One of those jobs. You either hate it or you love it. Trimming the hedges and shrubs. The best ladder for cutting hedges needs to be strong and very safe.
Sure you could simply stand on top of your dustbin , wobble about on the small lid, bend the lid and risk falling off, but that’s not really ideal, especially when you’ve got hedge cutters in your hands. Here we outline the ladders you need, and the obvious reason for using safe ladders.
The best ladder for cutting hedges are adjustable leg professional tripod ladders. These garden ladders account for outdoor gardening work. They will be 1: lightweight, 2: have adjustable legs, 3: have a safe platform, 4: have a grab rail to hold on to, 5: three points of contact ideally. Brands include “Henchman”, “Henrys”, “BPS Access Solutions” and “Ladders Online”.
Let’s discuss ladder safety “real quick” and then move on.
The health and safety executive explain that falls from ladders account for as much as 40% of all the “falls from heights” statistics.
They also state (here for reference) that if you are to be physically on a leaning ladder for more than 30 minutes at a time then a ladder shouldn’t be the way to go (scaffolding would be better). So take regular breaks.
So if you are going to cut your hedges 2 to 3 times a year then you should hire out good quality tripod ladders or invest in some ladders that will stand strong for many years.
What are the main points to consider when buying hedge cutting ladders?
- Uneven ground – not every garden is super flat so you need to adjust at least one leg to account for this.
- Different heights – hedges and shrubs don’t all grow at the same height
- Safety – your life is in your hands when up ladders with sharp tools in hand – allow for “3 points of contact”
- Storage – The physical size of these ladders means you need to have a large enough space to house them.
- Rubber feet – consider purchasing extra rubber feet that can slip over the bottom, for when working on hard surfaces for extra grip.
- Weight – while not a deal breaker, the lighter the better. This makes each job so much easier.
- Durability – due to the size you might be storing these outside when not in use – so rust-proof ladders are a must
Why bother with uneven ground?
Every garden is different, there will be small bumps, hollows and undulations. If your ladder leg is in one of these it can all end in disaster as you come tumbling down, hedge cutters in hand. Simply put the ladders just won’t be very stable.
You could wedge a piece of wood or garden sleeper under one leg, if you really want to. But honestly do you think it’s a good idea because I’m not sure I’d agree with you if so?
Ladders are going to last many long years, so it certainly pays to get something safe.
SIDE NOTE: Have you seen Laddergrips?
These appear to be a product that will last for tens of years and certainly help make a set of ladders “stick” to a surface as opposed to be simply just resting against a wall etc.
So which ladder brands do we recommend then?
There will always be new brands cropping up, cheap foreign brands trying to get into the market at a cheaper price, but if you care about safety then consider some of the brands that already have a good reputation.
- BPS Access Solutions and
- Ladders Online
The best thing you can do is to look at lots of Tripod ladders online over on the Amazon website (click here to see the full list). Remember to find ones with good ratings and as many of the features above as possible to fit in with your budget.
What size ladder do you need to buy?
Naturally it depends on the size of each job, so try to think about the jobs you might use. Remember you won’t be stood right on the top of your ladders. You will want to keep a few rungs down for safety reasons, but you will have the added arm reach height, and the extra reach from the hedge cutters.
Choosing the right ladders depends on the type of ladders you are getting. For this writeup we are naturally discussing Tripod ladders which are far more stable than other forms of ladders like extension ladders or step ladders.
Typical step ladders would involve you standing no higher than 2 rungs down from the top step, and we suggest you adopt a similar strategy wherever possible, but with Tripod ladders it’s important that you have the adequate safety measures in “up there at the top end”.
So ultimately choose some that have a safety rail and a solid platform to stand on if you are to stand right at the top. Some premium models also have a safety rope you can close behind you while up there so you are fully “locked in” to the top platform (but sadly most platform ladders do not have this).
What price will it cost you?
The old saying of you get what you pay is especially true.
- Expect to pay anywhere from £150 to £200 for basic lightweight tripod ladders. You won’t always get all 3 legs adjustable, it might only be one leg that adjusts. You might not also get a platform or places to place tools, but maybe you can live without these, especially if your work is literally going up the ladder for 5 to 20 minutes then back down, and moving the ladders along, in which case a platform isn’t really necessary.
- You can literally move upwards in price to £500+ for taller ladders and ladders that have more features.
Here’s a few picks from each price range:
£150 to £200
£200 to £300
(don’t forget your rubber feet (here’s some for henchman / henry’s)
Why tripod ladders for hedge trimming?
What’s wrong with normal ladders you might ask. The simple answer is safety. 3 legs is better than two. Each leg is independent, whereas with a normal ladder it’s just two feet fixed to each other with a ladder rung.
With a normal ladder you are 1: relying on the ground being even, 2: having to lean against the hedge. This doesn’t give you the room to reach forward with your cutters safely, instead you have to lean back, look up and reach up and try to balance while hoping for the best.
With tripod ladders all that is taken away. You can put your body at the right height so you simply hold the cutters out and cut. If there is a grab rail you can lean against it. With a tripod ladder you get the extra stability that this gives as well.
How easy are tripod ladders to use?
- Really easy and easy to move. The light weight makes it easy to move, and the adjustable legs are easy to adjust.
- First of all they are light enough to carry (most of them for most purposes are anyway).
- Get to the appropriate place by walking with the ladders under one arm (you can put your arm through one of the gaps).
- Open out the third leg and make sure everything is locked in place and level for the ground.
- Don’t forget rubber feet if on a hard surface.
- Prepare your tools with the right fuel and start them running if petrol and don’t overload yourself.
- Ensure your steps are free from any wires or branches that could affect your steps.
- Make sure you have the right eye, ear and hand protection on.
- Climb to the cutting area slowly and make sure you are happy with your position and position before you start the actual cutting.
- When cutting, make sure there is nobody around the base of the ladders in case you drop any tools.
- Try to ensure that the cut material doesn’t fall directly onto the steps as you will need a safe passage down when getting off the ladders.
- Don’t over-reach. It’s not worth it. Far safer to go down and move the ladders along another metre.
Can they go in the back of your van?
This does depend on the size of the van. A 1.8 metre set of tripod ladders will be 1.8 metres long and as much as 1 metre wide at the base. The third leg will fold in so it’s literally a flat set of ladders that is narrow at the top and arched out at the bottom. So this would represent an internal space of 6 feet long inside the back of your van and a metre wide or high (for the 1.8 metre set). You could opt for roof mounted ladder clamps as an alternative.
Other close alternatives
If a Tripod ladder is really not your thing then a normal folding step ladder is better than a standard ladder. it provides some stability but is not ideal on uneven ground. It also stores away easier than tripod ladders. If your ground is straight then these are a good second consideration.
We particularly like these BPS ones for their versatility:
Or for ladders with a bit more versatility, telescopic ladders will be a good compromise and can be used for lots of other tasks too, but the safety aspect will not be 100% geared up for hedge work. We reviewed 10 of the best telescopic ladders here if interested.
However you decide to cut hedges is your choice. Many people make do with simple step ladders, but without a doubt, the best ladder for cutting hedges is a Tripod ladder set. More so important is that you choose a set with adjustable feet that can be adjusted up or down to ensure the ladder stays firm when your garden is not level or flat.
Tripod ladders can be put really close to the work area too, as the single third leg can be placed really close to the shrubs / hedge, and often you can slip the leg covertly inside the hedge (if there are gaps), to get you right up to the work.
The main take away from this is that you do give consideration to your safety. Thousands of people are injured from falls every year, and several have sadly died from even small falls.
I have personally witnessed friends using hedge cutters who didn’t take the right safety advice (and wear head protection hard hats) and cut their head when pulling the cutters backwards. I’ve also personally had a several “near misses” while using normal step ladders in my garden, hence the reason why I looked at these ladders.
Hope this helps!