Comparing petrol, electric, and cordless hedge trimmers for trimming bushes

A well-manicured hedge can look fantastic and set the tone for your whole garden. They are often the thing that everyone sees as they walk or drive past your home too, so it’s important that your hedges are kept looking their best.

To do so, there is a number of hand tools at your disposal, such as loppers, shears, and pruners. However, these tools still require you to use a lot of your own energy and this is why garden power tools are becoming more and more popular.

Not only are they becoming more common, but the amount of choice UK gardeners have these days is ever increasing. You can choose from either a petrol hedge trimmer, an electric one, or a cordless model, and there are many competing brands driving the prices down too.

You can also get a standard hedge trimmer and a pole hedge trimmer powered by all three sources: petrol engine, mains electric, or battery, and then there are garden multi-tools that offer even more options.

In this article, we will compare petrol, electric, and corded hedge trimmers to see well they stack up against each other, with the aim of helping you decide on which to spend your money on.

And who knows, with a bit of practice, you might be creatingnsomething like this 😉

Comparing different types of hedge trimmer- petrol, electric, and cordless models

So, now we know that there are a few different options available to you when buying a powered hedge trimmer, be that a long-reach trimmer or a standard-sized one, but which are the best for trimming bushes and hedges, and perhaps more importantly- which offer the best value for money? Let’s have a closer look at each of them.

Petrol hedge trimmers

There is absolutely no doubt that petrol hedge trimmers are the most powerful you can buy, offering a cutting performance that is second to none. These hedge trimmers will cut through even the most stubborn and thick branches, and leave you smiling from ear to ear as you look on at your perfectly trimmed bushes and hedges.

If you are really sure that you need the extra power that you get from a petrol hedge trimmer, it might be worth considering buying a garden multi-tool instead, as they usually come with a chainsaw attachment as well as a hedge trimmer, and so you can tackle really heavy jobs in the garden. Not only that, but they have strimmer and brush cutter attachments thrown in too, so it might be something worth considering. We have an article on the pros and cons of garden multi-tools that you can read for more information.

Like with any type of tool, there are benefits and drawbacks, and some people are put off by petrol hedge trimmers’ extra cost, weight, noise, and vibration. They also emit smoke and fumes and aren’t quite as easy to use and service as electric and cordless trimmers. Having said that, I personally own a petrol hedge trimmer, and through regular services, it has now lasted me for over 5 years and still performs as it should.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to how much power you need to handle your hedges and bushes. People with large gardens and even larger hedges will likely be better off with a petrol hedge trimmer, despite their flaws.

Just check out how easily these gardeners deal with these overgrown hedges using a petrol machiine-

Electric hedge trimmers

Much easier to operate than petrol models, electric hedge trimmers don’t require you to mix fuel or prime an engine before starting, you just switch it on and pull the trigger and bob’s your uncle.

When it comes to performance, they are enough for most home tasks, but can’t compare with petrol hedge trimmers for raw power, and they might struggle with tougher hedges and bushes, but it all really depends on the brand and model that you buy.

Electric hedge trimmers, just like electric log splitters and pruners, are much, much quieter than most petrol machines. Then there is the fact that they are comparatively lightweight, making them great for people of smaller stature, and also the lack of fumes is a big bonus.

There is very little maintenance with these tools, and you only really need to sharpen the blades and add a little oil from time to time. This is Child’s play compared to the changing of air filters, spark plugs, draining of fuel, etc. that has to be done to keep a petrol hedge trimmer working properly.

The one thing that lets electric hedge trimmers down is the reliance on a mains power source via the power cord. This inevitably limits the range of the tool, and even if it is extended using an extension lead, you still have to be careful that you don’t trip over the cable or accidentally snag or cut it. We have an article on how to use a hedge trimmer safely that might want to read if you’re new to these tools.

Apart from the power cable, electric trimmers are very capable tools, and are still pleasing many people around the world-

Cordless hedge trimmer

Becoming increasingly popular, cordless hedge trimmers offer you a combination of some of the best parts that come with both petrol and electric models. However, they also have their own flaws, just like anything else. Let’s take a look, shall we?

The main advantage that cordless hedge trimmers have over corded models, is that they run off lithium -ion batteries and therefore do not need to be connected to the mains supply. This gives you all the range and freedom of movement that you get with a petrol hedge trimmer, but with a fraction of the weight so you don’t need to wear a harness.

Just like electric hedge trimmers, cordless versions don’t emit smoke or fumes and produce less noise and vibration when compared to petrol machines. Also, like their corded cousins, they are very easy to operate and there’s very little maintenance required.

The main problems that I have experienced with cordless hedge trimmers is battery life. The batteries can take over an hour to charge and then only give you about half of that time to actually use the tool. Although this ratio is getting better with the newer products, it still limits how much work you can do, and either leaves you waiting around for the battery to charge, or reaching for your credit card to buy a spare battery, and lithium-ion batteries don’t come cheap.

The other major downside to cordless tools, and I say this for the vast majority of them, no matter if it is a pressure washer, leaf blower, pruning saw, or whatever; they just can’t match petrol and corded electric models for power. In the rare cases that cordless tools do offer a lot of power, it is often a big drain on the battery, and this makes them less than ideal for larger gardens. Still, there are some people who swear by them, like this guy-

In conclusion

Both petrol and cordless hedge trimmers will give you a lot of range and freedom of movement, with the cordless model being the most mobile of the two. However, both cordless and corded electric models can’t compare with petrol hedge trimmers for power and performance.

Either an electric or corded model should be enough for most people, and they are much easier and more pleasant to use, due to the lack of noise and fumes. You will be limited as to what jobs you can handle with these tools though, so if you have a big garden, with thick hedges and bushes, you might be better off with a petrol machine instead.

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message:

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