I have purchased a quite expensive and high quality, long reach, cordless hedge cutter. It is made by Stihl, the German manufacturer.
The total was $916 with tax. This included the best battery and charger. About $750 in the United States. It's my most expensive tool. They have one that is a little cheaper but it doesn't have a telescopic pole.
It weighs almost 15 pounds with the battery, but the weight is very well distributed. You must have good upper body strength to operate this machine safely. I will apply all of my McGuyver skills to find ways to save the arms and let my body do much of the work.
It's rated for 2 hours and 20 minutes of continuous operation on a charge. That's more than my arms will do in a solid stretch, and I'm in awesome shape. It recharges in 30 minutes.
The trigger is variable speed. Most cordless electric tools are one speed only. I didn't know about that feature when I bought it, so I'm quite pleased.
The cutting head is adjustable in both directions, so that I can cut straight up or on many different angles.
It's a little over nine feet from the handhold to the end of the cutter bar. When holding my hands six feet in the air, I can do a hedge up to 15 feet tall. The tallest finished height that I've done this year was 14 ft. It retracts and folds to 5' 9" or 1.75 m
I gave it a good run yesterday and got into many spots that would have been very awkward with the shorter machine and one without the pivoting head.
At 76 decibels, it is very quiet. That noise will be made an average of 8 feet from my head, so not any louder than an electric drill.
As with all of my tool purchases, my customers have to pay for this in the long run. I will charge at least $10 per hour more whenever I'm using this tool. I expect that my customers will pay for this machine within a month.
I've tackled several jobs that would not have been worth it, without this tool. The long reach makes it possible to put a flat top on hedges that are very thick.
The adjustable head is awesome when sculpting unique shapes.
Battery life is great. Most of the time, I'm cutting at about 1/4 speed. Full power is only necessary when cutting large expanses of overgrown suckers. I'm still on the first charge after $550 worth of work.
This big $800 job is being done mostly with loppers and the Greenworks plug in pole saw. The long reach cutter will be run about 3 inches above the large cuts, to give a more finished appearance.
It's being finished to 12 feet. The hedge surrounds 3 sides of the property. For privacy, 7 or 8 feet tall is fine. At first, they wanted to finish at 13 feet. Nice in the summer, but during the cloudy winter, it can really make a house and yard dark.
I now have four tools made by E-go, the little yardworks trimmer, a very light smaller unit from Black and Decker and one cordless electric hedge cutter made by Stihl. In the last three months, most of my work has involved these tools. I haven't started a gas saw during this time.
None of them have given me any trouble, and since each tool comes with its own battery, there simply aren't enough hours in the day for me to kill all batteries.
My pole saw is a plug in electric. New customers talk to me while I work. Over the fence sales are much more common when there's no loud equipment. The greatest gas savings is realized with the truck. New customers come in clusters. I pass ladders over the fence and move to the next driveway.
It was giving me tendon pain at the elbow. When at full extension for long periods (more than 2 minutes) the muscles feel the burn. Much worse is the pain and inflammation of my left elbow, which is supporting the trigger hand. I'm sure that the condition would become chronic without intervention. The long reach pole saw is heavier and reaches further.
I bought this harness from Stihl. When adjusted properly, the arms are used for steering only. Back and other trunk muscles bear the weight. My back is made of titanium and testosterone. It works really well.
The only drawback I can see, is that it would be impossible to get rid of the tool quickly, if the ladder shifts. I'm shopping for a 14 foot fruit picking ladder , which has a much wider base than my current ten foot model. I will also fashion and outrigger leg out of bamboo, to stabilize the ladder. It will have a peg that is driven into the soil.
I have never fallen off of a ladder, a roof or out of a tree but a serious ladder shift would be problematic.
Thanks for the detailed write up Dale. I have a couple of Stihl chainsaws and have wondered about their long reach products. These postings are very informative being able to see the work you are accomplishing with them. I didn't even know they made that harness for these.
I suspect that the harness is made by someone else and branded by Stihl. In looking through their catalog, it's clear to me, that much of it is obsolete already.
Both Stihl and Husqvarna are pursuing the home owner market along with their usual professional customers. The majority of these new customers have small properties that could easily go cordless. They aren't dropping giant firs or redwoods. Most deal with noise regulations and close by neighbors. Many aren't qualified to operate their purchases. If they can't afford to go cordless with Stihl, most would be better off buying the cordless E-go equipment at Home Depot. $200 for hedge cutter, blower and string trimmer. $325 for an awesome chainsaw. Most other power equipment sold by Home Depot is much lower quality. I would never endorse any of their gas powered junk.
One brand that I have never seen used professionally is Echo. The photo below has their catch phrase. It's incomplete.
Here's the ending. .. and he'll say stop, think, don't do it. Buy something good. 😁
I work as a gardener and before that I worked in the forest working extensively with all kind of small machines like chainsaws, hedgecutters and weedwackers, I have always liked husqvarna followed by stihl,
I was given a weedwacker or strimmer (don t know how it s called in English really) by my father in law, and that was an echo, I was very sceptical at first but I have to admit I actually really like to work with it, it has great power compared to its weight. I have now worked with it for quite a few hours and still didn t have any troubles with it whatshowever.
credit where credit s due
I was looking at these but find it hard to justify because as soon as I have dropped the hedges here at La Ravardiere to 5 foot I will be damned if I am going to let them get back to 4+yds again . I agree a great tool though
Living in Anjou , France,
For the many not for the few
I like that back brace, but I don't think I would use it on a ladder.
It is an expensive tool for the average homeowner or even homesteader, but it would pay for itself if you have a large job to tackle.
"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi.
"Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
Typically, the hedges that I'm asked to shorten, start out between 15 to 25 feet tall. Finished height is typically between 9 and 13 ft. Finished width ranges between 6 and 14 feet. When dealing with thin material, I work from a ladder. If tops exceed 4 inches in diameter at the cut line, I work from the tree tops. So far, I haven't used the harness while standing on the ground.
I used it from the ladder and from a roof. It would be great for hedges finished between 6 and 9 feet tall, but I've only encountered a few. There are many between 3 and 6 feet high, and many more kept over 9 feet high. Many customers want these huge privacy walls. A 7 foot wall provides adequate privacy between ground dwellers. Many are concerned with upper storey windows and decks on neighboring houses. It's an odd obsession, but very common in some neighborhoods. I will never create an ongoing expense and sun block like this for myself. I regularly talk people into going a little shorter, but usually only by a foot or two. Most use big hedges to create a semblance of rural privacy in the suburbs. The birds and raccoons really seem to like them.
This monster hedge was finished at 16 feet tall. There are no negative views beyond. The long reach was essential. I could really feel the burn in my calf muscles and my glutes (bum), as I worked from an extension ladder.
It's really putting me in shape. Just the other day, someone walking behind me said, "Hey, aren't you Flo Jo, the Olympic runner." No, I'm a 50 year old white guy, who can crack walnuts. 😅
Even with the harness, long reach work is very physically demanding.
I'm on day 2 of a giant hedge removal. It's hardly a hedge at this point. It's a row of cedars that are completely entangled. All three of my cordless saws are being used here. Here it is with branches within 16 ft of the ground removed. Most of it was done with the pole saw. On a job like this, it's important to have clean ground space to work in. The pole saw is very useful on bushy stuff like this.
This machine continues to perform well. Along with hedge work, I have used it as a scythe along the ground. If you were just cutting hay, a scythe would certainly be better. Often, I'm dealing with a combination of grassy stuff, berry canes and small trees. In those situations, this is by far the most productive tool.
When weeds and small bushes are very dense, the string trimmer can't begin to deal with it. I sometimes drag the bar of this machine along the edge of pathways to clean up the mixture of growth that always invades the paths.
The harness has not been used very much at all. The wide variety of situations, combined with the need to climb ladders, has made it not worth the bother in most situations.
Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit