What is a hedge trimmer?

Hedge trimmers are powered yard machines with one or two rows of cutting teeth that slice through small-diameter foliage. People use hedge trimmers to cut back growth, level the tops and sides of hedges and even sculpt shrubs into geometric and fanciful shapes.

How does a hedge trimmer work?

Most hedge trimmers cut the same way as a big pair of scissors, with two cutting blades moving in opposite directions. Budget hedge trimmers have one moving blade and one fixed blade, half as efficient and not as well-balanced. 

How to choose the best hedge trimmers

There are three important measurements to keep in mind when choosing a hedge trimmer.

  • Cutting width: The length of the blades on the cutting bar determine how wide a swath you can trim with one path.
  • Cutting diameter: The spaces between the teeth are what limit the thickness of branches you can cut. Residential hedge trimmers typically have short gaps between their teeth while commercial trimmers are capable of cutting thicker branches. 
  • Weight: People use hedge trimmers with their arms extended or overhead, positions that can quickly tire you out.

Gas-powered

When assessing gas hedge trimmers, look at the engine displacement, usually shown in cubic centimeters, where larger numbers mean bigger engines and more power.

Best gas-powered hedge trimmers

Best Echo 24-Inch 2-Stroke Gas Hedge Trimmer

Echo 24-Inch 2-Stroke Gas Hedge Trimmer

The 24-inch RazorEdge blade is reciprocating and double-sided. The 21.2 cubic centimeter engine uses a 50:1 ratio of 89 or higher octane fuel to motor oil and has a highly efficient air filter for longer engine life. 

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Best DeWalt 22-Inch 27 cc 2-Stroke Gas Articulating Hedge Trimmer

DeWalt 22-Inch 27 cc 2-Stroke Gas Articulating Hedge Trimmer

The articulating head has a 135-degree range of motion and is usable with DeWalt string trimmers and other attachments. The ergonomic handles make it easy to guide and control this 17-pound machine. 

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Best Troy-Bilt 22-Inch 2-Stroke Gas Articulating Hedge Trimmer

Troy-Bilt 22-Inch 2-Stroke Gas Articulating Hedge Trimmer

This 25 cc machine starts easily with its prime, flip and go system and fits all Troy-Bilt attachment accessories. It weighs 11 pounds and has a head that rotates a full 135 degrees for getting in tight spots. 

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Battery-powered

Check the numbers for volts and amperes. The larger the numbers, the greater the power and the longer the battery will last on a single charge.

Best battery-powered hedge trimmers

Best Ryobi 24-inch 40 Volt Cordless Battery Hedge Trimmer

Ryobi 24-inch 40 Volt Cordless Battery Hedge Trimmer

The dual-action steel blades reduce vibration, the rotating gear handle is made for trimming at all angles and the debris remover clears clippings while you trim so you don’t have to. This 8-pound trimmer has the power to cut through 1-inch limbs. 

Sold by Home Depot

Best Black and Decker 20-Volt Max Cordless Battery Powered Hedge Trimmer

Black and Decker 20-Volt Max Cordless Battery Powered Hedge Trimmer

This 5.4-pound trimmer is easy to handle and control with its built-in T handle and full-length trigger. The 18-inch dual action blade is made of hardened steel for reduced vibration. 

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Best DeWalt 22-inch 20-Volt Max Lithium-Ion Cordless Hedge Trimmer

DeWalt 22-inch 20-Volt Max Lithium-Ion Cordless Hedge Trimmer

The 22-inch blade on this 6.4-pound trimmer has laser-cut hooked teeth for clean, quick cuts up to three-quarters of an inch thick. The battery has a built-in power indicator and a no-load run time of up to 75 minutes per charge. 

Sold by Home Depot

Corded

All corded electric hedge trimmers operate on standard 120-volt household current.

Best corded hedge trimmers

Best Sun Joe 4 Amp 120-Volt Corded Pole Electric Hedge Trimmer

Sun Joe 4 Amp 120-Volt Corded Pole Electric Hedge Trimmer

This trimmer has 21-inch hardened steel blades, an adjustable pivoting head and a 95-inch shaft that gives you an effective reach of 13 feet for safe trimming without climbing a ladder. It has a 50-foot cord, weighs 8.8 pounds and can handle branches up to seven-tenths of an inch thick. 

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Best Makita 25-inch 4.8 Amp 120-Volt Corded Electric Trimmer

Makita 25-inch 4.8 Amp 120-Volt Corded Electric Trimmer

The two-hand operating design means the motor runs only when the grips are held with both hands. The built-in clutch protects the gears by automatically disengaging when the blade binds and the transparent hand guard gives you a clear view of the work area. 

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Best Earthwise 18-inch 4.5 Amp Pole Hedge Trimmer Multi-Tool

Earthwise 18-inch 4.5 Amp Pole/Hedge Trimmer Multi-Tool

You get a hedge trimmer and a pole saw with a 16-foot cord and an 8-foot reach in a single tool that weighs less than 10 pounds with the shoulder support strap attached. The trimming head angle adjusts from 60 to -20 degrees to fit in tight places. 

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Old school

If you are really interested in sculpting bushes and hedges, use a hand-powered hedge trimmer to get the level of detail you won’t get with a powered hedge trimmer.

Best old-school hedge trimmer

Best Fiskars 9-inch Power-Lever Steel Telescoping Handle Hedge Shears

Fiskars 9-inch Power-Lever Steel Telescoping Handle Hedge Shears

You get twice the cutting power with the power-lever technology that extends the handle from 24 to 32 inches and locks at any length in between. The serrated blades are self-sharpening and grip the twigs and branches for clean, sure cuts. 

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