It’s time to clean up the yard before the long winter. And one of the tasks on your checklist is probably to trim the hedges, and cut down overgrown bushes and shrubs. If your bushes are young and well-kept, a manual pair of hedge cutters might be all you need. They look like a giant pair of shears, or a bolt-cutter, and you can scissor the handles back and forth to get your bushes into shape and get a good workout to boot.
But if your bushes are simply too unruly for that kind of physical effort, you should consider buying an electric or battery powered hedge trimmer. Here’s a list of the top candidates for under $80.
The Black & Decker TR1400 14-Inch Hedge Trimmer. Lightweight, compact, and easy to use, the Black and Decker TR1400 14-Inch Hedge Trimmer has a lock-on button for continuous trimming. It also has a lock-off feature for safety purposes. It comes fully assembled, which is a big plus for those of us who are not mechanically inclined. Consumers rate it highly and it sells for under $45. Disadvantages, however, include the long cord which might trip you up or get accidentally severed while you’re working.
American Gardener SHR6 6-Inch Shrub Clipper with Extra 4-Inch Grass Shear Blade. Even lighter than The Black & Decker TR1400 14-Inch Hedge Trimmer, the American Gardener SHR6 has the additional advantage of being cordless, and having a blade-switch-out feature. This is actually two tools in one. It has a grass-clipping bade that can be interchanged with the hedge trimmer without fuss. Also rated highly by consumers, the Original Power CS18 Clip & Shear sells for less than $25. The cordless nature of this tool, however, can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s true that you won’t have to find an outlet, and step over cords, worrying constantly about accidentally severing the line. But keeping yet one more tool charged in the garage is a luxury some people can’t afford. And when you need the tool to be ready to go, it needs to be ready to go. Having to wait to charge it, because you forgot last time, is not going to make for happy yard maintenance.
Black & Decker DS600 6.0-Volt Cordless 6″ Detail Shrubber. And yet even more lightweight is the Black & Decker DS600 60-Volt Cordless 6″ Detail Shrubber. This is the ideal tool for small, non-industrial jobs. It weighs next to nothing, there are no cords to bother with, and the blade is short enough for small bushes around the yard. It offers two options – the hand-held configuration, and an optional telescoping pole so that you can reach overtall, overgrown shrubs without the use of a ladder. It’s also small enough for precision work like cutting the deadheads off of perennial flowers, without the manual strain. It’s also less intimidating than the larger gas models, so more people will be willing to use it and help you with the gardening. Unfortunately, some consumers complain of a stiff on-switch, and having to hold the button down causes strain. This could be remedied by choosing a model with a continuous-on switch. Again, the cordless feature might be a blessing or a curse, depending on your lifestyle, but the resolution and power of this gizmo makes up for it. The price? $45.
Black and Decker NHT518 18-Volt Cordless Hedge Trimmer. But if you need more power, and you think all these lightweight tools are for sissies, you should check out Black & Decker’s NHT518 18-Volt Cordless Hedge Trimmer for $70. The extended 22-inch blade will provide a smooth and level cut, and go through your bushes like butter. It has a fifty-minute run time on the battery, which should give you plenty of time to get your work done. Customers like the power of the machine, as well as the fact that they don’t need a cord or gasoline. It’s also easy on the ears. But unless you have space for a wall-mount for this monster, you might be better off with an electric cord version.