Choosing the Best Tool for Trimming Hedges.

For every three questions we get about hedging plants – Beech or Yew, Lavender or Rosemary -, we must get at least one about choosing the right tool for hedge trimming and cutting and most of those are about the heavy stuff like chain saws and powered hedge cutters.
As you can imagine, tools are a vital to our business and for the last 20 or so years we’ve depended upon the advice of Ray, who owns and runs 5As, a specialist tool and machinery supplier in Brize Norton. Given that Father Christmas delivers a surprising number of saws and cutters every December, we thought it best to ask Ray to give you his advice. Over to you Ray…
“While it is advisable to see how, say a pair of secateurs feels in your hand before buying, when it comes to powered tools, it is absolutely essential. If your electric hedge clippers, for example, don’t feel comfortable, a) your Yew or Privet won’t thank you for the resulting botch job and b) you won’t be able to use them safely.
Just as important is choosing the right tool for the right job. A five foot Beech hedge doesn’t need the same tool as an eight foot Leylandii. Properly trained staff can advise you on the appropriate tool. If the ground around your hedge is flat and secure and you feel OK standing a couple of rungs up a sturdy step ladder, fine. If not, you will need a hedge cutter with a telescopic handle and, possibly, a head that swivels.
Then there is the question of how a tool is engineered. A professional gardener or nurseryman will use his far more than an average gardener and therefore needs a tool built for that level of usage. This makes it more expensive – but do you actually need to spend the extra money? Almost certainly not – reputable tools designed for domestic use are sturdy and reliable enough to give years of excellent service.
Of, course, many choose to hire and for some jobs, such as preparing the ground for a new hedge, it really is the only sensible option. But if you are buying, make sure it’s the right tool for the job and the right tool for the person who’s going to use it.
Finally, be really careful about buying through sites like E-Bay, particularly from individuals – these tools are often faked – and the fakes are dangerous. And if you do buy second-hand, ALWAYS have it checked and serviced before you use it – and when you do, wear safety goggles. This isn’t a case of ‘health and safety gone mad’ but one of simple and necessary precaution. I’ve seen the damage two inches of flying privet can do, and it isn’t pretty.
Please do get in touch – we’ll be delighted to help”
This is sound advice and while Ray has been talking about the heavier, mechanised tools, I and my colleagues all know from experience the importance of choosing simpler hand tools like secateurs or clippers with equal care. A hedge clipped or a Lavender pruned with a tool that feels comfortable will look all the better for it.
Thank you Ray – visit him at