No sooner than spring has been sprung, than hedges, shrubs and bushes back gardens and yards suddenly start trying to take over.
I don’t know about you, but it often seems like mine have been literally put in a grow-bag.
And while there are plenty of advantages to using electric hedge trimmers, or even gas-powered versions, to keep mother nature from reclaiming your property, sometimes it’s best to maintain your patch of green space a more traditional way.
That’s why I’ve put together a list of the best hedge shears available on the market today, with a buyer’s guide and FAQ section to follow.
So, read on to discover which of these sheariously good hand tools should be the new addition in your garden shed.
- The 9 Best Hand Hedge Shears for 2020
- How to Choose The Best Hedge Shears
- What are hedge shears?
- Do I need hedge shears?
- What is topiary?
- How do you use hedge shears?
- What are the best hedge shears?
- What’s the difference between wave and straight blades?
- How do you remove rust from hedge shears?
- How do you sharpen hedge shears?
- How do you clean hedge shears?
- When should I trim my hedges?
- Do I need to wear safety equipment when using hedge shears?
The 9 Best Hand Hedge Shears for 2020
Spear & Jackson 8170RS/11 Hedge Shears
First up we have these award-winning hedge shears from famous British garden tool company Spear & Jackson. They’ve been manufacturing world-class tools since 1830, so this is a solid product to start with.
It features a geared mechanism for cutting – which makes it easier to do the job with less effort required, with hardened carbon steel blades for extra durability and long life.
The aluminum handles are finished with non-slip grips for safety and control, and PTFE coated blades for improved rust protection and smooth operation. They weigh 1.55 lbs, with a blade length of 7-inches.
- Great price.
- Sharp blades.
- Highly recommended.
- They might be on the small side for some people.
Tabor Tools B212A Hedge Shears
These highly rated hedge shears from Tabor Tools are of the telescopic variety, with a 25-inch handle able to fully extend to 33-inches for pruning and cutting those hard-to-reach areas.
The sharp, wave blade is made with forged carbon steel and cuts all the way to the tip for a precise, smooth trim which will benefit the health of your foliage.
With shock-absorbing bumpers that reduce user fatigue, the shears can be used for longer periods without feeling the burn in the shoulders and arms, while the adjustable blade tension is ideal for pruning different plants and is easy to change simply by turning the flower-shaped pivot bolt.
They weigh in at 3.25 lbs.
- Great price.
- Rust-resistant coating.
- Non-slip grips.
- Durable steel construction.
- Generous extended length.
- Easy-to-use telescopic operation.
- One of the heavier shears in the review.
Corona HS 3950 Hedge Shears
Not to be confused with viruses or beer, Corona Tools have been based out of Corona, CA since the 1920s. This is their telescopic hedge shear, with comfort-grip handles able to extend from 15-inches to 26-inches, with a sharp, straight, 8.5-inch blade.
The ShockStop bumper between the handles helps to significantly reduce user fatigue when you’ve been trimming your hedgerows for hours, while the precision-made pivot bolt provides smooth cutting action to improve overall efficiency and performance on the job. The hedge shears weigh 3.5 lbs.
- Great price.
- Forged carbon-steel blades.
- Well-made, durable design.
- Highly rated.
- They’re heavy.
Gnome Garden Hedge Shears
The blades on these Gnome hedge shears are made from carbon steel and of a curved design to prevent slipping. With heavy-duty, ergonomic handles, the soft-grip provides you with the best in comfort, control, and safety.
Rubber impact bumpers dampen the shock from every clip, so you can work for longer without feeling the fatigue in your shoulders and arms. The blades have also been heat-treated and surface-polished, so they should last you longer with maximum durability.
Gnome’s hedge shears are 25-inches in length with the blade at 9.5 inches, and they weigh in at 2.9 lbs.
- Tough and durable build quality.
- Good reach.
- Easy and comfortable to use.
- Great price.
- On the heavy side for many users.
Fiskars Garden Powergear2 Hedge Shears
Known for their iconic orange-handled scissors (of which more than a billion have been sold), Finnish company Fiskars manufactures world-class cutting tools and craft products – including some of the best lawnmowers for small yards.
This is a beautifully designed hedge shear with fully-hardened, 10-inch, precision-ground steel blades that stay razor sharp even through prolonged use. The low-friction coating helps the blades glide through hedges, bushes, and shrubs while preventing gumming and resisting rust.
Shock-absorbing bumpers help keep user fatigue down to a minimum, as the patented PowerGear technology gives you up to three times the cutting strength on every chop. They weigh 2.45 lbs.
- Name to trust.
- Durable, stylish construction.
- Powerful gear system.
- Very comfortable operation.
- Ergonomic, soft-grip handles.
- None that are apparent – let me know if you find any.
Barnel B1000L Hedge Shears
USA based Barnel have been making horticulture products since the 1980s, and they’ve gone on to establish themselves as a premium garden tool manufacturer.
This is one of their ultra-lightweight hedge shears, made with aluminum handles and body to prevent user fatigue when giving the garden a trim.
Drop forged for strength and durability, the shears have an anti-shock dampener between the handles, while the high-carbon steel blades can be removed and replaced as required.
With a 9-inch blade and weighing just 1.9 lbs, these are some of the best hedge pruning shears available on the market.
- Expertly crafted.
- Very durable.
- Simple, easy-to-use operation.
- Precision performance.
- Shock bumpers can wear out.
Okatsune Precision Hedge Shears
The number one hedge shear manufacturer in Japan, Okatsune offers the very best in Japanese craftsmanship and precision when it comes to bladed horticultural trimmers.
Used by professionals, their compact length at just 21-inches makes them ideally suited towards topiary or other fine foliage clipping.
They’re beautifully constructed, with the handles fashioned from slick Japanese white oak, with the blades made from hot hammer-forged “Izumo Yasuki Steel” – the same material that’s used in the making of Japanese swords to give them maximum sharpness and cutting power.
Shear your hedges like a Samurai warrior with this premium quality tool from Okatsune – the best Japanese hedge shears hands down. They weigh 1.12 lbs.
- World-class manufacture.
- Built to last a lifetime.
- Beautiful blade cover included.
- Unrivalled hardness and strength.
- Might be too small for some.
- No shock dampener between the blades.
Fiskars 9509 Quantum Series Hedge Shear
A second entry from the Finns with this Quantum Series hedge shear from Fiskars. Again, another precision tool that’s ideal for shaping and pruning decorative shrubs.
The patented non-circular gearing mechanism multiplies leverage for up to three times more cutting power than single-pivot tools, while the hardened, ground blades are made from the best European steel.
Covered with a rust-resistant, low-friction coating, the blades aren’t as prone to gumming up with sap like other models. The aluminum handles are super-strong and lightweight, with tough handle pads made from sustainable, renewable cork that is comfortable to hold as well as dampening cutting shock.
They weigh in at 2.4 lbs.
- Name to trust.
- Quality construction throughout.
- Premium materials.
- Gear-cutting technology.
- Beautifully designed.
- Shock absorbers.
- On the more expensive side for hedge shears.
ARS HS-KR1000 Professional Hedge Shears
Quite possibly the best professional hedge shears on the market, this model from ARS is the Cadillac of trimming tools. The Japanese certainly know a thing or two about crafting blades, with superior steel and blade treatment for unsurpassed cutting performance and long-lasting sharpness.
They are the perfect shape and balance for continued use, with a pivot bolt for blade adjustments so you can tackle just about anything you need to trim.
The blades can be replaced, while the whole design is built to last a lifetime, outperform anything else on the market, and give you the cleanest, healthiest cuts to your hedges, shrubs, and bushes.
Outstanding quality from the land of the rising sun, and they weigh just 1.85 lbs.
- Market leading hedge shears.
- Easy to maintain.
- Super lightweight.
- Tough and durable construction.
- Premium materials.
- Exorbitantly expensive for hedge shears.
How to Choose The Best Hedge Shears
While it might seem straightforward at first, there are a few things you should take into consideration before parting with your cold hard cash on a new set of hedge shears.
Especially if you’re going to be paying well over $50 for them.
Hand Hedge Shears or Gas/Electric Trimmers?
Perhaps the first thing you’re wondering is – why are hand hedge shears still a thing?
While both electric and gas hedge trimmers offer so much when it comes to keeping your unruly shrubbery in order, they do have some limitations when compared to those good, old-fashioned hedge shears your grandparents used.
And the technology has come along way from the wooden, weighty, rusted shears hanging in the garden shed.
Hand hedge shears can offer unbeatable precision. It’s highly likely you’ll need a pair to finish off your trim anyway – and it’s recommended you use them before the main cut to prune inside the shrub and allow life to develop inside.
Even if you’re not styling your yard like Edward Scissorhands, the ability to focus on individual twigs and branches is a huge advantage with hand shears.
They also require little to no maintenance, whereas other versions (particularly gas-powered trimmers) can be troublesome to keep in tip-top shape.
And they’re the most eco-friendly of all the ways you can keep your garden in order. No fuel, no oil, no electricity – and virtually no noise save for the therapeutic ‘snip, snip, snip’ that can become quite addictive once you get going.
If safety is also a concern, hand hedge shears still have a place in today’s gardens – especially if you have children or pets running around.
However, if you are in the market for something with a bit more power, check out these electric hedge trimmers and get the job done in double-quick time.
The Cutting Blades
Let’s take a look at the business end of the hedge shears – the blades themselves.
Most blades will be made from steel – the quality of which will depend on how they’re manufactured, with the best blades made from hardened, heat-treated forged steel while utilizing advanced blade treatments throughout the crafting process.
This is why Japanese blades are so expensive – they are made by masters who have been using the same techniques for thousands of years.
And the best hand shears have the best blades – simple.
How long you want the blades to be will be determined by what you need to use it for. For detailed, close-quarter work I would suggest a blade of no more than 6-7-inches.
For trimming larger areas with wild abandon, look for something over 9-inches long.
It’s beneficial to have small and large versions – particularly if you’re indulging in some topiary. Having the versatility to precision trim and on a larger scale is a big advantage.
Blades that are covered in an anti-rust and non-stick coating are preferable. This can slow long-term wear and tear, as well as preventing them from gumming up with sap when in use.
Also, keep a lookout for blades that can be removed – that’s another plus point should you ever need to replace a damaged tool – or simply for easy maintenance.
Straight vs Wavy Edges
You’ll notice that some blades are straight and some have a wave or curve in them. This has nothing to do with aesthetics and looking pretty.
The main difference between the two is that wavy blades are designed to minimize slipping- so the branch or twig stays where it needs to be in the prime cutting area.
There’s nothing worse than sections of foliage trying to escape the grasp of your cold steel. You’re likely to get poor quality cuts, clumping, and tired very fast.
However, they’re a lot harder to sharpen than straight edges, and good straight-edged blades should only be touching at the cutting point anyway – in an effort to reduce gumming up and fatigue.
Most hand hedge shears will be able to handle branches of up to 1/4-inch thick. Remember that hedge shears are not designed to cut through wood – only the thinner stems and plant material at the end of branches.
Here’s a recommended read for you: pruning vs trimming – because everyone should know the difference and buy their tools accordingly to the activity.
Look out for the more heavy-duty tools if you think that’s not going to cut it – and never use hedge shears to try to cut thicker foliage – you’ll likely break or damage the tool and possibly do yourself an injury in the process.
The Pivot Bolt and Mechanism
On certain models, you might notice a bolt or dial where the blades meet that allows you to adjust the tension of the cut.
This is very useful for getting a cleaner cut on tougher hedges, shrubs, and bushes, and to minimize your own fatigue during the job.
And cleaner cuts mean healthier vegetation and less time working.
Also, pay attention to the actual cutting mechanism – how the blades interlock together and go through the cut.
Geared blades (interlocking gears where the blades meet) are more powerful, robust hedge shears that are ideal for cutting thicker branches. Look out for them if you need a more heavy-duty tool.
Telescopic Hedge Shears
They are very handy tools to keep around – but if you don’t need them – why buy them? It’s simply a matter of going out into your garden or yard and looking at the foliage that needs to be cut.
Is it tall? Will you struggle to reach parts of it? If yes, then perhaps consider hedge shears with extendable handles.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that telescopic hedge shears are also useful if you’re trying to trim any foliage towards the ground.
They’re a godsend for preventing backache and will save you the effort of stooping down. Given that they’re so versatile they really shouldn’t be overlooked – even if you only have smaller, more manageable hedges.
It’s been mentioned quite a lot throughout this review, but fatigue plays a huge part in using hand hedge shears. If you’ve ever tried to tame a mammoth shrub with an archaic gardening tool – you’ll know exactly what I mean.
These days, advancements in technology mean that we can have super-lightweight tools without compromising on performance or durability. And when it comes to hedge shears – the lighter the better.
While they rarely weigh over 3.5 lbs (which might seems like nothing) when you’ve been holding them above your head for a while you’ll soon feel the burn.
For this reason, I’ve included the weight of each hedge shear in the review. Keep an eye especially on the really lightweight models – but understand that you will probably pay more for them.
While not essential, having a hedge shear that incorporates a good shock absorber is highly recommended – especially if you’re undertaking larger jobs and will be working for longer.
This is usually in the form of some kind of rubber bumper between the handles of the shears. It acts to prevent that jarring shock you can experience at the end of the cutting motion.
Try using a shear with a shock absorber and a shear without – and you’ll seriously notice the difference. They help prevent injury, fatigue, and stress in your arms, wrists, and shoulders.
If a tool doesn’t have a shock absorber, extra care must be taken when using the device – and take regular breaks to protect yourself.
For the most part, the cost is negligible when it comes to hedge shears. There’s not much difference between the mid-range tools at around $30-50.
However, get beyond that and you’re looking at some serious pieces of kit. High-end, professional hedge shears can run anywhere between $60 to well over $100.
As I always say, if you need to budget, buy the best you can afford and suit the level of quality to the job it’s being purchased to do.
What are hedge shears?
Hedge shears are a bladed gardening tool used to cut back or trim unwanted or nuisance foliage in bushes, shrubs, and hedges.
They’re very much like over-sized scissors, using two, edged blades to snip away at vegetation until the desired look or result is achieved.
Do I need hedge shears?
If you have any vegetation in your garden that is likely to take over if left to its own devices, then yes – you do need hedge shears.
Even if you have an electric or gas-powered trimmer, having a set of hedge shears can help with tidying things up.
That being said you can just let it grow and see what happens, but for a beautifully landscaped yard, they’re an essential weapon in your arsenal.
What is topiary?
Topiary, and to be a topiarist, is an art and artist that is characterized by the clipping and trimming of living vegetation to make interesting sculptures or shapes.
In several of these reviews, you may have read that I mention Edward Scissorhands. There was a famous scene in the 1990 movie where the titular character creates such designs in the shrubs and hedges of the neighborhood where he was adopted.
Of course, it’s a lot easier if your fingers are made of blades.
Still, with practice and using the best hedge shears – you could well be enjoying similar creations in your own garden.
How do you use hedge shears?
Take a look at the video below for a visual guide to some tips and tricks on how to use your hedge shears.
What are the best hedge shears?
That’s a matter of opinion, but look out for well-crafted blades, lightweight handles, and a smooth cutting mechanism. Shock absorbers are very useful, too.
All the brands in this review make high-quality garden tools – choosing the best one is up to you.
What’s the difference between wave and straight blades?
A wavy blade is designed to stop the branch from slipping – which is a common problem with certain straight blades – especially if they’re not good quality, or they have become dull.
Wavy blades aren’t easy to sharpen, however – and you’ll likely need to get a professional to do it.
And with many straight blades coming with an extra nock at the cutting point for added grip – having a wavy blade isn’t essential for a good job.
How do you remove rust from hedge shears?
There are many tricks and tips you can use to remove rust from all kinds of garden tools because by their very nature you’ll likely have to deal with it at some point.
With all sorts of rust removing products on the market, it can be a headache to choose the right one. But you can also do it with the stuff you’ve probably already got lying around your home – vinegar and baking soda.
Check out the video below for how to quickly and easily remove rust from your garden tools.
How do you sharpen hedge shears?
There are multiple ways to sharpen the blades of your hedge shears, each with varying degrees of success.
Using the same tools you use to hone lawnmower blades will work very well, such as angle grinders, drill bit grinders, belt sharpeners, or dedicated grinding stones.
Cheaper sharpening tools are available, but they’re nowhere near as effective as grinding the blade.
For more information, check out this review of the best lawnmower blade sharpeners – and go from there.
How do you clean hedge shears?
It’s very important to keep your shears clean and free from any plant residue after a trimming session.
Anything left on the blades is likely to damage them over time, attract rust and impair their efficient operation – especially the sticky sap gunk that will nearly always be left on the shears when the job is done.
Wash the tool in warm, soapy water with a mild detergent and then use a stiff brush to remove any lingering surface soil or plant material. Don’t use anything too coarse for this job – scratching the blades will damage them and is a potential rust magnet.
Dry the tool very carefully with an old rag or towel. Moisture isn’t your friend.
Add a touch of machine oil or a squirt of WD40 to the blades and the cutting mechanism. Store the tool in a safe, dry place, housed in a blade guard if possible, and well away from little fingers.
When should I trim my hedges?
For dead material and tangled branches, you can clear that away at any time of year.
Look for parts of the bush, hedge or shrub where branches are rubbing together – this is not good. It can wear away the bark and encourage disease to develop – so you want to remove at least one of the offending branches everywhere you see this occurring.
For perennial plants that need a regular trim, it’s best to cut them back in winter or very early spring.
Don’t cut in the fall, when new growth is just going to be exposed to cold air and the foliage won’t thrive the way you want it to.
Do I need to wear safety equipment when using hedge shears?
It’s not absolutely essential but it is highly recommended that you wear eye protection when using hedge shears. For electric or gas-power machines it’s a must, but with hand tools, you should be fine.
Personally, I’d err on the side of caution and wear them anyway – you never know when a rogue branch or twig could fly up into your face.
I would also heartily encourage the use of work gloves. They will protect your hands from blistering and help dampen that jarring shock you get with every clip and cut.
Head on over to check out our article on the best landscaping gloves and get yourself the latest in gardening hand protection.
Turn yourself into a budding topiarist by choosing one of the best hedge shears on the market today – and get creative in your back yard.
Or, simply keep that jungle under control so your partner won’t shout at you.
It’s a difficult decision, but for me, I’d either choose the Fiskars Quantum Series, or one of the two Japanese blades. They’re simply the best of the best – and I wouldn’t mind paying a little more for a tool I know is going to last.
Let me know which hedge shears you would go for and why.