Should I buy a long-reach hedge trimmer?

Hedge trimmers

Should I buy a long-reach hedge trimmer?

by Adele Dyer

Long-reach hedge trimmers let you cut the tops of tall hedges from the safety of the ground. Find out if they are the right choice for you. 

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If you want to trim a tall hedge, a long-reach or telescopic hedge trimmer could be the answer. Some hedges are so tall that you can't cut the top easily with a conventional hedge trimmer, and we wouldn't recommend balancing on a ladder while using one.

Long-reach or extendable-pole hedge trimmers have fixed or extendable shafts which let you cut the side of a hedge above head height. The blade can also be set at various angles up to 90o to the shaft, so you can cut the top while standing on the ground.

If you already know you need a long-reach hedge trimmer, go straight to our hedge trimmer reviews.  

Petrol, electric or cordless hedge trimmer?

You can choose between cordless (battery-powered), corded electric or petrol long-reach hedge trimmers. 

The cordless long-reach hedge trimmers we have tested are light and the telescopic shafts extend your reach by over a metre.

Corded electric pole trimmers can be heavy and awkward to use when fully extended. The petrol long-reach hedge trimmers are even heavier and many have fixed-length poles. To balance the weight many petrol models are supplied with carrying straps to support the weight.

Long-reach hedge trimmers for tall hedges

There are three major points to consider with all long-reach hedge trimmers:

  • Most have a blade length of between 40 and 50cm. Unless your hedge top is 1m or less across, you will miss a bit in the middle. And that assumes you have access to both sides.
  • You can’t actually see what is going on, so you may snag the blade on a thicker branch. You may then struggle to free the trimmer.
  • The electric and petrol trimmers are heavy and it’s hard work keeping a straight line.

Although electric and petrol machines do a reasonable job on the side of a hedge, they are hard work to balance and manoeuvre. The cordless ones are easier to use, but they can be slow and leave a less-than-perfect finish.

Do you need a long-reach hedge trimmer?

You might find a long-reach hedge trimmer useful for cutting the sides of a hedge that is up to around 2.5m tall. They can also be useful for cutting the top of the hedge of about the same size if the hedge is not too thick. 

You may be able to cut the top with a conventional hedge trimmer, provided you can do this from a stable platform. There are several styles of ladder, such as the Henchman ladders, which have a large platform. Alternatively you could buy a mobile platform which gives a wide, stable area to stand on safely with your hedge trimmer. Step ladders have a tiny platform and there is a high risk that you will step back and injure yourself with the hedge trimmer. 

If your hedge is taller than about 2.5m high, consider calling in a professional. If you are a Which? member you can find gardeners and landscapers in your area with Which? Trusted Traders.