I dont have a problem bashing Stihl for what they need to be bashed about. Having read your question, I will offer my thoughts. And since your post is 2 years old now, then perhaps another home owner with the same situation can use the information. I have the same problem, low hedges and very tall ones too. I had to purchase several tools to save time and frustration, but not all at once. The crux of the problem is this: If you have to pay full retail price for the tools you need but you only do this periodically, then it is far more expensive for you than for a landscaper who is making money using tools. You get no return on your investment and you are forced to think in terms of one tool to do it all. There is no such tool. For example, I fix my own vehicles, but it just isnt possible to do that with just a crescent wrench. Regardless of the trade or the job at hand, you need the same tools that pros need but you just dont need them as often. Once I realized that, I gave up on the multi-tool-five-tools-in-one idea, the freakin Swiss Army knife theory. All that changin this and changin that, on and off all the time, gets old real quick. And they dont work as well as dedicated single purpose tools.
First off, I would NOT under any circumstances trust what LaserZ advised. I asked a question one time and Alan0354 was the only person who even remotely paid attention to what I was inquiring about. My experience with this site is that the majority of people will answer a technical question with brand suggestions. Internet sites are mostly marketing opportunities for sponsors and their followers. More often than not you will hear Stihl and Amsoil being mentioned as if they are the magical solution to every problem. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sitting back and reading the replies, Alan answered your question with more objective analysis, whereas, LaserZ just jumped on it with brand loyalty. I mean think about it Intravino, really, what do you think a Chevy dealer is going to tell you about a Chevy and a Ford. Do you really think he will advise you not to buy that Chevy but to go buy the better Ford model across the street? LaserZ cannot see the forest from the trees. I'm not saying that Stihl is the worst choice, you could do much worse, but only that thinking brand first is not the best approach to get the truth.
Alan is saying he doubts a short reach pole hedge trimmer will take care of the really tall stuff without a ladder. THAT is 100% true. It just depends on the height of the hedge, NOT the brand. If the hedge gets high enough, even the longest pole hedge trimmer will not reach the top, no matter what brand it is. What if they grow to 20 ft -- your gonna need a ladder, or something else besides the trimmer -- [think cherry picker]. My point is that if you have hedges that are just too tall or too numerous, you might be better off getting rid of them.
You would not want to do this job with "any" brand of long reach hedge trimmer, I dont care if Stihl gave you theirs for free: :
All of the [major] brands will offer at least one tool that will do part of what you need to do, and do it well. But no brand has one tool that will do it all. You know what they say about a jack of all trades and a master of none. The hedge does not know what brand you are using -- its absurd, forget thinking brand, listen to Alan. It may end up being a Stihl but dont start your search blind to all possibilities. And dont buy into this professional thing, there is no such thing. Few professionals are competent [13% at most] anyway, they are too busy taking the time to earn a living and just cannot spend the time on anything like a do-it-your-selfer can. I cant express that point enough. If you have the time you can do a much better job at anything better than a professional will ever do -- they have to watch the clock, you dont!
You mentioned low end vs, commercial. Forget consumer brands of anything ever, if at all possible. Dont ever consider Black & Decker anything. Think commercial always: Redmax, Husqvarna, Maruyama, Tanaka, Kawasaki, Honda -- those brands first, because they believe in using lots of bearings and two piston rings, and they are proven to be more reliable and durable as a result. Then secondly consider Stihl, Shindaiwa, or Echo. Its being reported that Stihl is starting to use single ring pistons, so check into that. Dont trust what salesman tell you. Echo and Shindaiwa use single ring pistons in everything, and they also use less bearings in their newest products.
The main issue with Stihl is their trying to monopolize and create proprietary tools. Several other companies have done that, like IBM, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, AT&T. They failed to a great extent because they force you back to the dealership for everything, eliminating the aftermarket as much as possible. People resent that, I resent that, and you are better off not listening to anyone telling you this or that brand is the best. Decide what you need before you consider any brands.
Another issue for me with Stihl is you cant see parts breakdowns online, or get other detailed information you need on Stihl products. Is Stihl using bearings or as many of the same quality as the other mfrs are? Will a Stihl salesman lie to me about that? Do I have to buy it to find out? Go to the Stihl website and you tell me -- you cant because they wont let you see that. To me that is hiding critical pre-sales information, and I almost never choose a Stihl product because of that single fact. It bites Stihl in the ass everytime.
Most people need to be able to "easily" work on their own stuff sooner or later. Guys want to do that, its a great feeling. Stihl makes it very hard to do that. That is what I resent the most. Concerning other issues, many landscapers have told me that they have more problems getting Stihl equipment to start than they do with the other commercial brands like. I have a Stihl string trimmer and it has not run for the last 5 years. I have recently taken the piston out to clean out the carbon (stuck rings low 75 psi compression), still wont start, now I have the carb off, cleaned it and we'll see, but none of the other tools have acted like that. It even has spark but still wont run. Its by far the most troublesome piece of equipment I own.
But I still consider the Stihl brand every time I need a new tool, because there are far worse products out there. Imagine a no name worst of China made string Trimmer from eBay -- what a freakin nightmare that would be! So, what I mean by all this, is that although I consider Stihl, I usually end up with either a Redmax, Honda, Husqvarna, Maruyama, Kawasaki, or Tanaka, not in any particular order. They are far more open about what they produce and dont hide crucial details. But I still think need first, before brand. It is usually just too time consuming to get any details about the Stihl tool, and I dont even consider Echo or Shindaiwa anymore, since they abandoned the two ring piston, and using lots of bearings. And with all the hiding this and that I have given up on Stihl too; with one exception, their expensive high end chainsaws made in Germany. Stihl has more knowledge about chains than others and that is the one Stihl exception for me. Of course Jonsered and Husqvarna are good too, but its just a hunch on going with Stihl chains, they make their own chains, I like that. Chainsaws are Stihl's long time bread and butter product.
I have owned Stihl, Echo, Redmax, Honda, Husqvarna, almost some Maruyama and Kawasaki tools, as well as, Poulon Pro, Black & Decker, Homelite, Craftsman, Troybilt, etc, and other lower end brands. I like Weedeater the best out of the low end brands, and usually Redmax for most high end stuff. But it really depends on the tool I need. I consider everything, price, warranty, country of origin, design, reviews, durability, reliability, model considered, etc. Redmax recently woke up and now offer a 4 yr warranty for residential, but I resent having to pay a fee for that. I love the Maruyama 5 yr commercial warranty, but cannot find the product locally, no dealers will carry it, and they say parts take months to get, but I like them on paper. Kawasaki of course, great engines, but I'm told the non engine parts have problems. Honda is limited to a heavy 4 stroke blower and trimmers. Husqvarna is a global giant, beyond landscaping and into farming and forestry tools. They know a thing or two, and smartly purchased Redmax for their awesome Strato charged engine that everyone is trying to copy without actually getting caught doing that.
I would advise you to stay away from the hybrid combo ****, part 2 cycle part 4 cycle. They are all junk pure and simple, just a dumb design, a waste of time -- wait until you have to fix one yourself. I would go 4 cycle before considering a hybrid.
Btw, since your OE post, you may have gotten a Stihl system or single Stihl products. You could do much worse. Btw # 2, I wouldnt touch a certain model Redmax trimmer that is made in China. It is a consumer grade model and I'm hearing it is a real POS, and personally I am a Redmax lover. I dont like China anything except women and food. Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, US, makes the good stuff.
But dont think brand first, think need first. For example, if I was a very tall person and needed a string trimmer, I would first be checking out that 71" shaft Tanaka. Pole Saw, now you want to think Stihl. Brushcutter, Husqvarna for sure. Blowers, Redmax always.
Alan wont steer you wrong. I needed a trimmer years ago and he got me asking all the correct questions. He got a Maruyama which I also liked but was not able to get, so I ended up with a very heavy Redmax. Its a beast, will run for 30 years, but it is not enough so, I am getting two more trimmers. That Stihl model the other guy recommended maybe be ok, but I just didnt like his attitude, salesmanship, and brand pushyness -- he wasnt even willing to consider anything else or discuss it with you.
PS. If you want true commercial level quality, start thinking Redmax, Husqvarna, Maruyama.