Hedge Trimmer Versus Chainsaw: What Is the Best One for Your Garden?

If you have a lot of work to do in your garden and need to trim or cut a lot of bushes and trees, you might be wondering whether to use a hedge trimmer or go ahead and take out your trusty chainsaw. When it comes to a hedge trimmer vs. chainsaw, which one works best? Is one really better than the other, or do they both basically do the same thing when you’re out in your garden? Once you know the answers to these questions, it’s a lot easier to choose the right tool for your garden work.

First Thing’s First

When you’re looking at the similarities between chainsaws and hedge trimmers, the only thing they have in common is that they both have bars and they can both be powered by either gas or electric. When it comes to how they cut, however, hedge trimmers and chainsaws are two completely different animals.

Chainsaws cut much like a band saw does, and their teeth move around the bar and tear into anything they come into contact with as they move. A hedge cutter is different. These tools are more like a reciprocating saw, in that the blade oscillates back and forth, cutting anything that is small enough to fit inside of the notches on the bar itself. As you can imagine, chainsaws and hedge trimmers can do a lot of the same work but offer different capabilities as well.

What Do These Tools Do Best?

So, what is the main purpose of a hedge trimmer and a chainsaw? For a chainsaw, the tool is made specifically to cut branches and tree trunks. Some, in fact, are so large that they can cut all the way through the trunk of a large tree. Indeed, if you don’t own a chainsaw, you can’t really fell a tree unless you have an axe or a long hand saw, and neither of those is convenient or quick when you’re cutting down a tree.

Hedge trimmers, on the other hand, are made to shape shrubs and hedges. They do this by trimming the ends of small branches. Since this is their main purpose, you’ll find they have less power than chainsaws because they simply don’t need to be super powerful to do their job. Using a hedge trimmer is much better than using pruning shears or clippers because they make the job a lot easier and faster.

As you can see, there are things that both hedge trimmers and chainsaws are good at, but even though there are jobs in the garden that can be accommodated by both of these tools, the truth is you have to first decide exactly what you need done before choosing the right one. Many garden jobs simply cannot be accommodated by both of these tools, and in some cases, choosing one of these tools over the other can make the task a lot more difficult.

Keep in mind that both hedge trimmers and chainsaws are powerful tools, but their function and the overall amount of power they offer both differ somewhat. If you tried to use a hedge trimmer to cut down a tree, you might be successful but it would take a ridiculously long time.

Conversely, if you tried to use a chainsaw to trim your hedges, the job could be done but you’d likely also find that smaller branches might get pushed to the side instead of being cut. In addition, small branches are often dangerous if they get caught in the chainsaw, which makes using a chainsaw for this purpose very impractical.

Make the Right Decision

Let’s take a look at a hedge trimmer first. To decide if this tool is right for the job, take a look at the sizes of the branches that need cutting. To use a hedge trimmer, the branches should be small enough to fit between the notches; if they are too large to fit between the notches, the hedge trimmer is not the right tool for the job. Most gas-powered hedge trimmers can only accommodate branches that are one-half to one-inch thick and no bigger, so keep that in mind as you decide on the right tool.

Sometimes, it is easy to determine which tool to use once you take a look at the size of the branches that need cutting. Other times, it isn’t as clear, but keep in mind that there are other tools besides hedge trimmers and chainsaws for all of your garden tasks. For instance, if you need to work on a large bush or shrub that has branches that are too big for your hedge trimmer, you might consider using a brush cutter or clearing saw instead of your chainsaw.

In other words, you have many options when you need to work in your garden. Both chainsaws and hedge trimmers serve so many purposes and are good at so many tasks, so you’ll likely find more uses for each of these tools than you think as you work with them time after time.

Think of a hedge trimmer as a good set of shears, whereas your chainsaw is there mostly to take care of large branches and tree trunks. The size of the branches you need cut or trimmed is the most important factor when deciding between a hedge trimmer and a chainsaw, so this is the first thing you should consider when deciding between these two tools.


Both hedge trimmers and chainsaws are excellent tools for working in your garden, and the chances are good that you’ll need both of these to get your garden looking the way you want it to look. For smaller branches and basic trimming, a good hedge trimmer will do the trick. For any type of work on your trees, you’ll very likely need a chainsaw.

Fortunately, finding the right hedge trimmers and chainsaws is easier than you think, and they are both powerful, well-built tools that should give you many years of reliable service. They are also less expensive and easier to use than you might think.

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