Comparing a long reach or pole hedge trimmer vs a standard hedge trimmer and tripod ladder

A towering garden hedge offers the dual benefits of providing a little privacy to your garden, and also giving it an attractive, classic, look.

Large hedges, or any hedge for that matter, can look fantastic if they are kept looking neat and tidy but can look like some tatty, overgrown beast that is waiting to devour passers-by if left to grow out of control.

Keeping tall hedges looking their best requires the use of the right tools, and luckily there are a few options to choose from. The best of these, I would have to say, are either using a pole hedge trimmer or a combination of a standard hedge trimmer and a good tripod ladder.

Today, we are going to take a look at these options and compare them to each other, to see which one is ultimately the best one for keeping your hedges ‘trim and proper’ and giving you those neat and sharp lines that’ll have passers-by saying ‘oooh’ instead of ‘urgh’.

Don’t worry if you’re new to all this and aren’t sure what we mean by tripod ladder and pole hedge trimmer, as we will explain in the next section-

What is a hedge trimmer?

A hedge trimmer is, surprise surprise, a tool for trimming hedges, however, in this article when we use this term, we are referring to powered hedge trimmers and not some kind of hand tools like garden shears or loppers.

Power hedge trimmers are available in three distinct versions, and they are corded electric, cordless electric, and petrol powered. Each of these types brings something to the table, but they all have their own drawbacks too. Other than their power supply, there isn’t much difference in the basic design of hedge trimmers, they all have a handle and motor connected to long blades of teeth that run parallel to each other and do the cutting for you.

Just make sure you are only cutting the hedges 😂-

What is a long reach or pole hedge trimmer?

Long reach hedge trimmers and pole hedge trimmers are the same thing, and these terms are both used frequently to describe them. Basically, these tools work in much the same way as a standard hedge trimmer, but the cutting tool is connected to a long, sometimes telescopic, pole, so you don’t need to climb up on a ladder or scaffold to reach the top of your hedges. The angle of the hedge trimmer can be adjusted to suit your needs, even to a 90 degree, perpendicular angle, making them very handy tools. here’s a clip of someone using one-

What is a tripod ladder?

Unlike step ladders, tripod ladders have three adjustable legs that are spaced quite far apart, giving you a nice wide base. They tend to have clawed metal feet to dig into soft ground, and this combination of things makes them much more stable than other types of ladder or platform when stood on your ‘not so level’ lawn or soil. They are widely used across the UK for trimming garden hedges, and also for other uses by a wide range of people. Just check this out-

Comparing using a pole hedge trimmer with a standard hedge trimmer and tripod ladder

So, now we know what we are talking about, it’s time to compare them to hopefully point you in the right direction and get you the right tools for the job.

Which option you go for will likely depend on a few different factors such as age, physical condition, the size of your garden and hedges, and other things, and we’ve tried our best to highlight these things in this section of the article.

Using a tripod ladder and hedge trimmer

The main advantage of using a tripod ladder is that it allows you to get up to see the top of the hedge and this, of course, will make it easier to get the top trimmed nicely and level. Also, because the hedge trimmer is still close to your body, it gives you more control over the tool, letting you make more precise movements and ultimately leading to a neater-looking hedge.

The downside to using this method of trimming your hedge is that there is more risk involved. Even with a stable tripod ladder, there is always the possibility of you slipping or falling, and when you’ve got a sharp power tool in your hand, this can cause serious injury.

Using a cordless or petrol hedge trimmer can lessen the chance of tripping as there is no power cord to get tangled up on the ladder on your feet, and having a tripod ladder with good safety features such as a lean bar can help too.

Using a long reach hedge trimmer

With a long reach hedge trimmer, your feet are planted firmly on the ground, and this is no doubt safer than being balanced at height on a ladder. It also makes it easier for you to move along the hedge as you don’t have to stop and move the ladder along to the next spot.

On the other hand, with very tall hedges, you can’t really see how well or level you are trimming the tops when using a pole hedge trimmer, and because the tool is very top-heavy, it can be harder to control, especially when fully extended.

This top-heaviness is even more obvious when using a powerful petrol hedge trimmer, and if you are not of average physical fitness, using these tools can cause fatigue in your arms and shoulders pretty quickly.

Another thing to bear in mind is that sometimes the blades on pole hedge trimmers are shorter than standard models, and this makes them less than ideal for trimming the tops of wider than average hedges. This is only with certain models though, and there are plenty of products out there that can do the job just fine.


If you have a large garden and a lot of hedges to trim, and you are able-bodied, using a pole hedge trimmer is probably a good option for you. It will allow you to move along and get the job done pretty quickly when compared to using a ladder, but you might not get the same quality in your finished product. I’m not saying you can’t get a perfectly trimmed hedge with these tools; I’m just saying it takes a bit of practice to use them well.

Using a pole hedge trimmer can be tricky for people who aren’t that strong, and so using a tripod ladder can be a better option. It will mean moving the ladder along and so the job will take longer, but you will be able to see what you are doing on top of the hedge. You will also have more control. There is always the risk of falling, so be very careful whenever you work at heights.

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message:

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