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Tools For Trimming Tree Branches – Learn How To Prune Trees

Are you trying to figure out which are the best tools for trimming tree branches? If you have a tree with lower limbs that need to be removed or shortened because they are bumping your head while you mow the grass or maybe the limbs are hanging over your driveway and are beginning to scrape your car as you drive in and out. Either way that needs to be taking care of as it will continue to get worse!

There are several tools for trimming tree branches you will be able to chose from that will do the job for you. Some of these tools are better for small diameter limbs and some are better for much bigger branches, it depends on what type of work you need done.

Below you will find several tools for trimming tree branches, ranging from a small one handed pruners to the powerful chainsaw. Using cutting tools like these are an important part of my work trimming trees and I want to show you what each tool is used for.

Chainsaw – Powerful And CutsThe Big Branches

A chainsaw is one of the most popular tools for trimming tree branches, and is the cutting tool we use most in our family owned Tree Pruning and Removal business. My favorite brand of chainsaw is STIHL, but there are many other brands that will get the job done!

I use the chainsaw when I am cutting larger branches. Sometimes we are pruning the tree and cut the branches about in half or sometimes just remove a few feet. Other times there are dead branches that need to be taken out of the tree.

Often we need to cut several branches from near the bottom of the tree trunk. These lower limbs should have been removed when the tree was younger but now they are pretty big and shading the grass beneath the tree. These limbs need to be cut off so more sunlight can shine beneath the tree and help the grass grow better.

Using the chainsaw for this job is an easy way to quickly cut them off if you can reach them by standing on the ground. First make an undercut on the branch about 2 feet from the tree trunk. Cut about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way up then cut from the top down until the branch breaks off. Making this under cut will prevent the bark on the bottom of the branch from stripping back and down the trunk of the tree when the branch tears of.

Then move the chainsaw to the tree trunk and cut off the last 2-foot stub. Cut close to the branch collar so the tree can grow over the cut and heal itself.

Next you can use the chainsaw to cut any other lower limbs the same way. Then use the chainsaw to cut the branches on the ground into manageable lengths to be dragged away. Any firewood you want to save can be cut into 14 – 18 inch lengths and stacked on a pile to dry.

It is always a good idea to wear personal protection equipment while operating a chainsaw. I often wear a hard hat/helmet with earmuffs and a face screen. My favorite helmet is a STHIL Pro Mark. Any type of leather work gloves will protect your hands. Wells Lamont makes a leather work glove I like. Ear protection when operating a chainsaw is essential and if I am not wearing my helmet, the yellow E.A.R. foam earplugs are a favorite of mine!

Loppers – Cuts Many Different Branches

A loppers is one of the best tools for trimming tree branches up to about 2 inches in diameter. It is a fairly small and simple tool and can be used for multiple things around the home. This loppers will make clean cuts and is a good tool to use where the branch is smaller and would be shaking if a chainsaw would be used to cut.

Just the other day I was using our loppers to prune a pine tree. The tree was a medium-sized tree and the homeowner wanted all the longer branches shortened to tuck the tree together and give it a nice even look. First go around the bottom and use the loppers to cut the pine branches, then use a stepladder or in my case I was using the bucket truck because it was a fairly high tree. Keep working around the tree and toward the top until finally I am at the top and finished!

Another recent job I used the loppers was a small deciduous tree that we needed to reduce all around. I started at the bottom and removed several limbs that didn’t need to be there or where hanging to low. Then started reaching higher and cutting the tips back until the tree was the size I wanted. When I couldn’t reach any higher I used our extension pole pruner to be able to cut the top branches!

Maybe you have a maple or oak tree in your front yard and like to have the branches pretty low, but don’t want them swatting your face as you mow the grass or walk beneath the tree. By using a loppers you can reach up and easily cut off any offending branches without harming any of the main structure.

On these smaller branches from pine and fruit trees a chainsaw would not make as smooth of a cut as a sharp loppers will. For branches being cut against the trunk a chainsaw will work great because the branch will be sturdy, but the farther you work from the trunk and the thinner the branch the less sturdy it is.

Pruning Shears – Small With Precision Cutting

A pruning shears is the smallest of tools for trimming tree branches and is also ideal for trimming shrubs and garden plants. A pruning shears is a small sharp scissors like tool operated with one hand and designed for cutting wood and woody plants around 1 inch diameter or less.

I use our pruning shears to make precision cuts when trimming shrubs and other small trees. It is small enough to fit in my pocket so I can carry it around and use it whenever I need it.

On small trees the pruning shears can make a smooth and close cut to cleanly remove any unnecessary or crooked branches that will eventually cause problems for the tree’s health down the road.

Often times a young tree will grow branches too low on the trunk or sprout out from the trunk to near another main branch. By using a pruning shears and removing these branches before they get big will help the tree in the long run, plus the tree will easily heal and grow over a small cut much quicker than a big cut.

Perhaps you have a garden and need some type of cutting tool to cut your flowers or trim your vegetable plants. The pruners is a great tool to use in your garden and is especially useful for cutting berry bushes like raspberries and blueberries.

Pole Saw And Pruner – Reach Those High Limbs

The pole saw and pruner are excellent tools for trimming tree branches that are higher than I can reach. This tool consist of either a saw blade or pruner on the end of a fiberglass extension handle. Some brands have a single handle while others have several handles that can be connected to easily reach 20 feet or higher! The saw is similar to a small hand saw and the pruner has a rope hanging down to pull to operate the cutters in the pruner.

Using the saw is a lot of work as it must be sawn by hand. Decide where the branch needs to be cut and set the saw on top of the branch and begin sawing until its cut off.

The pruner is much more efficient and one of the go to tools for trimming tree branches that are small but still out of reach. The pruner is a bit more complex but is still easier and faster for branches around 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Place the pruners over the branch and pull the rope to close the pruner, cutting the branch!

In our work I mostly use the pruner to cut branches. And if they are too thick for it I will use our gas pole saw with a chainsaw on it. A job I did recently using the pole pruner was a small tree that need to be reduced all around. Walking around the tree and selecting limbs to cut, I place the pole pruner head over the branch and pulled on the rope to cut each one off. It didn’t take long until I had the tree tucked together and evenly shaped!

The pole pruners will work great for any small limbs that need to be removed, whether they are growing from the middle of the tree or are hanging to low in your lawn. Decide which limb you want to cut and reach up and cut the small branch where it meets the main branch.

Gas Or Battery Powered Pole Saw

Any list of tools for trimming tree branches wouldn’t be complete without the tool I use the most when our job requires removing lower limbs from trees so sunlight can shine beneath the tree and help the grass grow better.

They make a wide variety of these pole saws, some are gas powered while others are electric or battery powered but the goal remains the same. To provide a safe way to cut bigger branches that are out of reach. The chainsaw bar can cut up to a 12-inch diameter branch.

Our pole saw has a gas engine to power the chainsaw on the other end. Through the handle is a steel drive shaft that connects from the motor to the chainsaw. It has multiple extension pieces that can be bought separately that are each about 42 inches long. Each of these extensions can be added between the motor and the chainsaw to extend the reach until it is too heavy to handle!

I usually use one extension which make the tool about 10 feet long and cut all the lower limbs first. For any other higher branches I can add more extensions. With 3 extensions plus the motor and chainsaw the total tool length would be about 17 feet and getting pretty heavy to handle!

Recently we had a job that needed 3 trees pruned. They wanted the trees reduced all around with some lower limbs completely removed. Also, the middle of the tree was somewhat full of small branches growing with no room to grow and would be shaded out by the main structure.

I used our gas pole saw and worked from the bottom while a co-worker worked from the top with the bucket truck. First I cut off all the obvious branches then was more precise as I kept working around the tree. Reaching up and sawing any branches that would grow back down or that would be rubbing a main branch.

When I had enough of clearance from the ground I worked on the inside of the tree against the trunk. Being careful to make clean cuts and not damage the tree trunk I cut of these smaller branches that were clogging the inside of the tree.

Keep Your Trees Nice!

By showing you the tools for trimming tree branches, I believe you are ready to prune your own trees! Remember to be cautious with the sharp tools and make sure everybody is clear while branches are falling from the tree! Have an enjoyable day shaping your trees and removing any branches you don’t like.

If you have any questions or would like to share an experience you had while trimming trees I would welcome you to leave them in the comments below.

Your Arborist Friend: Justin

12 thoughts on “Tools For Trimming Tree Branches – Learn How To Prune Trees”

  1. Trimming tree branches and maintaining plants around my backyard is a quite a tedious job…and without these tools it would be a nightmare. I really like the way you have explained the usage of every tool, this really helps in understanding the merit of each tool. I usually seek help to cut the tree branches from our neighborhoods as I am just not adept at these tasks. That said after reading your post & understanding various tool…the next time I don’t mind accompanying my friend in trimming the branches at our backyard and giving it a try.

    Reply
    • Happy to help you! I hope you have a great time while learning something new. Trimming tree branches is not as hard as it may seem, you just need to start and learn as you go!

      Reply
  2. Hi Justin,

    I feel like I’ve come across your website just in time! I just bought a house in September, and our entire backyard border is lined with 2-3 different kinds of trees. It’s a little unkempt to say the least, and we’re planning on tackling it in the spring. I own and have used loppers for tree and bush trimming in the past, but I think we may have to invest in a pole saw and pruner too, at the very least. Hopefully none of the branches that are coming into our yard are wider than 2″ in diameter.

    Thanks so much for such an informative article!
    Jade

    Reply
  3. Justin,

    I actually didn’t know about the tools for getting high up in the trees! I’m glad I know this now since I thought I needed to hire experts to get up there. I have a large tree in my front yard that I’m been trying to keep neat and tidy for years. I love it, so I wouldn’t want to get rid of it, but the branches hang so low that when I pull my truck into the driveway, the branches scratch the top. It drives me nuts to hear the scream of branches on the top of my vehicle!

    Now I know I can get the pole saw for high up branches that I can’t reach. Of course, I’ll make my hubby do this for me! 🙂

    Thanks for the information!

    Katrina

    Reply
    • Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. You are the kind of person I am trying help by showing you the tools for trimming tree branches and how easily you can take care of the problem. I believe you will soon have your tree branches trimmed so they stop scraping the truck or your head when you walk beneath the tree.

      Reply
  4. I live on a big property and there are many trees. Some are still young and growing, but there are others that could use some pruning. I am a little scared of using the chainsaw – I’ve never used it before – but I would use the loppers. They seem like a good tool.
    Pruning shears will also come in very useful, since there are many of the thinner branches sticking out and the pruning shears will be perfect for those.

    Reply
    • Chainsaw’s can be intimidating for a beginner but you will learn!
      If you have younger trees the loppers will probably do the job for you!
      Keep the tree pruned before it gets to big and your job will be much easier!

      Reply
  5. it seems I have got all in one place. Thanks for the tips and info. That’s exactly what I needed.

    I have already used the chainsaw in the past when I was going to the forest with my grandmother. Seeing this is giving me memories.

    However, that’s the first time I’m hearing about the pole saw and the pruner. It seems to be efficient.

    I also have a question about the battery-powered pole saw, base on what I can see on the image, is it not dangerous? I mean, for the eyes? And is it comfortable enough to be standing and holding it, or is it heavy?

    Reply
    • Glad to be of help!
      Using a chainsaw is exciting! A lot of wood can be cut in a short amount of time!
      The pole saw is great for reaching high branches.
      We wear a hard hat with eye and ear protection on it and the tool can become heavy after a while, but the branch can support the weight while I am sawing.

      Reply
  6. For years I have had severe backpain, so my husband does all the pruning. But I am always standing at the side giving directions, LOL. I miss being able to work in the garden.

    What I am wondering; what energy source do chainsaws use? I thought diesel, but maybe there are electric ones as well? Or batteries like the pole saw has?

    Of the other tools you describe, we have the lopper and the shears. I never knew there are such long pole saws. Wow. We left a lot of tools in the Netherlands when we emigrated, so we have to build up our collection. This article comes in handy with deciding what is necessary!

    Reply
    • Back pain sure is a nuisance and limits the work you can do.
      Our chainsaws run of off gas with a mixture of oil to keep them from overheating. The battery chainsaws have become the favorite for many people.
      The extension handles for the pole saw are nice to reach higher branches.
      Have a good time pruning your trees!

      Reply

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