Chain saws are versatile pieces of power equipment that can make yard work much more efficient than manual trimmers. Due to the dangerous nature of power equipment, however, you must follow proper safety procedures during use. In addition, basic knowledge of trimming techniques can vastly improve the appearance and health of cut plants and hedges.
Proper Chain Saw Safety Procedures
Before using any chain saw, read the owner's manual and familiarize yourself with power, fuel and safety features. Inform family members that you will be using power equipment, and advise them to avoid your vicinity. Wear safety goggles, hearing protection, long pants, a hard hat and heavy-duty yard gloves to protect yourself. Steel-toed boots are a great choice, as well. At a minimum, you should wear close-toed shoes when operating a chain saw.
Always cut from waist height, and never raise a chain saw above shoulder level. Cut from the saw's side to avoid dangerous kickback. Additionally, do not cut too close to the ground, as doing so could cause the saw to hit and recoil.
You should check your saw's oil filter, fuel level (if applicable) and surface oil prior to each use. In addition, adjust the tension as needed. Keep your chain saw clean and sharp at all times. You can sharpen a chain saw yourself using a file, but it's not a bad idea to entrust this task to a professional.
Starting a Chain Saw
Always start your chain saw from the ground. Lay it flat on the grass and push the chain brake until it engages. Turn the power switch to the on position. If your saw has a decompression valve, you should press it and pump the primer valve multiple times.
Hold the saw's front handle with your left hand, and place your right foot on the rear handle. Use your right hand to start the chain saw. Once the saw starts, you can make cuts either from the top of the saw, known as the pushing chain, or the bottom of the saw, called the pulling chain.
How to Prune Using a Chain Saw
The technique used to operate your chain saw depends in part on the plant you are cutting. For instance, to cut juniper bushes, you will need to exercise extreme caution and precision to cut only old, weak or crossed branches. Hedge trimmers can offer a greater level of accuracy for this sort of project than can a chain saw. You should prune juniper bushes in early spring for best results.
You can trim leaf-bearing hedges with a chain saw. You should begin pruning these at an early age to encourage healthy growth. Try to cut deciduous hedges in the late summertime, if possible. Take care to avoid nesting birds when using your chain saw to prune hedges.
When trimming lilac bushes, always wait until the plants have reached at least 6 feet in height. Cutting the entire stem, rather than just pruning small pieces or overgrown branches, is ideal. The best time to prune lilac bushes is right after their flowering has stopped. Pruning too early or too late can kill new buds and inhibit future growth.
Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com), and she enjoys writing home and DIY articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, Sweet Frivolity (www.sweetfrivolity.com).