From fruit-picking to keeping our hedges trimmed and well-behaved, having the right ladder to use out and about in the garden is not just convenient but crucial, as well. Picking the wrong sort of ladder for the job – one that’s too high, too low, or intended for indoor use – ups the likelihood of an accident with you straining yourself trying to prune your garden, falling off or having the ladder knocked out under you. But how do you know which ladders are the right choice?
For starters, they have to meet certain criteria – they need to be tough enough to withstand outside use, lightweight for portability but also sturdy enough, with the appropriate duty rating, to hold your weight along with the weight of your gear and tools, keeping you steady without the risk of losing your balance as you work. You also need to figure out the right height to suit your needs – typically, you want to be able to look over the top of the hedge at the highest standing level (4 rungs down from the top of an extension ladder and 2 rungs down from the top of a step ladder), at about shoulder level so you don’t strain your arms or shoulders as you clip away.
Get an idea of how tall your hedges are to accurately measure the desired height of your ladder, so you get the right degree of elevation and support as you work. Though the needs of different gardening-enthusiasts will be different, we’ve rounded up a versatile array of picks for the best ladder for hedge trimming.
Little Giant Ladder Systems Alta-One Model 13 Ladder System
We’ll get this out of the way first – this ladder is heavier than your typical lightweight aluminum piece. But we feel this con is quickly overshadowed by the impressive list of pros the brand has to offer, especially with the versatility of this unit. In fact, although it is technically one ladder, it packs the functionality of up to 16 different configurations within it. The 13-foot long ladder has triple-lock hinges and telescoping sides that can be readjusted so you can use this as anything from an A-frame ladder to an extension one, to a trestle-and-plank scaffolding option too. In short, you’re spoilt for choice picking the most comfortable option to let you get at those pesky out of shape hedges for a good trim.
With a duty rating of 250 pounds, this unit is constructed out of heavy-wall, aircraft-grade aluminum, so not only will you not have to worry about durability, but you’ll also feel much safer spending time on it thanks to how sturdy and stable it is. Although it’s heavier than many aluminum ladders on the market, this also contributes toward a greater degree of balance and rigidity, both important for safety when you’re elevated off the ground and working with tools. Stability is enhanced also by the wide-flared legs of the unit, with rubberized pads to hold them safely in position. The flexibility offered by the different configuration options also lets you figure out and use the most convenient position for trimming your hedges, adjusted to the right size and ladder mode so you can go about it without straining yourself or pulling any risky gymnastics to reach. The different configurations also mean you don’t have to relegate this ladder only for gardening use – it can be modified for anything from changing lightbulbs in high-ceilinged rooms to cleaning out rain gutters, making it pretty much the all-rounder of ladders.
KEN’S BUDGET PICK
Best Choice Products Shade 3 Step Ladder
One of the things we immediately liked about this ladder is the tray included as or in the place of the top step. This may be a simple addition to make to a ladder, but makes a world of difference to the gardener who finds him or herself with too many tools to manage without opting for a utility belt or coveralls with endless pockets, or making countless trips up and down the ladder to switch out their gear.
But that’s not all. The wide steps are a huge plus, serrated surfaces offering better grip and friction and making it easier to plant our feet as we get about business, toolbox or gear safely within reach on the top rung/tray. Top-grade steel construction also makes this a sturdy and highly durable unit, foldable for convenient storage when not in use. The ladder has an impressive duty rating of 330 pounds, and has a height of roughly 27 inches or a little over 2 feet (from the top step to the ground), rubberized anti-skid pads at the feet making it perfect for use both indoors and out.
VonHaus 2 Step Stool Ladder
For those jobs that require a little more leverage than a stepping stool or chair can provide, this rugged two-step ladder is perfect for the job. A great option for moderately sized hedges, this compact unit has a duty rating of 330 pounds, its heavyweight functionality not to be underestimated compared to its smaller size. Constructed out of highly durable, highly sturdy powder-coated steel, the roomy steps of the ladder are spacious enough to give you a comfortable foothold without compromising your balance, metal treads increasing friction and grip to keep you from slipping. The unit features a foam-cushioned handrail and rubberized feet to prevent skidding on even surfaces, the top step measuring about 20 inches (a little over 1 and ½ feet) from the ground. Weighing about 14 pounds, this is a portable and convenient unit to move around without breaking a sweat when tending to your garden.
HBTower 3 Step Ladder, Folding Step Stool
Another ladder ideal where you need an extra boost to reach the top of your hedges (or that hard to reach kitchen cupboard or lamp sconce with the lightbulb burning out), this unit is available at both 2, 3 and 4 step versions/heights. The wide, roomy steps of the ladder are an immediate plus for allowing us a secure and comfortable foothold, the serrated rubber surfaces of the steps offering the right degree of friction to prevent you from slipping or losing your balance. The unit is also extremely portable, weighing just shy of 12 pounds and with an intuitive folding system that lets you stow it away without eating into too much storage space. Compact and perfect for use both indoors and out, this unit has a duty rating of up to 500 pounds!