Hedge Trimmer Buying guide
June 2015 The perfect hedge trimmer won’t just ensure your hedges, bushes and topiary stay neat and tidy, it should also make the job as easy and effortless as possible.
The amount of hedges you have and your garden’s size will be the biggest factors that will affect your choice of trimmer.
For example, if you have a large garden, using a mains-powered trimmer with a cable would make the job difficult. But also, if you only had just a few bushes, would it be worth investing in a powerful petrol model instead?
Size, weight and vibration are also important, as using a trimmer for a long time is tiring. You should also consider safety. Moving blades and splintering wood can cause injury if you’re not prepared.
The main power types of hedge trimmer
Hedge trimmers are available in three power types and each one has its strengths and weaknesses.
Electric hedge trimmers
Electric trimmers are best suited to smaller gardens. They’re light and affordable, but need to be connected to a mains plug socket. Depending on cable length, you may need an extension to reach across your garden.
They’re not as powerful as petrol trimmers, so they’re more suitable to regular cutting. They’ll also be less effective on dense or overgrown hedges.
Cordless hedge trimmers
More suitable for medium-sized gardens, cordless trimmers don’t restrict your movement as there’s no cable. They’re generally about as powerful as electric trimmers and are also suitable for regular, light trimming.
Make sure you check battery life before making a choice, as some models give only a relatively short running time before needing a recharge.
Petrol hedge trimmers
Petrol trimmers have more power and offer longer cutting time than cordless trimmers. They’re particularly useful for large garden hedging or hedges that are dense and overgrown.
Petrol trimmers are also heavier and the vibrations can make them more uncomfortable to use. They will also require more regular maintenance.
Different trimmer designs
Some trimmer models are designed to help with specific trimming jobs. As well as considering which power type to choose from, consider whether any of these models could help you better care for your bushes.
Pole trimmer – for tall hedges
Pole trimmers are made with an extendable pole that allows you to reach up high. Some models feature a pivoting head for trimming across the top.
Grass & hedge shears – for small bushes and hedge sculpting
Grass and hedge shears are designed for detailing work or if you’re keen on performing a little hedge sculpture. Some models can be attached to a pole to give them more reach.
Pole pruners – for thick and high up branches
The design of a pole pruner is similar to a pole trimmer, as they both allow you to reach up high. A pole pruner, however, is designed specifically for trimming thicker, high-up hedge branches and thin tree branches.
Multi-tool trimmer attachments – several tools in one
Some systems, such as the Bosch AMW series, or the Ryobi Expand-It range, provide trimmers as part of a multi-tool system. This is where a single tool can be combined with a number of attachments to provide more functionality.
The essential specs
These are the essential product specs you’ll need to compare to find the trimmer that best suits your needs.
Your power needs will depend on how hard your hedges are to cut. Electric trimmers are powered in watts and range from 400W to 900W. Cordless trimmer power is measured in volts, with trimmers ranging from 18V to 19V. Petrol models are measured in CCs, with power ranging from 20cc to 40cc.
If your hedges are cared for regularly and the branches are quite thin, then a lower power may be suitable. But if your hedges are dense and the branches are quite thick, then more strength will be needed.
Double or single action blades
Single action blades use a moving blade to cut against a fixed blade. A double action trimmer has two blades moving in opposite directions, simultaneously cutting against each other. Double action models are more expensive, but provide more power and cause less vibration.
Teeth spacing relates to branch thickness – the more space between a blade’s teeth, the thicker the branches it can cut.
Spacing ranges from 15mm to 34mm. 20mm is enough for most regularly-trimmed garden hedges, wider spacing is usually required for dense or overgrown hedges. Bear in mind that wide spacing also leaves a rougher cut.
The longer the blade, the more hedge you can cut at once. For small hedges a 40cm blade is suitable, for larger hedges, choose 50cm and above.
You could be spending a lot of time carrying your trimmer, so make sure it’s a weight you’re comfortable with. Petrol trimmers are the heaviest and electric trimmers are the lightest.
Battery life & recharge time
For cordless trimmers, make sure they hold enough charge to finish all your trimming and check how long it takes to charge it up again afterwards.
If you’re considering an electric trimmer, try to choose a model which offers enough cable to reach a household plug socket. Otherwise an extension may be needed.
The safety features
You’ll want to examine what safety features your trimmer has so that you can stay protected while you work.
Most blades come with a hand guard that prevents your hands from slipping on to the blade. They also protect them from being scratched by flying debris during use.
Dual safety switch
This is where you have to press and hold two power switches before the hedge trimmer will turn on. The blade automatically turns off if a single switch is released. This keeps you safe if you slip or drop it.
Electronic brake / Quick stop brake
A brake system ensures that once you stop using the trimmer, the blades will cease moving in moments, reducing risk of accidental injury.
Spiral cable / belt clip
These help to keep a power cord out of your way during your trimming and help prevent any risk of the blade coming into contact with the cable.
An anti-jamming system will either stop the blades immediately if they become jammed due to a blockage, or they will reverse the blade’s direction so the blockage can be dislodged.
A blade cover will keep the blades safe while the trimmer is stored and prevent accidents. They also help to protect it against damage.
When you purchase a trimmer, you should also select some basic safety gear, like head and eye protection, and garden gloves, to keep you safe during trimming.
These features appear on many different models and help to make trimming much easier.
A clipping collector helps prevent trimmings from flying back into the hedge. Instead it sucks them in and stores them in a container that you can easily empty.
Double position trimmers allow the angle of the head to be adjusted up to 90 degrees, making it easier to trim across hedge tops.
Vibrations can cause an uncomfortable strain on your body. Anti-vibration helps reduce that strain and are particularly beneficial for petrol models.
Making your choice and getting it delivered
If you’re ready to make your choice, then it’s time to shop.
But before you buy, you should consider our range of delivery options, so you can collect your hedge trimmers at a place and time that’s convenient.
You can reserve many of our items online and collect them in store. Subject to availability.
Receive your order within 3 - 5 days for as little as £3.95 P&P.
Have your new items delivered within 2 days and at a time that suits you for £19.99. Selected items only.