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Home & garden.

Updated: 30 Jun 2022

Best hedge trimmers: Which? Best Buys and expert buying advice

We reveal the best hedge trimmers for cutting small hedges and topiaries. We also round-up the trimmers with enough power to cut tall, wide, long and overgrown hedges.
Verity Mann
Woman using hedge trimmer

A good hedge trimmer can be a blessing, saving you time and preventing aching arms. Our expert guide explains how to shop for a hedge trimmer that gives a clean, neat finish to your hedge.

Picking the right hedge trimmer for you will depend largely on the kind of hedges you have in your garden and how many. For example, are you cutting formal, straight-sided dividing hedges or more informal, flowering hedges?

Below, we run through the key hedge trimmer features to look out for, also explaining the differences between electric hedge trimmers, cordless hedge trimmers and petrol hedge trimmers.

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Best hedge trimmers for small hedges

Here's our pick of the best hedge trimmers for tackling small hedges, including cordless, corded electric and petrol models.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations in the table below. If you're not yet a Which? member, you can get instant access by joining Which?.

Best cordless hedge trimmer

  • 84%
    • best buy

    This is a powerful cordless hedge trimmer that cuts quickly and cleanly, making it a Best Buy. The shorter blade length makes very manoeuvrable on smaller hedges and it’s light and comfortable to use. It should suitable for almost anyone.

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Best corded hedge trimmer

  • 83%
    • best buy

    This corded electric hedge trimmer performed well during testing and its shorter blade and narrow-spaced teeth make it best suited for smaller hedges. It’s lightweight, making it easy to manoeuvre. After a while, the handle becomes a little uncomfortable in use. Nevertheless, it’s still a worthy Best Buy.

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Best petrol hedge trimmer

  • A powerful petrol hedge trimmer. Despite having a shorter blade, it cuts quickly and can trim thicker branches cleanly in a single sweep. The shorter blade also makes it suitable for trimming smaller hedges. There are the typical downsides we find on petrol models though, namely its weight and noise level.

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Table updated July 2022.

Choose the best hedge trimmer for small hedges 

Small hedges often have small, tightly-packed leaves and a strong shape. They can look ragged and untidy if the hedge trimmer doesn't cut cleanly and neatly.  There are a few features you should look for:  

  • A shorter blade as this will be easy to control, especially when cutting narrow or low hedges. It will also be far easier to trim rounded surfaces, such as on topiary shapes.  
  • A light hedge trimmer is less tiring to use as you bend down to cut short hedges.  
  • Look for a very sharp blade that can cut cleanly through soft, whippy growth.  
  • Choose a hedge trimmer that's comfortable to hold and with well positioned handles.  

Not found the one for you? Browse all our hedge trimmer reviews.

Best hedge trimmers for large hedges

Here's our pick of the best hedge trimmers for tackling large hedges, including cordless, corded electric and petrol models.

Best cordless hedge trimmer

  • 84%
    • best buy

    This Best Buy cordless hedge trimmer is light and easy to manoeuvre, so you can use it to cut the sides of a hedge as well as the top. It has a powerful, 45cm-long blade that can cut thicker branches, so it's great for overgrown hedges. It's expensive, but if you have a lot of large hedges to cut it's worth the investment.

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Best corded hedge trimmer

  • 84%
    • best buy

    This corded electric hedge trimmer glided through every type of hedge we tried it on with ease, leaving a neat and tidy finish you’ll be delighted with. It's on the heavier side and doesn't have an adjustable handle but its speed and long, 70cm blade means the job is finished quickly.

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Best petrol hedge trimmer

  • 83%
    • best buy

    The Best Buy petrol hedge trimmer has plenty of power for speeding through hedges, leaving an excellent finish. It’s heavy and probably too powerful for most domestic gardens, but if you have very large hedges or a lot of hedges to cut, it will prove its worth over the years.

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Table updated July 2022.

Choose a great hedge trimmer for tall hedges

Cutting tall, long or overgrown hedges can be hard work. Their sheer size will mean they can take hours to trim, and it can be hard to reach the top of tall hedges. In addition, their twigs tend to be thick and woody as many are plants that would naturally grow into trees, such as conifers, beech or hawthorn. There are a few factors to weigh up:

  • A hedge trimmer with a powerful motor will cut quickly and easily through even the toughest growth. This could be a petrol or powerful cordless battery model, but these can be heavy and so tiring to use.
  • A long blade will speed up cutting as you can cut more in a single sweep of the trimmer. 
  • It's also crucial that the hedge trimmer is easy to use, as you will be cutting for a long time. 

If you have a tall hedge that needs cutting frequently it might be worth investing in a good long-reach hedge trimmer, so you can cut the tops without the risk of climbing a ladder. 

Find out more: should I buy a long-reach hedge trimmer?

Video: how to buy the best hedge trimmer

Watch our video for our expert tips on how to choose the best hedge trimmer for your needs and budget.

What type of hedge trimmer should I choose?

Electric hedge trimmers

  • Pros: Cheaper than cordless or petrol, and often lighter.
  • Cons: Need access to mains power. Easy to accidentally cut the power cable.

Electric hedge trimmers are usually lightweight, can be quite powerful and are useful in most gardens where you can reach all your hedges with the attached cable and possibly an extension cord. 

As you will need to plug it into the mains, think about how far your hedges are from the house and whether you will need a long extension lead. Accidentally cutting the cord is possible, so work with the cable over your shoulder and out of the way of the blade. Always use a residual current device (RCD) to protect yourself from electric shock if you cut the cord.

See all of our corded electric hedge trimmer reviews

Cordless hedge trimmers

  • Pros: Can be taken anywhere. Easy to use.
  • Cons: Can be expensive. May need a second battery to finish long jobs. Batteries may be unreliable.

Cordless hedge trimmers give you the freedom to cut hedges further away from the house, and there is no cable to accidentally cut through. 

Now, cordless models with higher-powered 36V batteries rival petrol hedge trimmers. Batteries typically last around 20 minutes, but some will keep going for up to an hour. The best batteries recharge in about 60 minutes. If you have a larger hedge, think about buying a second battery to finish the job.

The results of our most recent reliability survey show that many cordless hedge trimmer owners find the batteries to be unreliable – either they don't hold the charge well or don't charge at all. You might want to consider the price of replacing the battery when you work out how much the hedge trimmer will cost to use over its lifetime.

Most hedge trimmer manufacturers also now produce a range of tools that all use the same battery. As a result, you can often see 'bare' hedge trimmers for sale. These do not come with either a battery or a charger. Be aware, though, that the battery is often as expensive, if not more expensive, than the hedge trimmer itself and so the price will rise sharply once these are added in.

See all of our cordless hedge trimmer reviews

Cutting a low hedge with a cordless hedge trimmer

Petrol hedge trimmers

  • Pros: Better, faster cutting for large areas. Can trim anywhere.
  • Cons: Weight, noise and vibration are all inescapable problems. Can be hard to start the engine.

Petrol hedge trimmers are great for cutting large hedges, especially those with thicker branches that are away from a main power source.

Unlike electric hedge trimmers, you don't have to worry about the extension cord reaching or the battery running down. Instead, you just need a can of petrol, with the two-stroke oil mixed in, sitting ready to refuel and carry on.

It is generally recommended that unleaded fuel used for hedge trimmers does not have a higher ethanol content than 10 % - this is because ethanol attracts water which can cause corrosion if fuel is left in the hedge trimmer for long periods.

E10 fuel is fine to use, but super unleaded with an ethanol content of 5 % is better and what we would recommend.

It's good practice to empty the fuel tank as much as possible – and completely if not in use over winter. Petrol is better stored in a bespoke container rather than in the machine.

See all of our petrol hedge trimmer reviews

Man trimming hedge with a petrol hedge trimmer

Long-reach, extendable hedge trimmers

  • Pros: Perfect for cutting tall hedges safely.
  • Cons: Often underpowered and can be unwieldy to use.

If you have tall hedges, the safest and quickest way to cut them is from the ground. Long-reach hedge trimmers have a long shaft that can be adjusted in length, and the cutting blade sits at the end of this. The blade can be tilted to cut the top of the hedge or the side.

Long-reach hedge trimmers can be found as corded electric, cordless or petrol models. Petrol long-reach hedge trimmers can often be sold as or converted to a multi-tool, and the hedge trimmer head can be swapped for a strimmer head or a pruner. This means you can effectively have several tools without having to buy more than one motor.

Compare models by viewing our hedge trimmer reviews.

Man using a long-reach hedge trimmer

How much do I need to spend on a hedge trimmer?

  • Corded electric hedge trimmers - are the cheapest to buy and you can get one from around £30. Most of our Best Buy hedge trimmers, however, cost more than £100, and our top-scoring hedge trimmer is around £140.
  • Cordless hedge trimmers - there are a few budget cordless hedge trimmers that cost around £40, but the ones we've tested for this price haven't scored well. More powerful models with a high-voltage lithium-ion battery can cost as much as £200. You also need to think about the expense of replacement batteries, which can cost as much as £100. Be aware that the cost of a cordless hedge trimmer is sometimes quoted for sale without the battery. Which? always includes the battery in the guideline price we show. 

Corded electric models are the cheapest to buy and you can get one from around £30.

  • Petrol hedge trimmers - cost from around £90, but expect to pay around £150 or more for a better model. Many petrol hedge trimmers are aimed at professional users and so you can pay upwards of £400 for a good model from a well-known brand.
  • Long-reach hedge trimmers - sell for around £60 for a corded electric model or £100 for a cordless version. Extending petrol hedge trimmers start at around £90, but if you're after a good, reliable brand, you may have to pay in excess of £200. Multi-tools, which have a hedge-trimmer head that can be swapped for a strimmer or pruner, cost from £150 to around £400.

See the best hedge trimmer brands.

Best hedge trimmers: features to look for

  • Blade length When you're shopping for a hedge trimmer, remember that the longer the blade, the more you will be able to cut with each sweep. However, longer blades are generally trickier to manoeuvre. For most gardeners, a 45-60cm blade is suitable.
  • Teeth spacing Wider teeth are powerful enough to slice through bigger branches, but need a larger motor. Many have a fairly restricted width of up to 20mm between teeth, which is fine for an annual trim of a typical garden hedge, or for twiggy hedges such as privet. You will often see claims that the hedge trimmer can cut stems up to 33mm, but in practice we would not recommend using a hedge trimmer to cut such thick branches. If your hedge has branches larger than around 1cm, you will achieve a neater finish with loppers.
  • Tip protector a short bar across the top to prevent you from damaging the blade if you knock it against a solid object.
  • Catcher plate a piece of plastic or metal that can be attached along the length of the blade to sweep away cuttings.
  • Hand guard prevents your fingers coming near the teeth and stops clippings from getting caught up around your hands as you cut. 
  • Blade sheath or guard protects the blade when carrying or storing the machine, preventing dust and dirt from getting onto the blade and blunting the cutting teeth.
  • Wraparound front handle with an 'on' switch that runs around the length of the handle makes it easy to change from cutting the sides or top of the hedge.
  • Rotating rear handle helps maintain the same grip when cutting vertically or horizontally.
  • Battery Lithium-ion batteries are increasingly replacing Ni-Cad and often have higher voltages and capacity.
  • Voltage high voltage lithium-ion batteries are increasingly common and there are now 56V and 72V batteries are starting to feature on hedge trimmers. These typically allow the hedge trimmers to run for longer between charges and to have more power, meaning they are more likely to cope with thicker branches.
  • Battery indicator lights to show how much charge you still have in the battery. This allows you to plan your work and see when you will need to take a break to recharge the battery. 

Keep your hedges looking their best by following our guide on how to cut a hedge.

What size hedge trimmer do I need? 

For small hedges

If you have a small hedge and don’t mind a little exercise, a pair of hand shears might be all you need. They're better for the environment and much quieter in use so won't disturb your neighbours. Look for a model with extendable handles to help your reach the top of your hedge.

For situations where you have a limited amount of hedge to cut close to the house, a mains electric hedge trimmer with a cutting blade up to 45cm long is the best option. Our selection of Best Buy hedge trimmers are quick, leave a neat finish and are easy to use. If you hate the hassle of dealing with the power cable, consider a cordless hedge trimmer.

For lots of hedges

If you have lots of hedges to cut, look for a hedge trimmer with a longer cutting blade. We have Best Buy hedge trimmers with a blade length of up to 70cm or more, which will cut a significant amount in a single sweep. For hedges that are too far from the nearest power source, a petrol hedge trimmer is a sensible option. But also consider a cordless machine – some come with a spare battery, or you could buy an extra one to extend the cutting time.

Cutting to a line

For tall hedges 

If you're dealing with tall hedges, it might be worth considering a long-reach hedge trimmer, which will allow you to reach the top of a high hedge without a ladder. We've tested corded electric, cordless and petrol versions.

How to use a hedge trimmer safely

  • Firstly, ensure you read and follow the safety guidance within the supplied instructions. You’re using what could be a potentially dangerous product so following the safe operation guidance is imperative.
  • Always work from the ground, where possible, on an even and dry surface.  
  • If you need to cut a tall hedge, use a long-reach hedge trimmer or a platform. 
  • Always use a residual current device (RCD) plug or adaptor to protect you from an electric shock if you accidentally cut the cable unless your whole house is protected by an RCD. 
  • Keep the cable out of the way by putting it over your shoulder so it hangs behind you or attach it to your belt. 
  • When carrying it around your garden, ensure you put its blade sheath on in case you accidentally power it while holding it. And, if it’s corded electric, unplug it from the mains before moving it too.
  • Make sure your extension cable is long enough to complete the job without stretching. 
  • Wear safety goggles or a visor to protect your eyes from flying debris.  
  • If you have young children, unplug a mains hedge trimmer at the mains, or remove the battery from a cordless trimmer, if you leave it unattended for any time.  
  • Strong gloves and work boots with good grips are advisable.

Repairing your hedge trimmer

Take your hedge trimmer to a local garden-machinery specialist to get the blades sharpened if they become blunt. They can also service more expensive petrol models.