Stay Safe Trimming your Hedges

Stay Safe Trimming your Hedges

18th May 2017

Spring is well and truly here and many of us here in the UK are in the process of sprucing up our gardens ready for the summer months.  This means that many of us will be turning our hand to a bit of hedge trimming.  Keeping your hedge in good shape is not just a matter of whizzing along it with an electric trimmer when you notice that it’s looking a bit scruffy and overgrown (and you’ve been avoiding catching the eye of your neighbour whose garden is the tidiest in the street).  Although there are rules you should follow, trimming a hedge is not that complicated whether your hedge is knee high to a 10 year old and can be snipped with shears or a lofty row of triffids that requires the use of a Terminator-sized electric trimmer and ladders.

Time it right

New hedges will need formative pruning for the first couple of years while they settle in.  This should be done in spring or winter.  From then onwards, informal hedges will need trimming once a year and formal hedges will need to be trimmed 2 or three times a year.  This type of maintenance trimming should be done in spring or early summer.


If your hedge is fairly small and low growing you may be able to keep it under control using a good pair of trimming shears.  Buy the best quality shears you can afford with cushioned handles and adjustable blade tensioning.  The blades should be hard and sharp and shaped to apply even force during cutting.  You’ll need to keep them well sharpened and clean them well after use and then store them safely.  Pruning a small hedge by hand with a good quality set of trimming shears can be a really satisfying job.

If your hedge is large you’ll need to use an electric hedge trimmer and the size you buy will really depend on the size of your hedge.  There are three main types of hedge trimmer:

Mains electric hedge trimmers – these can only be used close to an electric socket or with an extension lead.  They are light and easy to use and will do a fine job in most small to medium sized gardens.  You need to take care that you keep the power cord away from the blades at all time and use a circuit breaker in case you accidentally cut through the cable.

Cordless hedge trimmers – these have a battery that will need to be charged.  Cutting time on a full charge is usually between 20 minutes and one hour, depending on make and model.  With short blades and narrowly spaced teeth, cordless models are most suitable if you trim your hedge regularly.

Petrol hedge trimmers – these are larger, heavy machines that are useful on overgrown hedges, especially if accessing a power source is a problem.  However, petrol trimmers are noisy and smelly and are tiring if used for long periods.



We’ve all heard dreadful stories about accidents and injuries sustained during hedge trimming.  After all, there are some very sharp blades involved and these are often used in conjunction with ladders – it could be a recipe for disaster.  While most of us will have a healthy respect for the blades that we are using to trim the hedges, we may be tempted to take a more laissez-faire attitude towards the ladders.  Don’t be a fool on a ladder when trimming your hedge - check out our safety advice for using ladders in the garden and make sure you stay safe while sprucing up your garden.