How to Use a Hedge Trimmer

Lead Image
What You'll Need
Power hedge trimmer
Short-bladed manual hedge pruner
Lawn rake
Yard waste bags
Heavy leather work gloves

Keeping shrubs and hedges healthy and neat is a snap with a hedge trimmer. Follow these tips to use power and manual hedge trimmers safely and effectively to promote the growth of your shrubbery.

Step 1 - Connect Your Hedge Trimmer to its Power Supply

Use a safety-rated 3-prong extension cord to connect your hedge trimmer to the electricity supply. Choose an extension cord length that will provide about 3 feet of movement for the hedge trimmer as you reach upward. Always keep the cord behind you and the blades up and in front when trimming your hedge.

Step 2 - Decide on the Shape You Want for Your Hedge

The healthiest hedges have a slight A shape, which allows sunlight to get right down to ground level. This maintains the healthy growth of roots and main stems. If your hedge has been trimmed before with the bottom narrower than the top, reshape it in the summer months after it is in full leaf. Reshape evergreen hedges in the late summer, and fast-growing hedges in July and September.

Step 3 - Guide the Hedge Trimmer

Use the hedge trimmer on its lowest speed until you are familiar with its movement, vibration, and other characteristics. Always guide the power hedge trimmer with both hands. For a square-topped hedge, move the hedge trimmer sideways with the blades flat along the hedge top, to groom the hedge evenly to the desired height.

Glide the hedge trimmer upward from the bottom to the top to remove unwanted growth from the sides. Remember not to trim inward close to the hedge bottom. To create a rounded top, start trimming with an upward stroke about three inches from the hedge top. Slope the hedge trimmer blades away from your body, toward the center of the hedge, on a slight angle to create the curve. Repeat the sloped cut on the other side of the hedge.

Step 4 - Thin Out Excess Growth Inside the Hedge

Once you have shaped and cleaned the outside of the hedge, you can see easily where excess growth and twisted branches inside need thinning. Put on work gloves and use the short-handled manual hedge pruning shears to trim inside the hedge. Lop off the unwanted twigs as close to their main parent branch as possible. Trim off dead branches to promote new growth where you want it.

Step 5 - Sweep Up When Finished

Gather up all the trimmed hedge branches and twigs with a lawn rake, and put them in a wheelbarrow. Roll it down to the curb to bag the hedge trimmings in recyclable paper lawn waste bags, so you don't have to carry the full bags.

Safety Tips

Keep hedges trimmed to a level you can reach safely from the ground. Avoid having to climb a stepladder to trim your hedge tops. Do not use an electric hedge trimmer while it is raining. Trim hedges early in the morning or late in the afternoon to prevent the sun from scorching raw branch ends.