If you are a fervent gardener or landscaper your favorite tool might well be the hedge shears. After all, hedge shears provide the pleasing symmetry, balance and beauty to most of the shrubbery, some grasses and even the small trees he tends.
By investing in quality tools, you reduce fatigue, and enjoy a longer tool life. When selecting the type of hedge shears you want, consider how much you'll use them, where you'll use them, of course, how much you can spend on them.
Your main decision will be whether to buy power or hand shears. Power tools offer speed; hand models provide more accuracy. Topiary specialists often argue that hand tools are the only type of hedgers you should use on any plant. They contend that hand models provide sharper cuts that are better for the plants. With improved accuracy you trim only what is necessary, there for preserving the plant’s health.
As a bonus, manual shears offer a quieter performance.
If your work is up close, opt for a shorter blade (about 6 inches) and a short handle. For high-and-wide jobs, you'll likely prefer a longer blade (maybe 12 inches) and a longer (or extendable) handle. Remember-a longer blade and handle can prevent backaches because you don't have to stoop down as much.
Longer blades and handles, however, will add weight that may tire you out sooner. Therefore consider the newer fiberglass and aluminum models, which offer superior strength and balance-and are lighter than the traditional wood versions.
Choose your blade type; there are three types of blades available.
- Straight-blade shears. These are the most commonly used shears and come in a variety of sizes and materials. A hallmark of good shears is that the blades are shaped so they are touching only at the cutting point. This reduces friction, sticking-and your own fatigue
- Wavy-blade shears. These shears practically grip the plants and prevent them from sliding along the blade during the cut. So, you get a nice, uniform finish without clumping. These shears are especially useful for cutting open-structured plants like pines and vines
- Blade-and-edge shears. These are like a larger version of grass shears. The upper blade is sharp-edged, and the lower is flat. The broad front face supports stems and twigs while the top blade cuts cleanly. They are designed for use on grasses and soft-leafed plants, including hops and ivy
Here are a few more features to look for when choosing a tool:
- Models with serrations near the bottom of the blades are a real plus when you're gripping and cutting larger twigs or hard wood.
- A hardened carbon-steel blade will give you precise clean cuts with less effort.
- An adjustable pivot-bolt assembly allows you to control the blade tension so your scissoring action cuts cleanly.
- A rubber buffer that deadens the shock when closing blades is well worth the investment. These "shock absorbers" reduce stress on your elbows and wrists.
After each use, clean your hand shears with an oily rag to wipe off sap and debris. A bit of oil between the blades and near the bolt will keep scissors action smooth. Most landscape crews use different hedge shears for different jobs. And we all know the right tool for the job makes everything easier and saves "green" in the long run. So buy the right tool for the job. Factor in the ease and efficiency of use instead of settling for the cheapest.
Choose a balanced, powerful and dependable tool which will soon become YOUR BEST FRIEND IN THE GARDEN