Hedge trimming can be an enjoyable outdoor project that is very satisfying. After all, few jobs give you such a visible sense of accomplishment than getting those shrubs back in line!
However, if you have let your bushes go a few too many years between haircuts, or have to contend with heavy thickets of invasive blackberry or sumac, then you probably need to find the best hedge trimmer for thick branches. Otherwise, the project will be a tedious chore.
The right tool for someone else’s property isn’t necessarily the right tool for you. We designed this guide to help you weed through the options so that you can find the hedge trimmers best suited for your needs. Below you can find all the information you need.
Here is a quick overview of our top hedge trimmers based on need. See the in-depth reviews below.
Top Pick for Professional Grade Gear – Tanaka TCH22EBP2 21cc
Top Pick for Corded Electric – Remington RM4522TH
Best Value for Money (Gas) – Echo HC-152 20” Gas Powered Hedge Trimmer
Top Pick for Battery Powered (Pro-Grade) – Greenworks PRO 24-Inch
Top Pick for Extended Reach – DEWALT Telescoping Pole Hedge Trimmer
Features to consider before you buy:
Thinking through what power source you want to utilize is a great place to start before investing in new outdoor power tools. When it comes to hedge trimmers, you have three choices: Gas, corded or batteries.
Gas powered engines have dominated outdoor power tools for a reason: Until recently, no power source other than a long extension cord (impractical and unsafe for many jobs) could deliver the same kind of power. Times have changed, more on that below.
The main advantage of gas these days is that it remains the only engine that can run indefinitely (you brought the gas can, right?) away from any power source. The major drawbacks are fumes, noise, and the significant maintenance required (keeping up with annual winterizing, making sure you are using the right additives, spark plug cleaning, etc.).
The truth is that even professionals working in dense residential areas have become sensitive to client demands for lower noise and cleaner operation. With battery technology finally catching up to gas in terms of power, many pros are making the switch.
Lithium Ion technology may soon eclipse gas-powered machinery for homeowners looking to maintain 1-20 acre plots of land. With less maintenance required, the “plug-and-play” nature of battery equipment is a major advantage.
Of course, you will want pay close attention to charge and runtime ratios with battery-powered gear, especially if you have a large property with lots of regular work. Another option is to buy your outdoor gear in one of the several battery powered tool lines out there. This way you will have plenty of interchangeable batteries to be on the charger while you work.
Your final choice in power is the corded electric models. They offer the advantage of continuous operation, important for those that don’t like gas fumes but want to be able to finish a large job in one session. However, they will only work within range of an outlet, so make sure to gather up your extra heavy-duty extension cords.
Another major advantage of corded models is that they have, bar none, the best weight/power ratio. They do not need to carry either the weight of a gas engine plus fuel or a heavy battery. The difference is significant. Plus, they are dirt cheap compared to similarly powered gas and battery machines.
If all of your trim work is close to the house, and you want the lightest machine that is tough enough for dealing with thick branches, then a corded model might be your best bet.
Tooth gap refers to the space between each cutting blade, and it will determine the max size of the branch that you can cut with any given machine in a single pass. ¾” is the standard, although the DEWALT DCHT895M1 has a 1” gap.
To go much larger than that, you really should think about another tool such as a chainsaw for large jobs, or a manual saw style trimmer for keeping up with a few tree limbs here and there. Another option would be to go for a motorized pole saw.
Trying to cut larger branches than the recommended cut capacity for your machine (usually equivalent to the tooth gap) is not recommended and may even invalidate your warranty.
The weight of your hedge trimmers is an important consideration, particularly if you plan to use them on a large job. It might seem insignificant, but even 3 ounces will make a difference when you are moving it around in the air for an hour.
In addition, the heavier the machine, the harder it will be to control. This becomes a critical issue if you plan to do highly manicured trim jobs such as those that are possible with boxwoods or juniper. If you are looking to make very clean lines, paying more for a lightweight set of trimmers is definitely worth it.
It is important to consider the cut length to make sure you get the right gear for the job. This vital stat refers to the length of the cutting blade, usually somewhere from 22-26”.
The length of the blade is a tradeoff. Longer means slightly more weight, but it also means fewer swipes to get the job done. The shorter blades are a little easier to maneuver and may be the better choice if you are a beginner to manicuring your bushes. Pros who spend hours a day behind landscaping equipment usually opt for longer blades because it makes large jobs go significantly faster.
Think through the hedge trimming you will be doing in terms of height. Nothing slows a job down more than having to drag a ladder around with you, so this is a critical decision-making assessment to make before buying.
A trimmer with an extension pole will make a big difference on anything taller than your shoulder height. Make sure to check out our Best Pole Hedge Trimmer pick if you have taller bushes to deal with.
Top Hedge Trimmer for Thick Branches (Pro-Grade):
Power: 21.1 cc
Weight: 10.3 Lbs. without fuel
Cut Capacity: ¾”
Cut Length: 24” dual blade, commercial grade (also available in 20” and 30”)
Features: 5 position handle, forward facing exhaust, purge bulb
While most hedge trimmers boast a ¾” tooth gap, they don’t all have the power actually to get the job done very easily at that size. This model by Tanaka is one of the exceptions. Utilizing commercial-grade components, design, and engine, this is a pro-grade machine that is an excellent choice for the homeowner looking to make easier work of serious landscaping on their property.
Before buying, make sure you think through the size that will work best for you because it comes in 20”, 24”, and 30” blade lengths. Keep in mind that the larger blades are a little heavier and trickier to maneuver, but they will make very quick work of large jobs where precision is less critical than volume.
One of the biggest selling points of this hedge trimmer is that it is very comfortable to use. The weight is very commendable, coming in at 10.3 pounds plus the weight of fuel. It features a 5-point bevel on the handle which allows you to angle the blade to match your body type, style and the demands of the job. The weight is balanced as well, a feature that you will appreciate about 20 minutes into that hedgerow.
The biggest downside is the price. This pro-grade gear has a hefty price tag that won’t make sense for the average residential property.
- Powerful cutting action—thick branches are no match for this machine.
- Maneuverable—swivel the handle to get the perfect angle to match your technique.
- Well aimed exhaust—forward facing to keep fumes out of your face, and engine heat away from foliage.
- Easy start—purge bulb and S-Start technology make startup reliable and easy.
- Strong warranty—one of the best in the industry with two years for commercial use and seven years for home use.
- Price—you will find cheaper gear out there, but the price is reasonable for the quality and power of this machine.
- Repairs—if you are the type that likes to work on your own equipment, you may have trouble getting replacement parts for this line.
Best Corded Hedge Trimmer for Thick Branches:
Cut Capacity: ¾”
Cut Length: 22”
Features: Handguard, titanium coated blades, comfort grip
We discussed the advantages of corded electric hedge trimmers in the introduction, but just to review: They offer lots of power with lower noise, no fumes, no recharging breaks and no regular engine maintenance. In addition, they are much lighter and cheaper than other kinds of hedge trimmers.
If you decide to take the leap for a corded model, we recommend this choice if you have a heavy-duty job with thick branches or lots of extra dead wood.
For starters, titanium coated blades add some extra durability to the laser cut edges on this model. The 4.5 Amp motor is among the most powerful approved for residential use, which will keep the job moving right along.
Additional features worth mentioning here are the well-designed handles that are plenty wide with a soft, cushioned grip. In addition, weighing in at 6.5 lbs., this is a very lightweight machine. If you have a great deal of trimming to do near the house, you will appreciate that you can work longer because of these comfort considerations.
- Affordable—coming in around $50.
- Lightweight—at 6.5 pounds, expect to be able to work this machine until the job is done.
- Powerful—laser cut blades, titanium coating and a powerful 4.5 Amp motor, mean a fast and clean cut, even on tough jobs.
- Tough jobs—this trimmer is designed to power through thick branches up to ¾.”
- Warranty—2 year limited warranty.
- Portability—you will need to stay close to the house and fuss with extension cords.
- Safety—Working with corded machines means paying very close attention to the cord to be sure you do not cut it during use.
Type: 2 cycle, Gas
Power: 21.2 cc
Weight: 11.8 Lbs. without fuel
Cut Capacity: ¾”
Cut Length: 20” laser cut blades
Features: Ergonomic rear handle, front handle with safety guard
This is a great choice if you are looking for a hedge trimmer tough enough for thick branches. It has several advantages when it comes to tough jobs worth taking a closer look at.
The laser cut blades are extremely sharp, which makes a big difference when it comes to getting through the thick limbs of fast-growing bushes such as sumac and bamboo. Although the blades are on the short end, this means you get more torque delivered to each blade, part of why this model packs such a punch on heavy duty jobs.
Of course, the tradeoff between going with the shorter, 20” blade length is that it will make larger, lightweight jobs considerably longer to finish. However, the shorter blade also means beginners will have less trouble getting precision cuts on tight shaping jobs.
This model falls right about in the middle for weight. Pros won’t find it too heavy, but the average homeowner might be surprised how much additional soreness comes from every extra ounce carried over a few hours on big projects.
- Commercial grade engine—expect long life and dependable power.
- Cut capacity—it will go through ½” in a single pass, up to ¾” with a little more pressure.
- Ergonomic design—with a large front and rear handle perfectly positioned to make long jobs more comfortable.
- Safety guard—a must have for thorny jobs like wild roses, blackberries, and other nasty prickers.
- Price—given the quality, the price is reasonable for homeowners looking for pro-grade gear.
- 20” blade—while delivering a bit more power per inch of blade, shorter blades come with the tradeoff of making larger jobs take longer.
- Weight—in at just under 12 pounds, this machine may be too heavy for some to maneuver well on longer jobs.
Best Professional Battery Powered Hedge Trimmer:
Weight: 12 Lbs.
Run Time: 1 hour
Charge Time: 30-minutes
Cut Capacity: ¾”
Cut Length: 24”
Features: Rotating rear handle, Lithium-Ion battery
Greenworks® is a relatively new name in lawn and garden care. Since 2007 they have focused on battery-powered equipment that has enough power to give gas-power a run for its money. When it comes to thick branches, if you are looking for the quiet and minimal maintenance convenience of battery power, this is our top pick.
Let’s be clear—if you have a thicket of ¾” branches you need to slice through, this may not be enough power for you. However, if you run into the occasional thick branch of that size, this trimmer will do the job. Meanwhile, it will cut through the rest like butter.
Lithium-Ion batteries have come a long way. This machine features a 30-minute quick charge which buys you a full hour of run time. Every additional piece of equipment with the 80V batteries that you buy, you have the benefit of being able to charge while you are working—one of the reasons this company is quickly building a loyal customer base.
There are a few downsides worth mentioning that may be a deal breaker for some potential buyers. First is that the true blade length is 24”, despite some product descriptions that suggest 26”.
Second, and much more importantly, is the weight—coming in at just under 12 pounds including the battery. It doesn’t sound like much, but unless you happen to be in great shape, moving 12 pounds with your arms extended will make you sore, fast—particularly if you have large jobs that will require a great deal of top work.
The tradeoff is that with all the power this machine punches, you will be probably be seeing significant cuts in the overall time it takes to do a job.
- Real Power—3,600 SPM motor packs a punch comparable to gas engines for home use.
- Fast Charging—in just 30 minutes you will buy an extra hour of run time.
- Ergonomic design—balanced weight and rotatable handle add up to a comfortable hold and great maneuverability.
- Fadeless battery technology—using the latest in Lithium Ion battery technology means you won’t have to replace the battery to keep a charge over the life of the product.
- Versatile product line—swap batteries between the other 80V products in Greenworks wide line of products to keep going longer.
- Heavy—12 pounds of weight is enough to be a deal breaker for some homeowners.
- Cost—higher than other battery-powered gear, although also top of the line power and quality.
Best Pole Hedge Trimmer for Large Branches:
Weight: 15.8 pounds, 3.2 pound battery
Run Time: 90 minutes
Charge Time: 30-minutes
Cut Capacity: 1”
Cut Length: 22”
Reach: telescoping shaft goes from 45’’-70” (3.75’-5.8’)
Features: Brushless steel motor, laser cut blades, shoulder strap, eight position articulating head
With a full 1” tooth gap, this extended reach hedge trimmer is a solid choice if you have to contend with thick branches on your property. While most trimmers tap out at ¾”, the extra ¼” tooth gap of this model makes a big difference on overgrown shrubbery, short or tall.
Dewalt is an industry leader in pro-grade tools, and this product is what you would expect from them: Powerful, reliable and built to last. It features a steel brushless motor (no plastic gears) and an excellent warranty to back it up. Due to the popularity of this brand, you won’t have any trouble finding replacement parts or getting it serviced for the lifetime of the product.
In terms of getting a finished look, this is a set that will give you a professional finish on the job. You can rotate the head to 8 preset positions, making it one of the most versatile pole hedge trimmers on the market for residential use. A full 70”, that is nearly 6’, from the trigger to blade, is plenty of reach. Any more would be unsafe for most homeowners to attempt.
There are two main downsides to be aware of with this model. First, this is a heavy machine built for delivering serious power. It comes in at nearly 19 pounds with the battery installed. You may find that you need to do trimming in stages to compensate for the weight. The shoulder strap that comes with it is helpful, but it doesn’t completely compensate for the extra poundage.
Second, the price is up there with other commercial grade gear. It’s justified though if you are ready to invest in gear that you want to depend on year after year. However, if you are looking for a budget-friendly choice, this isn’t it.
- Serious power—this is a professional grade tool with a brushless steel engine build and 3,700 SPM motor.
- Quiet operation—compared to gas machines with similar power, battery power brings with it much lower noise, perfect for working in residential areas.
- Professional precision—take advantage of 8 head positions to make the most of this tool’s versatility for a high-end look.
- Reach—nearly a full 6’ of reach to make quick work of hard to reach areas.
- Thick branches—a 1” tooth gap, sharp steel blades, and plenty of power make quick work of tough deadwood.
- Warranty—backed by Dewalt’s 90-day money back guarantee and three year limited manufacturer’s warranty with industry-leading customer service.
- Heavy—by far the biggest drawback to this model is the weight, coming in at nearly 19 Lbs.
- Costly—unless you are ready to invest in top-notch commercial grade gear, this may not be the right model for you.
Tough Jobs Require Tough Tools
Nothing makes a tough job harder than poor quality tools that just don’t have the power to muscle through. While you can get away with cheaper trimmers for small jobs on tender foliage, you may need to invest in the best hedge trimmers for thick branches if you have significant overgrown areas to contend with.
Do you have some tips for tackling the big jobs that you would like to share with our readers? Please leave a comment below!