We have tested hedge trimmers and name Stiga SHT 48 AE as best in test. It is a battery powered hedge trimmer with a lot of power and an ergonomic design, which makes this a winner in our test.
We carry out all of our tests ourselves and test all products as they are intended to be used in reality. We have tested hedge trimmers outdoors in genuine private gardens on different types of hedge. They have been used individually for long periods and also compared to each other. The most common type of hedges have been thuja, hawthorn and privet. The hedge trimmers have been tested on a number of points, of which some of the most important are as follows:
Performance What thickness branches can the hedge trimmer cut? How long is the cutting time in relation to the battery size? How much of the hedge can it cut in one go?
Construction: What materials has the manufacturer used? How long is the blade? Where are the buttons and handles?
Ergonomics: How heavy does the hedge trimmer feel? How well balanced does it feel in your hands? Can the handles be rotated so that it's easy to cut vertically? What's the noise level like?
Ease of use: Is it easy to get started with the machine? How easily accessible and understandable are all the buttons and handles?
Other aspects that have been taken into account are safety functions, charging times and of course also the price - primarily the combination price including the hedge trimmer, battery and charger. All of the above aspects have been taken into account, and the score ultimately reflects our perception of how well the hedge trimmer functions in relation to its price.
The Ryobi RHT36C60R15 is a hedge trimmer with a good long bar and a number of clever functions. One of the best functions is the "hedge sweep". This is essentially a little shark's fin on the bar that helps to clear away clippings from branches when you're cutting the hedge. This works better than we'd expected. The function is particularly useful when you're cutting along the top of a hedge, because otherwise it can be difficult to access that area to sweep it clean. Another strength of the RHT36C60R15 is that you can adjust the handle both 45 and 90 degrees. However, the function allowing you to reduce the speed is really only useful in theory. In practice, fine cut mode is really hardly any different when you're using the hedge trimmer. But the ergonomics are good. The hedge trimmer is well balanced and has a comfortable rubberised handle that gives you a good grip.
The Ryobi RHT36C60R15 performs well. It can easily cope with branches up to around 1.5 cm in diameter, which covers the majority of hedges. With thicker branches it tends to tear at them, and sometimes it just can't cope. Unfortunately the battery life is quite short. We recommend that you buy an extra battery of at least 2 Ah so that if necessary you can swap between them. But this means that the price tag increases quite a bit. However, one advantage is that this model belongs to Ryobi's One Plus system, which means you can share the battery with all of the other 36-volt machines in the range. The battery indicator, which is nicely visible to the user, gets a thumbs up from us. As does the hand guard, which is made of transparent plastic, giving you a good overview of the bar. The scabbard is made of hard plastic and does what it should. Something we'd have liked to see on this hedge trimmer is a child lock. It's very easy to start the machine, so you need to remove the battery after use if you have children at home. In many ways, the RHT36C60R15 is a really good hedge trimmer. The long bar length means that you can easily use it to trim even slightly wider hedges, and the clever functions make it user friendly. If you make sure to buy an extra battery you get a really good user experience if you have a normal sized hedge.
Type: Battery-powered Power: 36 V Battery: 1.5 Ah Battery life: 30 min (measured) Min/Ah: 20 Weight: 4266 g (measured, including battery), 3344 g (measured, excluding battery) Bar length: 70 cm (measured) Noise level: 75.3 dB (measured)
The Husqvarna 115iHD45 is a hedge trimmer with high build quality that feels good when you use it. The feeling is a bit like cutting through cotton wool when you run it over a hedge. This is probably due to a combination of a light and quiet but simultaneously powerful machine. It also produces really good results. You get neat cut surfaces and it doesn't break off branches when it can't cope. Instead it simply switches off. On branches over 1.5 cm in diameter it starts to grumble a bit, and it's about here that you run into the limit of what this hedge trimmer can cope with. Unfortunately the bar is relatively short, which means that if you have a slightly wider hedge you may need to consider choosing another machine. The hedge trimmer has an eco mode that's useful when you've thoroughly maintained the hedge in previous years so you just have the odd thin branch sticking out. You'll clearly notice the difference between eco and full mode, both in terms of battery life and strength.
The Husqvarna 115iHD45 is well designed. The half-moon shaped handle makes it easy to move your hands and get a grip that works for various different angles. In terms of safety, we like the fact that there's a start button you have to press in before you can start using the hedge trimmer. However, there's no safety guard at the front, which means it needs a two-handed grip and some strength to get it going. The 115iHD45 has a really good anti-vibration system, so it's comfortable to work with even over longer periods. The battery life is also very good, and it charges quickly. However, the charger isn't a standard station you click the battery into, but a fiddlier version that takes up more space. Overall, however, this is a really good hedge trimmer that suits most home owners. You can cut long, quite thick hedges with a hedge trimmer that has high levels of ergonomics and build quality.
Type: Battery-powered Power: 36 V Battery: 2 Ah Battery life: Standard: 1 h 26 min (measured) Eco mode: 2 h 5 min (measured) Min/Ah: 41 Weight: 3985 g (measured, including battery), 3185 g (measured, excluding battery) Bar length: 50 cm (measured) Noise level: 67.4 dB (measured)
The Stihl HSA86 is a very powerful hedge trimmer with a substantial battery that means it runs for a very long time. This feels like a professional machine, but it's as heavy as one too. Just the battery alone weighs almost two kilos. If you don't need this long a battery life and want a hedge trimmer that's easier to handle, you can buy a battery with a lower capacity to reduce the weight. The actual hedge trimmer is otherwise ergonomically designed with a good grip and a very small safety guard at the front, giving you a really good view of the bar. But because it's small it doesn't give much protection against branches. However, a pair of good gloves means this isn't a problem. The hedge trimmer gives off some vibration, but not enough to be a problem.
The Stihl HSA86 has a good long bar. Together with the powerful motor, this makes the hedge trimmer extremely efficient. It can cope with all the branches it encounters. Even if they're as thick as 1.5 cm – which is pretty big for a hedge, even if you don't trim it regularly – they're no match for the HSA86. Above this it struggles a bit. Despite the heavy battery, the machine is nicely balanced. It also has a clear battery indicator and a scabbard in hard plastic. The scabbard has pre-set holes you can cut out on the back to hang up the hedge trimmer with, if you like. The quick charger charges the battery very quickly. The battery is compatible with several of Stihl's other garden products, such as their lawnmowers, so you can use it for other purposes. The Stihl HSA86 is suitable if you have a really broad, coarse hedge that means you require both power and time. Of course the price reflects this too, but if you need a professional machine it's a very good buy.
Type: Battery-powered Power: 36 V Battery: 6 Ah Battery life: 3 h 51 min (measured) Min/Ah: 38 Weight: 5174 g (measured, including battery), 3444 g (measured, excluding battery) Bar length: 68 cm (measured) Noise level: 72.4 dB (measured)
The Stiga SHT 48 AE stands out by combining plenty of power, good ergonomics and a high build quality in an affordable package. This battery-powered hedge trimmer can cope with both small and large tasks. Whether you're trimming an older hedge with thick branches or fiddly types like hawthorn, it has sufficient power to make clean, attractive cuts. In addition to its power, the SHT 48 AE has rotatable handles, which are very useful. Because you will mainly be trimming the hedge vertically, the handles provide you with good working ergonomics even when you're cutting on an angle. The long blades also help make the process quick. Despite the fact that the hedge trimmer is quite heavy, the work never feels like too much effort for the body.
One disadvantage of the SHT 48 AE is the safety button that you have to press in to start it. This is slightly inaccessible, but once you've got the hedge trimmer going it cuts without problems. The battery life is reasonable. The machine cuts for almost exactly an hour with a 2.5 Ah battery, and this is enough for a normal-sized hedge if you're used to the work. But if you have a bigger hedge, it might be a good idea to buy an extra battery.
The Stihl HSA 56 is a slightly smaller but still quite heavy battery-operated hedge trimmer that makes neat cuts and has a decent amount of power. The battery included in our set was the smallest one, the AK 10, which corresponds to 1.6 Ah. We got about 40 minutes' battery life from it. If you have a normal sized garden, it may be a good idea to go up a battery size, or buy two batteries so that you can swap them. However, the battery life is fine for a battery of this size. What we'd have liked is rotatable handles, as these provide much better ergonomics. While you hold the hedge trimmer to cut horizontally, it's easy to operate the front handle to keep the machine running. But when you're cutting vertically the handle movement is so short that it becomes quite uncomfortable after a while, as it requires a bit too much force. This combined with the fact that the blades are quite short means that you're not comfortable for about 80% of the cutting time.
However, one advantage of the HSA 56 is that it can cope with older hedges with thicker branches. The cuts it makes are very good. In fact we were extremely impressed with the cut quality. The impression given by the quality of the blades and the power it produces is that of a professional machine. Nor do you need to be worried about damaging the blades as you get closer to the ground, because the clever design protects them. Overall, the HSA 56 does a really good job of trimming hedges, but it would be even better with improved ergonomics.
The Black & Decker GTC36552PC is a relatively strong hedge trimmer that's suitable for the majority of hedge types in a normal domestic garden. Branches up to 1.5 cm in thickness pose no problems at all. However, if you try to take on anything thicker you might run into problems if you aren't careful. Unfortunately the GTC36552PC is quite rear-heavy despite the relatively light battery included with the machine. This can be rather tiresome if you're cutting the top of a hedge. On the other hand, the hedge trimmer is quite light as a whole, so it's not a major problem. But if you buy a bigger battery this may make it worse. A major plus is the safety handle. This provides a safety feature because it's more difficult for a child to start it, and it's also cleverly designed so that you can use it regardless of whether you're right or left-handed. The front hand guard is quite large compared to other models. It's made from hard black plastic and unfortunately blocks the view of the bar slightly. Another disadvantage is the scabbard that's included. It's made from soft plastic and starts to show damage after only a week's use. The fact that it's soft also makes it rather fiddly to get on.
The Black & Decker GTC36552PC has a very good battery life. The bar length won't be enough for the very broadest hedges, but it's still above average. We would have preferred to see a different end on the bar as the shape means that the hedge trimmer occasionally gets stuck and jerks during use. Despite the very substantial bar and the resistance it gives when you're cutting, the battery life is comparable to that in a number of professional machines on the market. Given the price, this is a major plus. Many hedge trimmers in this class also have a fine cutting mode that means you waste less battery when you're cutting a hedge with thin branches. It simply reduces the machine speed. The GTC36552PC instead has a pulse mode. The idea is that this should provide extra strength in case you get stuck. But we find that in practice this doesn't make much difference. Other than this there aren't many refinements in this hedge trimmer. It does its job and produces very good results. The GTC36552PC is suitable for someone who wants a budget class hedge trimmer with a really long battery life - for example if you have a long hedge, but who isn't so bothered about ergonomics and refinements.
The Stihl HS45 is a strong hedge trimmer intended for the average home owner. There's a nicely judged resistance in the throttle which means it isn't hard to keep it pressed in for longer periods. It also has cruise control so you can lock the throttle in a particular position and avoid tiring your hand. You simply hold the handle and allow the hedge trimmer to do its job. However, the HS45 could have been significantly more ergonomically friendly. We expected a better anti-vibration system and a handle of something more comfortable than hard plastic, given the price. Unfortunately it's also quite heavy. These characteristics mean that overall it's quite tough to work with after a while. Nor can you adjust it to different positions.
The Stihl HS45 cuts well and is a powerful machine. Branches up to almost three cm in diameter pose no problems. Above all, the long bar makes it suitable for the majority of hedges. Despite the length, it doesn't waver in deep, slightly thicker hedges. This makes it an impressive hedge trimmer. It's also easy to start, even after it's been standing for a while. Unfortunately it's rather noisy. All of the buttons except for the cruise control are well positioned and can be reached by both right and left-handed users. The hard plastic scabbard is easy to remove and replace. You can also suspend the machine from the loop on the handle, making it easy to store. Overall, this is a relatively simple but strong hedge trimmer that's suitable for medium sized hedges. The ergonomics could have been better, but the cruise control means that it's still efficient.
Type: Petrol Weight: 5150 g Power: 0.75 kW Cylinder volume: 27.2 cm³ RPM: X rpm Noise level: 81.2 dB (measured) Petrol tank: 0.22 l Bar length: 62 cm
The Husqvarna 122HD45 is a substantial hedge trimmer for anyone with a slightly smaller hedge. The machine produces low vibrations, which means it's comfortable to work with even for longer sessions. Unfortunately the hedge trimmer doesn't have a rubberised grip, but because it has such a good anti-vibration system you barely notice this. However, you will spot that it has a very short bar, as this limits where you can use it. Nor can you change the angle of the bar, which makes it less ergonomically efficient to work with. But all of the buttons are well placed both for right and left-handed users, which is positive. The scabbard has pre-punched holes so you can hang the hedge trimmer up on a wall.
The Husqvarna 122HD45 performs well. It can cope with both slightly thicker fir branches of around 1.5-2 cm and more bushy hedges that need a good trim. However, the short bar means that it isn't suitable for anything but relatively narrow hedges. You always have a good overview of the hedge as Husqvarna have positioned the grip and other components so that they don't get in the way. Unfortunately, the choke is rather sluggish and sharp to hold in. We also think that the primer bulb is hard to see as it's hidden behind the air filter housing. The air filter screw is easy to access, however. A major advantage is that you can see the whole of the petrol tank, so you can easily see how much fuel you have left. Overall the 122HD45 is a nice strong hedge trimmer for slightly thinner hedges.
Type: Petrol Weight: 4915 g Power: 0.6 kW Cylinder volume: 21.7 cm³ RPM: 7,800 rpm Noise level: 75.9 dB (measured) Petrol tank: 0.3 l Bar length: 45 cm
With a hedge trimmer in your garden arsenal, you can quickly create order in even the most unruly hedge. The best time of year to trim your hedge is July, August or September, but you can also trim it in the period between winter and spring before it starts to develop buds.
A hedge trimmer consists of a motor, a set of double blades that scissor over each other, and loop handles enabling you to hold the machine. To prevent injury there are also a number of safety functions. For example, you usually have to hold the rear handle while pushing the front handle forwards to make the hedge trimmer run. Another common safety function is a start button that you have to press in while holding the handles.
When you buy a hedge trimmer, it's important to choose one that suits your type of hedge. Thuja, privet and mountain currant are examples of hedge types that don't need a particularly powerful hedge trimmer. This is because they are relatively soft and because they rarely have very thick branches - as long as you keep them in trim. However, if you have an older hedge with thick branches, you need more power. A hawthorn hedge requires a bit more from a hedge trimmer. Trimming a hedge is physically demanding work, and the better the hedge trimmer you have, the easier the work will be.
Petrol-driven hedge trimmer
Battery-powered hedge trimmer
Mains hedge trimmer
The type of hedge trimmer you should choose depends on your requirements. The battery-powered ones have improved enormously and now have a good battery capacity and a lot of power. If you have a normal sized garden with hedges around it, you will get a long way with a battery-powered hedge trimmer. However, professional gardeners often choose petrol-operated hedge trimmers to avoid having to deal with charging batteries. But even here, the trend is towards battery-powered tools.
Mains-powered hedge trimmers are most suitable if you have very little hedge and small distances in your garden. Because you have to take into account both long horizontal distances and vertical distances, cables can be very limiting when you're trimming a hedge, partly because you have to use extension cables, and partly because it's easy for the cable to get in the way and be cut by mistake. If you choose a mains-powered version, you should have a small, low and easy hedge to maintain. Otherwise a wire-free version is often better.
Trim the hedge into an A shape. It should be slightly narrower at the top than at the bottom, so that the sun's rays can reach all of the leaves and make the hedge nicely dense all the way down.
When the hedge has reached the desired height, you should always cut it at the same height. This means you only cut the new growth and makes it easier to keep it attractive.
If it's a newly planted hedge (not the "ready grown" type), you should trim it quite a bit straight away. Hedges branch where you cut them and if you want it to be dense at the base, you need to cut it low down from the start. After this you should trim it 10-15 centimetres every year. This gives you an attractive, dense hedge right from the ground to the top.
Always use protective equipment when you're cutting a hedge. Gloves, safety goggles and a protective jacket are recommended.
Don't forget to drink water from time to time. Trimming a hedge is physical work and it's easier if you keep your brain and body in trim during the process.
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