How to Use a Hedge Trimmer?

Things to know about hedge trimming

The easiest and most beautiful way to cut a hedge is with the right tools. Hedge trimmers are classic tools for gardeners and amateurs. There are mechanical and motorized models, which differ greatly in design.

Mechanical products are reminiscent of ordinary household shears. Electric hedge trimmer, on the contrary, is powered by electricity and is equipped with a blade bar. The sharpened blades of the sword move automatically, which is why working with them is less tiring than with mechanical variants.

So that their weight does not have a tiring effect on the arms, there are powerful electric hedge trimmers in a particularly lightweight design.

Of course, in addition to electric hedge trimmers, there are also gasoline and battery hedge trimmers.

The handling of the products is simple, but since the shears can not independently distinguish between fingers or branches, be sure to follow certain safety measures.

Here’s how to minimize the risk of injury

Wear protective clothing:

The blades of the devices have a high cutting force and should never be underestimated. To minimize the risk of accidents from cuts, users should wear protective clothing. This includes:

  • tight-fitting gloves (protective gloves)
  • non-slip safety shoes – ensure a firm footing and protect the feet
  • when cutting hedges, branches and leaves are sawed off and can fly through the air – to protect the eyes, safety goggles or face shields are recommended
  • ear protection
  • when working overhead with a telescopic hedge trimmer, it is also recommended to wear a safety helmet
  • Loose clothing or long jewelry do not belong near hedge trimmers, as they can get caught in the blade. Long hair must also be tied up when working with the equipment.
IKRA Elektro Heckenschneider IHS 600

What to consider when cutting hedges?

Here are some important safety instructions and tips at a glance:
Protect your work tool from rain and moisture:
Whether electric hedge trimmers or hedge trimmers with rechargeable batteries, both are electronic tools that must be protected from rain and moisture. After all, if water gets into the equipment, the risk of electric shock increases. Extension cords must also be suitable for outdoor use. Even if it hasn’t rained, the ground may be damp due to morning dew, for example. Therefore, inspect the cords of your electric hedge trimmer, as well as the extension cord, for chafing before use, as moisture can get in there and cause a short circuit.

Operate your hedge trimmer with both hands only:

Once you’ve put on your protective gear, it’s time to get to the real work. The mandatory two-handed operation keeps your hands out of the running cutter bars.

Never reach into running cutting blades:

If the cutting blade hits a hedge, severed branches or leaves can get caught in it. Nevertheless, never reach into the blade. Trapped material should only be removed when the unit is turned off. Also, under no circumstances should you hold branches or leaves that you want to cut off.

Always carry the shears by the handle:

When transporting the hedge trimmer from job site to job site or storage location, always carry the hedge trimmer by the handle. Never touch the sharp cutting blades even when the power is off. Ideally, cover them with the protective quiver when transporting.

Only cut in broad daylight:

Even if you get off work late, don’t get the idea of trimming your hedges in the dark. If the light is too poor, you won’t be able to see leaves and branches that get caught in the cutting blade. And also “cutting straight” a hedge becomes enormously difficult. Also, of course, the risk of injury is much higher in the dark than in daylight.

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Do not overload the hedge trimmer:

The thicker the branches, the harder the hedge trimmer has to work. If a branch is too thick, the motor can be overloaded.

Don’t overdo it:

If your arms are getting heavier, take a break. Thanks to innovative developments, today’s hedge trimmers (e.g. Ultralight hedge trimmers) are lighter than ever, but your arms can still get tired after a while. Then just take a short break and continue the work afterwards.

Pay attention to the regulations:

Pay attention to the blade run-on time:

When you turn off an electric hedge trimmer, the cutting blade continues to run for a brief moment. Wait for this moment before putting it out of your hand.

Work alone:

Even if your children or others want to help – they have no business being near the work due to the high risk of injury. So, frolicking children should definitely not be around when the hedge is being cut. They need to concentrate while cutting and cannot keep an eye on the children and supervise them at the same time.

Do not cut in strong sun or heat:

You will “injure” the hedge by cutting it. The trimmed areas on the hedge are now at the mercy of the intense heat and blazing sun. You may get a “sunburn.” The cut may not heal cleanly and the hedge may wilt and turn brown. This looks unsightly. Also, for you as an amateur gardener, an overcast sky or a slightly cooler day is much more comfortable. Also, avoid the midday sun. Concentration is much lower when the heat is intense and the sun is hot. If you are unfocused, the risk of injury could increase.

Pay attention to the cord:

If you are using an electric hedge trimmer, you should always keep an eye on the cable to prevent it from being cut by the blades and causing an electric shock

Clean the hedge trimmer after work:

When working with the hedge trimmer, plant residues such as plant sap, among other things, settle on the shear blades. Use only suitable care products for this purpose. After cleaning, care oils and care sprays are suitable for further treatment. Pay attention to a good cleaning and care of the knives, so they remain particularly durable and ready for use for a long time. By the way, the protective quiver not only protects against injuries, but it also protects the knife from dust and debris. So always protect the knives when storing them with the knife protector.

Cover cutting blades for storage:

When a hedge trimmer is off, it is no less sharp. Therefore, you should always cover the blades during storage or, in the best case, cover them with a protective quiver.

What are the safety features of hedge trimmers?

To keep the risk of injury as low as possible, the tools have various safety features:

All electric and cordless hedge trimmers with a cutting thickness of 8mm or more are designed for two-hand operation (two-hand safety switch).

Most models are equipped with an anti-jam circuit.
A quick blade stop is mandatory.
A bump guard protects when working close to the ground and along walls and fences.
Overload protection: mechanical overload protection with a slipping clutch is best, protecting the transmission and motor from overload in the event of blade blockage.

Concealed blades
Synchronous strop, where the blade bars always stay on top of each other, so that no clippings remain trapped.
For cutting large hedges, there are telescopic hedge trimmers that are comfortable to guide – even for hedges with heights up to about four meters. If you work conscientiously with the equipment, you reduce the risk of accidents to a minimum and you can get your garden back in shape.

IKRA Elektro Teleskop Heckenschere ITHS 500

When is actually the perfect time for hedge pruning?

For deciduous shrubs, topiary is recommended twice a year, for conifers once a year. The first pruning for deciduous shrubs is recommended in June (e.g. St. John’s Day) and the second pruning at the end of August. Conifers should ideally be pruned in May, just before the hedge shoots. If more severe pruning is necessary, for example if the hedge has lost its favored shape or if the hedge is simply too tall, then pruning on frost-free winter days (November to February) is recommended. Deciduous shrubs can be cut back to the older wood without hesitation, they will then sprout anew. Conifers, on the other hand, should not be cut back to the old wood, because older woody plants sprout very little or not at all.

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Depending on the hedge, you can either prune your hedges in the spring and summer or at one of the times mentioned above. For most plants such as barberry, hornbeam, arborvitae, privet, copper beech or false cypress, pruning once a year is sufficient. Field maple or evergreen yew can be rejuvenated twice a year, and shrubs such as boxwood, which are kept in shape by special pruning techniques, even more often.

When pruning at the beginning of the year, it should be frost-free, because if it is -5 ° C or colder, the plants can be damaged, because at such temperatures their shoots become brittle and fragile. After the pruning date, the shrubs need some regeneration time and often do not sprout properly again until May. They may look a bit disheveled at first – but look especially well-groomed afterwards.
From the end of August / beginning of September should not be cut at all, because it can come to the new shoots, which can not mature properly until autumn or winter, however, and thus suffer frost damage.

IKRA Akku Heckenschere IAHS 40-5425

Difference topiary and pruning

With topiary or maintenance pruning, only overhanging branches are shortened and the hedge is thus “brought back into shape”; trapezoidal pruning is recommended. Trapezoidal pruning means that the branches taper from the bottom to the top. This way, the lower branches of the hedge also get better light and the hedge remains nice and dense as it grows.

Pruning or clearing is a much stronger cut, a stronger pruning, of the hedge (e.g. “put on stick” = pruning to about 20-30cm, knee-high) or the removal of a hedge. Removal becomes necessary, for example, if the hedge no longer looks nice or if you simply want to plant another hedge, or if you want to make a change in your garden. .

Pruning shape of hedges

The right shape of the cut is also crucial for the perfect care and healthy growth of the hedge:

Do not cut your hedge vertically, because this way the lower branches of the hedge get too little sunlight. Ideally, cut your hedge in a trapezoidal shape, i.e. at an angle, where the branches taper from the bottom to the top. This way, the lower branches of your hedge will also get better light and the hedge will remain beautiful and dense as it grows. Our tip for hedge trimming: so prefer the much more optimal trapezoidal shape for your hedge trimming and not the unfavorable, but still widely used, box shape.

When cutting, the hedge trimmer should always be held parallel to the hedge and not with the tip into the bushes. If cut in the latter way, holes are easily created.

By the way, no radical pruning of hedges is allowed in the period from the beginning of March to the end of September. The ban serves the bird breeding protection (§ 39, Federal Nature Conservation Act). However, topiary and maintenance pruning are of course permitted.

You want to create a natural screen, a hedge on your property?

The hedge is a popular privacy screen and a particularly beautiful one at that. As a “fence replacement”, the hedge perfectly serves as a demarcation of land. Large hedges are a great shade provider in your garden and protect against drafts. On busy roads, it even serves as a noise barrier and cleans the air from exhaust fumes and road dust. In addition, you provide a place for nature in your garden, because the “living fence” is an important habitat for animals, for example, they are breeding grounds for birds.

Each hedge is unique

Basically, we distinguish between a free-growing hedge and a topiary hedge. Topiary hedges usually consist of plants of the same type, such as boxwood or evergreen conifers. They require regular pruning. This “topiary” makes the hedge denser. Natural, free-growing hedges can consist of a variety of plants, often flowering or fruiting shrubs. Their pruning tends to be restrained.

Each hedge is unique and it must be decided on a case-by-case basis whether pruning is necessary and at what intervals. If it is carried out, it is for various reasons:

If a hedge is pruned regularly, it will grow nice and thick.

Also, if you want a splendid bloom, you should prune your hedge every now and then. When older shoots become woody, their growth is no longer as lush and they become bald. Young shoots, on the other hand, bloom better.
The older the shoot, the more susceptible it is to disease.
Pruning can improve and influence the growth habit.
A lack of air and light hinders blossoms and favors diseases.

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Overview hedge species

Evergreen deciduous hedges:
(keep their leaves in winter)

Laurel cherry / cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)
Boxwood (Buxus)
Common privet (Ligustrum vulgare)
Hornbeam / White beech (Carpinus betulus)
Dog rose (Rosa corymbifera)
Honeysuckle (Lonicera)
Hedge myrtle (Lonicera nitida)
Oval-leaved privet (Ligistrum ovalifolium)
European holly (Ilex aquifolium)
Common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
Evergreen coniferous hedges:

European yew (Taxus baccata)
Occidental tree of life / Thuja hedge (Thuja occidentalis)
Leyland cypress (Cuprocyparis leylandii)
Cypress (Chamaecyparis)
Deciduous hedges:

Privet hedge (Ligustrum)
Dwarf medlar (Cotoneaster)
European beech (Fagus sylvatica)
Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)
Field maple (Acer campestre)
Red-leaved barberry (Berberis vulgaris)
Blood beech / purple beech (Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea)
Thorn hedges:

Firethorn hedge (Pyracantha) evergreen.
Glossy medlar hedge (Photinia) evergreen
Common barberry (Berberis vulgaris)
Green hedge barberry / Thunberg barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

There are a variety of options for the selection of hedge
How high should the hedge be? Should it be a low hedge, for example, for the border on your own property, should it be a medium hedge for privacy and the property boundary? Or should it be a particularly high hedge, which serves as a shade and noise barrier?

Low and medium hedges are best cut with our classic electric or cordless hedge trimmers. You can reach high hedges perfectly with our telescopic hedge trimmers.

Planting hedge

To plant a hedge, that is, to create, for example, a screen, always put the hedge plants in loose and well-fertilized soil. Loosen the soil. Dig appropriate holes for the plants to be placed. Mix some compost into the excavated soil as fertilizer. Make sure that you plant the hedge plants at an even distance from each other. Failure to do so can result in unsightly gaps in the hedge as it grows. After you have planted the hedge, cut back the shoots of the seedlings so that the hedge can become nice and dense as it grows. Evergreen deciduous hedges should ideally be planted in autumn (September / October). In your timing, pay particular attention that this is done well before the first frost, otherwise the roots will be damaged. In the spring, the hedge plants can then already grow nicely and branch out. More details on planting hedges can be found here “Planting hedges – this is how it’s done”.

Choose hedge trimmer according to branch thickness

Important for the decision process which hedge trimmer to choose is, among other things, the engine power, device length, blade length, weight and the tooth spacing of the blades. Let’s look in detail at why these features are so important.

Engine power: If you have a long hedge, a hedge trimmer with a particularly large engine power is recommended, for smaller or few hedges, a lower engine power is also sufficient.

Tool length: If you have particularly high hedges, a telescopic hedge trimmer is recommended, so you do not have to climb a ladder and can easily reach high hedges from the ground.

Blade length: The longer the blades are, the more flat you can cut, so you are just with particularly long hedges much faster finished, with smaller hedges of course a smaller blade is enough.

Weight: If you are busy cutting hedges for a long time, especially long hedges, the work with the hedge trimmer often seems tiring – here we recommend a very light hedge trimmer, e.g. our Ultralight hedge trimmer.

In particular, also consider the branch thickness of your hedge. The thickness of the branches determines the cutting strength of the hedge trimmer. For example, if you have branches with a thickness of 20mm on your hedge, the hedge trimmer should also have such a cutting thickness.

A hedge trimmer with a cutting thickness of only 14-16mm cannot “grip” the branch between the blades and cut it off.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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