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A Survey of Pruning Tools

Find the right tool for trimming your shrubs and trees

Gary Junken

Whether you are pruning hedges, shrubs, or fruit trees, the right tool makes all the difference. In this clip from Fine Gardening’s Pruning DVD, horticulturist Lee Reich, Ph.D., of New Paltz, New York, and author of The Pruning Book, examines the key features on an array of pruning implements. You’ll learn what the tools do and what to consider when shopping for a new hand pruner, lopper, saw, pole pruner, or hedge shears. Which tool you pick depends on the size branch you’re trying to cut. Never prune a limb with a tool that is too small for the job, because it won’t make a clean cut and could break or bend the tool.

Here are the tool options:

  1. Your thumbnail. This is best used for pinching small, succulent stems.
  2. Hand shears. These are used for cutting branches up to ½ inch diameter. There are two types of blade options: bypass and anvil. Things to consider when selecting a pair of hand shears are how it feels in your hand, how easy it is to unlock, how heavy it is, and whether it has an ergonomic angle.
  3. Loppers. You can use these for branches up to 1 inch diameter. Loppers come with both anvil or bypass blades as well.
  4. Hand saw. This type of saw is best for slicing through branches 1 to 1½ inch diameter. Hand saws cut on the backstroke. Grecian saws are a type of hand saw with a curved blade and are preferred by many master pruners.
  5. Bow saw. Use this saw for cutting branches from 1½ to 6 inch diameter (or bigger). Bow saws have replaceable blades.
  6. Pole pruner. This tool is helpful for reaching higher branches on the smaller side.
  7. Pole saw. For reaching higher branches on the larger side, use this tool.
  8. Hedge shears. Some higher-end models have a hook blade (notches for cutting larger stems) and rubber bumpers.
Previous: How to Properly Sanitize Your Pruning Tools Next: How to Sharpen Pruners Quickly
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  1. user-7519263 08/04/2019

    Very useful primer! Thank you!

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