Add On Hedge and Bush Trimming Services

What to know when adding Trimming and Pruning services to your business.

 O.K. here goes, let’s talk about trimming hedges and bushes. You may notice that many of your customers have small bushes or hedges on their property that need some attention. This is an opportunity for you for some extra income.

By talking to these customers you can determine whether or not they wish to trim their bushes or have you take care of pruning for them as an extra service.

To trim/prune most bushes you will only need a few extra tools to get the job done correctly. You will need a pair of hand shears, a fan rake, a broom, a bagger (a stand that you put an open garbage bag into that will keep the bag open so you can deposit the hedge /bush clippings into), quality electric hedge trimmers and an electrical cord.

Shears on left hand side have rubber stopper as well as rubber handle grips are heavy but have lasted me many seasons, while the shears on the right hand side have plastic handles and tended to fall apart after extended use in one season. The shears in the middle are ones that an older customer that I was doing a dump run was going to throw out, they just needed sharpening. (they must be 20 years old and still work fine)

Ok, when you are looking to buy hand shears you should look for ones that are professional or contractor grade. These types of shears will last much longer than cheaper home owner grades of shears. Other things to consider when buying hand shears is how heavy are they to hold perpendicular to you while being held out from your body.

Shears on left hand side have rubber stopper as well as rubber handle grips are heavy but have lasted me many seasons, while the shears on the right hand side have plastic handles and tended to fall apart after extended use in one season. The shears in the middle are ones that an older customer that I was doing a dump run was going to throw out, they just needed sharpening. (they must be 20 years old and still work fine)

What material are the handle made of? Are they wood, plastic or some other composite matter? How are the handles attached to the blades? If they are just pieced together then they are more likely to come apart after a few hours of use.

Another thing to look for is how well made are the blade stopper buttons? Are they coated with a rubber cushion or are they just made of plastic? A rubber cushion will be better for your hands and elbows because it will lessen the jarring impact each time the blades are closed to make a cut. One last thing is the handles just bare wood or are they coated in rubber to provide a softer grip for your hands?

They must also be professional grade (professional also gives you a longer warranty period, usually a year to five years depending on where you purchase these tools).

When it comes to buying a step ladder for doing shrubs and hedges I suggest that you purchase a step ladder that is longer than the normal 6’ or 8’ ladder. A wiser choice is a multi-position step ladder. This type of ladder will allow you to get closer to larger bushes or hedges and still use your shears or electric trimmers at an angle that is comfortable for you.

When it comes time to buy electric hedge trimmers I have found only one brand and specific model that will stand up to hours of trimming before any maintenance is needed (and it is also reasonably priced). The trimmer is the Hedge Hog by Black and Decker. Now, they sell a whole line of Hedge Hog products so make sure that you buy the trimmer that will cut up to ¾” branch/stalk.

This trimmer may be sold in more than one trimming length; I suggest getting the longer 24” version. Why? well there have been many times were there is a wide hedge running along a house that is greater than 3’ wide and doesn’t allow you to get between the house and the hedge to trim the house side of the hedge. The extra length of the trimmer will ensure that you can reach across the entire hedge to trim it.

When you use an electrical hedge trimmer you will also need electrical cords to supply the power. Make sure that you buy cords that are made for outdoors and have 3 pronged ends. (2 power and one ground prongs) This will ensure that the trimmer is properly grounded as there is a greater chance of shock outdoors due to dampness.

A safety note regarding electrical cords, never use cords that have cracks or cuts in them as they are unsafe and will expose the electrical current running in the cord to moisture and you to electrical shock.

To the left is the orange hedge trimmer is the B & D Hedge Hog, while the lower green Yardworks trimmer is a rechargeable type battery operated model.

I have also purchased cordless hedge trimmers as well and I found that they are O.K for small jobs or hard to reach places that can’t be reached with electrical trimmers. They may give you a half hour of useful trimming at most before recharging is needed. Also you won’t be able to trim thicker plant material for very long either as it takes too much out of the rechargeable batteries.

There is another way to go if the job is extremely large or not near any electrical outlets. You can buy or rent a gas powered hedge trimmer. These trimmers are much more expensive as well as powerful. The only major trade off is that these trimmers are much heavier to hold on to and use for any length of time.

These gas powered trimmers come in a normal hedge trimmer configuration as well as what is called a pole mount hedge trimmer.

If you are going to take my earlier mentioned advice about the Kombi System String Trimmer, you can buy the trimmer attachment to provide you with the pole mount hedge trimmer or just rent as needed from your local rental center and charge your customer for the rental.

The pole mount trimmer can be extended to reach greater heights as well as it can be pivot to trim on various angles and are ideal for tall hedges that are difficult to trim without rent more equipment such scaffolding or long (14ft-16ft.) “a” frame stepladders.

Now to trimming/pruning, on many of the bushes/hedges you will be able to notice new growth that has happened since the last time someone had pruned it. The shape of the bush will already be there you will just have to trim back the new growth to restore the plant to its former shape.

Some ornamental bushes have flowers or blooms that last for a short period in the spring and then die off. With these bushes either wait until the blooms are finished before any major cutting back is done or trim only extremely long growth (hairs) so that the bush does not look unkempt and would otherwise make the property look neglected.

When you begin to trim make sure you have in our minds eye a picture of what the plant is to look like when you have finished pruning it. This will prevent you from trimming away too much of the growth. (Remember that is it is better to take a little bit off first than too much as you can’t put it back)

If the bush that you are trimming is quite overgrown and a shape needs to be determined then you should consult with your customer as to what shape they would like. If they leave it up to you then I suggest take into account what the other bushes look like on the property.

If you have many of the bushes on the property in the same condition (overgrown) and permission to create your own shapes then I suggest the following 3 dimensional shapes. The “light bulb”, the “Globe” or the “Box/Rectangle” shapes will work in almost every situation.

The “Light bulb” shape can be used for any tall bush that stands alone and is not part of a hedge.

Next there is the “Globe” shape which I use for smaller individual bushes. This shape says that I am maintained and have a soft clean look without any hard edges.

Lastly the “Box/Rectangle” is the shape I use when a hedge already exists or is desired. This shape can also be used on any individual bushes that are to eventually grow together to form a hedge in the future are so pruned with the end shape in mind.

When I actually start trimming no matter what tool I am using I always trim one side (face) of the bush completely before I move onto the next side. (This may be a bit more difficult for round bushes) Keep in mind that you always have a picture of what the plant is to look like before any trimming begins.

Another thing to keep in mind is to look at the shrub before trimming to see if the growth is uneven. You don’t want to trim too much off to find that one side of the bush is not growing as well and to make it match the other side you trim an equal amount off to keep a balanced look. But to do this you will leave an open hole on the side of the plant with slower growth. (This is a no-no and makes you look unprofessional) Always examine the entire bush before starting to trim.

When you are using your electrical hedge trimmer then I have found it best that you trim from side to side instead of trying starting far away from your body and pulling towards your body. (Also it is not safe as you are pulling a cutting instrument towards your body that might jump towards you unexpectedly and cut you) Also don’t force the trimmer to cut thru the hedge or shrub, if you force it to cut faster than it is designed to then you will shorten the life of the trimmer as you are overloading the trimmers motor.

The trimmer will not give you the desired cut (look) that you will be looking for and you will need to go over the same area several times to get a professional look to the job at hand. Remember time is money and you want to do the best possible job for your customer in the fastest time possible to make the most profit for your time.

In order to do quick professional looking jobs always keep your shears or trimmer clean of plant sap or built up debris and keep them sharp. By keeping them sharp you only have to make passes over any area once, at the most twice to get the desired look instead four or five times of going back over an area to get those stubborn hairs of new growth.

After you are finished trimming make sure you always do a proper clean up of the area, raking and picking up any plant material that you have just trimmed. By doing a very good clean up of the area worked in you are showing your customer that you really do care about the work that you do. I have found that what I call a “Bagger” a definite asset to keep for cleaning up. It is like having someone else around holding the garbage bag open for you to deposit your plant debris in for free. (This is a great cost saver if you are working by yourself)

This Bagger is just a bag holder that can be found at your local hardware store. I just added metal shelf brackets and some duct tape to provide support to the base giving it greater stability. It stands about 40” so it can accommodate large size industrial garbage bags.

Other people may choose to use a wheel barrel and a large tarp inside a trailer to deposit the debris in if it is a large enough job or if you have many trimming jobs all lined up for the day. It all depends on how you dispose of your plant clippings. You maybe taking to a local landfill for their compost heap or to your own (or a friends) compost pile at home if live on a large enough rural property.

I hope this has provided You with some useful information when tackling any Hedge or Bush trimming jobs You may encounter.

“Keep It Simple to Succeed” lets get out there and make our lawns healthy and green!