Buyer’s Guide: Power Hedge Trimmers
Find the right tool to tame your shrubs and keep your landscape looking sharp.
The shape and tidiness of your shrubs is a crucial component of curb appeal. Whether you’ve got a densely landscaped plot with all manner of hedges and trees or a simple series of bushes lining the perimeter, regular upkeep is critical. Luckily, with today’s power trimmers it’s easy to groom that growth like a pro, saving you the cost of hiring a gardener. We’ve got the lowdown on the different types of tools and the most highly recommended models to help you pick the best hedge trimmer for your property’s needs.
Find your type. You’ve got two options: gas and electric. The one you choose will be based on how much power and portability you’re after.
• Gas-powered hedge trimmers. These tough tools, which generally require both oil and gas to run properly, tend to work harder than their electric counterparts. The downside to more power is weight: Gas hedge trimmers may be more than 10 pounds, making it a challenge to reach up and around tall shrubbery.
• Electric-powered hedge trimmers. While they don’t provide quite as much oomph as gas-juiced models, electric trimmers are usually lighter, making them easier to wield at chest height or higher. Lower-priced corded models offer uninterrupted use but less mobility because they’re plugged into an outlet—a problem for larger yards. Battery-powered trimmers mean total freedom of movement, though you must recharge or replace batteries regularly.
Choose a cut above the rest. Another factor to consider is how big of a branch the trimmer can tackle. Most slice through branches up to ½-inch thick, while more powerful models can usually handle up to an inch in diameter. Check the size of the gap between the blade’s teeth; the greater the gap, the higher the cutting capacity. A majority of trimmers have a gap between ⅜ to ¾ of an inch to manage common hedges cleanly.
THE BEST BETS
So what really makes the cut? Here’s what reviewers—everyone from the experts who tested selections out in their laboratories to the consumers who have added these power landscaping tools to their collections—said about today’s top models.
HSA 66 Stihl Lithium-Ion Hedge Trimmer ($220)
“This machine is a brute,” declared the no-nonsense team at Popular Mechanics, which ranked it best overall in a recent challenge. “It cuts with a vengeance, and it’s got incredible longevity. You’ll get tired before this trimmer will.” That may be due to its weight, since the HSA 66 clocks in at a decidedly hefty 8.7 pounds with an AP 100 battery—or 10.4 pounds, if you purchase the model with an AP 300 battery. With the extra weight comes as much muscle as a gas-powered trimmer: A 20-inch dual-sided blade cleanly cuts through shrubbery at 3,000 strokes per minute, and the 36-volt lithium-ion battery allows the machine to work with no added fuel costs, power cords, or exhaust emissions. Thanks to an energy-efficient design, the Stihl HSA 66 has an impressive run time, never slowing down until you completely deplete the power. The hedge trimmer retails for around $220, depending on the dealer. Note that the battery and charger are sold separately. Available at authorized Stihl dealers.
Echo SHC 225S Gas Hedge Trimmer ($359)
Earning high marks from Home Depot shoppers, this ruthless gas-powered trimmer boasts a 20-inch shaft and double-sided, double-reciprocating razor-edge blades. The high-capacity 21.2 cc power boost vortex engine can easily conquer large hedge growth, with a maximum cut diameter of 0.5 inches. This trimmer also boasts a 1-inch blade length and fuel tank capacity of 14.9 oz. Features like hand grips and vibration control create added comfort, which almost makes up for the trimmer’s heavy weight of 13.7 pounds. Available at The Home Depot.
Black & Decker TR117 Corded Electric Hedge Trimmer ($35)
For a reliable budget option, consider this runaway favorite of Lowe’s customers, which earned an almost-perfect 4.5-star average from more than one hundred users. The corded electric trimmer spans 17 inches in length and tackles branches up to ⅝ inches thick. Its 3.2 amp motor stands up to moderate jobs, with the help of a rust-resistant and dual-action stainless steel blade that remains sharp for an extended length of time. Additional features include a lock-off switch (so you don’t need to worry about accidentally starting the engine) and cord retention. The trimmer’s light weight of 4.3 pounds makes it a breeze to pilot around bushes, and the compact design gives off minimal vibration. Priced under $50, this trimmer is both cost-effective and efficient. Available at Lowe’s.