Best Hedge Shears: Guide & Recommendations
New review added July 2017
Shearing hedges by hand can be a tedious business, especially if your shears are not up to the task. Having the best tool for the job can make all the difference! With the multitude of designs and sizes of hedge shears available, knowing which tool will make your life easier takes some investigation. But how do you choose the best hedge shears?
In this article, we review the features to consider when buying hedge shears so that you’ll know what to look for in choosing a quality product.
If you’re just interested in our recommended hedge shears, our list of reviewed shears and recommendations can be viewed at the bottom of this page.
How to Choose the Best Hedge Shears for Your Garden
Shears come in a range of sizes, styles, and prices. The best tool for you may not be the optimum choice for your neighbor. If you have varied uses—for example, arborvitae shrubs as well as a privet hedge—you’ll want to choose an all-purpose tool, perhaps with geared action. If, on the other hand, you have a topiary garden, you should look for smaller shears that are designed to do this one task well.
Important Considerations When Buying Hedge Shears
To help you choose the best tool for your needs, consider these aspects.
Weight and Size
Because hedge trimming is a repetitive task, which often involves reaching up above shoulder height, the weight of your tool is an important consideration.
A heavy tool can lead to fatigue, and yet weighty telescoping handles are sometimes necessary to do the job. Consider your own upper body strength in selecting shears.
At the lighter end, you’ll find aluminum and fiberglass handles; steel and wood handled tools tend to be heavier.
The biggest factors by far in reducing fatigue during use are the weight of the tool and blade sharpness.
If you’ll be doing mostly up-close work, opt for shorter blades (about 6 inches) and short handles. For big jobs, such as cutting back an extensive privet hedge, choose longer blades (9 to 12 inches) and longer handles.
Most quality hedge shears on the market are straight-blade shears made from forged steel. One advantage of straight blades is that they can be easily sharpened by hand with a millstone and/or sharpening stone.
Ideally, the blades on your hedge shears should touch only at the cutting point to reduce friction and sticking.
Some shears have serrations on one or both blades, which can be helpful when gripping and cutting twigs larger than ¼ inch.
Another feature on some designs is a non-stick coating, purportedly to keep the blades from gumming up and/or rusting.
Wavy-blade shears are also sold. They grip the twigs, preventing them from sliding along the blade while you’re cutting, an advantage with open-structured plants. The disadvantage is that wavy blades require professional sharpening.
Another feature to look for is a good adjustable pivot-bolt assembly, which allows you to adjust the blade tension as necessary. This is often the first part of the tool to fail, so being able to buy replacement pivot bolts is an advantage.
To get the most out of your tool, it’s important that you keep the blades very sharp.
Geared technology will allow you to cut larger branches with less effort. This feature can be helpful, depending on how you plan to use your tool. You may not need this extra power if you shear your shrubs often, as you’ll be cutting soft new growth.
Most hand shears will cut branches no larger than ½ inch in diameter. Some designs feature a limb notch in the blade, which can extend the limit. Even so, it’s best to have a pair of loppers on hand for cutting larger branches.
Ease of Use
Look for cushioned handle grips, and shock-absorbing bumpers where the handles come together, or an alternate bumper system. This reduces wear and tear on your arms.
Check out the action of the tool before you buy—some shears have an easy scissor-like action, while others require more effort to open and close.
Availability of Replacement Parts
As with pruners, the better brands offer replacement blades and other parts. If you clean, sharpen, and refurbish your tools regularly, the availability of replacement parts is a big plus.
Hedge shears can cost as little as $15, or as much as $120. There are good deals to be had but, as with all tools, you get what you pay for. Expect to pay at least $40 for quality shears.
So Which Hedge Shears Are Right For You?
First, take stock of what kinds of plants you’ll be shearing. Do you need a heavy-duty tool that will cut through tough woody shrubs, or will light-duty shears for soft new growth be enough? How many shrubs or hedges do you need to prune? That will help you decide the relative importance of weight, blade length/type, and ease of use.
Then determine your budget. Like most gardening tools, hedge shears come in a range of price points and, while you typically get better quality at higher prices, it’s not always necessary to pay more to get what you need.
To help you make the right decision, we’ve provided a description and rating of seven different hedge shears. We’ll continue to update this article as we review more tools.
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|Fiskars PowerGear II Hedge Shears (HS551) – A tool suited for light shearing only. >> READ OUR REVIEW|
Last update on 2021-04-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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