Best Gas Hedge Trimmers

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

27 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
465 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Buying guide for best gas hedge trimmers

Last Updated October 2019

If you have extensive hedging to maintain, there is just no substitute for a good gas hedge trimmer. Cordless hedge trimmers are credible and improving, but they still struggle to compete when it comes to absolute power and all-day working capability. And as for dragging a cord around the yard for hundreds of feet? It’s not really a practical solution.

For homeowners with a large garden or professionals who do this kind of work for a living, a gas hedge trimmer is still the tool of choice, but which one? From the motor to the blade to the handle, from budget-friendly to expensive, there are several factors to consider as you shop.

We’ve made some recommendations that offer something for those on a budget and for those looking for high performance. In the buying guide below, we look at all of the important aspects in more detail.

Two-cycle machines rely on an accurate mix of fuel and oil for proper performance. Don’t guess. Always use a measuring jug or other calibrated container.

Key considerations

Motor

Cycles: With many types of gas-powered garden equipment, you have a choice of four-cycle or two-cycle motors. Four-cycle motors tend to be more durable and slightly quieter, and they run a little cleaner, but they have one major drawback: weight.

For that reason, gas hedge trimmers invariably have a two-cycle motor, and each one we looked at was somewhere between 21 and 25 cubic centimeters (cc). That would suggest they all produce similar output, which is true, and the weight only varies by a pound or two. The only real difference between the budget and premium brands is component quality and thus durability.

Emissions: Some manufacturers have put considerable effort into reducing emissions, and the best two-cycle motors are now California Air Resources Board (CARB) and/or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliant. This is becoming increasingly important. There are now 15 states that ban tools that don’t meet the CARB standard.

Commercial-grade power for homeowners

Tanaka garden power tools have a great reputation for a rugged, durable build combined with high performance, and this is a fine example. The 24-inch twin blades combine with a strong 21cc engine to deliver reliable cutting day in, day out. And the generous fuel tank means you only have to stop when you need a break! The forward-facing exhaust (no burned hedges) underlines the thought that has gone into this excellent machine.

Configuration

Horizontal blades: There are two basic configurations for gas hedge trimmers. The most popular is a unit similar in appearance to a chainsaw, but with the blade running horizontally rather than vertically. This gives you a machine that’s well balanced and easy to manage, which is particularly important if you have tall hedges that you have to stand on a ladder or scaffold to cut. It also makes for a more manageable tool for general trimming duties on low hedges and plants.

End blades: The other format looks more like a pole saw or string trimmer, with blades on the end. The pole gives you greater reach, and the head is usually articulated so you can set the blades at the required angle. The drawback with this kind of hedge trimmer is that while you’re more likely to be able to stand on the ground, which is safer, the tool isn’t as easy to control because it can be difficult to see exactly where the blades are cutting. This can lead to an untidy finish. Shorter shafts are available, but for us that seems to negate the benefits of a shaft in the first place.

EXPERT TIP

Clean your hedge trimmer after use. Sticky deposits can be very difficult to remove if they harden and will dramatically reduce cutting efficiency.


Staff  | BestReviews

Hedge trimmer features

Blade

  • Length: This is a big consideration. It is generally in the range of 20 to 24 inches, which is enough for a great many hedges, but up to 40-inch versions are available. That’s one big hedge!
  • Single- or double-sided: Blades can be either. Double-sided is more efficient and is usually what you find on gas hedge trimmers.
  • Maximum branch size: This isn’t a major issue because there isn’t much difference between tools. Most cut 3/4-inch or 1-inch branches. It’s not a good idea to try tackling anything larger anyway. You’ll either jam the tool or damage the tool and/or the hedge.

Safety and ease of use

  • Head: As we’ve already mentioned, pole-type gas hedge trimmers have an articulated head that can be set at different angles. On the other configuration, the handle can usually be repositioned to give greater versatility and comfort.
  • Anti-vibration engine mounts: These are often identifiable by bolts with springs around them. They reduce operator fatigue when you’re working for hours at a time.
  • Throttle lock: Also called a dual trigger, this stops the blades from engaging by accident. If you pause for any reason, you can leave the engine running and the tool will be safe.
  • Handles: Triggers and grips should be nice and chunky so they’re easy to operate with gloved hands.
  • Starter: In the past, pull-cord machines have been criticized as difficult to start. Today, manufacturers use a variety of methods to make this easier.

Starting problems are often the result of incorrect procedure. Follow the manufacturer’s advice closely.

Gas hedge trimmer prices

Inexpensive: The dominance of battery-powered hedge trimmers at this end of the market means the choice is limited. Nevertheless, there are excellent values at around $150. You’ll find a few cordless models in this price range, but one that delivers equivalent power will probably be twice as much.

Mid-range: There’s greater choice in this part of the market, with several high-performance tools between $220 and $330. These provide ample capacity and durability for most homeowners

Expensive: Professionals who want tools with articulation or the larger blade sizes will need to invest between $400 and $500.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

Gas hedge trimmers are usually quite safe, but sharp debris can fly off a hedge at all angles. Always wear gloves and ear and eye protection.

Tips

  • Trim when hedges are dormant. The best time to do heavy trimming and shaping is usually in late autumn and winter when the hedge is dormant. Although evergreen shrubs don’t lose their leaves, they still go through a similar rest period as deciduous plants.
  • Clear the area of trip hazards before you start. Make sure animals and children are kept well away. Distractions cause accidents.
  • Use guides to keep lines straight. You can use stakes (or bamboo poles) and string to make a guide to keep things straight and level.
  • Slope hedge sides slightly inward. If you cut the sides of your hedge exactly vertical, then a strange optical effect makes them look wider at the top. Pros counter this by making the sides slope inward slightly.
  • Don’t try to cut branches that are too thick. When trimming mature hedges, use loppers or a pruning saw to take out thick growth first, then use your trimmer.
  • Keep the blades sharp. If your hedge trimmer blades are blunt, they will smash branches rather than cut them. It’s not only inefficient and untidy, but it weakens the hedge and makes it more prone to disease.

Easy to live with, remarkable value

The Poulan Pro has all the features you want, yet it’s half the price of some very similar competitors. The 23cc motor competes head to head with any rival and is well damped to reduce vibration. The dual action 22-inch blades are stainless steel (they won’t rust) and capable of tackling branches up to an inch thick. A multi-position handle and easy starting complete a machine that is, quite rightly, very popular.

Other products we considered

If you already own a suitable string trimmer, chainsaw, or one of the multifunction power heads, it might be more economical for you to buy a hedge trimmer attachment. It’s important to check compatibility, but there is a wide variety available. The Sunseeker Hedge Trimmer Attachment has a modest 15-inch blade, but it’s attached to a 30-inch shaft, thus giving you excellent reach. The articulated head offers a multitude of angles to make life easier, and it’s a good value, too. The TrimmerPlus AH721 Hedger Attachment offers a 22-inch cutting capability with up to a 3/4-inch diameter branch. Designed for heavy-duty use, it’s another that offers an articulated head, and it’s compatible with over a dozen different brands of string trimmers and pole saws. The Honda Power Head is designed to take a number of attachments, one of which is a hedge trimmer. With a 21.6-inch reach and Honda’s legendary reliability, it’s worth a closer look.

Gas engines are often criticized for their emissions, but the best are CARB and/or EPA compliant.

FAQ

Q. Do gas hedge trimmers need much maintenance?
A.
Not a huge amount, but it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to maximize the tool’s working life. Usually this amounts to general cleaning, lubrication, and periodically replacing the air filter and/or spark plug.

Q. How often do I need to sharpen the hedge trimmer blades?
A.
It varies from one manufacturer to another, and it depends to some extent on the blade material, but most recommend about every 50 hours. Only sharpen the cutting edges, not the flat areas they cut against. If you’re unsure, find a hardware store or garden outlet that can do the job for you.

If a hedge trimmer isn’t cutting well, it isn’t always that the blades are blunt. It could be a buildup of sappy or resinous material from cutting plants like fir or pine. Clean off the residue with a spirit-based cleaner and a stiff brush.

Q. Are there any special instructions for storing a hedge trimmer out of season?
A.
If you’re not going to be using your hedge trimmer for a few months, drain any remaining fuel (and use fresh when you start it again). If you store the tool in a damp shed or garage, moisture will encourage rust. A waterproof canvas case is the best storage. Alternatively, wrap the hedge trimmer in cotton or similar (old towels or T-shirts will do) and then in a large plastic bag.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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