Q: What is best for cutting an old, dense hedge?
A: You will need a hedge trimmer with plenty of power. The blades should have widely-spaced teeth to accommodate the thicker branches of an older hedge. A long-reach or pole trimmer will help on a tall hedge.
Q: Should professionals consider electric hedge trimmers or are they just for domestic use?
A: There are commercial situations where an electric unit can give a benefit. These weigh considerable less than petrol-engine models and can have lower vibration levels so they are ideal for professionals doing many hours of trimming. The quiet running and absence of emissions - unless you use a generator - make electric trimmers suitable for use in environmentally sensitive areas. Their disadvantage is that they need a power source and even if you use a generator you need to take care not to cut through the cable.
Q: When is it best to use a single-sided trimmer and when is it best to use a double-sided unit?
A: Trimmers with double-sided blades maximise productivity because they can be used in both directions - outward and return on the horizontal and vertical planes. Their main selling feature is their safety because it is easier to keep the blade away from the body. Single-sided blades are also preferred on conifer hedges and other soft material.
Q: Are battery-powered hedge trimmers any good?
A: Cordless hedge trimmers used to be just for domestic use but in the past couple of years battery technology has improved so much that cordless trimmers are now available for professional use. Suitable models are listed in the table.
Q: Are there any new battery-powered hedge trimmers?
A: The Helion range is now available in the UK from Etesia. Made in France by Pellenc, these trimmers can be used for up to a full day's work on a single charge. Pole, Universal and Telescopic models are offered, each weighing between 3kg and 4kg and equipped with a lightweight 1.2kW motor. By using the four-speed selector switch, the tool can be adapted to the type of cut required.
For easy topping off, the flexible +90 degs/-45 degs head is fitted on Pole and Telescopic units. A +/-90 degs pivoting handle has been fitted on the Universal model for vertical cutting. Blade lengths of 510mm, 630mm and 750mm are available.
STIHL has added some accessories for the cordless hedge trimmers it introduced two years ago. These include a harness and battery belt to carry the Lithium-ion batteries.
Q: Is there any news concerning electric models?
A: Mantis UK has reintroduced Little Wonder electric hedge trimmers to the UK market. Built in the UK, Little Wonder machines are fitted with heavy-duty ground-steel blades of 24in or 30in length, singleor double-sided and 110V or 230V options.
Q: Is there anything new to help trim topiary?
A: The Makita UH200DW is lightweight and compact for precision and has a fast cutting speed of up to 1,250 strokes per minute to leave a good finish and shape to the foliage. The 20cm-long, single-sided trimming blade has a chip receiver. The 10.8V Li-ion batteries give approximately 30 minutes work time. Weight is just over 1kg.
Q: What can we expect in the future?
A: There are likely to be further developments in cordless tools, with quicker charging and longer working times. For the near future, we can expect to see a new petrol unit from STIHL. The HS 56 C-E will be available this summer and is a lightweight machine (4.5kg) with a new master control level and ErgoStart for easier starting, anti-vibration system, toolless fuel cap and double-sided blades. Suitable for professional use, the unit has a 21.4cc engine and 60cm bar. Price is anticipated to be £357.50 +VAT.