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Hedge shears are the one gardening tool I remember most from my childhood. As a kid, I used to love playing with them – there was something inherently satisfying about snapping the rusty blades through an unsuspecting hedge or uncut grass.
They’re a must-have for gardeners and in this article I’m going to showcase my top 5 picks as well as offer some general buying advice.
What are hedge shears?
Hedge shears are a gardening tool used for trimming hedges, bushes and some types of trees. Shears are differentiated from trimmers because they are powered manually.
It’s useful to compare hedge shears with other gardening tools that also share the name “shears”. Remember that hedge shears are for maintaining shape rather than hard pruning, and should only be used on non-woody or soft stems and branches.
Garden shears (also called secateurs) are the small scissor-like tools used for cutting through woody stems and branches.
Grass shears or grass trimmers are used for trimming grass in hard-to-reach places (under bushes, for example) and along the edges of lawns.
Micro-tip snips (sometimes called micro-tip shears) are of a similar size to scissors and used for deadheading and very light trimming.
Buying the best hedge shears: what to look for….
- Power vs. hand shears: The first decision you’ll need to make is whether or not you want power or hand shears. If you’re planning on light trimming, then hand-shears will allow for more precision than smaller electric models. For big hedges and entire gardens, an electric or petrol-powered hedge trimmer will be the better option.
- Wave vs. straight blades: Hedge shears can come with either straight or wave-shaped blades. The latter type will hold stems and branches in place whilst they cut but are harder to sharpen. You can also buy shears with a serrated blade edge for extra grip and the ability to use a saw-like action on tougher branches.
- Teflon-coated blades: PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) is the material that is used on Teflon plants to prevent sticking. It’s becoming increasingly common for manufacturers to use it coat the blades of their garden tools to prevent sticky, sap-coated debris from attaching to them.
- Comfort handles: If you’re worried about blisters or don’t like the feel of wooden or metal handles then you’ll want to make sure that your shears have padding included. The only issue with “comfort handles” is that the plastic cushioning can wear away or detach over time, making the shears difficult to use.
- Handle length: There are essentially three variants of handle-size: short, medium and long (I’m sure you never would have guessed). Short-handle shears offer more precision but won’t allow you to cover the same area as the blades will be shorter. Long-handle shears are for trimming those out-of-reach areas towards the top of hedges.
- Telescopic handles: You will probably come across the term “telescopic handles” at some point. “Telescopic” simply refers to the ability of handles to extend and retract. Why they didn’t use the term “extendable” I’m still not entirely sure.
- Weight: Regardless of the size you’re going for, you’ll always want to get the lightest model. Look for features like aluminium handles,
Our Top 5 Best Hedge Shears In 2017
***Full Disclosure – Where appropriate, I’ve linked product images to commercial sites and Amazon. If you buy from these sites, I earn a small affiliate fee, which helps me keep Urban Turnip going.***
1. ARS Ultra Light Shears
These shears from Japanese company ARS, who are well-known for making quality garden-cutting tools, have received a number of accolades, including the Telegraph’s top 2016 pick. One of the main selling points is the weight and they come in at just 780g (1.9 pounds) – that’s less than two bags of sugar if you want a reference point! The blades are 180mm (7in.) long and are chrome plated for protection against rust.
The ergonomic design of the handles (I think the word “ergonomic” is on a par with “telescopic” in the sense that it doesn’t really add much meaning) means that they are very comfortable and the plastic handle coating also acts as a shock absorber. This model also includes a larger screw at the pivot to allow for more torque (and so cutting power). The blades are replaceable.
2. Spear & Jackson Razorsharp Geared Shears
I’m a big proponent of Spear & Jackson products and they feature in a lot of my reviews. The UK-based company is well-known for their quality products and these shears are no different. The padded handles are made from aluminium, so are both lightweight and strong, the blades are coated with PTFE (Teflon) to protect against rust and sticky plant debris, and it comes with a 10-year guarantee. These shears fill all of the criteria that I outlined above! The blades are wave-shaped so offer a little more efficacy in cutting tough stems.
If you look closely at the picture above, you’ll see that the design of the shears incorporates a three-gear mechanism. This enables gardeners to create more power by increasing the distance between the handles. At 725 grams (1.6 pounds) they’re also very lightweight.
Oh, and did I mention the 10-year guarantee?
3. Okatsune Hedge Shears
If you’re looking for a mix of superb quality and a traditional design, then these shears from Japanese company Okatsune, founded in the 1940s by a blacksmith, are well-worth your consideration. They’re an incredibly beautiful tool and all of the features speak of the care and attention that has gone into making them. They’re not cheap (comparably) but they’ll last you a lifetime.
Considering the fact that the handles are made from Japanese oak, the tool is remarkably lightweight (only 680 grams/1.5 pounds). The handles are a touch shorter than normal but this doesn’t affect their utility in any way (perfect if you’re tending to a smaller garden). The blades are also particularly sharp due to the fact that they are made with a special type of Japanese steel that measures very highly on the Rockwell hardness scale.
4. ARS Telescopic Shears
If you’re after a little extra length, then ARS’ Telescopic Shears are a good way to go. They’re made with hard Japanese steel, are fully extendable and, at only 980 grams (35 ounces), they’re reasonably lightweight.
5. Flexrake Serrated Shears (USA only)
I’ve included these as the final pick for a few reasons. First off, I think they look great – just like hedge shears should, with the wooden handles and “drop-forged” (a type of forging where metal is forced into a die) and dark grey steel blades. The shock absorber is very effective.
I alo wanted to include a pair of shears that have a serrated edge. These will work perfectly for normal trimming but will also offer a little extra grip if you’re trying to hack off stubborn stems and branches.
What are your thoughts? Let me know!
So there you have it! My selection of the five best hedge shears along with some buying advice. Have you tried any of the tools on this list? Drop me an email via the about us page!