Can Hedge Trimmers Cut Blackberry Bushes?

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It is necessary to prune blackberries so it can continue to produce fruit and stay healthy. Usually loppers or pruning shears are enough, but if there is a sizable area to trim, it is better to use a hedge trim. While this tool is known for maintaining and cutting hedges, they will also work well on blackberry bushes. The key here is to take the right approach.

Hedge trimmers can trim blackberry bushes quickly and efficiently. However you should still have pruning shears nearby because hedge trimmers cannot cut branches more than 3/4 of an inch thick.

How to Cut Blackberry Bushes with a Hedge Trimmer

Before you start trimming, prepare the following tools and materials. Whether you are cutting hedges or vines with your hedge trimmer, it is always better to have all the required stuff ready.

Required Tools and Materials

  • Hedge trimmer/ If you need some heavy bushes, the Husqvarna Outdoor 322Hd60 is as good a choice as any.
  • Work gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Ear protection
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Stakes
  • Tarp
  • Plastic bags to store clippings
  • Pruning shear or lopper. The Gonicc pruning shears are greate for heavy duty work.

Safety Precautions First

Always wear work gloves to protect your hands from cuts and injuries. Vines, thorns and other sharp objects could fly all over as your hedge trimmer starts cutting. Sturdy shoes or boots provide protection for your feet in case a heavy object falls.

Safety goggles are essential to prevent debris from getting in your eyes. Others go further and put on a full face shield, the choice is yours. The ear plugs are only needed if you use a gas powered hedge trimmer. Electric and battery hedgers are more quiet and do not require ear protection.

Image: Mark Hunter

Step 1

The first step is to plan your approach. If you have to trim a large number of blackberry bushes, divide it into sections. Work on one area at a time then move on to the next. This will make it easier to cut and trim large bushes.

Once you have divided the area, inspect the one you will trim first. Remove any metallic objects, large rocks, anything that should not be there. Make sure there are no pets or people nearby. Place a tarp under the blackberry bush you will cut.

Optional: If the bushes are tall, place a stake at each end of the bush. Tie a string on the stakes. Now you can use the string as a guide for your hedge trimmer.

Step 2

Prepare your hedge trimmer. If it is a gas powered unit, fill it up with fuel if you have not done so yet. Move any unused fuel far from where you will work. Once everything is set, you can start cutting.

If you are using an electric hedge trimmer, plug the cord into an outlet. Walk as far as the cord will allow you. If it is sufficient you can start cutting. If the cord is too short, get an extension.

If you have a battery-powered model, make sure it is fully charged. How long it will last depends on the brand and how much power you consume.

Step 3

Hold the hedge trimmer and start trimming. You can start from the top and work your way down, or begin about 30 inches from the bottom and move up. Make a sweeping motion, left to right or right to left is up to you. Once you are done with the uppermost layer, sweep in the opposite direction. Cut a couple of inches and repeat.

Step 4

If the blackberry bushes are very thick, cut in layers. Start by trimming 1-3 inches from the top. When you are done, take a step back and see how it looks. Trim another couple of inches off it and take another look. Keep repeating this until you are satisfied. This is also the ideal way to cut bushes with a hedge trimmer.

Hedge trimmer blades are sharp but can be stopped by sharp rocks or metallic objects. This is why you should clear the area before you do ay trimming.

Step 5

Try to keep the blade moving as smoothly and evenly as possible. If you fastened a string along two stakes as suggested earlier, you can use that as a guide to keep the hedge trimmer cuts even.

The blade of your hedge trimmer might be capable of cutting deeper than a few inches. But do not cut too deeply because you could end up removing too much material.

Hedge trimmers can only cut small branches and vines. If it is more than 3/4 of inch thick you should use a pruner or a pole saw.

Step 6

When you are finished, collect the clippings from the tarp. Place them inside a plastic bag and dispose of it properly. Go to the next blackberry bush and repeat the process. Remember to lay out the tarp so it is easier to clean and gather the clippings. There are many ways to dispose of these and other yard waste..

Tips on How to Prune Blackberry Bushes

The secret to managing blackberry bush is to prune them at the right time. Heavy pruning with a hedge trimmer should be done during the dormant season. During summer you can do a bit of pruning regularly. In these cases you should use pruning shears.

This video shows how to prune blackberry bushes. You can also use a hedge trimmer though pruning shears give you more control. If you need to cut individual branches or vines, shears are the better choice.

Trim the canes (stem) during winter. Growth during the first year isn’t that good, so trim the canes and leave only around 4 inches / 10 cm. During the next growth season the plant will produce stronger stems.

Timing is important for heavy pruning. With blackberry bushes, that would be early spring or late winter.

Do not perform any heavy pruning when it is raining. This is particularly dangerous if you are using an electric hedge trimmer. Wait for the bush to dry then you can proceed. If you have a gas operated hedger, you can trim anytime, but later winter or early spring is still the best.

Take breaks when cutting bushes. A hedge trimmer makes your task easier. But you should still rest after some time. If the bush is low to the ground and you are bending over as you cut, your back will eventually hurt. If the hedge is so tall you have to look up, it will take its toll too. So it is better to give yourself and your cutting tool time to rest.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I cut blackberry bushes?

Heavy cutting can be done during dormancy, later winter or early spring. You can use a hedge trimmer here. For light pruning you should only use shears.

Should I always cut bushes with a hedge trimmer?

No, only if you have to remove large amounts of material. If you only need to prune the tops or remove a few branches, pruning shears or loppers will be sufficient.

What type of hedge trimmer should I use on blackberry bushes?

It depends on how much material you have to trim. If it is just a few branches you don’t even need a hedge trimmer, a lopper will do. If you need to cut a small amount of bush, a battery powered hedger will be fine.

For medium sized trimming, an electric hedge trimmer is fine. The only drawback is your movement is limited by the cord length. A gas hedge trimmer provides the most power but is it also the noisiest.

I tried cutting a branch/vine but my hedge trimmer stopped working. Why?

The branch or vine was too thick for the blades. A hedge trimmer can only cut materials that will fit between its teeth. The typical space is 3/4 of an inch. So the branch or vine has to be no more than that. If it is any thicker, the blade will not able to move.