Keeping your hedges healthy and giving them a neat and clean look is a snap with a hedge trimmer. However, you can always extract more from your trimmer than you think you could.
Follow these actionable eight tips that’ll teach you how to use your hedge trimmer like a pro.
1. Think of the Shape First
Before starting to trim, you need to think about the desired shape of the hedge. The ideal shape for a healthy hedge is a slight ‘A’ shape. It allows sunlight to get right down to ground level and also makes sure that the base of the hedge has enough growth to support the hedge.
Sunlight helps to maintain the healthy growth of main stems and roots. If your hedge was shaped otherwise, means the bottom was narrower than the top, then you may consider reshaping it.
The best time to reshape it is in the summer months when it is in full leaf. Reshape fast-growing hedges in July and September and do that for evergreen hedges in the late summer.
2. Prepare the Groundwork
Before you start to trim, lay a tarpaulin on the ground that will catch the trimmings. And move that along as you move to cut different areas. This little effort will save you a lot of time and energy after you finish trimming as you won’t have to gather all the leftovers manually.
After you’re done with trimmings, simply take a wheelbarrow and transfer all the leftovers on it from the tarpaulin. Bag the trimmings in a recyclable paper lawn waste bags and give them the treat they deserve.
3. Lubricate the Blades and The trimmer
The blades of the hedge trimmer have a similar action to scissors. There’s a lot of friction involved, and that is why lubricating them before every session is the best practice.
You can use spray oil to lubricate the blade. Apply spray oil top to bottom on both sides of the blade. Do not over-lubricate, however. Only apply that much that is necessary for smooth operation. You should not spay on the same area twice, instead gently spray once.
If you think any other mechanism on the trimmer needs some lubrication as well, go ahead and do that. Make sure you’re having the proper gear on while doing all these things.
4. Let’s trim
The best practice is to start with a slow & steady movement around the hedge. You need to start from the bottom and work your way up the hedge.
Try not to push the trimmer and use it at the minimum speed until you have matched up with its vibration, movement, and other characteristics. You must always use two hands to guide the power hedge trimmer.
And you should not blindly push your way through any bushes. This is unhealthy for both the trimmer and the hedge. Instead, stop and see what is coming in your way and take the necessary actions.
Start with cutting the vertical sides of the hedge first. Do upward and downward sweeping motion with your trimmer and move forward as you keep trimming. Avoid moving backward while you trim, and you can tip over something, causing the running trimmer to fall on you and create chaos.
To trim the top of the hedge, keep the blade at around 10° angle to the horizontal and make a horizontal scything motion to sweep cut the top off the hedge.
If you want a square-topped hedge, keep the blades flat along the hedge top, which means keeping a 0° angle with the horizontal. The side-trimming motion stays the same. But try to not cut with inward strokes along the bottom of the hedge.
If you’re quite used to trimming, you could afford to desire if getting a perfectly finished rounded top. Start cutting at the desired angle about 3 inches from the top. Work your way through to the middle and repeat the same process at the same angle from the other side.
5. Position of the Blade
You want to keep the blade of the trimmer away from you all the time. It doesn’t matter whether it’s switched off, or you’re about to turn it off, you should never position the blade towards you.
And at least not when it’s in use, because that’s the riskiest time. The blades are sharp, and any unwanted hazard may occur. The safest thing to do is always position yourself directly behind the trimmer and keep it far from your body by a good margin.
Doing otherwise can lead to some very unwanted and unpleasant situations that you can guess. I’ve seen such things happen to somebody, and that’s why I can’t stress enough how important it is to place the blades correctly.
6. Take Breaks
You might think that if you’re working prolonged sessions, you’re very productive. Well, that’s not always the case.
Trimming is a tiresome job because holding and taking that heavy, shaky trimmer around is not a piece of cake. It can take a toll on you, which you won’t understand at the time of trimming, rather when you finish up.
That’s why it’s okay to give yourself a break after every 25-30 minutes of trimming. That’s what you should do to not gain pain in the back and shoulder due to trimming. Just relax, have a drink, stretch your body, or listen to your favorite track at that time.
However, break at a regular interval is not only necessary for you but for your trimmer too. Hedge trimmers tend to heat up quite a lot with continuous use, especially the gas models. Using the for prolonged sessions might damage their internal components severely.
Your trimmers deserve a break too. Just let them rest for 5-10 minutes after every 30 minutes of use.
7. Safety Measures
Hedge trimming could be a risky job if you do not follow the proper safety measures.
Safety starts with proper clothing and gear. You should have your goggles, gardening earmuffs and a pair of heavy-duty gloves on. The clothes should not be loose in fitting. Put on a full sleeve shirt and a pair of jeans along with work boots.
Every time you trim, look around the area first that might come into your way. This could be rocks, cables, other tools, and so on things. Also, inspect your trimmer every time before starting. Look for any loose parts like nuts or bolts and tighten them if necessary.
Avoid overextending to reach a remote area. It can cause you to lose balance and fall over. Do not use a ladder to reach an area that you normally can’t. Instead, get a pole hedge trimmer for such cases. Trimming when standing on a ladder could be extremely risky, and you don’t want to take the chance.
Also, never smoke while you trim, and refrain anyone from doing so around the area of trimming. Always walk forward as you cut, never do otherwise, as you could tip over and fall. Hold the trimmer firmly with both hands, never use a single hand.
Try to avoid trimming in damp and wet conditions. Get an RCD (residual current device) if you’re using an electric trimmer. It’s wise to go through the hedge trimmer manual at least once, even if it’s boring.
8. Tips from Specific Trimmer Types
There are mainly three types of hedge trimmers – Corded electric trimmers, cordless trimmers, and gas-powered trimmers. Here are a few tips exclusive for each trimmer type –
Corded trimmers tend to create difficulty regarding managing the cables. The cables could come into the way and get accidentally cut, causing a hazard.
That’s why always mind the cables when you’re using a corded hedge trimmer. Try to keep the power source behind you so that wires will be positioned in your backward automatically.
Also, mind the distance between the power source and the area that you need to cut. If you think it’s far, get an extension cable rather than somehow managing with the existing cord. And never forget to unplug as soon as you’re done; turning it off might not be enough.
For cordless trimmers, I recommend you to charge the battery fully before every session. If you start with charging partially, you may have to charge again during the session.
Remove the battery when you’ve to store the trimmer, do not keep it attached. Otherwise, your battery’s longevity could decrease. Also, do not overcharge your battery like your cellphone.
Charging your cell phone all night isn’t a great practice, and the same goes for other batteries as well. Do not set the trimmers’ battery on charge and forget about it. Remember to take the charger off as soon as the battery is fully charged.
For gas trimmers, there’s nothing much to be worried about. Just try to keep the fuel tank empty when you’re storing it. Try to load as much fuel as you need to get done with one session. If there’s any minimal leftover, spill it. Also, clean the air filter often.
Following these tips will help you get more out of your trimmer, and your hedge will look healthier and cleaner. Do you think you’ve got any cooler tips? Share with us in the comments below.