Hedge trimmers are primarily designed to work on small shrubs and hedges. But we often find ourselves in situations where we’re in the middle of working on our hedges and we want to do some work on something else in our yard. It might be a patch of grass, weeds, vines or bamboo! So we’re going through some answers on what hedge trimmers can and cannot cut.
What can Hedge Trimmers Do?
Can Hedge Trimmers cut Grass?
Yes. Hedge trimmers make short work of grass (pun intended). Grass is very similar to many types of hedges in its composition, and hedge trimmers are certainly powerful enough to hack through tufts of grass. But there are better times than others to do this. The blades of a hedge trimmer are not made the same as a lawn mower’s and generally not as effective for lawn mowing. You’ll find yourself being worn out very quickly.
The other downside of using a hedge trimmer to cut grass is that you don’t know what you’re cutting into. Under the grass may be rocks and other obstacles which could cause significant kickback and damage to you. A string trimmer is likely to cause less kick-back, and a lawn mower’s guards will bump up against many rocks to protect the blade. By contrast, with a hedge trimmer, when you come up against a rock, your arms, neck and back are going to take that kickback head-on.
So while hedge trimmers can cut grass and could be very useful in some situations, use caution, and where it makes sense, use the tools designed for the job at hand!
Here’s a video of someone demonstrating how to use a hedge trimmer to cut grass:
Can Hedge Trimmers cut Weeds?
Hedge trimmers can cut weeds. They won’t have much trouble at all hacking through most weeds, as weeds are as soft as, if not softer than, most hedges. However, keep in mind that the weeds will grow back if you simply cut them down. You’re essentially just ‘trimming’ the weeds rather than removing them from your garden.
There may be much more effective methods available to you, such as weed killer, a string trimmer, or even manual removal by hand. Weed killer can get to the root of the weed and kill it so it won’t come back. A string trimmer will probably have similar results to a hedge trimmer, but won’t be as bad on your back. Lastly, manual removal of weeds by hand can often ensure you remove the weed by its root.
If the weeds are mixed into a hedge that you’re working on, you’ll be able to make short work of them just like the hedge, so we would continue with the job and at the end look into additional ways to fully remove the weeds in the hedge.
Note the potential hazards and dangers, which are similar to those we outlined in the discussion of whether hedge trimmers can cut grass.
Can Hedge Trimmers cut Bamboo?
Yes, many hedge trimmers will be able to effectively cut through small bamboo. However, bamboo comes in many sizes and thicknesses. With super thick and dense bamboo, you might need to step up to a pole saw or chainsaw.
Bamboo feels like it’s closer to a tree than grass, but bamboo is actually a type of grass. Its hollow interior makes it a very different, and often easier to handle, plant than trees.
When looking for a hedge trimmer that will be powerful enough to tackle bamboo, look for one with features specifically designed to cut thick branches. Usually electric hedge trimmers will not be as effective as gas powered tools. Some features you could look out for include powerful motors (gas hedge trimmers tend to be most powerful), an articulating saw tip designed for cutting through branches, and power cut more designed for cutting through stubborn areas. We have outlined several great options in our review of the best hedge trimmers for thick branches.
4. Can Hedge Trimmers cut Vines?
Vines are a similar story as bamboo and thin branches. It’s possible to cut them using a hedge trimmer so long as they aren’t too thick. Most hedge trimmers on the market today can hack their way through branches that are about 3/4 of an inch thick. Vines from plants such as blackberry bushes usually aren’t that thick, so theoretically hedge trimmers can cut vines.
When working on vines with a hedge trimmer, it’s often a good idea to manually remove vines that have already been cut then return to the job after the scrap has been pulled away. These left over vines often make it harder to see your progress on the job, and in a bad scenario will just get tied up in your hedge trimmer’s blades and cause problems.
Similarly, we often find the cord from a corded hedge trimmer really gets in the way working on vines, so a good cordless hedge trimmer is often better for this type of task. If the vines are too high up, you can also go for a pole hedge trimmer to help you access those hard to reach vines.
Alternative Tools to Consider
A hedge trimmer won’t be perfect for every job. Alternative tools that can do the job include pole saws, chainsaws, reciprocating saws, hand shears, and brush cutters.
Pole saws are particularly useful when working on higher-up problems. But we find they can be useful for lower issues as well – you just need to stand back a little. If we were regularly working on hedges, brush and trees with branches over 3/4 of an inch thick, we’d choose to have a pole saw alongside our hedge trimmer to switch between tools as required.
Chainsaws are also a good idea for thicker branches. However, chainsaws can’t really do hedges effectively. They end up butchering the job and you get a very uneven, ugly hedge. The way the blades are designed tends to tear and rip hedges, while hedge trimmers use a pincer motion to achieve a cleaner cut.
Reciprocating saws are your backup for super tough branches. I used a cordless model for years on our farm because it was small, portable, and much better at tough branches than my other tools.
Brush cutters tend to be better with thick grass and weeds than hedge trimmers. They’re also safer and less strain on your body, so we’d lean toward using brush cutters over hedge trimmers for weeds and grass. Nevertheless, a hedge trimmer will often be enough to do the job.
While hedge trimmers can be effective at cutting through thick grass, weeds, bamboo, and vines, there are often better tools for the job. In general, we feel you can often scrape by with a hedge trimmer of this is a one-off job, but when regularly working with grass, weeds, bamboo, and vines, it’s often a good idea to invest in the right tool for the job.