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Hedge trimmers

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Slash your trimming time with one of our recommended models.

Our database of 13 hedge trimmers features some great corded models if your trimming won’t take you far from home, along with some stellar battery-electric units with impressive run times for jobs further afield.

From our test

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Types of hedge trimmer

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of hedge trimmer.

Mains-electric (corded) models

Corded models remain a cut above battery units when it comes to trimming power and you’ll never run out of juice, but your range and mobility is hampered by the cord.

Battery (cordless) models

Battery models are quickly gaining ground. The trimming power of our recommended cordless models is now almost a match for corded trimmers, with added range and mobility. Improvements in battery technology mean well over an hour’s trimming off a single charge for the best models.

Petrol trimmers

Petrol trimmers remain the most powerful option, but they’re seriously bulky and heavy and are generally the domain of professionals. They're worth considering if you’ve got very large, long and dense hedge, but electric models now suffice for most of us. We haven’t tested any petrol hedge trimmers.

Long-reach (pole) trimmers

These have an extendable shaft and a cutting head adjustable through 90°, allowing you to cut the tops of long hedges. They’re worth looking at to avoid the danger of trimming from a ladder, but if your hedge is more than a metre across (as many tall hedges are) you’ll miss a patch in the middle. When extended, they can be awkward and unwieldy.

What to look for

Here's what to look for in a hedge trimmer:

  • Consider your application: if you’ve got a decorative, flowering hedge that just needs a light trim occasionally, you can prioritise ease of use over performance by choosing a lightweight, short-bladed model. For formal, sharp dividing hedges, choose a cordless or mains-electric model with a high performance score (8.0 or above). If you’ve got a hedge maze or a macrocarpa shelter belt, you’ll probably need a petrol trimmer.
  • Blade length: long blades (55cm+) cut more hedge with each sweep so the job gets done faster, but they can be unwieldy. Shorter blades mean more work but easier handling.
  • Blade-protecting teeth extend beyond the cutting blade to reduce the risk of dismemberment if you lose control.
  • The tooth gap represents the largest branch your trimmer can handle. If your hedge has a decent amount of big branches, choose a model with a gap bigger than 2cm and a high performance score. A good pair of loppers gives a cleaner cut on the thickest branches.
  • A rotating head makes it easier to switch between vertical and horizontal trimming.

How we test hedge trimmers

Our test hedge is a combination of mature murraya and plumbago plants containing some thick branches. We test by cutting horizontally (levelling the top of a hedge) and vertically (trimming the sides of the hedge).

Trimming performance scores are based on how quickly and easily the blade cuts through the hedge, and the sharpness of the final cut. Penalties apply for jagged edges and when we notice the trimmer struggling with thicker branches.

Our ease of use assessment looks at:

  • The general comfort and ergonomics of the hedge trimmer, including weight, balance, visibility, and the ease of using the controls.
  • The level of vibration.

One-battery systems

Manufacturers of cordless power gear usually market their products as members of a universal battery platform. The idea is you’ll buy your first one as a kit including a battery and charger, then for subsequent tools you’ll only need to buy the “skin”.

We tested the line and hedge trimmer sold from the One+ range, and while they returned reasonably good performance they’re outclassed by higher-voltage tools (36V and above), though they’re a viable option for lighter jobs. The best one-battery systems, based on this test and our previous assessments of outdoor and garden gear, are:

  • EGO Power+ 56V
  • Victa V-Force+ 40V
  • Stihl 36V
  • Husqvarna 36V Li-ion
  • Makita LXT 18V

Volts, amps and watts

When shopping for cordless power equipment and batteries you should consider volts (V) and amp-hours (Ah). For mains-electric models, all you need to worry about are watts (W).

  • Volts (V) measure electric potential difference and indicate the power of a battery. Voltage is analogous to the pressure in a water pipe, while amps (A) measure the amount electric current flowing in a wire, comparable to the flow rate of water through a pipe. Multiplying volts and amps gives total power in watts (W). The best cordless line and hedge trimmers use 36, 40 or 56V batteries. A tool of a certain voltage can only be powered by a battery of the same voltage.
  • Amp-hours (Ah) measure battery capacity. A 1.0Ah battery is rated to deliver one amp for an hour before running out of juice. Typically, lithium-ion batteries for power gear range from 1 to 5Ah. A 2.0Ah battery gives about 30 minutes’ line trimming or 60 minutes in a hedge trimmer, but you’ll need a higher capacity battery for a cordless mower. Manufacturers, such as Stihl and Husqvarna now offer large “backpack” batteries with capacities in excess of 30Ah, giving 400 minutes’ non-stop line trimming, but setting you back upwards of $600.
  • Watts (W) show the power of an electric motor, and are usually only quoted for mains-electric (corded) products. Hedge trimmers generally range from 400 to 600W, but we find 500W is powerful enough to give a good cut on most domestic hedges.
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