When it’s time to trim the hedges around your yard, you’ll need the right tools. First among them, though, is hedge shears. Here we’re going to talk about what to look for in a good set. We also have some recommendations for which ones to consider.
We’re going to look at “manual” hedge shears here. You can also check out our reviews of electric and gas hedge shears if you’d prefer those!
Why Use Hedge Shears
Hedge shears are designed to help you shape bushes and shrubs. They’re more heavy-duty than grass shears since they have to cut small branches.
The blades are longer than those of pruners, letting you easily trim larger sections to the same length. The handles are also longer, meaning you can reach higher or farther. They’re less designed for detail work than they are for handling broader areas.
Hedge shears are the perfect tool when you want the top and side of your bushes to have even edges. They work great whether you need to trim the whole hedge or just do some touch-up work.
There are gas-powered hedge trimmers available. There are also electric versions – both plug-in types and battery-powered versions. But sometimes, it’s better to just stick with the basics. Hand-powered shears may require more effort, but they’re great when you only have a small area to work on. And of course, they’re also more economical.
What To Look For In Hand-Operated Hedge Shears
Manual shears are pretty much oversized scissors. They’re just two blades with handles on a pivot point. Even with something so simple, though, there are a few things to look for.
Most importantly, consider the size and weight of the shears. If you’re going to be using them to trim for any amount of time, your hands, wrists, and forearms can tire quickly. The repetitive open and closing can aggravate conditions such as repetitive stress injury.
Lightweight but durable is the way to go. Fiberglass and aluminum are the best choices for handles. The best blades, though, are forged steel.
You also want handles that are long enough for the job. You want to be able to reach the entire bush without falling into it, of course. Some hedge shears have telescopic handles so you can adjust them as needed. This adds to the weight but can make it easier to get the job done in the long run.
For almost every need, the straight, flat blade design works just fine. Wavy blades can help keep branches from slipping, but that’s not really that big of a problem.
We don’t recommend shears for cutting larger branches; the limit for most is about ¼ inch. However, some do have a notch in the blade that can handle branches up to ½ inch or so. But generally, for larger pieces, loppers are your best bet.
Our Picks for the Best Hedge Shears
Now that we know what we’re looking for, let’s take a look at some of the best manual hedge shears on the market today.
These shears from Corona deserve the popularity they’ve attained. They’re easy to use and cut well. They also hold up over time and provide smoothing cutting action.
The handles can extend from 15 to 26 inches. The cutting surface of the blade is 8.5 inches. These will let you reach nearly a yard without much effort. (Some places say the blade length is 10 inches – that’s the measurement from the pivot point to the tip).
Like many other quality hedge shears, there’s a “bumper” between the handles so that they don’t close too hard. This spares you a bit of impact that could stress your hands.
The handles are sturdy and made of steel. That does make them tough, although it adds to the weight. These are the heaviest shears we’re including here. They weigh about 3.pounds. That would be the biggest drawback to these. However, we still think they make a good investment especially because of extendable handles.
There’s also a limited lifetime warranty on these.
Another great model with telescoping handles, these shears from Tabor Tools make a good investment to add to your tool shed.
The blades are about 8 inches long. They’re also wavy, which can make it easier to cut without the branches sliding away from you. Coupled with the bumper, this can make the work a bit less stressful.
The handles are 25 inches in their compact form and can extend to 33 inches.
The blades are made of forged carbon steel. The handles are steel, too. That and the telescoping ability add to the weight, of course. They weigh in at 3.25 pounds.
That weight is one drawback. Another is that you’ll need to have a professional sharpen the wavy blades. That’s not usually something that can be done at home with a regular sharpening stone.
Tabor Tools offers a lifetime warranty.
Fiskars is another brand that offers great cutting tools for the yard. These hedge trimmers have 8-inch serrated blades and strong steel handles.
They also feature the bumper to lessen impact and quality cushioned handle grips.
The handles are about 13 inches and don’t adjust in size. That makes these substantially smaller than the models we’ve looked at above. Of course, that also helps make them lighter, at just 2.9 pounds. Still pretty substantial, but not too bad.
Because of their more compact size, these are best for smaller shrubs where you don’t have to reach far.
There is a lifetime warranty on these hedge shears.
These hedge shears look almost retro. That’s because they have wooden handles! It’s a great look. But you don’t sacrifice any function, either. These cut great and are easy to handle.
The blades are forged steel and measure 7.5 inches. The handles are about 14 inches, for an overall length of 21 inches. They weigh just 1.75 pounds.
The wood used for the handles is Japanese White Oak.
These cut phenomenally well. We’ve seen reviews comparing them to a lightsaber or a chainsaw. And we can’t disagree at all.
One drawback is that there isn’t a shock absorber to keep them from closing hard. However, since they cut so smoothly, we don’t think you’ll be exerting that much pressure, anyway. The cost is also higher than the models above, but it could be worth it.
Okatsune is a Japanese company that was founded in 1925. They specialize in shears and similar tools.
ARS calls these hedge shears a professional tool, and we think they got it right. If you use hedge shears a lot, you want a tool that’s lightweight, durable, and easy to use. This is a perfect example of one.
The blades are nearly 7 inches long. The total length is 25 inches. That gives you over two and a half feet of reach, good for most jobs.
The blades are sharp, but if they do wear out, they can be replaced. They’re made of carbon steel.
They weigh 1.7 pounds, making them a great lightweight model with good reach.
The only drawback with these is the price. It’s definitely an investment and might be too much if you only need them for a small hedge once or twice a year. But if you have more work to do, they definitely make sense.
This is another Japanese-made product.
If you have a hedge or bush on your property, hedge shears are great for keeping it in shape. Hand-powered hedge shears are ideal if it’s not a large plant and you don’t want to overspend on a powered model. A durable set with strong blades but that doesn’t tire your arms is the way to go!