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Can I Use A Chainsaw As A Hedge Trimmer?

Figuring out the most effective ways to manage the plants in your garden can sometimes be confusing. Do you need to trim the hedges but only have a chainsaw? Will a chainsaw work for shaping hedges to a specific size, or is this crazy?

We've done extensive research and have the answer to this question below.

Although you can technically use a chainsaw as a hedge trimmer, nothing beats having an actual hedge trimming device/tool. Generally, a chainsaw can work well for trimming thicker branches and foliage but won't be as precise as a hedge trimmer.

So, if you want to shape your hedges to an exact size, we don't recommend using a chainsaw.

As we start this article, we will cover all things trimming hedges and discuss how to do this using a chainsaw. Whether you don't want to run to the store, don't want to purchase any extra equipment, or need ideas for maintaining your hedges, we're here to assist. With that said, let's dive in!

Gardener pruning bushes with chainsaw in garden - Can I Use A Chainsaw As A Hedge Trimmer

Can You Use A Chainsaw For Hedge Trimming?

Gardener pruning bushes with chainsaw in garden.

Yes. If you don't have hedge trimmers, you can try using a chainsaw. However, chainsaws have a much rougher approach, often cutting through hedges too fast and aggressively.

Of course, a chainsaw can come in handy if your hedge has thicker branches. We recommend looking closely at how delicate or sturdy your plant is, then deciding if a chainsaw is the right fit.

Many garden experts claim that a chainsaw can cut well for larger projects but won't be great for smaller, finer growing hedges.

Therefore, although this idea can work, it might not always be worth the trouble.

A pair of hedge trimmers is always a good idea, whether your bushes grow thick or not, as they can handle more intricate shaping.

Suppose you want to round off a hedge. This may not be possible with a chainsaw (at least your hedge won't be aesthetically pleasing afterward).

Is It Safe To Use A Chainsaw On Hedges?

As long as you have full control of your chainsaw, it should be safe for trimming hedges. However, depending on the size of your hedge and how thick it is, your chainsaw can quickly become hazardous.

One of the main reasons many people stay away from chainsaws is their power. Although this can be nice for larger trimming and shaping, using a powerful piece of equipment on a delicate shrub can result in disaster.

Luckily, most chainsaws will automatically shut off if they become out of control, so try and only use equipment with added safety features.

The last thing you want to do is hurt yourself and kill your bush while trying to make it look cleaner.

What's The Difference Between A Chainsaw And Hedge Trimmers?

For those wondering if there's even a difference between chainsaws and hedge trimmers: there is. One of the few similarities a chainsaw and hedge trimmer share is that they feature a bar and can be electric or gas-powered.

However, that's where the similarities end. One of the main differences is that a chainsaw is made to cut through trees, branches, and hard materials.

On the other hand, a hedge trimmer is made for shaping thinner surfaces and has more precision.

According to Just Chainsaws, a chainsaw works by pushing the branches of a plant aside while a hedge trimmer cuts off the ends of small branches.

Therefore, the basic ways these machines work are very different.

Think of a chainsaw as more aggressive and hard-core, while hedge trimmers are gentle and precise. Another way to separate these is to think of chainsaws as structural and hedge trimmers as aesthetic.

You also have more risks of hurting yourself using a chainsaw, so that's something to remember.

Does A Chainsaw Cut Branches Better Than A Hedge Trimmer?

Yes. One of the reasons a chainsaw is so popular is the power it holds. As we said, a chainsaw can easily cut through larger branches, often getting the job done quicker than other options.

In contrast, a hedge trimmer cuts the ends or tips of small-medium branches. You can't try and use a hedge trimmer for larger projects, while you can use a chainsaw for smaller ones.

Again, that doesn't necessarily make a chainsaw better than a hedge trimmer, but it does make it more powerful. So, a chainsaw might be the better choice if your hedge is hardy and needs significant reshaping.

How Do You Trim Hedges With A Chainsaw?

the gardener is trimming branches in the garden

A few things to be mindful of when dealing with hedges and a chainsaw is your positioning. Most importantly, it would help to cut from the waist using a chainsaw, never raising it above your shoulders.

That's because the higher a chainsaw, the more likely it is to lose control. You have more power at waist level than above your shoulders.

You also need to cut from the saw's side to prevent a dangerous kickback. As mentioned above, chainsaws are not for the faint of heart and can quickly take off an arm or a leg.

Another key tip for using a chainsaw for hedge trimming is to keep it off the ground. Therefore, you don't want to let your chainsaw hit the ground during shaping.

Lastly, make sure and check if your chainsaw has enough oil and is ready to cut before turning it on.

What Is The Best Chainsaw For Hedges?

Now that you know the basics, you want to find a chainsaw that works for you. Generally, a chainsaw with safety features is what we think will be best for hedge trimming.

Additionally, you don't need to buy the largest one to get great results. Especially if you want to use your chainsaw for cutting trees and shaping hedges, try a moderately-sized option.

You might want to try a hand-held chainsaw that is smaller than a regular model. Using one of these can be intimidating at first, so starting small may not be a bad idea.

Regardless, try and follow our recommendations and the safety guide your product comes with.

6-Inch Handheld Chainsaw

This mini chainsaw has a six-inch blade, takes around four seconds to cut through a six-inch diameter surface, won't overheat, features a self-overload stop, is battery powered, has three security measures, and comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

View this mini chainsaw on Amazon.

Do You Need To Trim Hedges?

Full length professional gardener trimming hedge in beautiful garden.

Although you don't have to trim your hedges, doing this will look better. Generally, your garden's hedges should be manicured throughout the year.

However, depending on when/if they bloom, you may not need to trim as much. For example, many experts recommend trimming flowering hedges after they bloom in the spring or summer.

On the other hand, if you don't have a flowering or fruiting hedge, you can trim it whenever you want. This might be every month, or every few months, depending on how fast it grows.

It's also good to remember why you have hedges. Do you have them for privacy? Are your hedges more for aesthetics and a pop of color?

This can affect how big or small you should train your hedges to grow.

How Often Should I Trim My Hedges?

Although this will be different for everyone, you can usually expect to need to trim a hedge 2-3 times a year during your plant's peak growing season.

Again, this depends on the variety, how fast it grows, and whether it flowers or produces fruit. As we said, you don't want to prune a blooming hedge, as this can shock it.

However, if your hedges are spring growers and don't have any fruit or flowers, you might need to trim them every few weeks for those peak months.

You also might want to let your hedges grow a bit vertically or horizontally, meaning you won't need to prune them as extensively.

Luckily, gardening, it's all about trial and error, so don't be discouraged if you're not always right.

What Bushes Are The Hardest To Shape?

Gold Mound Spirea is a Compact, Mounded Deciduous Shrub

If you run into problems with shaping your hedges, this could be them, not you. Typically, the denser and thicker a hedge, the harder it is to maintain.

Specifically, these shrubs/hedges tend to be the hardest to manage:

  • Ninebark
  • Japanese Spirea
  • Shrub roses
  • Smoke bush
  • Juniper
  • Annabelle
  • Witch hazel
  • Redtwig dogwood

There are plenty of others, so this can become difficult for you and your equipment. Luckily, more difficult plants respond better to a chainsaw than standard hedge trimmers, so that's good to be aware of.

Remember, some bushes aren't meant to stay small and perfectly manicured, so you want to allow them to sprawl and mature into fuller-sized plants.

How Big Should I Let My Hedges Get?

The best size for a shrub is around 6-10 feet tall. Considering most people use hedges as borders to their homes, you want one that will become large.

Therefore, choosing vaster species can be a good idea. Many experts recommend researching a hedge before planting it: seeing if it will become big enough so you can keep it no more than three-quarters of that height once mature.

The primary purpose of hedging is to create a manicured plant. So, you don't want something that becomes too big or grows too wild in your landscaping.

To Tie It All Together

Whether you have shrubs in your garden or want to start some, knowing how to shape them is essential. We found that you can use a chainsaw instead of hedge trimmers, although they can sometimes be too aggressive.

Typically, you want to use a chainsaw for larger branches, while hedge trimmers work best for thinner, more precise hedging.

Are you already done reading? Check out these helpful related garden posts below:

How Far Apart To Plant Hawthorne Shrubs For A Hedge

What To Plant Under Hedges? [7 Ideas Including Flowers!]

11 Tall Flowering Shrubs For Privacy And Hedges