Although this tool can be top-heavy and difficult to hold, because you don’t need a stepladder you eliminate a potential hazard and save much time.
Faced with an unkempt and overgrown high hedge, what do you usually do? Set up a stepladder, climb up with a lopper, clip and trim, climb down, shift the stepladder, and repeat. Again and again.
Why not give the time-consuming tedium a miss and use a Cordless Telescopic Pole Hedge Trimmer, a very cleverly designed garden power tool that lets you trim hedges nearly five metres high without even a stool. No more ladders or stools – in fact, you are free to walk about your acre trimming hedges high and low without worrying about even extension cords or canisters of petrol.
This garden power tool is a specialised, much taller, relative of the plain old hedge trimmer. Its differentiating components are a telescoping pole and a pivoting multi-position head. The pole slides in and out of itself, or ‘telescopes,’ so that the length of the tool can be varied by up to even 70 centimetres. The head can be locked in different angles so that you can trim the vertical surface of the hedge but also the top, horizontal surface. Other angles allow you to trim the far end of your hedge, shape it, or reach through obstructions.
It usually comes in three discrete components that need to be fitted together, comprising handle and battery holder, telescopic pole, and the trimmer (and motor).
Factors to Consider
Obviously the total length or reach of a telescoping pole hedge trimmer is a specification of vital importance. On the longest models this is nearly 3 metres while one or two others it may be a good half a metre less. Power is a another key factor. Almost all cordless kits are 18- or 20-volt ones but our Best Pick packs 40 volts of power. Another spec you may wish to look into is the length of the blade and the inter-tooth gap as these have a direct bearing on the maximum thickness of branch the tool can deal with. The bigger these numbers, the greater the cutting strength and capacity.
Then there are ergonomic criteria. How comfortable is the kit to operate and manoeuvre? Are the safety switch and power trigger located conveniently? Can the head’s angle be adjusted simply and quickly?
However, where a 2 to 3-metre long power tool is concerned, possibly the most important considerations are weight, balance and centre of gravity. A 2.5-metre long power tool may have the finest performance but if you cannot hold and handle it comfortably for any useful length of time, it is virtually useless to you. Therefore, though using any given telescopic pole hedge trimmer depends a lot on your arm strength and upper-body strength, when choosing one do consider the aforementioned three attributes.
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Underneath we cover six cordless telescopic pole hedge trimmers though the first one, being a 40-volt combi hedge trimmer and mini chainsaw, is in a class of its own, and the last one, being a corded kit is also in a class of its own.
Both a trimmer and mini saw on a telescopic pole, Greenworks’s kit is very costly but has A-1 performance and cutting capability, and tops the lists.
This kit from Greenworks is actually a two-in-one deal, combining telescopic hedge trimmers and mini chainsaw (‘branch cutter’). It is much more powerful than the competition at 40 volts. What is more, it is supplied with a 2 Ah Li-Ion battery and charger. The battery has an LED to indicate the charge level. The amazing 2 Ah battery seems more like a 4 Ah one as it lasts for ages.
The telescopic pole is adjustable from 2.1 to 2.4 metres. You can leave out the pole and mount either tool directly into the handle.
The pole and hedge trimmer weigh 4.3 kilogrammes and pole and saw, 3.9 kilogrammes. Unquestionably Greenworks has produced a ‘heavyweight contender’ in more ways than one. However, no matter which tool you’re using the set is so remarkably well balanced that it feels lighter than its actual weight.
The hedge trimmer has an unusually wide range of angled settings. Its head can be locked in seven positions through a 135° angle, including acute angles left (blade side).
The very formidable cutting blade is 51 centimetres long and has a cutting speed of 3000 RPM. It is rated for a cutting thickness of 18 millimetres and, most impressively, meets its specs. It blazes through tough branches other kits choke on.
The mini chainsaw has a bar of 20 centimetres and a no-load speed of 8 metres/second. Like ‘real’ chainsaws it also has an electric chain brake. Far better than anything one might expect, it cuts even logs, albeit slowly. You just may end up preferring it to regular chainsaws for at least some uses. (Remember to oil it and put oil in the reservoir before use.)
Overall, this kit has good, solid build quality and it is well finished. However, it is really very expensive, more so than it ought to be.
Simply put, this two-in-one kit is both powerful and super-efficient, and also easy and no-fuss in usage. Greenworks’ garden power tool is so superlative that it is the one that will convert petrol or electric diehards to cordless users! Though faced with stiff competition, it easily wins our Best Pick slot.
Greenworks provides a 3-year warranty on the tool and 2-year warranty on the battery and charger.
- Two tools in one telescopic pole kit, with the mini chainsaw just as good as the hedge trimmer.
- Cutting performance and effectiveness of either and both tools is outstanding.
- Battery runtime is unbelievable.
- Extremely expensive.
Though not for tough branches and not best balanced, NETTA’s affordable kit does the job very well, has an easily adjusted head, and is top value.
NETTA’s pole trimmer is supplied as a full kit with battery and charger. The 20-volt battery’s runtime is quite good.
The pole at full extension measures 2.4 metres, and when fully extended it manifests some flex.
Though it is not well balanced, being somewhat top heavy and awkward, it is also very light at only 3.2 kilogrammes. The shoulder strap doesn’t offer much help as the positions where it attaches are not optimal. On the other hand the handle has a comfortable padded grip.
It’s all plusses on NETTA’s ergonomic dual-control design to prevent inadvertent powering on as the switch and the trigger are most convenient to control with one hand.
The head pivots bidirectionally over a wide angle from acute angles left to right. Setting the angle position is a snap.
The 510-millimetre blade has a 16-millimetre tooth opening. It is rated for branches up to 14 millimetres. It munches through 10-millimetre branches but has a rougher time with thicker ones though it will cope with them after some snagging and repositioning. Part of the reason is that its RPMs are not quite up there but, then, this is a very economical product.
It trims long and thick bushes without a whine and as long as you stick to proper ‘hedge trimming’ and do not try to tackle a tangle of overgrown thornbush its performance is quite astonishing for such an inexpensive product, being comparable in this respect to name brands.
Very infrequently the odd piece turns out to be defective but NETTA provides excellent after-sales service.
Once you assemble this kit it is best to let it stay assembled – just telescope it in. Disassembling it is rather a chore and doing it once too often might damage or snap the inner pins.
While the niggles are minor, this kit’s strengths are truly commendable in view of its very low price, for which it is a deserved Value Pick.
- Very good high-hedge trimming capability, improved by easy angle settings.
- Very lightweight with very comfortable handle.
- A smashing value for money.
- Should not be disassembled and assembled often, and disassembly is not quick or simple.
- Snags and struggles when it encounters thick, hard branches.
- The kit’s balance and shoulder strap need improvement.
WORX’s kit is a winner with many strong points, chief among them cutting performance, battery runtime, balance and manoeuvrability, and even more.
WORX’s 18-volt pole trimmer comes as a bare tool which is a good choice for those who are invested in WORX’s PowerShare system. Others may buy the complete kit with 2.0 Ah battery and charger. Even a 2.0 Ah battery’s runtime is eminently satisfactory on this kit.
The pole telescopes through a wide range from 2.1 to 2.8 metres, allowing a maximum reach of 3.6 metres. Telescoping is smoother and more convenient compared to others.
At 3.5 kilogrammes this one’s on the lighter side. It is well balanced and is distinctly easier to hold and handle than other telescopic pole hedge trimmers, and the well-designed shoulder strap further improves handling.
It has a 45-centimetre diamond-ground blade with a 16-millimetre tooth gap for ‘clean cutting through large branches.’ And it does— powerful and effective, it cuts through thick and tough branches from 10 to 15 millimetres including the likes of blackthorn.
The head can be set at various angles, from acute angles left (blade side) to 90° right. The (main) handle rotates; this permits natural and convenient trimming of the sides of hedges, that is when the plane being trimmed is not facing you. The rotating handle and the pivoting head combine to provide unmatched comfort as it lets you trim any surface from any angle.
The robust aluminium shaft does not flex much, if at all, and it adds to the very good build quality of this kit.
It comes with a blade cover.
It is a little more costly than the competition unless you get it on sale or a special deal.
WORX’s cracker of a garden power tool is beaten out by the Greenworks set because that is a two-in-one tool with double the power, and is edged out by the very economical NETTA in the value for money equation. Without any question WORX’s kit is the best of the rest.
WORX provides a 2-year warranty which is extendable to 3 years if the product is registered online within 30 days of purchase.
- Impressively powerful, it cuts through relatively thick and tough branches.
- The rotating handle enhances both the user’s comfort and effectiveness.
- Robust kit of impressive build quality scores an ‘A’ overall.
- A little more costly than the competition.
Perhaps the best in ergonomics, design and finishing but not best for thick tough branches, Bosch’s kit is ideally suited to relaxed, high trimming.
Cost: Price not available
Bosch’s finely-designed trimmer, in the company’s green, DIY range, is sold as a bare tool. It accepts a Bosch 18-volt Power4All battery which operates the motor at 2200 RPM. Even a relatively affordable 2.5 Ah battery gives unusually good run time – about one hour. This energy-efficient garden power tool merely sips the juice.
The pole telescopes between 210 and 260 centimetres, and the maximum tip-to-tip length is just over 3 metres.
This 3.36-kilogramme tool is one of the lightest telescopic pole hedge trimmers, still, it does feel a bit heavy though it is not too bad as it is much better balanced than many another pole trimmer. Moreover, the design of the hows and wheres of the strap and its attachments is particularly clever on this kit because most of its weight rests on your shoulder.
The blade is 430 millimetres with an inter-tooth spacing of 16 millimetres. It cuts through 10-millimetre branches well enough. It is just right for light trimming no matter how long or big the bush but it will not do the job on the likes of hawthorn. It cannot cut branches quite as thick or tough as some other cordless telescopic pole hedge trimmers do.
Bosch’s ABS (Anti-Blocking System) protects against motor burn out. If the blade catches or jams on something particularly tough, the motor will keep reversing to try to cut through the obstruction or disengage the blade from it, and if it cannot the motor will cut out. Hence it also protects against any kickback.
The head can be set to ten angles through a pivoting angle of 135° from 70° left (blade side) to 65° right.
It has a safety-catch system such that you have to press the safety lock switch and then press the trigger and keep it pressed, after which you can let go of the safety lock switch.
Build quality is fairly good and the finishing is excellent.
Perhaps this is an ‘overly-designed’ but slightly underpowered tool that could use a bit less designing and a bit more grunt.
Bosch provides a 2-year warranty which is extendable to 3 years if the product is registered online within 4 weeks of purchase.
- The ABS protects against jamming, kickbacks, and motor burn out.
- Battery gives very long runtime on this unusually energy-efficient kit.
- The ergonomics and the high-grade finishing are in the top bracket.
- Not meant to go through particularly thick or tough branches.
- Not for those who prefer cutting power over design and ergonomics.
A heavy and unwieldy gas-guzzling demon, Ryobi’s kit’s speciality is raw cutting power; it simply rips through thick, tough branches without let-up.
Cost: Price not available
Ryobi’s 18-volt cordless kit takes batteries from the manufacturer’s ONE+ system and has a motor that runs at 2700 RPM. Our selection is the bare tool but various other configurations are available. These come with a 2.0 Ah battery, a 4.0 Ah battery, a charger, etc. Though it doesn’t exactly guzzle the juice, this is not a very energy-efficient machine compared to other brands and models so it would be smart to use a 4 Ah battery with it. Its strengths lie elsewhere.
It has a maximum length of 2.9 metres. A smart feature is that the trimmer can attach directly with the handle, leaving out the pole, for trimming ‘normal’ shoulder-high hedges.
Weighing 4.2 kilogrammes (incorrectly written as ‘5.6 Kilograms’) Ryobi’s pole hedge trimmer is definitely heavier than most other ones by about a good half-a-kilo. Its extra poundage is somewhat mitigated by its comparatively good weight distribution and its ‘feel in hand,’ so to speak. But at the end of the day it is heavier, more unwieldy and more cumbersome than most of the competition and may be too much to handle for those who are less than fit and strong.
The ‘diamond ground’ blade measures 45 centimetres and has an inter-tooth gap of 18 millimetres. This seriously powerful kit and its demon blade saw through thick branches, ripping through 16-millimetre ones without displaying the least distress. It can also do quite a length of hedging at one go.
The head articulates through quite a large angle of 135°, from 70° left (blade side) to 65° right, but it can be locked in only 4 positions, which is a curious limitation.
Though this may sound contradictory, on full extension the pole is far from stiff and manifests considerable flex; however, on the whole Ryobi’s kit is quite robust and of very good build quality.
It comes with a blade sheath.
For a bare tool it is a little pricey; on the other hand, it oozes raw power.
Ryobi provides a 2-year warranty which is extendable to 3 years if the product is registered online within 30 days of purchase.
- Has eye-popping power and cutting capability, and destroys thick tough branches.
- A marathon machine for the marathon man, it will keep chugging as long as you do.
- Notably good balance and weight distribution in view of its weight.
- One of the heaviest and most cumbersome, it may be simply too heavy for some persons.
- The battery does not last as long as on many other machines.
Inconvenient because it’s corded but attractive because it’s low-priced, Terratek’s robust kit may be flawed but it cuts high hedges effectively.
Our final selection is Terratek’s 550-watt electrical kit. The trade-off here is that it is corded so you have to deal with wires but it is the cheapest by at least a tenner.
Its pole telescopes from 210 to 275 centimetres.
At 3.5 kilogrammes it is on the light side but it feels much heavier than its actual weight. The problem is that it is not well balanced at all; it is top heavy which means that it is hard to hold properly balanced. The strap helps but its positioning and design leave something to be desired. This kit is unwieldy and not easy to manoeuvre.
The 450-millimetre hardened steel blade is rated to cut branches up to 16-millimetres thick. Though this is a little optimistic, Terratek’s trimmer takes care of branches of 10 millimetres, and even a shade thicker, very efficiently. In general, it does the job very well as the sharp blade and good performance make short work of normal hedge branches.
The head pivots through a 120° angle from 90° left (blade side) to 30° right and can be set into four positions. The head is especially easy and convenient to adjust and lock in place.
It has an ergonomic safety catch mechanism that is easily operated with one hand. To start the motor you press the lock button, depress the trigger and keep it pressed, and let go of the lock button.
The build quality of Terratek’s kit is very decent and it is surprisingly robust for a bargain-priced offering.
The electric cord is 10 metres; however, it is a regulation black cord that is not meant or rated for outdoor use. It has to be said that using a telescopic pole hedge trimmer is cumbersome work to begin with, and having to deal with a cord makes things more complicated.
Its rock-bottom price makes it a fantastic value for money.
Terratek provides a 2-year warranty.
- Really solid feel and surprisingly good build quality.
- Quick and convenient head angle adjustment.
- With its rock-bottom price it is an excellent value for money.
- The electric cord is a nuisance to deal with and is a limiting factor.
- Top-heavy and not well balanced.
Effective usage of this cumbersome power tool depends a lot on your technique. First, as far as possible allow the bulk of the weight to fall via the strap on your shoulder. (A shoulder strap is standard equipment with this garden tool.) Avoid lifting or carrying it in your arms, doing so as and when necessary. Rather, use your hands for holding and manoeuvring it.
Now to the style of grips. If you hold this long and cumbersome tool as you would a fishing rod, your arms will start to ache and you will get tired. Instead, try an over-under grip. Grip the tool down at the handle in a normal undergrip with one hand. But apply an overgrip with the other, leading arm, that is, with the elbow pointing outward and upward, and gripping the pole partway up. The overgrip hand and fingers should be curled around the pole. Your hands should be 70 to 85 centimetres apart, depending on your height and individual preference. Keep the base of the tool tucked above or below the pelvis (but not in the groin). It will help if you keep the tool just a little slanted across you. The stronger your grip and wrists, the better this style of holding a pole tool will work for you. Do not use this style if you have weak wrists or arthritis.
Once you get the hang of using this special grip, you’ll be able to use this garden power tool far more effectively; but what is more, you’ll also need to rest much less frequently: if you are even a bit ambidextrous, then, when you feel tired, simply switch over (i.e. mirror image) your grips and tool-holding position!
Kersie learnt the basics of gardening as a toddler, courtesy of his grandfather. In his youth he was an active gardener with a preference for flowering plants. He is a professional and vocational writer and his freelance projects have spanned various kinds of writing.