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Anyone who has ever used a corded hedge trimmer will know how easy it is to slice through the trailing cable, so the emergence of decent, cordless trimmers was a game changer for gardeners wishing for swift, mobile hedge management.
Petrol-driven machines – whilst undeniably powerful and great for munching through tough hedges - can be heavy to use thanks to their weighty engine components and fuel reservoirs, with the resulting carbon emissions not great for your green credentials.
There’s also the noise issue for you (and your neighbours) to contend with, especially if you are using one in a residential environment. Cordless machines are comparatively quiet and good for the environment.
What should you look for in a cordless hedge trimmer?
You’ll find that the high-end, high cost machines that are geared more towards professional use will be equipped with large capacity batteries for long-lasting performance and power. They’ll also be more adept at chomping through tougher shrubbery. Smaller, less powerful models aimed for lighter usage will typically afford less runtime and will be less effective when confronted with woody twigs and stems.
Remember to keep it charged
Before setting out to battle bushes with your new cordless trimmer, always ensure your battery is fully-charged as there’s nothing more frustrating than falling flat, mid-job. It’s also good practice to recharge your batteries immediately after you’ve finished the job in hand. You’ll thank yourself next time you venture into the garden with trimmer in tow.
You're able to buy a hedge trimmer without the battery for a lower price – but you will require a battery and a charger to make it work, naturally. In almost all instances, it's best to stick with the battery designed for that model -the proprietary design means it will be ideally suited to the model you chose. Prices here are for the full bundle – trimmer, battery, charger – unless otherwise stated.
We’ve been testing some of the finest hedge trimmers on the market, from heavy duty professional models to ones designed for light, recreational work. Our garden hedge is bald and begging for mercy – here’s five of the best.
Stihl HSA 86 18” Cordless Hedge Trimmer
Stihl HSA 86 + 1 x AP200 Battery + AL300 Fast Charger £395, bare unit £219
For taming larger gardens and for professional use, look no further than this zippy number from Stihl’s powerful AP tool range. Featuring a fearfully sharp 45cm blade and high stroke rate, this trimmer danced through our ill-fated foliage, giving us some of the cleanest cuts on test.
Soft stems were sliced with surgical precision, whilst thicker, gnarlier wood was severed without crushing or tearing. In use the weight balance feels spot on – the intuitive safety switch setup and low vibration make this tool a joy to use.
From a one hour charge using the AL 300 quick charger, the AP 300 battery will grace you with up to 3 hours of hedge-beasting action.
Bosch EasyHedgeCut 18-45
Bosch EasyHedgeCut 18-45 + 1* 18 V Li-Ion Battery + charger £109.95, bare unit £49.95
We were fearful that this entry-level trimmer from Bosch would be too lightweight for the unkempt privet hedge we tasked it on, but it came through with flying colours, proving itself to be a lightweight, agile and sharp piece of kit.
Granted, the battery performance is a bit lacking in power for larger jobs (although we did get around 30 minutes of slicing action from a 1 hour charge) and the small blade struggled on some of the tougher stems, but for whizzing around soft shrubbery in smaller gardens, you can’t go wrong.
This was also the quietest cutter we reviewed – perfect for early morning hedge strimming sessions when you don’t want to wake the neighbours.
Gtech Cordless Hedge Trimmer HT 3.0
Gtech Cordless Hedge Trimmer HT 3.0 + 1* 18 V Li-Ion Battery + charger, £199.99
This long-handled trimmer has been designed to tackle hard to access shrubbery offering up a 10 ft reach, and sports a 35cm cutting blade which you can angle at various positions by lifting and locking the top lever.
The tool is powered by a distinctive, grenade-shaped Li-on battery which slides into the base of the pole and provides 60 minutes cutting time from a 4 hour charge.
While lofty work is its forte, we found it a joy to use when tasked with close hedge work – with the blade fixed in upright position, you’ve got yourself a highly manoeuvrable cutting tool for shaping and sculpting.
Karcher HGE 18-45
Karcher HGE 18-45 + 18 v battery + charger, £149.99
Karcher are a German company best known for their punchy power washers – this hedge trimmer hails from their garden tool range and offers cable-free hedge maintenance at a decent price.
Armed with a 45cm diamond-ground blade, this trimmer slices and dices at a fair rate of knots and feels light and nippy in use. We also found that its bright, Karcher yellow livery made it easy to spot under the pile of fallen foliage we had created.
The 18V battery provides around 35 minutes run-time (depending on how enthusiastically you've been working and how tough the hedge) but it’s worth noting that the recharge time is a rather lengthy 5 hours, so make sure you top it up before commencing your trimming tasks.
Husqvarna 520ihD60 + BLI 200 Battery + QC330 Charger £614
This high-spec bush-buster from Husqvarna is a real workhorse, designed for tackling the toughest hedges and sprawling shrubbery and it’s the trimmer we’d reach for when the going gets woody and wild.
The unit is powered by a weatherproof 36V battery that slides sideways into the unit.
A fully charged battery should power you through most jobs, but if you start to run low on juice (indicated by an LED display on the side) engaging ‘eco mode’ button will slow down the blade speed and afford you more trimming time.
A finger lever (inside the chainsaw-style handle assembly) enables the trimmer’s body to tilt through 90 degrees to provide fatigue-free sideways slicing without the need to twist your trigger hand.