When I started tackling my garden I had a lot of shrubs to cut back but I didn’t have a hedge trimmer. I wondered if I could use the chainsaw to trim my hedges, and this is what I realised.
You can use a chainsaw to trim a hedge and it will make quickly cut through shrubs and hedge plants. However a chainsaw is not as precise as using hedge trimmers or shears and should be saved for tough trimming jobs or working with trees.
If you already have a chainsaw, you might still be tempted to use it on your garden hedges, but as I’ll explain, this might be a counter-productive move that could lead to more work in the long term.
How Far Back Should You Cut Your Hedge?
This answer very much depends on how overgrown your hedgerows are, and if you are faced with a mass of overgrown hawthorn or a leylandii that has had years to tun for the sun, then there might still be merit in taking the chainsaw to it.
If your aim is to cut back existing hedge plants to create shape and order and you aren’t overwhelmed with leaves and branches, you should not remove more than 25% of the plant at any one time.
I always recommend taking some time to study the plants before going at them, so you can appreciate where and how they have grown, and therefore you can remove excess material without damaging the plant skeleton.
It might turn out that you will need several attempts to cut back your bushes to their desired levels, and getting the timing of your trimming right will be a big help in this aim. This is definitely not an task to hurry into. Time spent getting to know the plants so that you can make best use of them, is time well spent. It may transpire that your new knowledge of your shrubbery elicits a different design philosophy as you choose to work in harmony with the hedgerow.
It is important to remember that hedges are living beings and therefore if you are too heavy handed in your efforts, you risk causing permanent damage to the plant. If you are really committed to getting rid of your fully foliaged foes, then removing and replacing them is always an option, but I would encourage you to take time to trim. It might be that you will need a few seasons to achieve the best results, but a medium term outlook combined with conscientious cutting will give you a very satisfying long term outcome.
For all the info on how to trim a hedge, please check out my guide.
What Can I Cut With A Chainsaw?
Chainsaws are designed for cutting trees, whether it is pruning limbs, splitting firewood, removing branches or felling trees of different sizes. The chain spins around the cutting arm, or bar, at up to 15000 rpm enabling thick wood to be cut through at high speed.
Chainsaw Larry has got an extensive range of reviews on these mighty tools and he can help you work out the best use for those tools. Whether it’s a 50cc petrol powered saw for tearing through trees, or an electric version for more modest branch trimming, a chainsaw has more than enough power to tackle hedge plants.
But here is the issue – chainsaws are designed to rip through thick wood and when it comes to tackling hedges, where the branches are small and far greater in number, they have too much power. Trimming a hedge requires less force and more finesse to ensure that you don’t harm the plants too much, so alternative tools are a better choice.
As I said at the start, you can trim a hedge with a chainsaw and you’ll get it done in no time. But it is quite like trying to crack a nut with a sledgehammer – the speed of your work might be impressive, but the lasting results of the blunt attack will not be positive for the plant.
What Should I Cut A Hedge With?
Hedge Trimmers are ideal for the majority of plant trimming tasks; their double-sided blades move back and forth to cut small branches, twigs and leaves. You can control the direction of cutting with ease to get your hedges into good shape in a short amount of time.
As with chainsaws, there is great variety in hedge trimmers, and you can choose petrol driven versions if you want a lot of power, or opt for battery powered trimmers for small to medium jobs. I have a great post about hedge trimmers here that will help you get to grips with this handy tool.
Hedge trimmers are lighter than chainsaws and their cutting blades are thinner, which gives you better precision in making cuts along surfaces, such as trimming a hedge with straight lines. You can use them to trim trees, in combination with loppers to tackle thicker branches, but if you wanted to seriously reshape a tree, you would be wise to get the chainsaw out, or hire a professional.
How Much Does A Hedge Trimmer Cost?
Prices for hedge trimmers typically range from £60 for a lightweight corded electric trimmer to £250 for a professional grade petrol trimmer. I’ve got a great guide to budget hedge trimming tools that will help you get started without spending a fortune.
When Should You Cut Your Hedge?
I have a thorough explanation of when to trim your hedge here, but you will want to prune your hedge in Winter to direct the next year’s growth, and then trim once or twice over the Summer.
As I mentioned in the main article, trimming a hedge should not be thought of as a quick fix job – taking the time over a couple of years to work in harmony with the plants will make shaping your shrubbery something special for everyone concerned.
What Hand Tools Can I Use To Trim A Hedge?
Garden shears are excellent hand tools for trimming hedges and you can use secateurs for more focused pruning of hedge plants. Loppers can also be used for thicker branches.
If you are unsure about buying any of these tools, or want to try them before you buy, don’t forget that any decent hire shop should have much of this equipment and they usually have good weekend rates. And it’s worth noting that the old joke about borrowing your neighbour’s garden shears started somewhere, so don’t be afraid to ask someone nearby.