When to Use a Lopper and Tree Pruner – Gardening Know How’s

Sooner or later, you’ll need a lopper or a tree pruner if you have some trees, flowers, or just a shrub in your compound.

While removing those uncontrolled growths or dead branches is essential in keeping the trees and flowers flourishing, using the right assortment of tools saves you both time and energy, leaving your plants well-manicured.

This article will detail things you need to know about your gardening tools and the appropriate tools to use in each application to keep your plants healthy and free from those rose bushes.

Choosing Between a Lopper and a Tree Pruner

Loppers and tree pruners are essential tools in your pruning arsenal, which work best under different circumstances. The width of the tree you intend to cut determines which type of tool to use.

Generally, most tree pruners are lighter and suitable for usage with just one hand, whereas loppers need holding with two hands to operate.

  • Loppers work best in cutting medium-sized branches, usually too big for hand pruners. Such stems are always between 1-1.5 inches or thinner.
  • Pruners are smaller hand-held tools predominantly used in cutting thinner stems and branches of about one inch or lower. These tools are mainly applied when trimming flower beds.

Important: You’ll need a pruning saw for thicker branches/stems, usually above two inches, which loppers may not be able to cut.

Types of Loppers and Pruners

Loppers and pruners come in different types differentiated mainly by the blade design. Therefore, it is vital to know when to use a pair of bypass loppers or pruners and which application will suit the use of anvil loppers or pruners.


Bypass loppers and pruners are the most common blades used in cutting live branches and stems. The blade cuts in a scissor-like motion creating cleaner and more precise cuts. It’s essential to keep the blades clean and sharp to maintain their smooth cuts.


Anvil loppers and pruners cut by crushing, which makes them ideal for chopping and pruning dead branches. Their blades tend to slice to, instead of cutting past the lower immovable base.

Anvil exerts a lot of force when cutting, making the cuts less precise than bypass blades, making them ideal for cutting dry and dead stems.

Types of Loppers and Pruners

How to Use Loppers and Pruners

Pruning can be enjoyable and less weary with proper precautions and procedures observed.

Below are tips, which, when adequately observed, will make your gardening a breeze.

Proper Positioning

It’s a no-brainer that pruning branches overhead can be dangerous, which is why you need to position yourself slightly away to give space for the falling branches. The same should apply when using a ladder to cut taller branches.

Likewise, cutting thicker stems can take a toll on your arms, so it’s essential to take an appropriate stance with feet positioned apart.

To protect your hands from thorns and blisters, remember to put on gloves. Also, remember to keep your wrists straight when wearing a sports brace.

Branch Lopping

Proper lopping techniques for both anvil and bypass blade design follow similar procedures.

First, hook the branch as deep as possible into the jaws of your pruner or lopper (shallow insertion stresses the tool and reduces cutting power), then close the handles by applying some force.

Avoid cutting with the tips of the blade as it will make cutting both difficult and risk bending the blade edges when cutting rigid material.

Branch Lopping

Don't Overuse Loppers and Pruners

You can easily be tempted to use your lopper or pruner for cutting just any material that other tools would do better.

For branches bigger than two inches, do not force your loppers on them; instead, you may need different tools such as a pruning saw, which will easily manoeuvre more rigid material.

Note: Try to minimise friction for easier cutting. For instance, when felling a tree, start by cutting the branches and finish up with the trunk.

Maintenance Tips

Like any other gardening tool, loppers and pruners need proper maintenance to operate effectively.

Below are some tips to keep your pruning tools at optimum performance.

Proper Cleaning

Use steel wool to clean and polish your pruner or lopper bevel face.  A rag and some solvent such as WD-40 will also work well in removing sawdust on the pruning tools. You may use alcohol to remove sap or a putty knife to scrape them off.

Cleaning is an effective way of removing rust on the tools and also helps maintain the tools’ factory glow. Make sure the bevel surfaces are smooth to reduce friction during cuts.

Blade Sharpening

Use a diamond file to sharpen your pruners and lopper bevels. Hold the tool in a vice and press the file firmly but not too hard.

For bypass loppers, sharpen the secondary bevel at the same angle as the factory bevel, usually at about 30 degrees. Sharpen both sides for anvil loppers.

Confirm if the pivot bolt has loosened after sharpening by twisting the handles. If loose, tighten them back but not so much causing restriction in opening and closing.

Adjustment and Oiling

Jamming in both bypass and anvil tools is caused by loosened jaws from overuse. To fix this, use two wrenches on both sides of the nut and tighten the blade.

If the blade is bent, use a hammer to tap it slightly back to position.

Oil all the pivot joints and wipe off anything excess to prevent rusting. You may test to see if the lopper is loose and tighten it back.


A lopper and a tree pruner are both essential parts of any pruning tools collection.

However, gardening goes beyond branch and twig pruning, which is why it is crucial to keep other tools such as a pruning saw on standby for applications that exceed the power of your loppers.

Just keep in mind that you’ll need your loppers for cutting branches of one to one and a half inches, while pruners will work well for cutting thinner stems measuring one inch and below.



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