When to Use a Lopper and Tree Pruner

By Nikki Tilley | March 15, 2017
Image by Nikki Tiley
by Nikki Tilley
March 15, 2017

Ok, so I will admit that while I use my loppers quite a bit, when it comes to tree pruners, not so much. It’s nothing personal. I’ve just always left that part up to the hubby. But then again, I’ve never really given it much thought until now as to when each tool should actually be used. I mean, have you ever wondered about when to use a lopper versus when to use a tree pruner? I suppose the majority of us simply pull out the loppers for most stuff and forget about it unless something larger needs cutting, say from a recent storm ripping through our neatly trimmed trees. In a case like this, it’s probably not too smart trying to force those loppers we love so much to cut into branches that are just too big for them to handle.

Most loppers are really only suitable for pruning fruit trees and other small trees and shrubs. Though they come in various sizes, branch diameters of 1½ to 2 inches are about all these pruners can take without risking harm to the plant or damaging your tool. Not to mention the shear strength needed to cut through something it simply wasn’t designed to do (guilty). It just isn’t worth it. Both replacement tools and trees can be expensive. That said, a good set of loppers to have on hand (in my opinion) is the Fiskars PowerGear2 loppers. I have found these to be useful for all manner of things around my landscape. Yet, as good as they are, sometimes you need something more ideal for trees.

So how do you know when it’s time for a tree pruner? And what exactly is a tree pruner in the first place? In its most basic form, a tree pruner is simply a type of cutting tool attached to a long pole. Much like loppers, this pruning tool will usually cut limbs up to two inches in diameter (maybe slightly less) but is long enough to prune all those tree branches well beyond your reach so you don’t need to drag out the ladder, which can be dangerous if you’re not careful or you’re someone clumsy like me. Pruning saws, which are normally a part of many standard pole pruners, are able to cut slightly larger and thicker tree branches – the pruners cut by snipping off branches, while the other blade saw is used for “sawing” or cutting through them. There are also pole saws that use a chain-type cutting blade for even larger branches.

So if you find yourself staring at a tall tree in the landscape, which for me isn’t unusual, and there are major limbs in need of cutting, the obvious choice would be the tree pruner. While there are no doubt tons to choose from, I am partial to the Fiskars brand, as with my loppers (and hand pruners too). I’ve simply never had an issue with them; they’re long lasting and comfortable. One tree pruner of their in particular seems to do the trick quite efficiently – the Chain Drive Extendable Pole Saw & Pruner.

If you’re a shorter person like me, at first glance you may be put off by its length, which extends up to 16 feet. Don’t be. This tree pruner has many features, one being safety. And trust me, if I can use this thing, I have no doubt that nearly anyone can. It’s lightweight, easy to handle and locks securely into place with a double locking system. It also has two cutting options, with the pruner trimming smaller, out-of-reach branches up to 1¼ inch thick, and if you need to cut something a little larger, the sturdy 15-inch WoodZig saw blade should handle the task with ease (ease being the key word). The saw comes with a special hooked end that prevents the blade from slipping too; again, making it not only easier to cut with but takes the worry out of accidents.

But it’s the chain-drive gearing that makes this tree pruner far more superior than any other, to me anyway, as it gives you up to three times more cutting power. And since I found this tree pruner easy enough to use, I no longer need to call on my husband to take care of all my beyond-reach projects, which I think he approves of, although it’s probably a good idea to have him around should I, in all my clumsy glory, wind up tripping on a tree branch I’ve just triumphantly cut.

The above article was sponsored by Fiskars. The information contained in this article may contain ads or advertorial opinions.
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