What can a hedge trimmer cut? Everything Explained

Hedge trimmers are an easy-to-use gardening tool ideally suited to trimming and finishing broad areas of hedge and shrubs. But they can also be used for a number of other tasks around the garden, however, notwithstanding they do have a few limitations too. 

I will answer the question; what can a hedge trimmer cut and be used for around the home and garden? 

Hedge Trimmer Cut Capacity

The average hedge trimmer has a cutting capacity of ¾ inches. This means it will cut a branch of ¾ inch, with some effort. There are two main conditions that affect the trimmer cut capacity. 

  • The gap between the teeth is an obvious limiting factor
  • The machines power to articulate the blades to cut through any given material

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How Thick a Branch Can a Hedge Trimmer Cut?

You can use a hedge trimmer to cut a branch 1 ½ to 1 ¾ inch thick if the trimmer is built with the cut capacity to accommodate a branch of that diameter. Heavy duty commercial hedge trimmers with high-power engines or motors will be required. 

A general residential hedge trimmer should be limited to a branch of less than ½ inch (1cm). 

Hedge trimmers are designed to cut small branches and hedges, so cutting through thicker branches will quickly dull your blade and most likely cause a jam and overstrain the motor. 

If you want to cut a thicker branch, you should use a chain saw or hand loppers rather than a hedge trimmer.

What Can a Hedge Trimmer Cut?

People can use hedge trimmers to cut many other things besides hedges. Everyone needs a versatile tool to maintain a spectacularly landscaped yard. Hedge trimmers are most often used to trim overgrown foliage. So let me address some of the common questions I receive from our readers. 

Can You Cut Weeds With Hedge Trimmer?

You can cut weeds with a hedge trimmer, but it would not be the most efficient way to remove small weeds from your lawn and garden. It will be time-consuming and not an ergonomic experience. It would be much more appropriate to use a cordless weed trimmer from a standing position, so you can move freely to reach the weeds in comfort. 

However, your hedge trimmer might do the trick for cutting larger weeds or clearing brush if you don’t own a weed eater.

Can Hedge Trimmers Cut Small Trees?

A hedge trimmer is not designed to cut small trees. They are designed for pruning and trimming hedges and bushes. You can damage the hedge trimmer if you attempt to cut a tree, and the trimmer’s motor may seize up as well as damage the hedge trimmer’s blades.

When cutting small trees under 1.5-inch in diameter use a set of tree loppers. Anything larger, you will need a tree pruning saw or a mini chainsaw. 

Can a Hedge Trimmer Cut Tall Grass?

Homeowners could use a hedge trimmer to cut tall grass. By tall, I mean greater than 18 inches tall.  If your lawn is overgrown and your lawn mower would most likely flatten the grass, then you can use your hedge trimmer to regain control and work the grass down to a height suited to mowing. 

The best way to cut tall grass is on your knees rather than bending over. Find a comfortable stance, and then start your hedge trimmer and move it in a flat horizontal plane from left to right. Imagine you were using a scythe. 

When cutting, you should keep your blade several inches from the ground. As you cut, clear the grass, so you don’t miss any areas. 

Can a Hedge Trimmer Cut Pampas Grass?

You can use a hedge trimmer to cut the side foliage of pampas grass. You may need to switch to loppers or a tool with a little more cutting power to tackle the thicker stems. This task should be performed annually or at least every other year. 

Pampas grass has sharp blades, so you should be dressed appropriately and wear long pants, gloves, and safety glasses.

Will a Hedge Trimmer Cut Brambles?

A hedge trimmer is not the best choice for cutting brambles. It is common for the tool to get tangled in the brambles making it very difficult to operate. As you move the trimmer from left to right, the long bramble stems tend to move with the trimmer limiting the cutting efficiency. 

So yes you can cut brambles with a hedge trimmer, but it’s not an effective approach. I would recommend a brush cutter or weed eater. 

Can a Hedge Trimmer Cut Vines?

It is possible to cut vines with a hedge trimmer, but it is more challenging than trimming hedges, as they move freely and are prone to tangle around the trimmer blade. 

If you decide to try cutting vines, you should start at the outer edge and move your way in a few inches at a time. It is best to move the hedge trimmer in a smooth back and forth motion. It is essential to clear the cut vines away, so they don’t get tangled in the trimmer.

Some vines will be too thick to cut through, and you will find that they move with the hedge trimmer, and you will not make much progress. In this case, it might be best to use sharp pruning shears, loppers, or pruning saws.

Can a Hedge Trimmer Cut Ivy?

Yes, it is possible to cut Ivy with a hedge trimmer. If it is an ornamental evergreen ivy you may consider using shears or pruning it with secateurs instead. The hedge trimmer will indiscriminately cut through leaves and leave a less than aesthetic finish. 

However, if you are looking to clear out the Ivy and are not worried about how it looks, then a hedge trimmer is a decent tool for the job. 

Can a Hedge Trimmer Cut Bamboo?

People can use hedge trimmers to control the growth of bamboo. However, hedge trimmers will not cut through mature bamboo that has hardened, and it is best to tackle the bamboo when it is young and thinner. 

Tree Lopper works best for cutting bamboo. I like to use them to thin out my bamboo by cutting them off at ground level and clearing the lower foliage to expose the beautiful stems. 

Can a Hedge Trimmer Be Used To Cut Rose Bushes?

I recommend that you avoid using a hedge trimmer to cut rose bushes. The best way to prune a rose bush is to cut the dead blooms and stems from the bottom of the bush. I like to selectively prune back stray untidy stems hard to the base of the plant. This will allow the rose bush to thicken and bush out with new flowers. 

Using a hedge trimmer to cut roses will not offer you the opportunity to prune your rose bush effectively leading to an untidy plant next season. 

Are Hedge Trimmers Safe?

Hedge trimmers are as safe as the operator using them, and a careless operator can lead to accidents or injury. Protective clothing, gloves, and safety glasses are crucial when operating a hedge trimmer.

You should always hold a hedge trimmer firmly with both hands. When cutting, keep the trimmer away from your body. Be sure that you have a stable footing and avoid overreaching. It is recommended that you never use a hedge trimmer above chest level. If you absolutely must use a ladder, ensure it is stable.

When you begin cutting, ensure no one is within forty feet. The reciprocating blades can cause flying debris, and you want to prevent anyone from getting hurt. Always move forward while cutting with a hedge trimmer. 

A hedge trimmer’s blades are very sharp, and you should keep your hands away from them. If debris becomes stuck in the blades, turn the tool off before removing it.

It would be best if you never worked alone while operating a hedge trimmer. If an accident were to happen, it’s best to have someone nearby that can help.

It is best to avoid using your hedge trimmer when the foliage is wet, or it is raining, especially if you are using an electric-powered trimmer.

Will a Hedge Trimmer Cut off a Finger?

Yes, a hedge trimmer will cut off a finger. They are designed to cut through small branches so slicing through a finger is effortless. Even if a finger is not entirely amputated, the hedge trimmer can significantly damage nerves, muscle, and bone. You will undoubtedly need stitches and a medical examination.

Can a Hedge Trimmer Cut Your Leg or Limbs?

Yes, a hedge trimmer can cut your leg or limbs. Hedge trimmers will continue to run for about 5 to 10 seconds after turning them off, and this is when many injuries occur. Operators tend to set them down too quickly and can come into contact with their legs or other limbs. 

The sharp blades of the hedge trimmer can cause deep cuts that typically require stitches. 

When working with a hedge trimmer, keeping it away from your body is crucial. Never overreach while working with this tool. Exercise caution when turning off your hedge trimmer and storing it. Be sure that the blades are entirely still before setting your tool down. 

Can a Hedge Trimmer Cut Through the Wire Power Cord?

A hedge trimmer will easily cut through the electric power cord and happens more frequently than you think. It would be best if you always held the hedge trimmer properly to prevent this from happening. It should be held firmly with both hands at all times. You should avoid using only one hand to reach higher areas. Keep the power cord behind you and always move forward while cutting. 

Turn the hedge trimmer off if you have cut through the cord. Inspect the damage to the power cord. The safest thing to do is to have the power cord replaced to avoid future accidents.

Hedge trimmers are a versatile tool that can be used for many of your landscaping chores. You can keep your yard looking tidy with minimal effort. Homeowners should remember that it is always best to use the right tool for the job. Even though you can use a hedge trimmer to cut through something, it doesn’t mean you should.