades allow for sharpening at home, and they are also replaceable if they wear out over time, making this model a smart pick for professionals or dedicated home landscapers who frequently use shears. The ergonomically designed handles combined with the well-balanced nature of these durable shears ensure long-lasting comfort for long landscaping sessions. The shock-absorbing bumpers and ergonomic handles further enhance their ease of use.
We could have worked with this featherlight tool all day. Its slightly arched handle design seemed to deliver more cutting force. The narrow, pointed blades were super sharp and offered excellent cutting precision. We found that these shears would make an excellent choice for anyone who cares for vast numbers of boxwoods or other hedges where a combination of precision, power, and comfort is needed. Just be prepared to pay a bit more.
- Blade type: Chrome-plated steel
- Blade length: 7 inches
- Weight: 1.72 pounds
- Incredibly lightweight design prevents hand fatigue during long periods of use
- Balanced, maneuverable design is ideal for precision pruning
- Extended reach for ample maneuverability
- Replaceable high-grade steel blades are durable enough to last for years
- May not be ideal for cutting through thick branches or pieces of wood
Get the ARS KR-1000 hedge shears on Amazon or A. M. Leonard.
The Arthritis Foundation provided a commendation to these Fiskars’ hedge shears for ease of use because of their rounded ergonomic handles with proprietary Softgrip technology. These handles feature touch points that enhance both comfort and control for the user. The gears increase leverage with every cut, making the shears powerful enough to cut through thick branches.
The precision-ground 10-inch steel blades are designed to remain sharp even with heavy use, and their straight edges can also be conveniently sharpened at home. The blades also feature a low-friction nonstick coating, which resists rust and prevents them from sticking or gumming up. The total length of these hedge shears is 23 inches, and they weigh 2.45 pounds.
These shears were amazingly easy to use and were well balanced, which may have even made them feel lighter than they really are. In our tests, they were highly capable, extremely comfortable to use, and less fatiguing than many of the other models.
Despite our positive experience with these shears, we noticed a handful of negative reviews about them. As we looked deeper into these reviews, it seemed to us that the words “power gear” may have misled a few buyers into using these shears– instead of hand pruners or loppers–to cut excessively thick branches. The gear system should be thought of as a power-assist that decreases the force required by the user.
When used for conventional shearing of foliage and woody growth up to nearly a half-inch thick, we found that these shears would do a great job without tiring the user out.
- Blade type: Straight
- Blade length: 10 inches
- Weight: 2.45 pounds
- Geared cutting power-assist for heavy-duty use without ample strain on the user
- Cushioned oval-profile handles are comfortable to hold while in use
- General-purpose design is suitable for a variety of uses
- The name may mislead shoppers to overestimate the tool’s ability
- Not designed for precision trimming
- Thicker branches sometimes slip out
Get the Fiskars Powergear2 hedge shears on Amazon, Target, or Lowe’s.
At less than 2.5 pounds, these hedge shears from Tabor Tools are lightweight enough to help gardeners and landscapers avoid arm and shoulder pain. The blades are made from carbon steel and feature a coating to ensure precision cutting performance while resisting rust and corrosion. Additionally, the wavy blades securely grasp twigs and branches, preventing them from sliding off during trims.
The hedge shears boast an adjustable blade tension; simply twist the pivot bolt to accurately trim and prune a variety of hedges and plants. The anti-sweat cushion grips and anti-shock bumpers make for comfortable use. The shears are approximately 25 inches in length, with 8-inch blades.
In our tests, the Tabor Tools hedge shears proved to be capable of clean cuts on both thin, grassy foliage and woody stems. Though the shears felt durable, they were somewhat heavy and carried their weight a bit forward, which made these shears slightly fatiguing for extended use. However, we liked the easy-to-use toolless blade tension adjustment knob since that is where most hedge shears need attention. These would make a good choice to keep in the shed for seasonal landscape cleanup projects and occasional moderate trimming.
- Blade type: Wavy
- Blade length: 8 inches
- Weight: 2.42 pounds
- Well constructed for general-purpose shearing and cutting tasks
- Branches do not slip from the blades while in use
- Toolless blade tension adjustment for long-term use and durability
- Not designed for precision trimming
- Somewhat heavy if used for an extended period of time
Get the Tabor Tools hedge shears on Amazon and Tabor Tools.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Hedge Shears
Hedge shears do not all offer similar performance. A number of factors affect their functionality, including blade type, blade material, handle length, ease of use, and more. Keep reading to learn about several of the most important features to consider when choosing the best hedge shears for landscaping.
Since they require the strength and repetitive motion of your hands and upper body to operate, hedge shears can be tiring to use. Though many are designed with shock-absorbing bumpers, they can still cause shoulder and back pain after long landscaping sessions. As a result, electric- and gas-powered hedge trimmers are recommended for larger jobs, while manual hedge shears are ideal for detailed work that requires precision.
Hedge shears are typically able to cut branches up to a half-inch in diameter. Some models, however, feature limb notches to extend this dimension. Additional tools, like loppers, may also be required for cutting thicker branches.
Smaller pruning shears are also useful for maintaining hedges. They are well suited to reaching into tight spaces and trimming interior branches to allow more light and air to access the inside of the hedge.
Hedge shears are designed with either straight, wavy, or serrated blades, each of which has its own recommended usage.
- Straight blades are optimal for trimming small shoots and soft branches. Due to their shape, they’re easy to sharpen with a millstone or sharpening stone, making them the most popular style on the market.
- Wavy blades grip on to thicker branches that are a 0.25 inch or more in diameter and prevent them from slipping as you trim. They have to be professionally sharpened due to their design.
- Serrated blades work best on thick, tough foliage and also require professional sharpening because of their shape.
Hedge shears are made from a variety of metals, and some are coated with added materials to prevent them from sticking and rusting.
- Stainless steel blades are resistant to both rust and corrosion. They’re best for cutting thinner green branches.
- High-carbon steel blades are a combination of stainless steel and carbon steel, which makes them stronger and easier to sharpen.
- Nonstick blades include a coating that prevents the buildup of sap and other natural materials that cause them to rust or stick together.
Blade and Handle Length
The ideal blade length for hedge shears depends primarily on their intended use. A 6-inch blade is best for trimming hedges that are between waist and shoulder height. A 7- to 8-inch blade is versatile enough for most jobs, while a 9- to 12-inch blade is ideal for trimming taller privacy hedges.
Most hedge shears have a total length of between 20 and 25 inches. Longer shears are typically more powerful and provide a stronger cut. Telescoping handles provide optimal versatility because the total length of the shears is adjustable to accommodate the task at hand. It’s important to note that telescoping shears do tend to be heavier, so they may not be the best pick for gardeners who experience back and shoulder pain or suffer from arthritis in their hands.
Geared technology in a pair of hedge shears provides additional leverage when trimming, which comes in handy when handling thick or dying branches. Geared hedge shears typically provide between two and three times more power than gearless models.
Available on more powerful hedge shears, this cutting mechanism may not be necessary for all home gardeners. For those who regularly trim their hedges, gearless shears are sufficient for keeping up with new green growth.
Ease of Use
Several factors contribute to ease of use when tackling trimming jobs with a pair of hedge shears.
- Weight: Shears often must be lifted above the head during hedge trimming. For that reason, lightweight hedge shears can help prevent neck and shoulder pain or repetitive strain injuries. If weight is a concern, look for shears that weigh about 2 pounds or less.
- Handles: Telescoping handles are useful for reaching higher branches, but they tend to be heavier. The lightest hedge shears tend to have wood, fiberglass, or plastic handles.
- Comfort: Ergonomically designed shears and cushioned handles provide a more comfortable grip, enabling gardeners and landscapers to avoid hand pain and discomfort. Shock-absorbing bumpers reduce wrist and shoulder pain by tamping down vibrations and preventing abrupt stops.
- Maneuverability: An adjustable pivot bolt allows the user to adjust the blade tension to match the task at hand, making it easier to maneuver the shears when dealing with branches of different sizes.
Since every property may have unique features, there may be lingering questions about which hedge shears are best for your needs. To help with your search, check out these answers to some common questions about hedge shears.
Q. How thick are the branches a hedge shear can cut?
While it varies depending on the particular model, most hedge shears on the market can handle branches up to half an inch in diameter.
Q. Should I oil hedge trimmer blades?
Most hedge shears are made with steel blades, and some have nonstick coatings. The best way to ensure longevity and proper function is to clean sap and debris from the blades after each use. After cleaning, oil the blade pivot point and any non-coated metal parts before storage.
Q. How do I sharpen hedge shears?
Sharpen straight-blade hedge shears by running them against a millstone or a sharpening stone.