You’re not the first one that has wondered, “Hey, can I just use my chainsaw to trim the hedges?”
I mean, a chainsaw and a hedge trimmer both cuts pretty much in a similar fashion, so it’s not really unlikely to think that way. And there are many people out there who own a chainsaw but not a hedge trimmer, and have to do all the hard work manually with a shear or a lopper. I bet they think of this more often than not while they’re exhausted cutting branches after branches.
We’ll answer your question thoroughly in this article.
Can You Use A Chainsaw To Trim Hedges?
Yes, you can actually use a chainsaw to trim hedges, but not as precisely as you want it to be. There’s a reason hedge trimmers exist—this specialized tool ensures a fast and smooth cut of the hedges to make them look their best.
However, if you do not own one of those, you can carefully use a chainsaw to trim the hedges, but you’ll need some after-work to smoothen things out.
Chainsaws are meant to be used in more heavy-duty jobs as they’re designed that way. When used to trim hedges, they’ll leave rough cuts.
However, chainsaws are a better fit when you have to cut overgrown, stubborn hedges. The extra power comes in handy in such a case, and you’ll actually get better results by using a chainsaw.
Are Chainsaws Perfect For Hedge Trimming?
No, they’re not, as you can already guess. But you can get the job done to some extent.
They get closer to being a better fit when you use them to trim overgrown and stubborn hedges, as just mentioned. However, they’re far from perfect as a tool to trim hedges.
Chainsaws are designed to rip through hardwoods. Those extra horsepower are meant to aggressively cut through the toughest of timber, but not to make the tool finesse in its job.
Unlike that, when trimming hedges, we care about the quality of the finishing of the job, the aesthetics, and the finesse. And that doesn’t make a chainsaw a perfect tool for a hedge trimming job.
Advantage and Disadvantage
Even though it isn’t a perfect tool for trimming jobs, a chainsaw could actually offer some sort of advantage under certain circumstances. When the hedges are old and thick or you need to cut a large portion of them, you are actually better off using a chainsaw to do the heavy lifting.
When you’ve procrastinated for months and let the hedge grow big and thick, and now you’re scared about how you can deal with that with your hand tools or even a less powerful hedge trimmer, that’s when the extra power of a chainsaw will save the day for you.
Also, with the added power, the cutting speed of a chainsaw is marvelous, and it’ll trim what it takes an hour with a hedge trimmer in no time.
After the heavy lifting, you can always add a final touch for precision.
However, that could also double as a downside, or you could take it that way. A chainsaw is so powerful that it often pushes the small branches and does not cut them. Those can break unevenly to leave an unpleasant finish that you’ll have to deal with later.
The fact that you have to give it a final touch to bring that finesse could feel like an extra task that you don’t want to deal with.
You’d probably take that when the chainsaw did the heavy lifting for you, which was actually required, like the scenario described above. But if that’s not the case, it’ll feel like a burden.
I mean, if you just had to do a regular trim on the hedges, you’d want it to be done in one go, as it does with a hedge trimmer. But a chainsaw won’t do that—with that power, it’ll leave rough cuts behind.
Can You Use A Small Chainsaw To Trim Hedges? How Good A Fit Is That?
Now that looks like the candidate for a sweeter spot, and it is.
The reason chainsaws are not perfect for hedge trimming is their power, and also their size. The power is too much and the size comes in the way of convenience when preciseness comes into play.
A chainsaw is way heavier and bulkier of a tool than a hedge trimmer, so getting precision cuts with it is tough. And that heft is one of the reasons why chainsaws leave rough cuts.
Now that problem gets addressed to some extent with a smaller chainsaw. It’s easier to maneuver and tackle to get better trim. On top of that, smaller chainsaws are less powerful by nature. So, the extra power issues get addressed to some extent as well.
That’s why a small chainsaw is a better fit to trim hedges.
What Tools Are Perfect For Hedge Trimming?
If you want the “perfect” tool for hedge trimming, it’s pretty obvious—nothing but a hedge trimmer.
With two-sided blades that move back and forth hedge trimmers are great tools for trimming down large amounts of vegetation with minimal effort. They provide you with complete control over the direction of use and assist you in achieving the perfect shape for your plant.
There are plenty of offerings to suit tasks at different levels as well. If you need some heavy-duty trimming, you can get a petrol-powered model that offers a lot of power, or you could get a less-powered, less-maintenance battery-powered model to tackle tasks of low to medium level.
There’s a trimmer for every task, and they’re particularly designed to bring a great shape to your plants. They’re way lighter than chainsaws because they’re all about control and precision to get that desired finesse.
It’s effortless to make a cut along surfaces with a hedge trimmer, and it doesn’t need any saying that they’re the perfect tool for hedge trimming—I mean, look at its name.
What Are The Alternative Tools That You Can Use?
But not everyone gets a perfect life, do they? When someone can’t get their hands on a hedge trimmer, what are the alternative tools they could use to trim hedges?
For automatic tools, except for the chainsaw, you could also use a cordless pole saw. It’s not super convenient as well, but there are people who have used this to save a day.
Related: Can You Use a Pole Saw To Trim Hedges?
Other than that, you have to go manual. Garden shears are made to trim hedges to perfection, but they require a lot of effort, which is expected from a manual tool. You could also use loppers that offer more leverage and are capable of cutting comparatively thicker branches.
Another manual tool is a pruner that has a spring-loaded mechanism, so unlike the two mentioned above, it can be operated by a single hand and causes less fatigue when working long hours.
Trimming Hedges With a Chainsaw
If you decide to use a chainsaw to trim hedges, you need to do it right to get the best possible result. Let me walk you through the process of trimming hedges with a chainsaw:
Ensure Safety First
Chainsaws are heavy-duty, powerful cutting tools, so safety concerns become even more significant with them.
First and foremost, if you’re not, you need to familiarize yourself with the power, operation procedure, and safety features of the saw. Get a taste of what it feels like to operate one of these badboys.
Next up, wear safety gear. It includes:
- Heavy-duty gloves
- Eye & hearing protection
- Long chainsaw pants
- Working boots
Also, it’s better if you let your family members know about what you’re up to.
Check your saw’s fuel level and oil filter. If the tension is required to be adjusted, do so. If everything looks good, lay it flat on the ground and start it. It’s important that you always start your saw keeping it on the ground and not while you are holding it.
While you’re cutting with a chainsaw, always cut keeping it at waist height because that way you’ll get the most control over it. You may go lower if required, but what you should NOT do is raise the saw above the shoulder level because you’re more likely to lose control over the saw and hazards could happen.
Make it a “small” chainsaw
As I said, a smaller chainsaw is a better fit for a hedge trimming job. To comply with that, you want to use a shorter bar length. A shorter bar length will give you more control and help you achieve better precision, which is what we’re after.
You won’t use the whole bar for trimming hedges anyway. Usually, it’s the top portion of the bar that stays in play while trimming. So having a longer bar is useless anyway, so it’s a no-brainer to trade that for better control.
You Need Things Sharp
It’s really crucial that you keep the chain sharp. It’s particularly crucial while you’re trimming, more so than while cutting thick wood, because for the latter, power can cover up, but not for the earlier.
If the chain is not sharp, it’ll rather push away the leaves and small branches instead of cutting them. That’s why sharpness becomes absolutely crucial for this hack to work to its best extent.
There are many ways to keep the chain sharp. You can use the old-style file or a more convenient electric chainsaw sharpener to keep the chain sharp. Or you could keep trusting a professional for this and let them do the job.
Also, you could consider changing the chain if it has gotten dull, because if you must change the chain anytime soon, it’s better to change it before trimming.
Trimming the Hedges
The chainsaw is an overpowered tool for this job, so you can relax—simple slow motion will do the job. You should apply light pressure only and move up and down slowly to let it cut properly without pushing leaves and branches away.
One simple swipe of a chainsaw over the thin, weak branches of the hedge is more than good enough to cut them through. A sharp chainsaw will cut through the overgrown hedges in no time compared to what other tools would take.
The After-Work for the Finesse
A chainsaw would save you quite some trimming that you would need to use to get the finesse. It’s not a tool that’s designed to leave an excellent result on hedges.
You can use a shear, lopper, or another hand tool like a pruner to cut the non-uniform parts to get a better and neater result.
What Is the Difference Between a Hedge Trimmer and a Chainsaw?
While both are meant for cutting, depending on what type of cutting they’re designed for, there’s a pretty significant difference. A hedge trimmer is meant for shrub and hedge trimming and pruning jobs where the focus is on precision—to give it a nice outlook and shape, while a chainsaw is focused on heavy-duty cutting jobs like chopping large trees and branches and other hard materials. The focus is on power here to make it rip through hard materials.
Is It Ok to Prune With a Chainsaw?
A chainsaw is not really meant for pruning. One certainly won’t get the outcome that they but if there’s no other tool available, they can save the day with one. The power of a chainsaw is not really meant for such light-duty jobs from its perspective, and that hurts the quality of finishing of the task.
What Is the Best Tool to Cut Hedges?
It’s a no-brainer—a hedge trimmer—it’s in the name and they’re born for it. They’ll give the best finishing and also complete the job way quicker compared to manual tools while maintaining the standard. For manual tools, the best options will be garden shears, secateurs, or loppers.
When Should You Not Cut Hedges?
It is recommended to cut hedges from March to August each year because it’s the breeding season for nesting birds.
What Time Is Best to Trim Hedges?
The best time to trim hedges would be late spring, early fall, or winter. It is recommended to not prune during dry and hot weather. Winter is the time when by pruning the hedges; you can direct next year’s growth.
So, we’ve concluded that trimming hedges with a chainsaw is not really a boss move, but if you really need to, you can get the job done with a little aftercare. If you really have to trim with a chainsaw, you need to follow the right procedure to get a comparatively better outcome, which we’ve discussed above.
Investing in a hedge trimmer is a good choice given that you can get really decent ones at such affordable prices these days. A decent electric hedge trimmer can be bought for less than $40, which is pretty amazing given the result it produces compared to something like a chainsaw.