Buyers guide to hedge trimmers

Without regular cutting and maintenance your hedges and bushes can soon get out of control and take over your garden. This is why having a good hedge trimmer is essential.

When looking to buy a hedge trimmer it is important to consider a number of factors. The biggest factor is the height and thickness of your hedges, as this will influence which features you need on the hedge trimmer you are about to buy.

Below is a list of things to look out for when buying a hedge trimmer.

Power source

There are three main types of hedge trimmers available to buy.

These are; 

1. Electric
2. Petrol
3. And battery 

Electric hedge trimmers; are typically the smallest, lightest and cheapest hedge trimmers available. They are connected to the mains electric of your home and are the most common type used by home owners in the UK. These are suitable for most domestic small to medium sized homes.

Battery (cordless) hedge trimmers; are normally quieter than all other hedge trimmers making them ideal for noise sensitive areas. The one downside to battery hedge trimmers is that you will need to plan ahead, and remember to charge the battery before use. 

Petrol hedge trimmers; offer more power than electric or battery powered trimmers, therefore can cut through denser, thicker leaves and branches. The disadvantage is that these are much louder to use and require much more maintenance to ensure that they are working correctly.

Other important aspects to consider when buying a hedge trimmer include;

Cable lengths; if you are buying an electric hedge trimmer check the length of the cable that the product is supplied with. You may need an extension lead to reach the far end of the garden or to reach the top of your hedge. 

Cut width/gap; a simple way to think about this is, the larger the gap between the teeth of the blade, the bigger the branch you can cut. If you have large thick hedges then it is recommended that you buy a hedge trimmer with a larger blade gap. Note; the blade gap does not represent the thickness of the branch the hedge trimmer will cut. The power of the motor and density of the branch will have an effect.

Blade length; if you have long or tall hedges you should consider buying a hedge trimmer with a longer blade. This will save you time as you can cut more of the hedge in one go, and will provide your hedge with a much more even cut. However an increased blade length will increase the overall weight of the hedge trimmer. If you are going to buy a hedge trimmer with a longer blade, check that it is still comfortable and easy to use. 

Blade quality and type; this has a big effect on the price you pay for your hedge trimmer. Cheaper hedge trimmers normally only include a standard machine pressed steel blade. More expensive hedge trimmers have blades that are cut by lasers, making them much sharper, providing a much cleaner cut to the branches of your hedge. This helps make the hedge look much neater and tidier. 

When looking at the blade also consider whether it is single or dual action. A dual action blade is best, as both the top and bottom blades will move at the same time when cutting, giving the hedge a cleaner cut. On a single action blade only the top blade will move. This will typically tear the leaves on the hedge providing a worse finish than a dual action hedge trimmer.

Extended reach; some hedge trimmers are designed to have multiple handles allowing you to reach further or over the hedge. These designs mean you do not need a ladder to reach the higher up places of the hedge/bush. The Flymo 600XT is a good example of this type of hedge trimmer. The downside is that the top of the hedge cannot be cut without a ladder.

Adjustable or telescopic hedge trimmers take this principle one step further. These hedge trimmers allow you to change the length of the shaft. These typically reach length of 3 metres in height. the best telescopic hedge trimmers have pivoting trimmer heads which also allow you to cut the top of the hedge with ease.

Weight and balance; if possible you should try to hold the hedge trimmer before you buy it, as they come in a variety of weights and balances. What is best is down to your individual preference. Remember you will have to hold the hedge trimmer for long periods of time, so heavy machines are likely to tire you out more quickly.

Safety features; Hedge trimmers can be dangerous pieces of equipment to use, therefore safety features are often key selling points for manufacturers. Things you should look out for include; 

• Automatic brake. This should stop the blades instantly if something gets jammed in the teeth of the machine
• Hand guard; this will protect your hands from falling debris coming from the hedge
• Spiral cable / belt clip; this will help keep the electric cable from getting in your way and prevent you cutting through it.

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