Hedgetrimmers: A Beginner’s Guide To Hedge Care

Man Cutting Domestic Hedge
By the time early summer has reached us, most hedging is in need of a trim or tidy-up to prevent it from blocking paths and gateways, making it the idea time to start looking at purchasing a new powered hedgetrimmer.

Every gardener knows that regular mowing is an important part of everyday horticulture and that failure to do so will leave your grass untidy, unruly and unpleasant to look at. It’s odd, then, that many people seem not to realise that hedge maintenance is equally important.

Without trimming and pruning hedgerows, shrubs and bushes on a regular basis they will grow rapidly and leave your garden a mess. Leave it long enough and the inexorable creep of your hedges will shrink your garden, leaving you less green space to enjoy, and potentially cause unpleasant spats with neighbours unhappy about your cypresses intruding upon their property. As such a hedgetrimmer is just as essential as a lawnmower for any home owner with shrubs and hedgerows in their garden.

But with so many different models available it can be hard to know where to start when investing in a hedgetrimmer. That’s why we’ve made this brief introduction to the wonderful world of hedge maintenance, offering a brief overview of some of the considerations to keep in mind and some recommendations for machines that might suit your needs.

Corded, Battery-Powered & Petrol Hedgetrimmers

One of the most important things to keep in mind when buying a hedgetrimmer is the power source, as different types of hedgetrimmer are suitable for different applications. The three main kinds are corded electric, cordless battery-powered and petrol hedgetrimmers, each of which will suit the needs of different users.

Corded Electric Hedgetrimmers: Corded hedgetrimmers are generally best suited to use in smaller gardens because they require access to a mains power source. Nevertheless, these machines are typically easy to use, lightweight and relatively inexpensive so make great tools for inexperienced users. Freedom from the exhaust fumes, excessive noise and service requirements of a petrol machine is another reason that corded hedgetrimmers are increasingly popular.

Electric hedge trimmers have been the staple piece of equipment for domestic gardeners over many years.

Cable length is an important factor here, so be sure to check that your machine is suitably equipped for the size of your garden. You’ll also want to invest in a residual-current circuit breaker (RCCB) to prevent accidents should you accidentally cut through the power cable.

Some of the best corded hedgetrimmers for amateur users are Bosch’s machines, incorporating everything from the entry-level AHS 45-16 – with its low overall weight (only 2.6kg) and 45cm blade ensuring precision cutting and superb ease of operation – to the powerful AHS 70-34 electric hedge cutter, which boasts a longer 70cm laser-cut, diamond-ground blade and a potent 700W electric motor to enable efficient cutting of extensive hedgerows.

Battery-Powered Hedgetrimmers: Battery-powered hedgetrimmers  offer the same clean, quiet and convenient operation as corded trimmers but with added freedom to roam in larger or complicated gardens. This makes them ideal for the majority of domestic hedge maintenance work, with modern lithium-ion batteries ensuring enough run time for uninterrupted cutting and cutting performance which can sometimes match that of a petrol machine. Remember to check the average run time of the machine you a buying before making a purchase though, as there are few things more frustrating than having to stop and recharge your batteries with half of the garden still untrimmed!

Battery Hedgetrimmer In Use
Cordless hedgetrimmers have risen in popularity and performance over recent years thanks to improvements in modern battery technology.

Bosch again dominate the hobbyist market when it comes to cordless hedgetrimmers, with machines like the AHS 45-15 LI being light (only 2kg) and easy to use yet still offering up to fifty minutes run time on a single charge of its 10.8V lithium-ion battery. Along with its 45cm diamond-ground blade, this makes the AHS 45-15 LI cordless hedgetrimmer ideal for maintaining hedgerows in medium sized gardens.

For those looking for a little more clout, however, there are now battery-powered hedgetrimmers suitable for professional use. Husqvarna’s 536 Li HD60X, for instance, features a quiet-running PMDC 36V 4-Brush electric motor and a long lasting lithium-ion battery to deliver up to 4,000 cuts per minute via its 60cm double-sided trimmer blade. This makes it more than powerful enough to tackle tough hedge maintenance work, but being battery-powered also means that the 536 Li HD60X can be used in noise-sensitive areas (such as school and hospital grounds) without exposing those nearby to the obnoxious roar of a petrol machine.

Petrol Hedgetrimmers: Petrol hedgetrimmers are typically reserved for the largest gardens and professional applications, chiefly because they provide significant cutting power and complete freedom to work when away from a power source. This makes them perfect for use on the largest properties and on scrubland, which is often where the most challenging cutting work takes place.

Man using petrol hedgetrimmer.
Large areas of hedging need powerful machinery to be keep them in pristine condition. Petrol hedgetrimmers are the mainstay of professional gardeners for this type of work.

However, petrol hedgetrimmers are also heavier, noisier and produce more emissions than electric machines. They also require more maintenance and can be more expensive to run, while refuelling can sometimes be a fiddly process. These machines are therefore not usually recommended for inexperienced users.

If you do decide to invest in one of these powerful machines, however, you are pretty much spoilt for choice. You will want to get a machine suited to the cutting work you will be doing, so for general hedge maintenance a hedgetrimmer like Sanli’s HSD2655 will do the job nicely, with its 55cm reciprocating double-blade offering plenty of cutting power while remaining manoeuvrable. For tougher commercial hedge maintenance, on the other hand, a machine with a longer blade, like the 75cm tempered steel number boasted by Efco’s TG 2800 XP, will allow you to handle even the heaviest workloads with ease.

Double-Sided vs. Single-Sided Hedgetrimmers

Another important distinction to keep in mind is the difference between single-sided and double-sided hedgetrimmers.

Single-Sided Hedgetrimmers: Single-sided hedgetrimmers are specialist machines, usually reserved for trimming long, straight stretches of hedgerow. This is because they can be fitted with a longer blade than a double-sided trimmer without unbalancing the machine. Single-sided hedgetrimmers may also feature (or be compatible with) clipping collectors which help ensure ease of cutting by removing loose vegetation as you work.

Kawasaki Single Sided Hedge Trimmer
Single sided hedgetrimmers are the professional’s choice for hedge maintenance.

Commercial users working on estates blessed with extensive boundary hedges (or even a hedge maze) may therefore appreciate the efficiency of a machine like Husqvarna’s 226HS99S, which features a remarkable 108cm blade ideal for trimming long, straight sections of hedgerows in parks or on large estates.

Double-Sided Hedgetrimmers: The majority of users will want to purchase a double-sided hedgetrimmer, as these machines feature shorter blades for increased manoeuvrability, allowing you to quickly alter the direction of cut. This versatility also makes double-sided trimmers ideal for most domestic gardens and ensures ease of operation when shaping shrubs and bushes.

Cutting Action, Blade Length, Tooth Gap & More

To conclude we’ll offer a brief summary of some of the additional factors which might influence your choice of hedgetrimmer. In many cases these will only be important for specialised or commercial applications but even amateur users can benefit from familiarising themselves with the jargon surrounding hedgetrimmers, especially if you have extensive hedgerows to maintain on your property.

  • Double vs. Single Cutting Action: Most hedgetrimmers these days use a double cutting action, whereby two blades move against one another to slice through tough vegetation. These machines are more popular because they cut more cleanly and vibrate less than single-action hedgetrimmers, which feature one moving blade and one stationary blade. It is important not to mix this up with double-sided and single-sided machines (a single-action hedgetrimmer will usually still have a double-sided blade).
  • Blade Length: Generally the rule is the longer the blade the more you’ll be able to get done in a short time. Length, however, comes at the expense of manoeuvrability, so anyone shaping hedgerows and shrubs or working in a confined area will want to pick a machine with a shorter blade.

    Hedgetrimmer Blade_Double Side
    Double-sided hedgetrimmer blades are standard issue for the majority of hedgetrimmer manufacturers.
  • Tooth Gap: The term “tooth gap” refers to the spacing of the teeth on your hedgetrimmer’s blade and thus determines the maximum diameter of the vegetation you will be able to cut. For most routine trimming work a tooth gap of 16mm-20mm will be more than sufficient, but machines with larger tooth gaps are available for the toughest commercial cutting work.
  • Weight & Ease of Handling: This is a big one because you need to make sure you can cut with precision to avoid ruining your hedgerows (or even causing an accident). The rule to follow is fairly simple; lighter is better (especially for less experienced users) and will help ensure that you stay in control while you work. Other important factors here include the length of blade (longer blades tend to make hedgetrimmers more difficult to control) and the type of handle your machine features (rotating handles are quite common and will allow you to adjust your grip when taking on tricky cutting jobs).

Of course, there’s still plenty more to learn about hedgetrimmers if this primer has piqued your interest in hedge care (we haven’t even mentioned long-reach articulating hedgetrimmers and pole pruners yet, nor the various hedgetrimmer attachments available for multi-tools). So feel free to browse the many excellent hedgetrimmers we sell here at Lawnmowers Direct and if you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our knowledgeable sales team.