Hedge shears, also called garden shears, make it easy to keep ornamental trees, shrubs and hedges in shape and trimmed to perfection.
Most shrubs need trimming at some point so as to stop them from absolutely taking over every other plant in your garden (if they are healthy) and the best cheaper tool for the job is hedge shears.
I’ve put together a list of the best hedge shears on the market as well as tips and advice on these tools to help you find a product that works well, is durable and has all the features needed to make gardening simple.
What are Hedge Shears Used For?
Hedge shears are handy tools that have been crafted for specific gardening tasks that involve cutting soft, non-woody stems and branches, including:
- Trimming formal hedges – This is the most obvious use for these shears, as it’s right there in the name! They can be used to cut off new, bushy growth as well as create clean lines and shapes for formal hedging and topiary.
- Pruning perennials – In order to get healthy new growth and a great crop of flowers, most perennials like lavender, salvia, coneflower and delphiniums benefit from a pruning in late winter.
- Maintenance and deadheading – Hedge shears can also be used to deadhead plants to encourage vigorous, multiple flowering.
What to Look for in the Best Hedge Shears
- A sharp, high quality blade - It is hard to test this without feeling the blade but you can get a rough idea of its sharpness by gently touching the blade.
It should not feel smooth, if it feels smooth then it is already slightly flat and won’t get better with use. The best blades are carbon-steel, as this offers sharpness, durability and strength.
- Curved blades – This shape helps to stop branches slipping down the blade as you cut, giving you better results and cleaner cuts.
- Strong handles - I myself prefer wooden handles simply because I know they are strong. However, if you want a lighter tool, try and find a hedge trimmer with handles made of carbon fibre.
Stay away from aluminium handles because they bend more easily when force is applied.
- Non-stick coating – Blades with non-stick coating make cleaning your shears much easier when they get covered in sap.
- Adjustable pivot-bolt assembly – This is a great extra feature to look for that allows you to adjust the blade tension yourself.
Pivot bolts are usually the first part of a hedge shear to get damaged, so it also makes it easy to replace the part without having to buy new garden shears.
- Gear reduction – Trimming hedges is tough, repetitive work that can quickly cause strain and muscle fatigue. Geared technology in the cutting mechanism helps take some of the effort out of this task, making it easier on your hands and shoulders to do more extensive jobs.
Different Types of Hedge Shears
There are slightly different types of hedge shears for different trimming jobs.
- Short blade – Short-bladed shears (15cm blades) are best-suited to close-up work on delicate topiary or pruning/deadheading perennials.
- Long blade – Shears with longer blades (up to 30 cm) are better-suited to bigger projects like trimming a large boundary hedge. The bigger blades make the job a lot faster.
How Much Do the Best Hedge Shears Cost?
As with most gardening equipment, there are a lot of inferior-quality tools on the market that seem like a good deal but end up costing you a lot more in the long run when you have to replace them each year!
A ‘cheap’ pair of sturdy hedge shears will set you back at least $20, if you’re paying less you are probably buying the cheapest or next to cheapest tool. An expensive pair of shears will be in excess of $100.
A good range is probably the $40-$50 cost range. Very rarely will you buy a tool for that price that isn’t great value. If you are running a gardening business you may well like to consider buying a more expensive model designed for high use.
How to Use Hedge Shears to Trim a Hedge
These garden shears are specifically made for precision cutting of hedge foliage and soft, new growth. Here are some guidelines for using your shears correctly.
- Know when to trim – Non-flowering hedges should be trimmed every 6-8 weeks in the growing season and once every two months in cool seasons.
Flowering hedges should be trimmed after they bloom or in late winter so you don’t cut off any flowering growth.
- Run guide strings – Set up stings at the top, bottom, and sides of the hedge to guide your cuts and keep your trimming level. Use stakes to set the strings and make sure the strings are taut.
- Trim top down – Start by trimming the top of the hedge, holding the hedge shears as level as possible. If you are using a ladder, position it into the hedge so that you can lean over the hedge without toppling it.
- Square up – Use the same method to trim the sides and ends of the hedge, working from the top down.
- 3-year rule – If your hedge is old and overgrown, you can stimulate new growth by following the 3-year rule. Simply use a pruning tool to remove about one-third of the thickest stems at the base of the plant.
This should be repeated for 3 years. This will encourage the plant to grow from the base.
You can find more tips and trick for trimming a hedge here
How to Care For and Maintain Your Hedge Shears
- Cleaning - To best care for your garden shears, wipe them off with a rag of warm, soapy water after use. This helps to clean off sap from the blades and remove gunk that is likely to cause your tool to rust.
- Sharpening - Check the blades to ensure that they are sharp and secure in the handle. Sharpen once a season before use and replace the blades as needed.
- Store – Pack away your garden shears somewhere dry, out of the sunlight and out of reach of children, in your garage or garden shed. Do not store with the blade resting on the floor, as this can blunt the tool or cause it to fall over. Secured on the wall is best.
Hedge Shear Safety Tips
- Protective clothing – Wear a long-sleeved top and pants, thick gardening gloves and sturdy, closed shoes.
- Position – Stand close to the plant you are cutting to give you control over your cut. Make sure your feet are in a sturdy, secure position, especially if you are on a ladder.
- Blade awareness – Hedge shears are pretty safe gardening tools but they still have a very sharp, pointed blade.
Keep young children and pets out of the area where you are working, always place your shears carefully and out of reach of children, and where they cannot fall over, be tripped over or stood on.
The Best Hedge Shears in Australia
With Okatsune Precision Hedge Shears, you'd feel like a Japanese Swordsman in your garden. Why?
Because this hedge shears are made of Izumo Steel blades, the same blade material used in Japanese Swords.
These short garden shears are used by professional gardeners throughout Japan.
The handles are strong but light and less have less vibration thanks to its Japanese Oak handles.
ARS HS-KR1000 Professional Hedge Shears have long lasting sharpness and a pivot bolt for blade adjustments.
Created with superior steel and blade treatment, you get an unsurpassed cutting performance.
In addition to it's perfect shape and balance, professionals tend to choose this hedge shears because to it's superior durability.
Gonicc Professional Adjustable Hedge Shears' quality blade is made of high carbon SK-5 steel making is ultra strong, sharper and last longer than your ordinary blade.
The shock-absorbing design will prevent most of shock during the trimming and reduce fatigue of arms and shoulders.
What is best about this it? It has a lifetime warranty, making it one of the best in the market.
Oara Garden Hedge Shears is made out of high quality 65 MN carbon steel making it ideal for shaping and manicuring boxwood, hedges, shrubs and decorative topiary plants.
It is coated with Teflon that prevents rusts, corrosion, and corrosion. It also reduces clinging of dirt which helps maintaining it easy and convenient.
Corona HS3244 ComfortGEL Hedge Shear is built with intergrated shock-guard bumpers reducing strain and fatigue to your arms and shoulders.
It has ergonomically shaped grips for maximum comfort, fit and control.
And, with it's specially coated non-stick blades that helps with maintaining it's sharpness, you will surely have a blade that will last long.
Best Hedge Shears Buying Guide Summary
With good quality garden shears, you can express your creativity in topiary, grow a beautiful privacy hedge and prune your perennials with ease.
Remember to buy a good quality tool with a durable, sharp blade and ergonomic handles, and to use and store it carefully to keep it in great shape.
The best hedge shears will last you a lifetime and make these important gardening tasks a breeze!