Hedge Trimmers Vs Cutters – What is the Difference?

What is the Difference Between Hedge Trimmers and Hedge Cutters?

There has been a lot of debate in the gardening world about what the difference between hedge trimmers and hedge cutters is. Are they even different at all? If you’ve ever wondered about this very argument, keep reading!

One school of thought states that hedge trimmers are used for smaller, more delicate jobs such as (you guessed it) trimming hedges! Hedge trimmers are generally used where only a small amount of plant matter needs to be cut away, and where the hedge branches and stems are thin enough to be effortlessly sliced through. Hedge trimmers are often automated to ensure smoother operation and balance, and many gardeners recommend hedge trimmers for jobs including:

  • Topiary
  • Evening out hedge edges
  • Other light-duty functions

Hedge cutters, by contrast, are generally used for more heavy-duty tasks such as tackling overgrowth where larger amounts of plant material need removing. Hedge cutters are also more suitable for when the branches and stems of the plants being cut are thicker and longer than those you might use hedge trimmers for. Hedge cutters are usually manually operated, using the strength of the user to complete their function, and are ideal for these kinds of tasks:

  • Pruning hedges and small trees
  • Clearing larger areas of foliage
  • More physically taxing jobs


There is another side to this debate which makes one simple claim: there is no real difference! The people on this side of the fence (or hedge, in this case), argue that the terms ‘hedge trimmer’ and ‘hedge cutter’ are essentially interchangeable and that either can be used to complete the majority of the job. People have even gone as far as to say that the two are the same thing and that manufacturers have unintentionally created this divide by giving their products slightly different names. What I might refer to as a hedge cutter might be the exact thing you call a hedge trimmer, and there is no fundamental difference.

Which theory do you buy into?

Whether you think there is enough difference to warrant the two different terms, or think they do the same job anyway so what’s the point in arguing, hedge trimmers and cutters are incredibly handy tools to have around the garden.

Can you imagine trying to hack through the branches of your young cherry tree with run-of-the-mill secateurs? Your hand is cramping trying to break through the toughening bark, and a tool designed to be used in one hand is now struggling with two! The blades eventually work their way through the branch, but not all the way through nice and cleanly, and the branch bends, ripping a piece of bark down the tree like a hangnail.

What you need is a pair of studier hedge cutters or trimmers to help you do the job without bruising and damaging your plants. Luckily, there are many varieties out there to choose from to best suit your needs.

Varieties of Hedge Trimmers and Hedge Cutters

  1. Electric – Electric tools can take the effort and frustration out of neatening up your garden. Using shears to trim or shape a hedge can be physically taxing and very time-consuming. When the energy is transferred onto the electric trimmer (or cutter), the job becomes a breeze! They’re relatively small and lightweight, ideal for most home garden use and they start and stop as you dictate. Electric is arguably the best option for smaller hedge jobs as larger jobs might require more power.
  2. Gas – Gas trimmers and cutters are noticeably more powerful that electric and they do not require being plugged into the mains via a cable. They are generally bigger and heavier than their electric counterparts but as such, they are suitable for larger jobs and dealing with sturdier plants. It might take a while to get used to for beginners, but once you get the hang of it, gas will make your hedge trimming endeavour fly by!
  3. Cordless – Cordless hedge cutters and trimmers might paint a mental image of simple shears, but in actual fact, the cordless option comes in more or less the same size range as electric! Cordless trimmers and cutters are ideal for large gardens where a power cable might not reach till the end of the space, and they give you the freedom to go as quickly as you can, and as high or low as you need to.

If you’re unsure of which kind to invest in…

Think about your garden. Is it small enough that an extension cord could allow you to reach the whole thing? It is quite expansive with very high, unruly hedges? Does the job you need to do require a calculated movement? These questions should set you on the right path.

Think about what you are trying to achieve. Ask yourself “what do I want?”. No matter what the answer is, rest assured that there is an option out there for you that can help. If you still feel unsure, there is plenty of information available on the internet, in gardening magazines, and through asking around. Say goodbye to crazy hedges!

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