Before getting started, read the owner's manual if possible to understand how the machine works and any nuances with that particular model. Add fuel if necessary, or plug in an electrical model. Send all children and pets inside, and check the weather forecast.
Start at the top on one side and sweep across in one direction with measured speed. Do not go back and forth.
Hold the equipment straight, not at an angle, to avoid a sloping or dipping appearance.
Do not make the top narrower than the bottom. It should resemble an inverted cone.
Avoid the lollipop look unless it is a topiary.
Remove all dead and loose branches and trimmings at the end. Air and sun should be able to circulate through the branches.
Wear safety equipment. This includes gloves, glasses, long sleeves, long pants and a head covering.
Do not use hedge trimmers in inclement weather. The operator could slip on wet grass and lose footing, causing injury.
For electric models, make sure the area where the cord runs is free of water, snow and excess moisture.
Trim only the excess from the hedges. Do not cut more than 6 inches at a time with the hedge trimmer. Being over-zealous can result in a very small bush with damaged branches too thick to cut with a hedge trimmer.
Do not cut back bushes in the hottest part of the summer. The plants are already stressed, and this could lead to their injury or even death.
Do not trim blooming bushes. Not only will this take away from their natural beauty, it could prevent future blooms, depending on the species.
Properly dispose of the trimmings when the job is complete. Use them in compost or grind them up with a mulcher for nutrients and protection from washouts in gardens or around trees on an incline.