Hedge Trimmer Buying Guide
Your hedge is the frame of your yard or your home. Keeping it trim and tidy can be quick and easy when you have the right hedge trimmer for the task.
This guide explains the difference that power source can make to your trimmer's performance. You'll learn what to look for when comparing hedge trimmers and the features that can make your job easier, as well as some tips on how to best trim your hedges and maintain your trimmer year-round.
Hedge Trimmer Power
Like most of today's lawn equipment, there are three ways your trimmer may be powered: Gas, Electric, or Rechargable Cordless. The right hedge trimmer for you will give you the performance you need with the least effort required.
Gas - If you have a lot of hedges to trim, or trim hedges frequently, a gas trimmer will provide the heavy duty performance you need. With no need for an extension cord or recharging, gas trimmers offer the greatest versatility as well. However, these powerful models can be somewhat heavier and noisier, and require regular maintenance.
Electric - Get hedge trimming with the push of a button. Electric units are lighter, less noisy, and generally less expensive than gas models. These models don't require refuelling of gas trimmers and require little to no maintenance. You'll need access to an electrical outlet and will be tied to an extension cord, which can make handling your trimmer a little more awkward.
Rechargable Cordless - Quieter than gas or electric, rechargeable cordless hedge trimmers offer many of the benefits of gas and electric. Like a gas trimmer, you are not tied to an extension cord. Like the electric models, a cordless trimmer is easy to start and operate, and doesn't require a lot of maintenance. It's important to know these units are typically not as powerful as gas or electric models. You will need to recharge the battery regularly as well - purchase an additional battery and you'll never have to wait for your battery to recharge to finish the job.
Trimmers share common features that can make a big difference in reducing time or effort. Here are a few features you should consider in making your ultimate choice in a hedge trimmer.
- Blade Length - Longer blades cut hedges faster, allow you to reach further, and will save time and effort if you have extensive hedging to trim. However, they are heavier and less manoeuverable, which can make them less suitable for smaller tasks. Blade lengths range from 13" to 30" (33-76 cm).
- Trimmer Weight - A heavier trimmer will require more physical effort to use – something you may notice on larger jobs. Longer blades will add to a trimmer's weight, as will a full gas tank or a larger battery. Most trimmers range in weight from 6 to 11 lbs. (2.7-5 kg).
- Teeth Spacing - Widely spaced teeth allow your trimmer to cut through thicker branches - but narrower teeth spacing provides a finer, smoother cut. Teeth spacing generally ranges from 1/2" to 1-1/2" (1.25-3.8 cm).
- Single vs. Double Blade – This refers to the movement of the blades on your trimmer. On single blade models, only one of the blades moves while the other is stationary. On double action models, both blades move. A double action blade will be more efficient - usually with less vibration.
- Lithium-ion Power – Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries are lighter weight than nickel-cadmium (NiCad) batteries. Unlike the gradual decline in the power of a NiCad battery, Li-Ion cells maintain consistent power throughout the entire cycle. Li-Ion batteries offer up to 3 times the number of life-cycle charges compared to NiCad batteries, while also offering extended storage times with less self-discharge. Plus you can charge an Li-Ion cell anytime without a negative memory effect.
Warranty – A longer warranty is your assurance that the trimmer is built to last.
Getting the most from your Hedge Trimmer
Tips on Hedge Trimming
- Always wear safety goggles to protect yourself from flying debris. Gloves, ear plugs and long pants are also recommended.
- Trimming your hedges regularly will keep your hedges looking beautiful and ensure you don't damage plants by trimming off too much at a time. In general:
- Evergreens and conifers should be trimmed 2 to 3 times during the growing season.
- Deciduous hedges should be trimmed at least once a year.
- Hedges that bloom should be trimmed immediately after flowering.
- Before you trim your hedge, use pruners to cut out any dead or damaged branches.
- Ensure you trim your hedge bottom to be wider than the top, so that lower branches receive adequate sunlight.
- Keep your trimmer well-maintained for smooth and safe operation.
Hedge Trimmer Maintenance
- Prior to use, remove any dried clippings and mud from your trimmer. Brush or blow dust out of the air vents and blades.
- To help with sap build up between the blades, spray a light coating of machine oil on the blade strap. This can help loosen the sap.
- The air filter should be cleaned every 5 hours. On gasoline hedgers, add a few drops of oil to the filter before installing.
- Lightly oil blades before storing. Use light machine oil or lithium based grease.
For Gas Models:
- Use fresh gas throughout the season.
- Change your fuel filter annually.
- Before storing for the season, empty the gas tank and clean the exterior with water and dish soap.
For Rechargeable Models:
- Charge the battery once there is noticeable battery fade while in use.
- Wait approximately 15 minutes before recharging a warm battery.
- A fully discharged battery will require about 1-5 hours to fully charge.
- Store batteries in a fully charged state.