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What are Hedge Shears?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Also known as hedge clippers or trimmers, hedge shears are devices that are used to trim decorative shrubbery and other types of plants. Designed for residential and commercial use, the shears make it possible to manicure the landscape around a home, commercial building, or other type of edifice. Hedge shears come in several sizes and with different options for a power source. The choice of the make and model for the hedge shear equipment often depends on the intended purpose the shears will serve, and the personal preferences of the user.

Basic hedge shears are simple devices composed of two sharp blades and a set of handles that make it possible to open and close the blades at will. The basic shears rely on the strength of the user to manage the task of trimming hedge bushes or cutting through other types of plants, such as thin tree limbs. Operating shears of this kind normally requires a fair amount of strength in the upper body, especially, the forearms and wrists. In terms of care, the blades are cleaned and honed regularly in order to maintain the tool in proper working order.

Electric hedge shears are also a popular option today among both commercial and residential users. Shears of this type make use of electrical current supplied by a cord that connects the tool with a power outlet. Models developed in the latter part of the 20th century include the presence of a battery that can be charged at an outlet, allowing the shears to operate continually for anywhere from a half-hour to two hours. Professional hedge shears are often electric models that are capable of running with battery power.

Another popular option with cordless hedge shears are the gasoline powered hedge clippers. Devices of this type make use of a small tank of gasoline, roughly the same size as the tank found on a standard push mower. While slightly heavier than the electric shears, many homeowners prefer the gasoline powered versions, simply because it is not necessary to wait for the battery to charge before use.

Of the three main types of hedge shears, the manually powered shears are easily the most environmental friendly. Users who prefer these shears also tend to note that they provide an excellent cardiovascular and upper body workout. In addition, the lack of a gas tank or a power cord makes it somewhat easier to operate the shears in tight spots. However, many homeowners as well as professional landscapers prefer the speed and efficiency that electric and gasoline powered hedge shears provide.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including HomeQuestionsAnswered, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By orangey03 — On Jun 08, 2012

@Perdido – You can get a good pair of these pruners for around $20. That's how much I paid for mine, and I compared prices online before committing.

Generally, you will probably save money if you go down to the garden center or home improvement store and buy them in person, because you won't have to pay shipping. However, comparing costs online will help you choose the best store to go to for them.

I bought a pair with straight blades and a pair with curved blades. I use the curved ones for cutting thicker branches and the straight ones for cuts across the top of the hedges.

The curved hedge shears are also great for cutting low tree branches. They have an extendable handle to help with this.

By Perdido — On Jun 08, 2012

@StarJo – That sounds like what I need for my yard. I have just a small pair of grass clippers, but they are not getting me anywhere.

Are manual hedge shears expensive? I don't have a huge budget for yard work, but I really do think I need a pair. I have a row of hedges out front that could use some clipping, and I would love to try them on the grass surrounding my plants.

Once I buy a garden tool, I take good care of it. I know that the shears would last for years if I did buy them, but I want to make sure that I can afford the investment right now.

By StarJo — On Jun 07, 2012

I have a big pair of hedge shears, but I use them as grass shears. I don't have any hedges, but I do have a lot of grass to trim around my flowers.

I gave up on getting rid of all the grass by pulling it up from the roots years ago. This was just wasted energy, because it always grew back, and by the end of the summer, it would be growing so fast that I could not keep up with it.

I got the manual hedge shears with this grass in mind. The blades are nice and long, so I can trim a large area in one snip. It saves my hands a lot of strain and stiffness.

By kylee07drg — On Jun 06, 2012

@Mykol – My dad told me how to sharpen hedge shears last year. I didn't want to use a grinder, because I was afraid I would hurt myself, so he showed me how to use a mill file to get the job done.

He said that it was important to try to keep the original bevel. He told me that filing along it would give me the best edge.

He even said that it's okay to use a scissor sharpener, but since I didn't have one, I used the file instead. It took some patience, but I eventually filed through the old metal and saw a shiny new surface emerging.

By Mykol — On Jun 06, 2012

What is the best way to sharpen hedge shears? I have some in the shed that have been around for a long time, but they are not very sharp.

Every time I try to use them, it seems like they won't cut through anything and I just stick them back in the shed and forget about them. I am trying to decide if it would be cheaper to sharpen the blades or buy a new pair.

I like to use manual hedge shears because I know they will always work, as long as the blades are sharp. It seems like when I have used electric shears in the past, I have troubles with them not working and I end up getting too frustrated.

For me, the best garden hand tools are the ones that will work whether I have any kind of power source or not.

By myharley — On Jun 05, 2012

One of the best presents I ever bought for myself was a rechargeable pair of pruning shears and trimmer. This is light and easy to use, and I can get everything done if it is fully charged. The charge will last 2 hours, and if I am not done, I am ready for a break anyway.

This also comes with interchangeable blades depending on whether you want to trim hedges or trim grass around landscaping. It also has an attachment that I can add to make it longer if I need to.

This has made doing yard work much easier for me. Most trimmers are too heavy and bulky for me to use, and I don't like messing with putting gas in something. My cordless shears have lasted me for several years, and I feel like I have more than gotten my money's worth out of them.

By bagley79 — On Jun 05, 2012

I use more than one kind of hedge shears depending on what I want to accomplish. We have a row of shrubs along the front of our property that give us some privacy and also act as a wind break.

Using electric hedge shears are the quickest and easiest way to trim this hedge. I have the kind of shears that can run on battery, and if they are fully charged, I have no problem getting the job done one one charge.

I also keep a manual pair of hedge shears around for quick jobs that only take a few minutes. These are always quick and convenient, but I would not want to use them on my long row of hedges.

It would take way too long and I think my arms and shoulders would be sore for days after I was done.

By honeybees — On Jun 04, 2012

My dad has a pair of Fiskars hedge shears hanging in his garage that he has had for years. Every year he makes sure the blades are sharpened and this is what he uses to trim the shrubs they have in their landscaping.

I don't know if he has ever used anything other than a manual pair of hedge shears. Whenever it is time to trim the shrubs, he grabs the shears and gets to work.

I have often wondered if I bought him an electric pair of shears that get the job done faster, if he would use them or not. He has used the manual shears for so long and considers it good exercise, so the electric ones might just be a waste of money.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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