THE MODERN MINT BLOG
Shears or power tools? What is best to use?
The Joy Of Shears
I love my Okatsune shears, the beautifully balanced red and white handled pruning shears from Japan.
They do everything you need, whether giving a little extra detail to a topiary piece or bashing their way through a hawthorn or beech hedge that boundaries a garden.
Another pair of shears you may wish for, that are far sharper than any power tool ever needs to be, is this Tobisho made pair of curved, steel blades…
They are basically two samurai swords bolted together. So sharp they could cut sunlight. Yes… I would say they have that kind of mythic quality.
Lightweight and long-handled they are a joy to use and with good technique are amazingly quick at pruning boxwood topiary, spheres and organic hedges.
The Practicalities Of Power Tools
If I could, I would always use my shears.
However, as a professional topiary artist I do not always have the luxury of time and, there can be no doubt, a power tool is going to be quicker over big expanses of hedge. So what happens when I work somewhere time is of the essence, but quality must not be compromised?
I will use a power tool to remove the weight of growth from a topiary piece, or hedge, first. This gives me a chance to see what I am doing. The shears are then used to give a better finish, as well as give detail to the final piece – the blades and the angle they are set from the handles help me get into areas a power tool will never get to.
As power tools go, do I use petrol or electric?
I have used petrol tools, generally made by Stihl, for nearly 20 years. Last year I started dipping my toe in the water, trying electric tools. And found I loved them, and that with two batteries and a quick charger I never have to stop work.
Then last week I made the final decision to no longer use petrol tools and switch everything over to electric.
So I still use Stihl hedge trimmers, but now they are the lighter, cordless trimmers. Expensive yes – two batteries are almost as much as the machine itself. But this stops me getting a face full of petrol fumes every time I use them. That should benefit my lungs in years to come!
On top of that, the quality of these electric power tools is so much better than it use to be… I have been seriously impressed by the equipment so far and it has even had the power to cut hedges in the winter, when growth has hardened off.
Electric tools are a better option for reducing your carbon footprint, although not perfect as you do have to dig up lithium for the battery. But I recommend, as power tools go, to move onto them…
For Better Or Worse – Shears Or Power Tools?
If you are working in your own garden, shears every time.
Even if you have a lot to clip, you can spread the work through the year (including winter.) It is healthy for you, better for the environment, less noisy and a joy to use the decent shears.
But if you are going to use power tools, because you are a busy bunny or you work professionally, then go for an electric hedge trimmer, before finishing the topiary with shears for better detail and a cleaner cut.
And if you use a green energy supplier, you can really knock some points off of your carbon footprint!
I use Bulb, do check them out!
Brought By Bike is an excellent website I found last month, where businesses offer their services by (of course) bicycle. Modern Mint and my topiary work is now live on the site offering my topiary services, via bike, to the following two postcodes – CM1 CM2 Now I can imagine I will need to borrow a ladder should anyone have a larger shrub, but most town gardens in the Chelmsford area have a need not just for privacy but to let light into the house… so a balance must be struck when shaping hedges and shrubs to cover both needs. …
Transforming Topiary – a video made for the European Boxwood And Topiary Society by Charlotte Molesworth and I, in her garden. We take a dog topiary and work out how to update it, turning it into a bird. Worth a watch I think, and hopefully useful to you! You can see more of my clipping on the topiary page. Or read my Spring 2021 Topiary Provocation here.
Phillyrea is one of my favourite plants for topiary. I have been using it for quite a few years as a specimen shrub, mostly due to the fact it clips well and has a tough habit – all good characteristics for a topiary plant. It also has a reputation for being an excellent nectar source for bees… Read more about Phillyrea here. Mentioning this to Malcolm Thicke, a market garden historian and writer, he sent me a some photos of topiary and phillyrea mentioned by John Worlidge in Systema Horticulturae from 1682…. incredible! He also mentioned to me that in …