The humble garden hedge trimmer has come a long way since serfs shaped their privet hedges with a pair of oversized scissors. Even in that department the tools have adapted over the years and garden shears have morphed into something quite indistinguishable. Their ergonomic handles, self-sharpening blades and power-lever cutting action takes all the effort out of pruning hedges these days. But, if that wasn’t enough then came the advent of the power-tool generation where every tool had to come equipped with a motor – we’re still waiting for Felco to power up their F-9’s. The laborious job of hedge trimming was transformed into a sculptors dream when the new shears on the block took centre stage.
They first came in the form of a Gas Powered Hedge Trimmer (aff.) but have now started being manufactured as electric as well. While the electric versions are cheaper, and well within most budgets, they have their own set of cons as well.
Primarily the biggest problem with an electric hedge trimmer is it’s mobility. If you have a larger than normal block size then trying to maneouvre your trimmer around it will send you off for some psychaitric counselling when you’ve finished. These trimmers are made for smaller suburban blocks, or units, where a power cord can easily traverse the terrain.
For those of us with larger properties the only way to go is a petrol hedge trimmer. As they don’t require to be plugged in anywhere their mobility is greatly increased.
Tips on buying a petrol hedge trimmer
- Size of the blade – most home trimmers offer a range of 19-22 inch blades. This is a useful size for most home hedges and means that the machine won’t be too heavy to handle. Commercial models, or those that you may need for larger hedges, offer up to 30″ blades. The more expensive versions offer dual reciprocating blades – meaning that you get two cuts with every action – while the cheaper options only offer a single action blade.
- Size of the engine – obviously, these size of the engine needs to be in direct proportion to the size of the blade. Therefore, when your hunting for a trimmer compare blade sizes and the accompaning motor size. For instance, if the blade is 21 inches then you’re usually better off with a 25cc engine than a 22.5cc motor. NB. This isn’t always the case but it’s certainly a good rule of thumb.
- CARB Compliant – CARB stands for the California Air Resource Board whose stringent air quality standards have been adopted throughout many US states. If the hedge trimmer is CARB compliant then it means it meets these standards.
- Noise Emissions – any power tool is going to make some noise so always wear earmuffs when working with them. However, great strides have been made in the home category of power tools and you may want to compare decibel (dB) ratings of different machines for your neighbours sake.
- Price – the final, but probably the most important consideration, is price. If two machines stack up well against each other then paying more for it seems a little unwise. Unless, of course, there is some other perceived advantage – eg. brand, warranty, manufacturing country etc.
Once you’ve purchased your petrol hedge trimmer maintaining it then becomes the main issue. Drain any residual fuel when resting it over the winter months and oil the blades to keep them from rusting.