Pruning hedges with a trimmer is an effective way to keep them in check and looking great.
However, sometimes, you need a pole trimmer to tackle taller hedges or to reach more inaccessible branches – and the techniques when using one are slightly different.
For rookie users and old hands alike, here are our 9 top tips to use a pole hedge trimmer like a pro.
Safety and preparation
Whenever operating potentially dangerous equipment like a hedge trimmer, safety should always be your primary concern.
Furthermore, by making sure you prepare everything properly before you start, you will set yourself up do the best possible job.
Here are our top tips for safety and preparation.
1. Clothing and protective equipment
Don’t wear baggy clothes – instead, prefer tighter-fitting clothes that won’t snag on any branches or even get caught in the trimmer’s blade.
Also, make sure you wear a good pair of work gloves when trimming your hedges.
Since with a long reach hedge trimmer, you are likely to be working on hedges above head height, it is also important that you wear a proper pair of safety goggles – a pair of specs or sunglasses are not good enough. Finally, for the same reason, you should consider wearing a hard hat for safety.
2. Lubricate the blade before you start
Each time you start work, especially if you haven’t used the trimmer for some time, you should lubricate the blade.
For best results, use spray lubricating oil along the blade, both on the top and on the bottom. This will ensure your trimmer is in good working condition before you turn it on.
You can use something like WD40, but please check the manual first because it might not be safe to use it with the type of blade you have.
3. Check the ground before you start
Before you start trimming, check the ground where you will be working for any debris that you may trip over or even rabbit holes that you might step in.
This is especially important when working with a hedge trimmer since you are more likely to be looking up and not concentrating on the ground where you are placing your feet.
Tripping over while working with a pole hedge trimmer can lead to serious accidents, so take all precautions to ensure it doesn’t happen once you start working.
Related: Check out our guide on how to maintain a luscious lawn.
4. Check the hedge you’re going to trim
Before you start cutting, you also need to check the hedge you are going to trim. Look inside to make sure there are no wires or cable hidden inside, and if you are working during the nesting season, make sure there are no birds nests inside that you are going to disturb.
make sure there are no birds nests inside that you are going to disturb
Check out the “Hedge Law” to make sure you are not breaking any rules that could land you in serious trouble!
While you do this, you can also pull out any debris from the hedge that might become stuck in your trimmer and cause it to jam.
5. Lay tarpaulin to catch the trimmings
If you can lay tarpaulin where you plan to trim, it will make it much easier to pick up the trimmings after. If you don’t, you will have to rake the trimmings up manually, which is much more time-consuming.
Once you have taken all the necessary safety precautions and have made sure the ground and the hedge are free of debris and obstacles, you are ready to start trimming.
Here are the tips you need to know to ensure you have the best technique.
With a pole trimmer, you need to have the right grip. This is because since it’s longer than a regular trimmer, if you don’t hold it correctly, you will find it too heavy to wield because the balance will be wrong.
When using the trimmer in front of you at waist or chest height, you should place one hand on the handle at the rear of the trimmer and the other on the handle that is furthest forward.
This will balance the weight of the trimmer between your two hands and give you the greatest control.
When cutting above your head, you will need to change your grip
When cutting above your head, you will need to change your grip. The back hand should still be on the same handle at the rear of the trimmer, but the front hand should be further back too.
Many trimmers have a circular grip – when trimming above your head, this is the one to use to give you greater reach.
2. Angle of work
Most pole trimmers allow you to adjust the angle of the trimming head, and not using the correct angle is a mistake that many novices can make. If you don’t angle the head correctly, it will limit your ability to see what you are working on.
As another example, the cordless GTech HT20 allows the attachment of an optional branch cutter so the angle may be different again when using this.
Related: Check out this comparison of the GTech HT20 vs the GTech HT05.
When working at waist or chest height, don’t leave the blade completely straight. If the blade is too straight, you will end up standing too close to the hedge to see what you are doing.
Instead, set the head at a slight angle, perhaps about 25°. This will allow you to stand back from the hedge slightly, giving you a much better view of your work.
Similarly, if you are trimming the top of a tall hedge from below, don’t set the angle at 90° – for the same reason. If you set it at 90°, you will need to walk along the hedge directly below and won’t be able to see what you are cutting.
Set the angle at slightly more than 90°. This will allow you to stand further back from the hedge as you trim, giving you a better view of what you are working on.
3. Stand in one place and trim before moving on
It is much better to stand still in one place and to cut everything within reach and then to move on than to trim while walking. Otherwise, it is much harder to cut in a straight line.
After you finish
After you finish, you need to clean up the trimmings – if you have used a tarpaulin, this part will be easy. You should also take care of basic trimmer maintenance before you put it back into your shed. Here’s how.
1. Clean your trimmer
Make sure the trimmer is turned off. Place it on a firm work surface and remove any debris that has become lodged in the blades. It is important to do this before you put it back into storage since it will be more difficult if you leave debris to become encrusted with time.
Make sure you always read the instruction manual before cleaning so as not to void the warranty.
Safety, preparation and proper technique
Whenever using potentially dangerous tools, always consider safety first. With trimmers and pole trimmers, prepare properly before you start working – and then, by using the correct techniques we’ve outlined here, you are sure to achieve the highly professional results you desire.