Hedge Trimmer Vs. Pole Saw

Even though a hedge trimmer and a pole saw are essentially two different gardening tools, users often wonder whether they can be used interchangeably and what advantages or disadvantages ​there are among them. To shed some light on this topic, let’s take a look at ​a hedge trimmer first.

​Hedge trimmers

Hedge trimmers are gardening tools used to trim overgrown and unkempt shrubberies. It can be manual, in which case it resembles a pair of shears with long handles, or powered which can either run on gasoline, electricity or batteries. As manual trimmers require long hours of work and eventually take a toll on the user, the powered ones have successfully made their place on the market along with every gardener’s toolshed. The basic unit of a powered hedge trimmer comprises an engine, which powers the movement of the blades to work on the plantation. Some common additional features include comfortable handles, vibration and sound dampeners, hand guards or debris shield, etc. The primary purpose of a hedge trimmer is to maintain and upkeep hedges on one’s yard and so depending on the size of the workplace, the type and size of the hedges itself and the overall requirements of a consumer, there are several options of this tool available now.

If you are thinking about buying one, do check out our review articles on the ​top gas or electric hedge trimmers for more information.

Pros:

  • They are lightweight and handheld.
  • They can shape bushes precisely.
  • They have reciprocating blades for efficient trimming.
  • Some models can work on tall grass, thin vines and brambles.

Cons:

  • They cannot work on thick twigs or branches.
  • They cost more relatively.
  • They have a limited reach.

Pole saws

Pole saws are basically chainsaws affixed to a long pole intended to cut down long, overhanging tree branches and limbs. These tools come in all shapes and sizes, with features where the cutting unit can be angled, or the pole can be adjusted to a length according to the user. Pole saws too can have gasoline, electricity or battery as their powers source. The basic unit consists of an engine, a small chainsaw blade whose power can be adjusted, and the pole. Some models allow the pole to be detached to give you a handheld chainsaw if need be. Some models are even compatible with other attachments, making the unit a versatile gardening tool. The main goal in using a pole saw is to get rid of plant parts that are thicker than stems and are located beyond the normal reach of the gardener. It is not to be used on ground level as the long pole can be difficult to maneuver horizontally; it is designed essentially for overhead tasks.

Take a look at our electric pole saw review article to learn about specific details.

Pros:

  • They can cut branches and trim trees.
  • Some models can be used for tree pruning and trimming large bushes.
  • They have extended reach above ground.
  • They are attachment compatible and can be a multi functioning tool.
  • Some models can be detached to yield a handheld chainsaw.
  • They cost relatively less.

Cons:

  • They can have the weight concentrated on one end sometimes.
  • They are not for precise trimming jobs.

Can I use a hedge trimmer as a pole saw to cut branches?

Can I use a pole saw as a hedge trimmer to trim hedges?

Having seen what a hedge trimmer and a pole saw is, along with their comparative pros and cons, it can be said that a hedge trimmer cannot be used interchangeably with a pole saw. However, a pole saw can sometimes cover some of the tasks of a hedge trimmer. Let us explain why.

Hedges contain leaves and stems that are not overly thick or chunky. The maximum a residential hedge trimmer can handle would be an inch thick branch or stem. Twigs beyond this diameter would not be suitable for a hedge trimmer and would exert stress on the machine if used forcibly. Trimmers with a higher cutting diameter do exist but they targeted for commercial use. If your main requirement is to trim, as well as shape, bushes and hedges, that too within arm’s length, hedge trimmer is the tool you need.

For thicker limbs well above your height and the ground, pole saws will come in handy. While pole saws are largely aimed to tackle individual branches, regardless of the size, and trim trees exclusively, it can be used to trim hedges, vines and brambles occasionally. But do keep in mind that the saws do not deliver precision; it only gets rid of the intended section in a rather unrefined way. So, if you are looking to work on topiary projects or shape your hedges, pole saws will not do the job. If, however, you merely want to clean off tall hedges or thick, overgrown plantations, pole saws can replace a hedge trimmer in these instances.

Final thoughts

In short, for clean trimming of hedges with thin twigs and stems (up to 1 inch), within your reach at ground level, a hedge trimmer will suffice. For any task beyond this, a trimmer will not perform. To handle overhanging tree branches as well as tall hedges with thick stems that need not-so-precise trimming, pole saws will do the job. But for detailed, shape oriented shaving, pole saws are not appropriate.

If you are looking for something in between, perhaps to deal with dense, towering hedges but don’t need a saw necessarily, then a pole trimmer is what to look for. As the name suggests, it is a trimmer attached to an extendable pole, perfect for trimming beyond level reach. It has the goods of both the tools; as accurate as a trimmer and as long a pole saw. Take a look at our review article on the top pole ​hedge trimmers to learn more.

Did you find this article useful? ​Which one do you use frequently?  Let us know in the comments!

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