For a number of years my shrub trimming needs were easily satisfied with a Black and Decker electric hedge trimmer. That was when I had relatively few shrubs and bushes, they were all close to the house and they were small in size. During those years I would routinely haul out my 100 foot extension cord, plug it into the front of the house for the front shrubs and then plug it into the back of the house for the back shrubs.
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Now, I have considerably more shrubs and many of them are further than 100 feet from the house. It is important to note that my shrubbery consists entirely of azaleas, boxwoods and a few yews. The azaleas and boxwoods all have branches that are quite small in diameter and of course the new growth on the yews that has to be trimmed has small diameter branches as well.
When I realized that my electric trimmer was no longer sufficient I started searching for a gas powered model. I quickly discovered that there were many commercial or semi-commercial models available from Echo and Stihl, but relatively few "Happy Homeowner" models. Also, the commercial models are quite expensive, usually in the range of $350.00 to $400.00. Lastly, the commercial models are quite heavy, weighing between 10 to 14 pounds depending on the blade length. I'm certain that a typical commercial hedge timmer with a 20 or 30 inch blade, weighing maybe 12 pounds and costing around $375.00 would indeed enable me to trim my shrubs.
I opted to buy the Homelite Shrub Shaper 17, that has a 16 cc engine with an anti-vibration mount, weighs 8 pounds and has a 17 inch blade. For the type of shrubs I have, that combination is perfect. I do have some shrubs that are round in shape while others are squared off and the Homelite enables me to "shape" the shrubs as needed. I guess that's why it's called a Shrub Shaper.
This is the third season that I've used the unit and it has held up extremely well. It always starts easily, idles correctly and runs properly at all speeds. The blade is still sharp enough to make clean cuts without tearing the branches up. Even though the unit comes with a 17 inch blade, a 20 inch blade can be used on the unit. Again, for my purpose, the 17 inch blade is sufficient so when I need to replace it I will get another 17 inch blade. Many of my shrubs are now quite tall and require me to hold the unit above my head to trim the tops. That's where the 8 pound weight is significant. It usually takes me about 2 hours to trim all of the shrubbery so a light weight unit really makes a difference.
I've tried to emphasize that this hedge trimmer is perfect for my purpose, which is trimming shrubbery with small diameter branches. It would not be able to handle shrubs with 3/4 inch or 1 inch diameter branches, but it's not designed for that purpose. If you have that need, then get a commercial type Echo or Stihl model.
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