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How to use a cordless pole hedge trimmer safely

How to use a cordless pole hedge trimmer safely

Just like lawns, hedgerows and shrubs can quickly become overgrown if they are not kept an eye on, and need regular maintenance with a pruner, lopper, and hedge trimmer. Some hedges require more than your standard treatment, and due to their size are better tackled with a pole hedge trimmer.

Pole hedge trimmers are the same as regular hedge trimmers except for the fact that the cutting blades are separated from the controls by a long, extendable pole, and this stops you from having to balance on a ladder to trim the tops of your hedges, and this, of course, is a much safer option.

Even though pole hedge trimmers negate the need to climb up a ladder or stepladder, they are still power tools, and so can be dangerous if not used correctly, especially powerful petrol-powered models, and so we thought we would put this article together to show you how to use a cordless pole hedge trimmer safely.

Keep an eye on the weather forecast

I know rain is good for the garden but working in the rain can be dangerous, and here in the UK, the weather can shift so quickly and take you by surprise, so don’t just look out of the window and think ‘looks alright to me’, or sniff the air.

The internet is full of weather sites, and there are loads of accurate weather apps that use satellite information to let you know how the weather is going to be for that day, so please use them. if you insist on working out in the rain, buy yourself a good pair of wellington boots and a decent raincoat.

Wear appropriate clothing

Although not as powerful as a chainsaw, an electric hedge trimmer can still cause a lot of damage to you if you have an accident, and because of that risk you really need to be wearing the same kind of safety equipment.

A good set of safety clothing should include boots, thick jeans, or trousers but preferably chainsaw trousers, eye protectors, ear defenders, and high-quality gloves. If you’re trimming the tops of high edges, it’s possible that branches will fall down onto your head, so a hard hat might be a good idea too.

 

Make sure your tool is up to the job

A lot of accidents are caused by tools malfunctioning and many of these malfunctions are down to the tools not being properly maintained by the owner.

The first thing you should check is the blade of your hedge trimmer to see if it has dulled since you last used it. These blades should be kept as sharp as possible to prevent the motor from overworking and then overheating. It will also stop the tool from getting jammed and possibly causing injury. You can read our article on how to sharpen a hedge trimmer blade if you’re not sure how to do it.

If the blade seems ok, make sure it is well oiled and then check the rest of the tool for rust, cracked bodywork, and any damage to cables or wires. With a cordless pole hedge trimmer, you won’t have to worry about power cords, but you should check that the battery is fully charged.

With pole hedge trimmers, you will have to check that the extension pole is not damaged in any way and that it is connected properly and securely, and do the same for any accessories. The last thing you want is the cutting head becoming disconnecting and falling towards you!

if you prefer watching to reading, here’s video from popular brand Stihl that shows a way to sharpen hedge trimmer blades-

 

Check the intended work area carefully

Once your tool has been checked and is looking ready for action, you need to walk around your intended working area to check for hazards. As you will be looking upwards the majority of the time, it is a good idea to check the ground for debris or natural features like bumps and divots that you could trip over.

Another thing to check is the hedge itself as it might have birds nesting in there, especially from March to August. If you do find a nest, postpone your trimming session and take advantage of the opportunity to grab your binoculars or set up a wildlife camera to catch the birds in action.

If there are no nests, or it is well out of nesting season, you still need to check your hedge before cutting. Someone might have walked past and thrown something in there like a bottle or other hard debris, and you don’t want to be hitting that with your cordless pole hedge trimmer.

Then again, if it was a choice of hitting a bottle or hitting these little guys, I’d take one for team nature-

 

Be aware that you will make a mess

Trimming hedges always results in having a lot of trimmings strewn around, and not only do you need to be careful not to trip on any of the larger ones, but it is also a good idea to plan ahead for the clean-up operation.

One of the best ways to save yourself time and effort, later on, is to lay some plastic sheets on the ground to catch the trimmings. You can then feed them into a shredder or chipper, or simply stick them in a wheelbarrow and carry them over to your garden incinerator. You can also leave them to one side to be added to compost later.

Don’t move around too much

It is far more efficient, and not to mention much safer, to stand in one spot and cut everything within reach before stopping the machine and walking to the next spot. The more you move around, the more chance you have of tripping over something or slipping on the wet ground if it has been raining the day before. Standing still will give you better control over the tool too, and excessive movement can result in your hedges being cut unevenly. And if your legs start to get stiff, you can always have a little dance on the spot to loosen yourself up-

As a side note, if you have particularly bumpy lawn, you can read this article to learn how to level it out.

Conclusion

Just to sum up what we’ve covered here today, I would say be sure to check the weather and never work in the rain. In fact, I always try to give it a couple of days after the rain stops before using a pole hedge trimmer due to the risk of putting a foot wrong and slipping.

Always wear safety clothing when using garden power tools as accidents can and do happen regularly. You don’t have to spend a fortune on your safety gear, but don’t buy the cheapest stuff out there either as it is likely to be useless in a real emergency.

Keep your hedge trimmer blades sharp and oiled, which is easy to do wile an angle grinder, and check for any rust and damage to the tool before using it. So many accidents can be avoided by just performing basic maintenance.

Check the ground around the working area for anything you might trip on, and check inside the hedge for debris that could jam or damage the tool, and for birds nesting in there.

Lay down some plastic sheets or tarpaulin to catch your trimmings on. This will save you a lot of time later, and you won’t have to break your back raking them up.