Hedges can look spectacular when they're all neat and tidy, but they do require a fair amount of maintenance to keep them looking schmick. And with the mixture of heights, odd angles, a heavy weight and very sharp blades, hedge trimming can be a potentially dangerous experience, so you'll need to make a note of safety features.
How much should I pay?
Electric and cordless hedge trimmers range from around $59 to $299; petrol models can also be found in this price range, but for a heavy-duty petrol model you should expect to pay a fair bit more.
Features to look for
Choose a hedge trimmer that's not too heavy to hold and is well balanced.
Will you need to cut through thick branches or do simple trimming of leaves? If there is significant cutting involved you'll need a more powerful model. Generally, models with larger tooth gaps are more suitable for heavy-duty hedging.
A wraparound front handle with multiple switches makes it easy to change from cutting horizontally to vertically. Vertical edging is easier if the trimmer has a rotating head.
A hand guard will help prevent debris being thrown back towards the user. A good safety feature to look for is a safety switch on both handles, so the trimmer won't start or run unless both handles are gripped. This keeps your hands out of harm's way.
Generally cordless battery-powered hedge trimmers operate on full power until the battery runs out, so you won't have to worry about it running at less than 100% as it slowly powers down to flat.
A cordless model is less fiddly than one with a cord. You won't need to worry about straying too far from the power source, or unsnagging cords from ladders or foliage.
Typically powered by a two-stroke motor (but four-stroke models are also available). Petrol models are a good option for professionals and for home owners with a lot of tough hedges to maintain, and are often more expensive than cordless or eletric models. CHOICE hasn't reviewed petrol hedge trimmers.