Hedges have been with us for thousands of years: the first recorded example of somebody complaining about trimming their hedge dates back to the Neolithic Age, roughly 2,000 to 4,000 years BC. Luckily for us, we have access to power tools that our ancestors could only dream of. But which is the best hedge trimmer for you?
The best hedge trimmer really depends on the hedge you have, and your own personal preferences: good luck trimming hundreds of yards of ancient hedgerow with a tiny handheld. There are hedge trimmers that extend to save you leaning on ladders, trimmers that turn into chainsaws for really thick branches and trimmers with swappable heads for different kinds of work.
As with most power tools the main choice is corded or cordless: battery-powered devices’ running time is of course limited by their battery, but corded trimmers run the risk of accidentally cutting the power cable. Always put an RCD on the plug your power tool’s connected to.
It’s worth mentioning that the RSPB would prefer that we didn’t cut some kinds of hedges between March and August. That’s because some birds nest in hedges, so for example in Scotland gardeners have been asked to keep their clippers in the garage .
These are our pick of the best hedge trimmers we’d recommend for every kind of job and budget.
Our pick of the top hedge trimmers to buy today
1. Stihl HSA56 cordless hedge trimmer
Power: 36V | Type: Cordless | Cutting size: 45cm | Telescopic: No | Swappable cutters: No | Weight: 3.7kg including battery
By their very nature hedges are often found around the edges of gardens and other areas, which means they’re as far away from electrical sockets as you can get. Cordless trimmers solve that problem as well as the safety issues of having a cable hanging out of an electric cutting tool, but as hedges can often be substantial you need to be sure the batteries are up to the job. Stihl’s AK10 battery (included) runs for 40 minutes, and the optional AK20 and AK30 deliver 80 and 120 minutes respectively. Stihl’s famous for its professional saws and other tools, and this is a typically safe and solid cutter with relatively low weight and low noise backed by Stihl’s usual build quality.
2. VonHaus 550W Electric Hedge Trimmer
Best on a budget
Power: 550W | Type: Corded | Cutting size: 61cm | Telescopic: No | Swappable cutters: No | Weight: 3.5kg
At this price you’d expect a trimmer so weak it could barely threaten a hedge, let alone do anything to it. But the VonHaus isn’t bad for the money. There’s a 550W motor and a 61cm cutting blade that oscillates at 1700/m, a 10m cable so you can actually reach things and a fairly lightweight 3.5kg so you won’t get sore arms. It’s a little bit clattery, but you expect that with budget power tools - and with Amazon selling the trimmer for nearly half price, you can afford to invest in some nice ear muffs if you don’t like the sound. It’s unlikely to last long enough to pass on to your grandkids, but it’s both cheap and cheerful.
3. Bosch AHS 70-34 Electric Hedge Cutter
Best for reach
Power: 700W | Type: corded | Cutting size: 700mm | Telescopic: No | Swappable cutters: No | Weight: 3.9kg
Trimming really wide hedges can be a real pain, but the longer your cutting blade the less of a pain they become. The Bosch is fairly light at 3.9kg but its cutting blade is an exceptionally long 700mm, with a tooth spacing of 34mm and a sawing function for branches that are too thick to fit between the teeth. The 700W motor should make light work of even the toughest hedge, and that long reach means you don’t need to do ladder acrobatics to reach tricky bits. It’s corded rather than cordless - a decent Lithium Ion battery would have added a lot of weight and expense - but that’s probably for the best: you don’t want to lose power halfway through taming a huge hedge.
4. Bosch Cordless Shrub Shear Set
Best small handheld
Power: 10.8V | Type: cordless | Cutting size: 10-20cm | Telescopic: No | Swappable cutters: Yes | Weight: 900g
There are quite a few small handheld hedge trimmers around - Bosch alone makes several different models, and lots of rivals do too - but we think this set offers the best combination of usefulness and flexibility. The 10.8V Lithium Ion battery runs for 100 minutes between charges (recharging takes 3.5 hours from flat), there’s a choice of a 10cm grass blade, 12cm shrub blade or 20cm shrub blade, and the tool-free blade switching couldn’t be simpler. The real draw here is the weight at just 900g, you won’t end up with a bad case of Gorilla Arm after using it for protracted pruning. You wouldn’t want to prune a Victorian maze with it, but for relatively titchy topiary it’s ideal.
5. Eckman Elite EKLTC01 Telescopic Hedge Trimmer and Chainsaw
Best for really tough hedges
Power: 36V | Type: cordless | Cutting size: 41cm (15cm chainsaw) | Telescopic: Yes | Swappable cutters: yes | Weight: 2.8kg
Some hedges have more in common with trees than topiary: their branches can be really thick, their tops far above your head. But with the right tools, you can make even the highest hedge feel no bigger than a bonsai. Eckman’s excellent trimmer has two heads: a traditional hedge trimmer and a chainsaw with an Oregon bar and chain. The 36V battery lasts for up to 55 minutes, the telescopic shaft can reach from 5’11 to 9 feet and the trimming blade locks in six different cutting positions so you can trim the top of hedges while keeping your feet firmly on the ground. When the going gets tough, simply swap the trimmer for the chainsaw and you can cut branches up to six inches (15cm) across.