A well-kept hedge can transform a scruffy outdoor space into a perfectly preened part of your home. And even if you don’t have hours to spend crafting the perfect box topiary, it’s still well worth investing in a decent hedge trimmer: most hedges can be kept looking their best with tidy two to three times per year.

Although a hedge trimmer will be essential for large hedges, investing in an electric, petrol or cordless trimmer will be handy to maintain all sizes and types of hedge, saving you time and energy compared to using manual shears. Read on to discover the key things you need to know before spending your cash, or you can skip straight to our pick of the best hedge trimmers you can currently buy.

There are three main types of hedge trimmer, each with its own pros and cons. Before you make your choice, consider your hedge type, how often you’ll use the hedge trimmer, and for how long you'll use it at any one time.

Electric hedge trimmers Rechargeable hedge trimmers eliminate the restrictions of corded models. Once charged, you can use a rechargeable hedge trimmer anywhere. The downside is the longevity of the charge: three to five hours of charging will usually give only around half an hour of use – or up to an hour, if you invest in a premium model.

As such, such trimmers are best for small to medium-sized hedges and quick jobs, rather than regular maintenance. If you do plan to tackle bigger jobs, you should consider buying a spare battery. It’s also worth noting that batteries aren’t always included in the original package, and may have to be bought separately, and will need to be factored into your budget.

Petrol hedge trimmers can be used anywhere and on any type of hedge. They’re well suited to larger gardens and work well even on thicker branches that can be tough to tackle with other types of hedge trimmer.

Although they’re the most powerful of the bunch, that extra power comes at a cost – namely, a heavier, bulkier piece of equipment to carry around and store when not in use.

A longer blade will speed up trimming if you have a large area to tackle, but it won’t make much difference for smaller bushes and hedges. The width of the blade is more important, since it’s an indication of the size of branches it will be able to cut through. You should look for tooth spacing of at least the width of the widest branches you want to cut (or be prepared to use a saw on some).

Many hedge trimmers now come with extra features to make your experience safer and easier. These include safety mechanisms, such as an automatic brake to stop movement instantly; anti-jamming systems to prevent stalling caused by trapped branches; and hand guards to offer extra protection while working.

Occasionally, a hedge trimmer will also come with a clipping collector. This will save you from having to pick up all the clippings after you’ve finished, but these are quite rare and can make trimming more difficult if poorly designed.

Cordless hedge trimmers are coming into their own thanks to developments in battery technology, and the sheer convenience of having one you can take anywhere pushes this model to the top of our list. Weighing just 2.5kg, it’s also the lightest full-sized hedge trimmer here – and, of course, there’s no danger of cutting through the cable.

Despite its compact size, it can handle branches up to 25mm in width, without having to go over the same patch more than once, which is more than enough for most suburban hedges.

The cordless AHS 50-20 features Bosch’s anti-blocking system to avoid stalling on heavier branches, as well as the brand’s quick-cut technology to get a clean cut the first time around.

Although this works well on small to medium-sized hedges, don’t expect to feel the benefit on larger or older branches, which may require more power than the AHS 50-20 can deliver.

Key specs – Power source:1 x Li-ion battery; Power: 300W/18V; Blade length: 50cm; Maximum branch width: 25mm; Weight: 2.5kg

Bosch Cordless Hedge Trimmer AHS 50-20 LI (1 Battery, 18 V System, Stroke Length: 20 mm, In Cardboard Box) £94.99 Buy now

If you’re looking for a little more power – or perhaps a longer running time – than a cordless hedge trimmer can provide, then this 600W unit from Black & Decker is well worth a look.

While it should be able to tackle branches of up to 25mm in diameter using its trimming blades, an additional saw blade at the end of the blades allows cutting of wood up to 35mm across.

The compact body of the trimmer has been engineered to be 10% lighter than previous models in the range, but it still can’t compete with the lightness of the Bosch above.

What it offers in return for this extra weight is greater power, the 600W motor putting out more cutting ability, especially with thicker or tougher branches.

However, you’ll need to weigh this up against the need to carry an extension reel with you as you cut.

Key specs – Power source: Electricity; Power: 600W; Blade length: 60cm; Maximum branch width: 35mm (using saw blade); Weight: 2.7kg

The Bosch Isio is a small, one-handed trimmer that’s ideal for keeping shrubs under control - and it comes with a handy telescopic cord for taller hedges and harder to reach areas.

Its lithium-ion battery charges quickly and lasts for up to 50 minutes, with a 20% battery-warning light so you won’t unexpectedly run out of power. It also holds its charge well while packed away, so it’s ready to go the next time you need it.

The Bosch Isio may seem pricey for its size – there are cheaper alternatives that do the same job – but we think it’s worth that little bit more if you’ll be using it regularly.

Its multi-click system makes changing attachments quick and easy, and it’s the only handheld trimmer with an anti-blocking system to prevent stalling.

Key specs – Power source: Li-ion battery; Power: 3.6V; Blade length: 12cm; Maximum branch width: 8mm; Weight: 550g

Choosing the right petrol-powered hedge trimmer can be tricky, not least because it's a bigger investment than an electric one.

But the Superlite 4528 is perfect for domestic gardens, with an impressive level of power and user-friendly features including safety guards, a transparent fuel tank and a quiet-running motor that won’t annoy the neighbours.

Despite the name, it's heavier than any electric trimmer on this list, but by petrol trimmer standards it is pretty light.

And it packs in all the technology you’d expect at the price - an anti-vibration system to make trimming as smooth as possible, OxyPower technology to minimise fuel consumption and a Soft Start feature that reduces the resistance in the starter cord by 40%.

Key specs – Power source: Petrol; Power: 22cc; Blade length: 45cm; Maximum branch width: 20mm recommended; Weight: 4.8kg

If you’ve got a lot of tall hedges to deal with, a cordless pole trimmer can save hours of messing about with ladders – and potentially prevent a nasty accident, too. With no need to carry your ladder to the hedge, then move it every time you run out of reach, you’ll save a great deal of effort, and with no cable to tangle around feet or be accidentally cut, you’ll be safer.

With its 43cm blades and 198cm total length, this pole trimmer lets you access areas other cutters beyond the limits of rivals, with a potential reach of around 3.5m. The cutting head pivots between five positions to cover 180°, and the blades can tackle branches of almost 1.25cm in diameter.

One thing to note is that, while a battery is included in the package, the charger is sold separately for around £30, or £45 with the extra battery you’ll almost certainly want, as charging takes around three hours and battery life tops out at around 45 minutes. Batteries are interchangeable with other Black & Decker 18V products.

At 3.2kg it’s not the lightest tool, but the reach and cordless convenience more than make up for that when there are large hedges to be trimmed back.

Key specs – Power source: Li-ion battery; Power: 18V; Blade length: 43cm; Maximum branch width: 12mm recommended; Weight: 3.2kg

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