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Many professional gardeners don't like electric or gas-powered hedge trimmers because they can chew up leaves and leave behind mangled edges and browned tips. Hand shears give you a better feel for how a shrub grows and where to cut. Still, gardeners faced with a lot of shearing rely on good power trimmers for large jobs.
For best results, you'll want to keep your tools in shape, too. To avoid damaging leaves, hone cutting blades at least once a year. Take power shears to a pro for honing; hand clippers are easy to sharpen with a beveled-edge file. Clean them after each use with soap and water or, if blades are sticky with pitch, a solvent-soaked rag. Then wipe down with a penetrating oil such as WD-40. Store them in a scabbard or on a wall hook to keep them clean.
Stihl Gas-Powered Hedge Trimmer
The bigger teeth on this lightweight model can handle tiring jobs like cutting back the tops of tall, mature hedges, where any ragged edges left behind won't be on view.
About $290, Stihl USA
Little Wonder Electric Hedge Trimmer
The smaller teeth on this corded model work well on small-leaved formal hedging plants, where you want a continuous straight edge. The extra handle up near the blade provides precision control.
About $242, Tool King
Bahco Super-Light Hedge Shears
Tubular aluminum handles are lighter than solid wood and come in several lengths. Longer handles that you hold away from your body are best for heavy-duty pruning; shorter handles are ideal for detail work.
About $66, Rittenhouse
Nishigaki Karikichi Gold Hedge Shears
As easy to use as they are beautiful, for gardeners who appreciate tools that look and feel good. The wooden handles come in several sizes and provide excellent balance for precise cutting.
About $64, Hida Tool
Felco Hand Pruner
Perfect for detail touch-up work and trimming smaller hedges, where you want a softer, more informal look. Available in two sizes, in left-and right-handed models, and with a rolling grip.
About $47, Orchards Edge