If you want to tackle your own tree trimming, you will want to build up a collection of high quality tools
that are meant for each task. High quality tools and a good maintenance plan allows you to keep the
tools in good working order and sharp for many years to come.
How do you select the best tools for your property?
Since different tools handle different sizes of trees and branches, you will first take a survey of the trees
you want to trim. Take note of the diameter of branches, how high up they are, and if it is alive or dead
wood. Next, you will need to understand what task each type of tool is capable of handling safely.
As always, safety comes first. Trimmers will have safety features that should be used. For example,
some trimmers may fold before they are stored, especially pole pruners. Others may come in a bag to
protect the blades and reduce the chance of injury.
Other things to consider when selecting tree trimming tools
Quality and safety can go hand in hand. The main thing to remember is to use the right tool for the right
- Using a bypass pruner on a branch that is too tough or too large for its intended use can damage both the tree and the pruner.
- Extended poles should be sturdy, or they will flex too much and make the job much more difficult.
- Low quality telescopic poles can slide and twist during your project and wear out much more quickly. Instead, opt for an oval or hexagon pole.
- Ropes or chains inside the pole are safer than outside. Ropes on the outside can easily be tangled in smaller branches.
- Dead wood is harder to cut than live wood, so the recommended diameters may need to be adjusted.
7 Suggested tree trimming tools
1. Pole Tree Pruners – Good for small to medium-sized trees. A pole tree pruner allows you to
reach higher branches without climbing the tree or balancing on a ladder. Just as you don’t want
to run with scissors, you probably don’t want to climb a tree with sharp cutting tools.
Pole tree pruners come in a variety of styles.
Ropeless pole pruners are best for branches 1 inch in diameter or smaller and are great for
beginners. Telescoping models can be 12 feet long.
Traditional manual pole pruners have a curved blade up to 16 inches long. It is mounted on the
end of an adjustable pole and can cut into branches up to 8 inches in diameter—but you will get
Your workout. It is best to use this tool instead of a power tool when dealing with tangled twigs
or a gnarled tree.
Electric pole trimmers have a blade like a hedge trimmer and can reach about 8 feet, but they
are heavy. Works well for tall hedges.
Pole saw and chainsaw can cut logs on the ground or cut branches 15 feet up. Once the branch
falls you can disconnect the chain saw and cut up into smaller pieces.
2. Bypass Lopper – Great for low branches. Look for loppers that have a rust-resistant coating and
non-slip grips for safety. Shock absorbing bumpers are also a plus to reduce vibrations.
Loppers come in varying sizes.
You may opt for a 46-inch-long reach lopper if you have thorny bushes or hard to reach
branches. They can handle up to a half inch diameter.
The 28-inch variety will work for everyday trimming needs of up to 1.5 inches in diameter.
3. Alligator Lopper – Cuts wood up to 4 inches in diameter. The Electric lopper looks like a
combination of a chainsaw and lopping shears.
4. Compound pruner – Best for open branches. It is a combination of a saw and a pruner. When
you are up in the branches, you can easily switch from pruning to sawing.
5. Hand Pruners (pruning shears)– Cuts branches less than ¾ inch in diameter. Great for low lying
crowded branches. The curved cutting blade of a bypass pruner is best for clean and accurate
cuts, especially if you have branches in an awkward angle. Anvil pruning shears have a straight
edge and are best on dead twigs.
6. Electric Chain Saw – Probably the best cutting tool to have in your tree trimming tool kit. It
allows you to cut with speed and precision. Gas powered chainsaws require additional
maintenance, produce emissions and are a bit more difficult to start up.
Battery-powered chainsaws have the benefits of an electric, but there are no power cords and
can be taken further away from the power source. But you do need to remember to keep the
7. Woodchippers – Using a chipper can save you space and money in the long run. Chopping up
branches into manageable sizes can also be time consuming. An added benefit is that the mulch
that is produced by the wood chipper that is used to preserve soil moisture in your garden beds.
Tree trimming safety precautions
- Wearing hard hats and eye protection are recommended, as branches will not always fall where you planned.
- Work boots with a good grip will safeguard you from slipping or twisting your ankle on uneven or wet ground.
- Never trim a tree near an electric power cable, especially when using an extended pole trimmer.
- Thick gloves will protect you from the very sharp blades, and blisters when working on larger
Maintaining your tree trimming tools
If you buy quality and follow a maintenance protocol, your tools can last a very long time. Here are some
Keep your tools sharp – Use a sharpening device or stone on your shears, pole runners, and
loppers, but your chain saw blade should be sharpened professionally.
Sanitize – Just as we are prone to infection in an open wound, so is a fresh cut on a tree. It is
best to sanitize between cuts, especially if dealing with a diseased tree. Another way to
minimize the threat is to do your pruning during dormant season.
Disinfect – Remove risk of bacteria by soaking tools for about two minutes in rubbing alcohol.
Pine-Sol and bleach will corrode metal. After soaking for a couple of minutes, wash with soap
and water and dry completely.
Cleaning – After every use clean the blades thoroughly. You can use mineral spirits on a cloth to
remove any sticky sap.
Lubricate – Follow up with a lubricating oil that will prevent rust, especially in the joints.
If you want to keep the budget low, local garden supply stores may have some of these tools available
for rent. If the job is too dangerous, call your local tree trimming company and speak to their arborist.
Tree trimming is not only a safety concern for you and your family, it also can affect the health of your