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So, you’ve purchased a cordless hedge trimmer — awesome! These things make keeping on top of hedge maintenance an absolute breeze; however, if this is your first hedge trimming rodeo, you may be a little unsure how to use your new tool.
The good news is that, of all 3 hedge trimmers (gas, corded, cordless), cordless trimmers are by far the easiest to use and manage, and if you’ve ever used one of those other types before, there’s not much extra to learn.
In this article, I’ll be explaining how to run your cordless hedge trimmer, and how you can approach your hedge maintenance.
How To Run Your Cordless Hedge Trimmer
There are two parts to running a cordless hedge trimmer: learning how to hold it, and learning how to turn it on and off.
How To Hold A Cordless Hedge Trimmer
There are two handles on a hedge trimmer. One is at the back of the unit, and on the inside of this handle will be a trigger that sets the blades in motion.
The other is above the unit, just behind the guard.
You’ll be using your strongest hand on the rear handle. It will control the trigger and will be partly responsible for guiding the trimmer.
Your weaker hand should be on the front handle, providing support, as well as some help in guiding the blades.
There may be a safety latch on this handle, that must be depressed before the trigger can activate the blades.
How To Turn A Cordless Hedge Trimmer On And Off
First thing’s first, you need to check the battery is fully charged and ready for action. Then, if it’s a removable unit, you should make sure it’s securely fitted to the trimmer.
As we’ve already discussed, there’ll be an activation trigger on the inside of the back handle, and there may also be a safety button or latch that you’ll either have to press once before activating the blades, or hold down as you activate the blades.
To turn off the hedge trimmer, simply take your finger off the main trigger, and then, make sure the safety facility is released and active.
Some prefer to lay out a tarp around the hedge/bush they're trimming to make clean up as quick and painless as possible.
Safety Precautions For Trimming Hedges
Hedge trimmers are dangerous tools, so it’s best to consider the following safety precautions.
Check The Weather In Advance
Water and electricity aren’t the best of friends, so make sure to schedule your hedge trimming for a dry period.
Always wear high quality gardening or construction gloves when trimming!
Wear Suitable Clothing And Footwear
Even plants that don’t have spikes can be pretty pointy. They can also snag on certain fibers, leaving you stuck or off-balance.
Avoid this by wearing appropriate, well fitting garments, and make sure your shoes are robust and grippy.
Protect Your Eyes
Trimming hedges is messy work. Debris will be flying everywhere, and you’ll be looking right up into the splash zone.
Wear an eye shield to keep your eyes safe. Something like this pair of Dewalt goggles will be just the ticket.
A Clear Area Is A Safe Area
Remove any obstacles in the area, and clear as much loose debris from the plant as possible before starting. This will prevent clogging.
Check It’s Safe To Start
Got kids or pets? Make sure they’re well out of the way. You may even want to rope off the area you’re working on.
How To Use Your Cordless Hedge Trimmer
Now let’s take a look at some key pointers on using your new yard tool.
Shaping Newer Hedges/Bushes
You may think it’s best to let your newer hedges/bushes grow out a little before you start pruning, but that doesn't necessarily have to be the case.
Pruning your plants early on will ensure they grow into the correct shape, saving you a more difficult task later, but you have to time it just right.
For deciduous plants, winter is the best time to start pruning, while spring is the best time to prune evergreen plants.
This formative pruning should continue for the first two years of growth for both types of plant.
To keep a formal boundary hedge in check, pruning will of course be an ongoing process, but the best time to break out the trimmer is definitely summer.
However, do keep an eye out for nesting birds!
If you don’t get a chance to trim in summer, some conifers and deciduous plants can also be trimmed during the fall season.
Should you be working with a fruiting or floriferous plant, the trick is to wait until the fruits or flowers have fully grown.
That’s your cue to get pruning. If there are any particularly old or dead twigs, feel free to trim them to achieve a healthier look.
Shaping Hedges: How Is It Done?
Don’t try to cut by eye, especially if you’re after crisp, straight lines.
Set up two cane poles either side of your work zone, and tie a string between them at the height you want the hedge to be, then follow the guideline with your trimmer.
Taper The Hedge
Your hedge should get slightly thinner towards the top, not in any noticeable way, just enough to let a little bit more sunlight reach the depths of the plant.
Shaping The Hedge
Unless you’re a veritable Edward Scissorhands type, you’ll want to use a guide for shaping your hedges.
This is particularly important for creating pristine arches. You can insert plywood or cardboard cutouts into the plant to act as the guide.
Maintaining Tall Hedges
To reach the top of those lofty hedges, you’ll need to have bought a trimmer that’s compatible with an extension pole, and remember to tilt the blade at the correct angle before you begin.
That about covers all the basics of using a cordless electric hedge trimmer. Remember to take things slow when you’re getting started, and to always ensure the area is safe before you fire up the blades.
You’ll also want to clean your trimmer after each use by turning it off, placing it on a secure surface, removing the debris, and cleaning the blades in accordance with the user manual.
You may also need to sharpen the blades from time to time, but that’s another article. Safe trimming!