Can Hedge Trimmers Cut Branches?

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Hedge trimmers are essential for garden work, and they make it easy to maintain hedges, bushes, shrubs, grass and small trees. But can you also use these trimmers on tree branches and twigs? If so, what type of hedge trimmer is the best suited for this task? That is what this article will answer in detail, so read on.

Hedge trimmers can cut branches up to 1.5 inches thick or even larger. But even if your hedge trimmer is capable of doing this, do not cut thick branches often. Doing so will dull the blades quickly and use up a lot of power.

How Thick of a Branch Can a Hedge Trimmer Cut?

Back in the day, hedge trimmers could only cut branches up to 3/4 inches in diameter. Now there are powerful hedge trimmers available that can cut 1.6 inch thick branches. We are not only talking about gas powered models, but even electric and battery powered ones too.

If you are in a hurry, here is a list of some popular hedge trimmers and their branch cutting capacity. While a lot of models can only handle 3/4 inch thickness, there are a lot now that can cut through much thicker ones. The following are just some of those available.

Whether it is battery, gas or electric, there is a trimmer that can do the job. But as we shall explain, hedge trimmers should be used to cut thick branches sparingly. But for a quick guide, check out the info below.

Table. Hedge Trimmer Branch Cutting Size Comparison
BrandMaximum Branch ThicknessPower SourceBlade SizeWeight
Stihl HSA 561.66 in.36V battery18 in.8.1 lbs.
Echo PB-2520 1 in. Gas, 2-stroke 25 cc engine 20 in.10.0 lbs.
Kobalt0.75 in.Corded electric 4 amp motor 26 in.6.6 lbs.
Ego Power+ 1 in. 56V 2.5ah battery, cordless 24 in. 8.96 lbs.
Worx Power Share 0.3 in.20V 2ah battery8 in.2 lbs.
Ryobi One+ 0.75 in. 18V 1.5ah lithium ion battery, cordless22 in.7.2 lbs.
Greenworks .625 in.Corded electric 4 amp motor22 in. 5.7 lbs.

Should You Cut Thick Branches with a Hedge Trimmer?

To answer the question, “can a hedge trimmer cut branches?” yes it can. But the more important question is, should you?

While hedge trimmers are capable of cutting thick branches, you should limit this as much as possible. These tools are designed primarily to prune, cut, trim and otherwise maintain hedges and shrubs. With the right approach, a hedge trimmer makes it easy to keep your garden clean and proper.

Because their blades have become more powerful, these garden tools are now capable of cutting branches. But you should think of that as an additional feature, not its main function. Here are the reasons why.

Image Credit : Stromber

Blades will dull quickly. Hedge trimmer blades are made for hedges, bushes and small twigs. If you always use them on thick branches, the edge will quickly dull. These blades function like reciprocating saws and when used on thick branches, are going to dull fast.

Heavy power consumption. So if your hedge trimmer says it can cut a 1.5 inch thick branch, yes it really can. But it will take a lot of power. Whether it is gas or battery, cutting thick wood will draw a lot of power and fast. You won’t run out of power with a corded hedge trimmer, but expect the motor to heat up rapidly.

Faster wear and tear. The heavier the work load, the more it will take its toll on the motor and engine. Going through large branches requires more power, forcing the engine, motor or battery to work harder.

Eventually these moving parts will be worn out and need maintenance or replacement. At some point all hedge trimmers will wear out, but using it on thick branches will speed up this process.

Other tools available. You can use garden or pruning shears on up to 1 /2 inch branches. For 1 inch and larger, you can use loppers or chainsaws. Unlike a hedge trimmers, these tools are designed for branch cutting and will not wear out quickly.

For cutting small branches and twigs, trimmers are fine. But just because your hedge trimmer can cut a 1.5 inch branch does not mean you should do it all the time.

Related. How long do cordless hedge trimmers last

How to Cut Branches with a Hedge Trimmer

Cutting branches, bushes, hedges and shrubs is straightforward. However there are several things you need to keep in mind when doing this. As stated earlier, you should consider branch cutting as a supplementary feature and not its main purpose. But if you have to use a hedge trimmer to cut thick branches, keep these in mind.

Cut slowly. There is no need to cut that 2 inch branch off in one go. Well you can do it with a saw, but if you have a hedge trimmer, best to do it slowly. Cut half an inch at a time or more, depending on its capacity.

You will have more success cutting the branches at the top of hedges. Most of them will be less than an inch thick. As you go down, the branches get thicker. You will need a more powerful trimmer or other cutting tools.

For heavy duty work, make sure the hedge trimmer is fully charged or has a full tank. Going through branches and lots of hedges require power.

Check the branch cutting capacity. This tells you the maximum branch size its blades can cut. Do not go over this limit as it will damage the tool.

Blade teeth spacing. The spacing between each blade teeth gives you an idea of how thick a branch it can cut. If the gap is 3/4 niches, that is the maximum branch diameter, at least in theory.

The truth is there has to be some space for the teeth to move, otherwise it won’t be able to cut the branch. Worse it could damage the blades. So if the blade teeth spacing is 3/4 inches, the maximum branch it can cut is just less than 3/4 inches.

The key is to not put undue stress on the engine and motor. With proper maintenance you will be able to use a hedge trimmer for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are hedge trimmers the best tool for cutting branches?

For branches 3/4 to 1/2 inches, hedge trimmers and garden shears will be enough. You can also find powerful trimmers capable of cutting 1-1.6 inch branches. For 3 inch and thicker branches, a saw is the best option.

Is it safe to cut branches and twigs with a hedge trimmer?

Yes. You should always exercise precaution when using any cutting tool. But if you do, there should be no worries when pruning with trimmers.

What type of hedge trimmer is the best for branch cutting?

Gas hedge trimmers are the best for cutting lots of branches, hedges, shrubs, any heavy duty work. These oil powered machines need maintenance and can be loud, but they get the job done.

If you want unlimited power, use a corded electric hedge trimmer. They are not as powerful as gas trimmers, but these trimmers will never run out of power. The only drawback is you are limited by the length of the cord.

Battery or cordless trimmers give you freedom to move around without a cord. Most of them do not have the power of a gas model, though some like the Stihl HSA 56 can rip through 1.6 inch branches.

Why is my hedge trimmer not cutting?

Check the power source. If that is not the problem, the branch may be too thick for the blade. Check the manual for is maximum cutting capacity. This article may also help.