Last Updated on June 22, 2021
Before buying your new power tool to trim your hedge, you should know how to use a hedge trimmer to get the best possible results and understand whether it suits your needs. If you thought it was simply a case of firing up the hedge trimmer and hacking away at whatever you are cutting, then think again.
What we are going to do is to take you through how to use a hedge trimmer to help you get perfect results. We will cover not only electric hedge trimmers but also all of the other versions of hedge trimmers available on the market.
By the end of this article, you should be all ready to go out there and trim whatever needs trimming.
Our Hedge Trimming Tips – When Not to Use a Hedge Trimmer
But before we delve into how to use your hedge trimmer, let’s explain when you should not be using it. You should never look at trying to trim a hedge or bushes in the rain. It is clearly for safety reasons and is especially true when using an electric hedge trimmer.
The Different Types of Hedge Trimmer on the Market
Different trimmers are powered in different ways, and it’s up to you to decide on which one is best for you from the different types available.
The most common version is the electric hedge trimmer. It comes with a cord and is usually connected to the mains via an extension cable. A petrol hedge trimmer has a tank where you load up the petrol and then use a drawstring to kickstart the motor.
However, no matter the hedge trimmer, they will still cut hedges in the same way.
So, let’s look at how to correctly use a hedge trimmer to get you the best possible results every single time.
Step by Step on Using a Hedge Trimmer
Step 1: Remember Your Safety
The first thing to remember is your safety, which means using gloves and goggles to protect yourself. As you trim hedges, parts will come loose and fly all over the place, and those small pieces can land in your eyes. Protective clothing is a must, so don’t overlook it as accidents can happen.
Step 2: Prepare the Cutting Blade
Next, you need to prepare the cutting blade. It is when you lubricate the blades with the appropriate oil. It will make it easier for the trimmer blades to move without sticking, and you get a better outcome when cutting your hedges.
Removing debris is something you should have done after the previous use. However, check for any debris before you start, and also do this before lubricating the blades with oil. When you add oil, do so slowly rather than soaking the blades as that will work against you.
Step 3: Check for Obstacles
Before cutting hedges, you want to check that there’s nothing in your garden that will get in your way. Look for trip hazards in your path and remove them. The same goes for anything close to the hedges or plants that you don’t want to get damaged.
Keep in mind that you are using a sharp blade, and it will cut through many items due to the power aspect. So, clear your path, and know exactly where you will trim in advance to make sure there are no mishaps.
Step 4: Holding Hedge Trimmers
Correctly holding your hedge trimmer is also essential. It comes with two grips, one at the front of the machine and one at the back. Make sure you hold both as this is not only a safety thing, but it also gives you more control over the machine.
As an extra tip, make sure your thumb is under the handle and double-check your hands are behind the guard. Most hedge trimmers have protective guards for this very purpose, but if not, then keep your hands away from the blade but with a firm grip.
Step 5: Connect the Hedge Trimmer
Connect the hedge trimmer to its power source. If it’s electric, then plug it in. If it’s petrol, then add the fuel.
If your hedge trimmer is electric, then make sure you have an extension cable to cover the whole length of the hedge. Trimmers don’t tend to come with a long cord, so an extension makes life a whole lot easier.
Step 6: How to Carry the Cord
With electric hedge trimmers, you want to keep a close eye on the power cable. It’s very easy to end up cutting the cord, and then your trimmer is going to stop working, as well as give you a slight shock.
Keep the power cord behind you at all times. Don’t allow it to drape in front of you, and keep in mind to check the position of the cable as you cut your hedges. The trimmer cord has an amazing habit of moving and getting in the way of the blades.
Of course, if you are using a cordless machine, then this isn’t required.
Step 7: Trimming the Hedge
The best way to use the trimmer on your hedge is to do so in an upward manner. It just makes it easier to use the machine in this way. Start at the bottom of the hedge and use sweeping motions in a straight line wherever possible.
Also, there’s no need to use a lot of pressure on the trimmer or the hedge during use. Hedge trimmers use the power in the machine to cut through branches and don’t need any additional force to get a clean cut.
Extra Tip – Pay Attention to Your Trimming
One of the best tips we can offer you when trimming hedges is to pay attention to the trimming depth. You want to create something quite smooth unless you are going for a specific shape, so paying attention to the trim is key.
Take your time, and hold the blade so that it’s flat. Avoid holding the blade at a different angle, even when trying to cut through tough branches.
Also, think carefully about the amount of growth you want to nip off the hedge. It will determine how much of the blade needs to go into the hedge itself to give you the desired finished result ultimately.
Step 8: Dealing With Edges
Trimming the edge of hedges does require a slightly different technique, but the blades are up to the task.
Generally speaking, hedges are wider at the bottom and thinner at the top. That does mean you should angle the overall hedge slightly to allow sunlight to get into each part of the hedge. It means sunlight gets through the branches and into the roots of the hedge. It allows for better and more even growth.
Having a straight hedge can look amazing, but only do this when appropriate and not negatively affect the hedge itself.
Step 9: Cutting the Top
Moving onto the top, trimming this will determine how high the hedge will grow, as well as its overall shape.
Hold your trimmer level, and one of the best tips is to move it left to right in slow, sweeping moves. The blades need to be level to get an even cut on the top, or you may end up with long and short tips on your hedge.
One of our other favourite tips is to only cut a few inches off at a time. You don’t want to hack away at your hedge as this is all about giving it a trim rather than anything else.
Step 10: View Your Work
The final step is to view your work. Are there any parts of the hedge that appear to be uneven? Have the blades hacked away at a part at the wrong angle and changed the shape? Are you happy with the shape of your freshly trimmed hedge?
If there are any bits left sticking out, then use your hedge trimmer to nip away at any tips that remain. There’s always the chance of missing bits on the hedge as you sweep your hedge trimmer upwards with the initial cut, so don’t be surprised if you need to tidy up some parts later on.
Step 11: The Clear up Process
The final part of knowing how to use a hedge trimmer is the cleaning up part of the process. Your trimmer can quickly remove parts of the hedge via the blades, so you can then add the cut parts to your compost heap.
Use a broom or rake to gather up all of the pieces from your garden. After that, you are ready for the final step.
Step 12: Maintenance
The final step involves maintenance, which will be the point where you care for the blades. Clean them, remove any debris by using brushes or a dry cloth, and then lubricate the blades with oil once done.
It is going to mean your hedge trimmer is ready for use the next time you need to go out into your garden.
Using Hedge Trimmers
So, you now know how to use a hedge trimmer, and as you can see, there’s nothing complex about it. The main issue you need to focus on is holding the trimmers at the correct angle to allow the blade to do its job. It helps you to control the cutting angle and the overall shape you can achieve.
Apart from that, carry out regular maintenance to keep things sharp, and the blade will last for years unless you are trying to hack through tough branches that will cause things to become blunt and less effective.