Hedges provide a perfect alternative to a fence as a garden boundary. They also create an environmentally beneficial habitat for wildlife and provide structure, colour and texture in the garden. Just like fences, hedges require regular maintenance to stay looking smart.
Hedge maintenance consists of cutting back growth. How much growth you cut back depends on the age of the hedge, the species of the hedging, and the desired result required.
Choosing tools for hedge cutting.
There are two basic options available to you when it comes to cutting your hedge – hand tools and power tools. Hand tools such as shears and secateurs are fine for smaller hedges consisting of thinner stems and for trimming individual shrubs and bushes. When it comes to choosing any manual cutting tool, get the best you can afford. There is a huge difference in quality between the cheapest and the mid to higher priced equipment.
Powered Hedge cutters
Powered hedge cutters are far more suitable for general hedge cutting and come in two flavours – petrol powered and electric.
Electric hedge cutters.
Electric hedge cutters are available in various sizes and power ratings from around 300 watts up to 750 watts. The main advantages of electric hedge cutters (apart from being fairly cheap) are the quiet operation and ease of use – you plug in and away you go. They also tend to be lighter than petrol powered hedge cutters.
The disadvantages are the lack of power compared to petrol machines and the danger of cutting through the power cord. Bear in mind the power cord will also limit your working range, if you have a long garden you will need an extension lead. Always use a circuit breaker with any electrically powered garden tool.
If you want the advantages of an electric hedge cutter without the hassle of a power cord, then a cordless battery powered hedge trimmer may be what you’re looking for.
Choosing an electric hedge cutter
If you want high quality, the Viking range of electric hedge cutters are worthy of serious consideration. Viking are part of German machinery manufacturers Stihl who make some of the best garden and forestry equipment available.
Bosch manufacture a decent and varied range of electric hedge cutters including smaller lightweight electric shears and larger more powerful hedge cutters. Unlike a lot of electric machines, Bosch hedge cutters are ergonomically well designed.
Alko also make some decent budget priced models for the gardener looking for a cheap, good value tool.
Long reach electric hedge trimmers
When it comes to hedge cutting, a bit of extra reach can make a difficult job a whole lot easier and safer. Long reach hedge cutters of the past were typically heavy petrol machines reserved for professionals. However, there are now some decent products on the market catering for the home user and the Gardena electric long reach hedge trimmer offers a lot for the price. See our article on long reach hedge cutters for more options.
Petrol powered hedge cutters.
For convenience and power, petrol powered hedge cutters reign supreme and are recommended for all larger hedge cutting jobs.
With a petrol hedge cutter, you have total freedom over your movements due to the lack of a power cord, and no power cord means no risk of cutting through it. You can also work in wet weather – not a wise option with an electric hedge trimmer.
The increase in power means petrol powered hedge cutters can cope with thicker, tougher growth easily. This becomes apparent when you leave a hedge for a year or so and find you have thick stems to deal with. Petrol hedge cutters are of a higher build quality generally and will last longer than their electric counterparts.
Buying a petrol hedge cutter
One of the most respected brands for all types of garden machinery is German manufacturer Stihl. Their petrol powered hedge cutters are amongst the best available for home users and professionals alike.
Another brand that’s quietly gaining respect is Japanese manufacturer Tanaka who offer powerful, good quality machines at excellent prices.
Although petrol equipment is generally more expensive than the equivalent electric tool, it is still possible to buy a petrol hedge cutter for under £150.
Long reach petrol hedge cutters
For tough growth up high, it makes sense to get a petrol powered long reach hedge cutter with an angled cutter head. Many of these machines can be fitted with different accessory heads such as strimmers, chainsaws and tillers.
Although not the cheapest, the Stihl range of long reach hedge cutters is one of the most popular amongst regular users and are available with a choice of engine sizes.