Hedge Cutters, Pruners and TrimmersGardening is a passion for many people. It’s worth mentioning, however, that working in the garden can be very hazardous as you may be dealing with sharp tools and electrical equipment so you need to pay due care and attention when operating this kind of equipment.

Hedge Cutters

Although a pair of garden shears might be adequate, if you have a substantial hedge or a number of hedges, then you might choose to opt for a power tool. There are many different varieties of hedge cutters and, although you can buy them directly off the internet, it’s useful to go and make comparisons in person as it needs to be the kind of trimmer that suits both you and the job it’s being used for.

There are 3 main types of hedge cutter. Cordless, electric and petrol/gas operated. Petrol ones tend to be more powerful. When choosing a cutter, it shouldn’t be so heavy that you end up struggling to hold it for the duration of the task. If it is, there’s a danger of you dropping it as you get more tired. A heavier tool is also likely to cause you more back problems. In terms if weight, it’s also the balance of the weight and how the weight is distributed that is the key. A single-sided hedge cutter is the best choice if you want to cut straight sections of hedge. The centre of gravity of a single-sided cutter is closer to the body which means they subject you to less strain so you can trim for longer without getting as tired. A double-sided cutter is better for shaping because you can change the direction of the cut without having to move around as much.

You don’t need formal training as such to operate a hedge cutter but it’s worth getting a few tips by watching others do it first and also follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Secateurs, pruners and other gardening cutting tools

To keep smaller hedges, flowers, plants and trees looking good, you’re going to need some kind of cutting tool and you should always remember to wear a pair of industrial gardening gloves when using them to minimise cuts and scratches from thorns, twigs and branches.

When buying a pair of secateurs, always test them first for size and comfort. Remember, all hands are not the same size. You should look for a pair that has a good spring action and for general jobs; a pair around 20cm long is usually adequate. If you’re tackling heavier pruning jobs or need to reach higher up to reach overhanging tree branches, there are many different varieties of pruning equipment specially built for difficult, hard to reach places. Some of them have longer handles which allows for more leverage. You should always wear a protective hard hat, however, if you’re pruning above head height.

For cutting back long grass or a quick hedge trim, you’ll need a pair of garden shears. A model with a 40cm blade should be sufficient to tackle most jobs but opt for a pair with comfortable handles and lightweight blades.

Safety advice when using power tools

  • Protect your eyes and ears. You should always wear goggles and ear defenders are recommended too
  • Always hold the tool with both hands
  • Always place cables behind you while you work and don’t allow them to become frayed or kinked
  • Don’t smoke when operating a petrol or gas driven power tool
  • Never work in damp or wet conditions
  • Try to buy tools with brightly coloured leads. They are easy to see and avoid
  • Don’t rush or take short cuts. Take the time the job needs
  • Always read the instructions

Residual Current Device (RCD)

An RCD detects and reacts to changes in the flow of electricity. It gives you greater protection against the risk of electric shock if you cut through an extension lead as it’s designed to immediately cut off the power supply to the equipment. If you’re using a power tool, using it in conjunction with one of these devices is highly recommended and many power tools come with RCD fitted as standard.

Should I give it a go?

Before you start any job, you need to weigh up the difficulty and decide whether you’re capable of tackling it. You should ask yourself:

  • Is it something I can take on myself?
  • Do I have the right tools and protective equipment?
  • Do I need to get in the experts?

Cutting corners to save money could mean putting yourself at risk and could end up costing you more in the long run. You should never underestimate the difficulty of a job and, if you’re not 100% sure, it’s better to get someone else in to do it.