Machinery and tools for hedges

What are the essential tools for trimming and training hedges in a typical, smallish garden?

Razor-sharp shears are the vital tool, with comfortable handles and a balanced weight. Step-ladders, canes, and a line, a collecting sheet, and a wheelbarrow are also useful or necessary; also secateurs for larger shoots and for laurel hedges .

We have a 100 m (330 ft) frontage of a formal mixed hedge of beech and hornbeam. Cutting this by hand now that it is established is time-consuming as well as hard work. What are the pros and cons of mechanical hedge-trimmers?

Mechanical hedge-trimmers have reciprocating blades, and will make 2000 to 4000 cuts a minute; the higher rate produces a lot of vibration and can be very tiring. But even the slower-cutting models do the work very much more quickly than by hand. Electrically powered either by a battery, mains, or a power take-off point, they are easy to use and well-balanced so as to minimize their apparent weight.

They are, of course, much more expensive than shears, but for gardens with a long hedge, or many hedges, they are essential. For extra safety, the electric models have double insulation, and at least one model has an on-off catch which automatically returns to off. Try to test-cut a hedge before buying to make sure that the weight is suitable and the grips comfortable for your hands.

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