These hedge shears work for a variety of chores
Tested by Jason Reeves
Using battery-powered hedge shears is a game changer. I love my Black and Decker 22-inch cordless hedge trimmer. It’s quick and easy to put into operation and is less noisy and lighter in weight than gas-powered hedge trimmers. These shears aren’t just good for hedges and shrubs; I use mine to quickly remove the faded foliage of perennials before new growth starts. They work well on plants like hellebores (Helleborus spp. and cvs., Zones 4–9), epimediums (Epimedium spp. and cvs., Zones 4–9), and evergreen ferns. I have also found that they are perfect for cutting back ornamental grasses in spring. This tool comes with a 20-volt lithium-ion battery and charger.
—Contributing editor Jason Reeves is curator of the University of Tennessee Gardens in Jackson.
Black and Decker 22-inch Cordless Hedge Trimmer
This lightweight trimmer is perfect for smaller tasks
Tested by Stacie Crooks
Scotts cordless grass-shear/shrub-trimmer combo is the best tool I have found in the last few years. With a built-in 7.2-volt lithium-ion battery, this little guy weighs less than 2 lb. (yes, really!) and can zip through all your minor pruning tasks quickly and easily. It puts less stress on my hands than using pruners. The tool comes with two blades: a 7-inch hedge blade and a 4-inch shear blade. While it’s not heavy-duty enough for larger shrubs or hedges, it’s perfect for small shrubs like heather (Calluna vulgaris, Zones 4–7) or subshrubs like lavender (Lavandula spp. and cvs., Zones 4–10). This trimmer can be used for many different tasks; I also use it to deadhead perennials and edge my lawn. I have found that the charge lasts for hours, allowing me to cover my whole garden in one go.
—Stacie Crooks is the owner and principal designer at Crooks Garden Design in Seattle.
Scotts Cordless Grass-Shear/Shrub-Trimmer Combo
Your heavy-duty pruning needs are no match for this saw
Tested by Jeff Gillman
I’ve used a lot of tools over the years, but those I value the most are the ones I can use for a wide variety of tasks in and around the garden and house. The DeWalt variable-speed cordless reciprocating saw fits the bill perfectly. This tool isn’t useful just for cutting 4×4 wood or rebar; it sees weekly, if not daily, use in the botanical garden where I work. You can fit a variety of blades to this saw to cut fallen branches or prune larger limbs from trees in a pinch. It’s fast, tough, easy to use, and extremely versatile. As always, be sure to wear appropriate safety equipment when using this tool, as it is deceptively powerful. You can buy this saw either by itself or with a set of blades. The battery and charger are sold separately.
Price: $139 (bare tool); $169 (with set of blades)
—Jeff Gillman, author of The Truth About Organic Gardening, is the director of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Botanical Gardens.
DeWalt Variable-Speed Cordless Reciprocating Saw
DeWalt Variable-Speed Cordless Reciprocating Saw with 6-Piece Saw Blade Set
Photos: courtesy of the contributors