When it comes to the big bush battles, you need to have confidence in the machines you’ve chosen. Choosing the best hedge trimmer can be daunting as there are lots of different options so I took the time to work out what matters and I want to share my findings with you.
The key factors to consider when choosing a hedge trimmer are Power (whether you want cordless freedom and how strong you need the trimmer to be), Reach (how high are your hedges?) Blade Length and Price. For the majority of home gardeners, an electric trimmer will fulfil their needs, and you can hire tougher tools for bigger battles.
Anatomy of a Trimmer?
A daft question, perhaps given that the clue is in the name, but let’s examine the common features of a trimmer for a moment.
All hedge trimmers feature a body, that typically has the power source, handles and a trigger to activate the blades, and then steel blades for doing the cutting. Dual motion blades, which run in opposite direction to each other, provide the most efficient cutting solution, not unlike the electric carving knife on your favourite Sunday Roast, but there are single bladed options which will saw across surfaces at speed.
If your trimmer is petrol driven, you can expect to find a fuel tank, a choke and a starter – be sure to read the manual to prevent unnecessary flooding of the engine and choice language!
Electric trimmers keep all their starter secrets hidden away, but it’s worth looking for safety buttons as well as the trigger to stop you accidentally starting the machine.
Speaking of Safety – Always read the instructions of your power tool so that you know how to operate it and transport it safely. Even the best hedge trimmer will take your fingers off faster than you can say “gardening gloves” so stay safe!
All trimmer manuals should advise you on techniques for using that particular machine, so a few minutes spent learning and practising your strimming sweeps before you power up is time well spent.
Let’s look into each of the decision criteria in depth, so that your purchase will be the right fit for your trimming needs.
There are three main category of power source for your hedge trimmer:
- Electric (corded)
- Battery (cordless)
These have the advantages of being cordless, meaning you have freedom to trim wherever you want, while they are comparatively waterproof (unlike their electric counterparts) and you often find that their engine and cutting power is greater than the competition. Take a look at any municipal gardeners and you’ll find they’re using petrol trimmers, whose robustness makes them ideal for continued regular use over time.
The disadvantages of petrol power relate to cost – the tools are often more expensive to buy and there’s the fuel costs as well – weight, as they tend to be heavier than the electric alternatives, and risk as you will be working with flammable substances that may spill or cause accidental damage.
Battery (cordless) Trimmers
For the home gardener, the likelihood is that an electric trimmer will achieve most of your gardening goals. The battery powered trimmers have improved greatly in relation to their corded cousins, with the main advantage being freedom; without wires connecting you to your home, you are free to roam. Weight is a big issue and the smaller trimmers provide a great amount of manoeuvrability without too much strain. The price of these trimmers is more palatable for the beginner although you may choose to spend out on extra batteries if you need power supply security.
They may lack the oomph (technical term!) of petrol trimmers but unless you’ve got large woody plants to tackle, it’s not much of an issue. Similarly the power packs will suffice for the home gardener, but if you’re using these tools every day you may find it onerous to keep recharging.
Electric (corded) Trimmers
There isn’t a great deal of difference in the positives and benefits between corded and cordless trimmers, however the battery life of cordless can be a challenge if you’ve a lot of work to be done, and unless you have a few batteries charged and ready, you may find that a corded option is the best approach for the grander garden.
If you’ve got tall hedges you’ve got two choices – ladders or long-reach trimmers. While the latter might seem like an extravagance, you may find their convenience overrides the cost. While you can get a long way with ladders or platforms, many models have telescopic elements and adjustable heads that give you access to the tops of your hedges as well as the sides.
Conversely, if you only have a small space and your topiary requirements are modest, there are a variety of smaller trimmers that take up no space but save a lot of time. Compared to their manual counterparts, these electric trimmers can be a shear joy! (See what I did there?)
This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but there is some variance in blade length on different machines. Depending on the surface area you hope to keep in check a longer blade might allow for a more even finish achieved in less time.
It’s fair to say that you can spend a lot of money on gardening equipment and hedge trimmers are up there with the best of them in terms of cost. While it’s tempting to spend some big money on a petrol machine, a budget of £100 should get you an electric tool that will last a long time while getting your jobs done efficiently.
What Is The Best Hedge Trimmer?
After considering all the options, my first conclusion was that I could hire a petrol trimmer to help with the first big session of the season, as it provided the power to tackle the unruly growths that had occurred over time. Maybe not the answer you were expecting but I wanted something cordless and battery powered that would get almost all of my trimming jobs done.
My pick for best hedge trimmer is the Makita DUH523 Cordless Hedge Trimmer. It weighs 4kg with the battery in it which isn’t the lightest, but is still manageable, particularly if you use it enough to get fit. The blade length is 520mm which is a good size and the battery life is perfect for my needs as it quite happily runs for an hour without breaking a sweat.
I had to buy the Lithium Ion battery separately, bringing my budget to around £120 but I felt that it was money well spent on a tool that I would use for years. The battery is compatible with other Makita tools, which is a bonus!
I’ll look into other trimmers in future posts, and explore what you can get for different budgets, but here’s my pick of the best hedge trimmer. I highly recommend it!