We like the Ryobi 18V ONE+ cordless 50cm hedge trimmer and think it is a very capable machine, but limited features and one big safety flaw mean it scored less than it could have.
Easy to use
Good for larger stems
No safety switch
No battery included
One speed setting
Awkward battery readout
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The Ryobi 18V ONE+ cordless 50cm hedge trimmer is somewhere in the middle of the brand's hedge trimmer range. With models measuring from 45cm to 65cm, and long reach variants of some of these, we decided the 50cm model would be a good all-rounder for those wanting a reliable hedge trimmer.
Ryobi is well established for its cordless tech, and this tool uses the same battery as other products in the ONE+ power range, which includes over 150 battery-powered tools. From drills to strimmers and everything in between, we can see the appeal of this particular single battery system for anyone looking to build out their power tool arsenal. You can buy the bare tool to save money – but only if you already have one of the 18V ONE+ batteries from something else.
With savings to be made if we got on with this product and other tools in the range, we were keen to see if the Ryobi 18V ONE+ cordless 50cm hedge trimmer is worth the money. We also wanted to see how it matches up against the best cordless hedge trimmers on the market.
Find out how it fared when put to the test in my garden.
Ryobi 18V ONE+ cordless 50cm hedge trimmer specifications
- Power: 18V
- Standard equipment: Hedgesweep attachment, blade sheath
- Blade length: 50cm
- Blade speed: 1350 rpm
- Blade type: Diamond ground
- Max cutting capacity: 24mm
- Weight (without battery): 2.4kg
- Weight with battery pack (EPTA): 2.8kg
The Ryobi 18V ONE+ cordless 50cm hedge trimmer is presented in a well designed, custom-shaped box that is actually not much larger than the trimmer itself. Similar to other products I have seen in the past, Ryobi’s distinctive branding and colour scheme was present on everything, both inside and outside the box.
I was pleased to see that there was no plastic packaging and everything was recyclable. That said, it still felt well protected and very secure. I've commented on Ryobi’s approach to this in the past and think it is something other manufacturers should follow.
The only other items in the box were a plastic ‘Hedge Sweeper’ (more on that later), an instruction manual and a leaflet with service centre contact information.
Unlike larger power tools, the Ryobi 18V ONE+ cordless 50cm hedge trimmer required no assembly at all. Simply slide off the protective plastic cover, plug in a battery and you are ready to go.
Like other Ryobi models in the ONE+ range, there is no battery or charger included in the box. This means that unless you are already a Ryobi customer, you will need to purchase at least one battery before you can use the machine. Hopefully this shouldn’t catch too many people out because there is a red warning to this effect on the box and it is sold as a ‘bare tool’.
I prefer the Ryobi 18V ONE+ cordless 50cm hedge trimmer over models such as the Flymo SimpliCut li because the battery is removable. Should a battery fail, it is far better to be able to replace it than lose the entire tool.
The accompanying manual comes in the form of small booklet featuring the usual dos and don’ts for how to use a hedge trimmer along with instructions in the form of illustrations. Everything is very clear and easy to follow and it is definitely worth keeping hold of. I like Ryobi’s manuals because, in my experience, well-drawn illustrations are usually far easier to follow than photographs.
I was pleased to find that the hedge trimmer feels like a well made piece of equipment. The plastics are of a good quality and the switches operate with a satisfying click. Interestingly, the base section of the machine appears to be lifted straight from Ryobi’s power drill range. I wasn't sure if that was for ergonomic reasons, although this is the claim on the packaging, or just to accommodate the ONE+ battery, which also works on drills.
The cutting bar feels very sturdy; the metal is both thick and well finished. I think that it would take quite a lot of effort to physically damage the blade and, with proper use and maintenance, it should last a very long time.
What’s it like to use
The Ryobi 18V ONE+ cordless 50cm hedge trimmer is a very simple piece of equipment to use and operation is simply a case of holding down the switches in the handles by gripping them. I found that it performed well on a variety of different hedging plants, including privet, beech and conifer. The blades were sharp and a standard trim took very little effort.
While I thought the battery run time was good, it’s hard to be too specific on exact times since it depends so much on what you are cutting, how much you are cutting and how you are cutting it. The packaging claims a run time of 64 minutes, but I would always treat this with caution. What I would say though is with a 72Wh battery, it should be adequate for light to medium jobs in one go.
One thing I did notice was the wide spaces between the blades. At 26mm, this is wider than a lot of its competitors and this is both good and bad. On the plus side, it allows you to cut through larger material and reduces the risk of the hedge trimmer becoming jammed. The trade-off, however, is that it will give a rougher finish on your hedge than would get from a trimmer with smaller spacing.
One feature I do like about the Ryobi 18V ONE+ cordless 50cm hedge trimmer is the ‘Hedge Sweep’, a piece of plastic that slides along the length of the blade to clear the trimmings as you go and help them fall clear of the working area.
I liked the simplicity of this and how easy it was to attach and take off again. I also liked that its single-piece plastic construction means that it is very easy to clean. While it might not suit every situation, it proved less useful with larger material and it’s nice to have the option.
In terms of noise level, I found the Ryobi 18V ONE+ cordless 50cm hedge trimmer to be comparable to other hedge trimmers of a similar size. When compared against a Stihl HSA 45, I did notice that the trimmer sounded a bit less smooth, but this was simply an observation rather than a criticism.
Over time, I noticed that the weight of the machine became a bit of an issue, especially for our smaller-framed tester. Bearing in mind that some hedges are higher than others, this is something to take into account.
While it's similar in weight to the other manufacturers’ models of the same size, I do think at 2.8kg, it is a relatively heavy piece of equipment to hold for a prolonged period. I would recommend that you try holding one before you buy it and see if it is something you are happy to work with. Otherwise, you might find you are more comfortable with a smaller sized hedge trimmer or a wired model that does not carry the weight of a battery.
Ease of use
I found the Ryobi 18V ONE+ cordless 50cm hedge trimmer a very easy hedge trimmer to use. There was no aspect that could be described as complicated in any way and I think that it would be the ideal machine for the novice gardener.
Anyone who has used a petrol-driven hedge trimmer before will find this buy a lot less complicated, and just like the cordless options on our best lawn mower list, there is no chance of accidentally cutting through the cable of a wired one.
An interesting feature of this hedge trimmer is how the weight is distributed. The battery is located at the base, clipping on to it in the same way as you would attach a battery to a power drill. This means that although the weight of the battery and the weight of the blade offset each other, the ends of the machine do feel quite heavy. Other trimmers, such as the Stihl HSA 45 have their battery located in the middle of the machine, giving a more central weight distribution. I'm not saying that there is a right or wrong way of doing it, but I do recommend picking up a few models before you commit, so you can get an idea of which you prefer.
One area where I did feel that this hedge trimmer was lacking was the battery readout. The only way to see how much charge is left in the battery is to look on the battery itself, at the base of the machine. While this is not a particular problem, other machines such as the Cobra H5024v have a readout on the top which is far easier to see.
The Cobra H5024v also has two speed settings, ‘turbo’ and ‘eco’. When I tested it last year I did think that it was useful to have different settings according to what you were doing and I was sorry to see that the Ryobi did not have this.
Something that did concern me was the switches in the handles. As with most hedge trimmers, you need to depress two switches at the same time to run the it. In this case, they are mounted in the two handles, but herein the lies the problem.
Ryobi have made them quite large and quite sensitive, so that they are comfortable to hold down for a long time while you are you using the machine. The problem is, this sensitivity means that it is very, very easy to start the machine by accident. For example, if you were to pick it up off a bench or the floor using both hands, the places you hold to pick it up are the very places where you turn it on and it starts up straight away. If you did this without checking the area was clear, it would be possible to hurt someone or damage something nearby. The risk of injury may be minimal, but other hedge trimmers I have tested have had a locking function to disable them until the user was ready and it would have been good to see one on the Ryobi 18V ONE+ cordless 50cm hedge trimmer as well.
The main and most important additional extra you will need for this hedge trimmer is at least one battery and a charger. This won’t be a problem for anyone already using the Ryobi ONE+ battery system but it should be factored into the cost of purchase for anyone else.
Ryobi also sell safety goggles and ear defenders, which they recommend you wear when using the hedge trimmer.
How does the Ryobi 18V ONE+ cordless 50cm hedge trimmer rate?
I found that the online feedback for this hedge trimmer was overwhelmingly positive. One user commented that this was his first battery hedge trimmer, after being forced to switch away from petrol since the introduction of E10 fuel and he was very impressed at the performance. I thought this was a particularly interesting comment since, until recently, battery-powered tools were nowhere near as powerful as their petrol counterparts. There was also a great deal of praise for the solid construction and durability of the trimmer.
I am going to give the Ryobi 18V ONE+ cordless 50cm hedge trimmer a rating of 3.5 out of 5. This is not because there is anything wrong with the machine or because I particularly disagree with the feedback other users have given it. I felt that it was a thoroughly competent piece of equipment that would be an asset to your garden.
However, I have tested other machines that offer features the Ryobi does not, such as speed settings or a top mounted battery readout. I was also not happy about the lack of cut off switch. This, to me, feels like a very obvious (and slightly curious) omission. There really should be some way of disabling the machine when you are not using it, especially if you are working in a garden that has young children. If Ryobi were to bring out the exact same model with a safety switch, I would be happy to increase this rating.
As well as judging the Ryobi 18V ONE+ Cordless 50cm Hedge Trimmer one on its own merits, there are also two other things you need to consider. First, if you are not already on Ryobi’s ONE+ battery system, make sure that you want to go with Ryobi as opposed to another supplier. Lots of different manufacturers, such as Flymo, Stihl and Einhell, offer ranges of tools based around a proprietary battery system. It is worth looking at the entire ranges, rather than individual tools, as the battery system you pick may influence your choice of power tools for years to come.
Second, make sure that you actually need a battery hedge trimmer. If you have several hedges far from any buildings, then battery power is an ideal solution. However, if you have just one hedge, not that far from a mains outlet, then you might be able to save money by going for a wired model.
About this review and the reviewer
Steve Bradley is an established gardening expert who has written and co-written over 40 gardening books. His practical gardening knowledge is put to fine use in his residency answering listener's questions for BBC Radio Kent, BBC Radio Sussex and BBC Radio Surrey.
When he is not advising others he is tending for his own garden and helping a neighbour with hers. This gives him plenty of opportunities to test the latest gardening products like this hedge trimmer. Ryobi sent the trimmer free of charge (along with their Ryobi 18V ONE+ 40cm cordless lawn mower) for Steve to test over several weeks. He put it up against a range of hedge types including beech, privet and conifer.
Find our more about our testing process.
Steve has written (or co-written) over 40 practical gardening books, and along with his wife Val (also a qualified horticulturist) was commissioned to update some of the world’s best-selling gardening books, The Expert series, originally written by Dr David Hessayon.
Steve and Val have worked for the Sun newspaper since 2002, writing the Gardening page with the late Peter Seabrook and answering hundreds of readers’ letters every year. Over the years, Steve has also written for most of the popular UK gardening magazines. He has a vast knowledge of gardening and enjoys sharing it with listeners to BBC local radio.
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