Hedge trimmers buying guide

Most of us have a hedge in our garden to provide privacy and security. During the summer months these grow and lose their formation so they need trimming back at least twice a year to keep them under control and promote even growth. An electric hedge trimmer makes easy work and saves hours over a pair of manual shears if you've got a large area to cut. The Tesco range covers electric hedge trimmers as well as battery-operated and petrol trimmers. Below are a few tips to help you choose the right hedge trimmer for your garden.

Power: mains, battery or petrol

A hedge trimmer can be powered in three ways: mains electricity, rechargeable battery or petrol. They all have their advantages and disadvantages, so decide which is best for you.

  • Electrical hedge trimmers: these provide a clean lighter weight option with the convenience of immediate and continual use. However you may be restricted by cord length - not ideal if the hedge is a long way from your power source and having a cord can be obtrusive and dangerous.
  • Rechargeable hedge trimmers: will give you the best of both worlds. They're clean to use and have no cord so they can be used anywhere, without the danger of accidentally cutting the cord. They are less powerful than petrol models and you do need to plan ahead though and make sure your batteries have been charged. 5-7 hours of charging will give you just 30 minutes use. A second battery will give you back up but if you're cutting for long periods of time, you may find this timescale too restrictive.
  • Petrol hedge trimmers: can again be used anywhere, there's no cord so they're safer. Just top them up with petrol and away you go, no charging necessary. These models do tend to be harder to use - they're heavier, noisier and smoky.

Blade length and width

Hedge trimmers cut using either a single-action, where only the top blade oscillates, cutting against the stationary lower blade, or a double-action where a pair of double-sided toothed blades that slide back and forth at a high speed so you can sweep across hedges in both directions. The latter are more efficient.

Blade length - consider the size of the hedge you will be cutting to get the right length blade. The longer the blade length, the more area it can cover and the quicker it will get the job done. However longer blades also require more power and larger heavier motors so weigh up blade size versus ease of use. Blade lengths range from 14 to 30 inches with long blades of 22 to 30 inches providing extended reach for taller or wider hedges.

Blade width - the blade width indicates the space between teeth and the maximum thickness the trimmer can cut through, eg. 20mm blade width will be able to cut through a maximum 20mm branch.

Weight

As previously mentioned, blade size will determine the hedge trimmer's weight. Make sure it feels comfortable as you will be holding it for long periods of time at awkward angles.

Extra features to look out for:

  • Double position trimmers: for extended reach while on the ground, a double position trimmer avoids you having to climb up high by allowing you to adjust the handle into a right angle to the blades for a level cut across the top of the hedge.
  • Clippings collector: as you trim your hedge, collect those stray cuttings in a clippings collector for a neater finish.
  • Automatic cut out: an important safety feature, this automatically switches off the hedge trimmer once the trigger is released.
  • Hand guard: for reassuring safety, a hand guard will protect you from the moving blades and from falling cuttings as you work.

Using a hedge trimmer safely

  • Keep all people and animals away from the area you're working
  • Hold the hedge trimmer correctly using both hands
  • Make sure the hedge trimmer's switched off and idle before attempting to remove any jammed cuttings
  • Wear protective clothing including heavy-duty footwear and safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying cuttings
  • Electric hedge trimmers: Don't use in wet weather. Keep the cable well away from where you are cutting and check that the socket outlet has working RCD protection
  • Read the manufacturer's instructions before use
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