How to use a pole pruner?

How to Use a Tree Pruner

There can be a number of reasons why you would want to prune a tree, varying from safety, to health and aesthetics, and with the right tools such as a tree pruner and some basic safety precautions, it can be easily done without resulting to the other options; such as that of hiring a gardener. Before starting, it must be kept in mind that even if a ladder seems like a necessary tool, in reality using one can be extremely dangerous. Instead use tree pruners with telescopic extendable poles to reach those high branches while your feet are well planted safely on the ground.

Step 1: Initial Planning

Before starting you have to have a clear idea of how you want the finished product to look. Locate the branches that are diseased, damaged, dead, rubbing against each other or that look out of place. Remember that once you cut a branch you cannot reattach it back in place and therefore good planning is required.

Step 2: Choose The Right Time

It is easier to shape the tree when there aren’t a lot of leaves blocking your view. Best season therefore to prune your trees would be during winter or early spring when the tree would have shed most of not all its leaves.

Step 3: Take Hold Of The Appropriate Tree Pruner

Once having a clear plan, get the tree pruner and lift it slowly towards the branch you want to cut. Some pruners have their blade folded inwards for safety. Make sure to unfold it if you have such a pruner and tighten the blot to keep the blade in place. For bushes, pruning shears can be used. These open and close just like a pair of scissors. For branches that are too high, unscrew the telescopic pole pruner and extend until required height. Screw back tightly the pole so that it stays extended. Even if the telescopic extendible pruner looks easy to use, it can get stressful on your back.

Step 4: Only Use Pruners Which Have Sharp Blades

In case of a pruner that has its blade housed in a hook and is attached to a rope, place the pruner close to the branch and pull the rope so that the blade cuts through the branch. Make sure that the blade is sharp as dull blades will give a jagged edge rather than smooth cut. In case of tree pruners that have a saw blade, start sawing the branch as if you are using a normal hand saw.

Step 5: Prune Inside The Node

If you want a shorter branch, it is advisable to prune inside the node, whereas pruning the branch outside the node will give you a longer branch. Do not fall into the temptation of cutting a branch too close to the tree when pruning as the tree will heal quicker when a little bit of the branch is left.

With these simple steps you are sure to manage pruning your trees and getting the desired results. Always remember not to stand underneath the branch you are cutting and always wear proper protective gloves and eye wear to protect your hands and face.

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Pole saws can be a little more difficult to use and control than a normal saw due to their handle length. That’s not to say it’s hard to master one of these tools, once you get the hang of it.

There are three major uses for a pole saw:

  • Brush Clearing – The process of using a pole saw to clear out undergrowth and other ground cover for the purpose of construction or fire control.
  • Pruning – Cutting selected branches to shape a tree for decoration or improved growth over the next year. This requires careful cutting and planning for the best effect. Never prune in the autumn, and plan your pruning season to coincide with the desired results.
  • Trimming – This is the removal of dead, dying, or obstructing branches for the purpose of safety or necessity.

Using a Manual Pole Saw

Manual pole saws are more efficient at pruning and can be a good substitute for a manual pruning saw, but less efficient at trimming and brush clearing.

You will need to plan ahead carefully for each cut. This involves where to cut (a few inches from the main trunk is best unless you’re shaping the tree) and figuring out where and how the branch will fall.

Anything at risk should be cleared out from below the branch in question before cutting starts. You may wish to cut where the branch is horizontal, as angled cuts are far more difficult.

Before making the cut, ensure your target branch isn’t too heavy. A burdened branch can split during the cutting process, harming the tree.

Instead, you should trim the branch from closer to the tip and work your way back towards the primary cutting point until the branch is light enough to safely cut.

Create a groove in the branch so you have a channel to work down through. This helps to not only prevent damaging the tree from slippage but will allow you to keep better balance.

Saw slowly from the top down, using long, measured strokes. Remember, only one side is supported, so going too fast could result in a split. When the branch is 1.5 inches or less, you can simply snip it with the clipper attachment.

Using a Powered Pole Saw

Using a powered saw (gas or electric) means a much rougher cut, similar to what you would get with a full size chainsaw. This is fine for trimming and brush clearing, but terrible for pruning (unless you’re trimming down a branch to reduce the weight before pruning, at which point a rough cut won’t matter).

Brush cutting is a simple matter of powering up and gently running the pole saw in front of you as you would a weed whacker. In some extremely large areas, you might find pole saws being used while attached to a tractor or skid steer.

Trimming follows the same general process as pruning, but with less attention to planning for the tree’s health. As these branches are dead or dying, removal will benefit the tree and perform a task that would likely happen anyway.

Dead branches are more prone to cracking and breakage, resulting in the dead limb falling off and leaving behind a rough stump. Trimming with an electric pole saw is fast and provides a less rough cut than if the branch were to fall naturally.

Can I Use a Pole Saw on a Ladder?

The whole purpose of a pole saw is to eliminate the need for stools and ladders. Some pole saw brands offer extensions to help with out-of reach branches. So even though it’s possible to use a pole saw on a ladder, you really shouldn’t.

In the event you still can’t reach the branch, it’s best to call in a professional. Remember, not only does a pole saw alter your center of gravity, but falling branches become increasingly dangerous the higher they are.

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Tree Pruners

Tree pruners are needed for removing high branches that regular loppers simply cannot reach.

Tree trimming tools come in a variety of options: Extendable Tree Saws have an aggressive saw blade at the end of an extendable pole, allowing you to take down thick, high branches from the ground. Extendable Tree Pruners offer the same benefit – just with a pruning blade at the end; the Extendable Pole Saw & Trimmer includes both. For even faster, easier cuts, look to our Chain Drive Extendable Pole Saw, featuring chain-drive gearing for up to 3x more cutting power than a traditional tree trimmer, also with both cutting options attached to the end.

Our Lightweight Extendable Tree Pruner offers a less unwieldy option with superior comfort and control. For a tree trimmer that reaches into tight spaces, our Low-profile Extendable Tree Pruner features a low-profile head that prevents tangles so you can do just that. And for versatile cuts on both high and low branches – without ladders, kneeling or bending – the Pruning Stik® Tree Pruner offers an extendable, rope- free design for two-handed control that eliminates snags and tangles.

Replacement pruner and saw blades are also available for all of our tree pruners.

How To Trim A Tree

Choosing the right tool for a cutting job mostly hinges on the size of branches you’ll be pruning. Cutting smaller branches is always ideal because a tree can seal a small wound more easily than a larger one.

You’ll have an easier time pruning if you tackle intentional pruning when trees are young.

Hand Pruner

Grab hand pruners when you’re cutting branches with a diameter of 1 inch or less. For the cleanest cuts, choose bypass pruners, which cut like a pair of scissors, with a curved cutting blade that slides past a lower broad blade.


Also called lopping shears, a lopper is the tool of choice for cutting branches 2 inches in diameter. The lopper label should specify the branch size it will cut. Again, bypass cutting blades yield a cleaner cut without crushing plant tissues. Some lopper designs include a gear-like feature that increases cutting power, essentially multiplying your effort. Look for loppers with handles in varying lengths, including ones that telescope to extend your reach.

Pruning Saw

Most pruning saws are designed to cut branches with a diameter of 3 inches, although with more effort you can use them to cut slightly larger branches. Blades are tempered metal and remain sharp for many uses. Unlike many saws, pruning saws cut on the pull stroke as well as on the push stroke, so that every movement of the saw produces a cut.

Rope Saw

A rope saw uses a chain-type cutting blade and is ideal for cutting branches 5 inches in diameter, although it will cut through thicker limbs with more effort. Most rope saws allow you to stand on the ground and cut limbs up to 25 feet high. Simply add extension ropes to increase the reach.


A chainsaw provides the cleanest cut when you’re dealing with limbs thicker than 3 inches. If your pruning job requires a chainsaw, it’s recommended that you contact a certified arborist.

Pole Pruner

A pole pruner allows you to cut branches that are beyond your reach. Most pole pruners cut limbs up to 2 inches in diameter. For the cleanest, healthiest cuts, choose a bypass-style pruner. For versatility in tackling larger branches, purchase a pole pruner that includes interchangeable cutting tools for the pruning head: a bypass pruner and a pruning saw.

Tool Maintenance

Sharp tools produce the best cuts and reduce cutting fatigue. Use a sharpening stone or device to hone cutting edges of hand pruners, loppers and pole pruners. For dull pruning saws, have them professionally sharpened or install a replacement blade. Learn to sharpen rope saws and chainsaws yourself, or have them professionally sharpened.

Sanitize tools between cuts, especially when you know you’re dealing with a diseased tree. Pruning cuts provide the perfect entry point for disease organisms such as bacteria, fungi or other microorganisms. You can reduce the need for sanitizing tools between cuts by pruning during the dormant season, when disease organisms are inactive.

To disinfect tools between cuts, immerse blades for 1-2 minutes in rubbing alcohol, Lysol or Listerine. Bleach and Pine-Sol also sanitize tools, but corrode metal. If you use these items, clean tools with soap and water after immersing them in the sanitizing solution. Dry thoroughly before using.

After use, clean cutting blades. Remove sticky sap by wiping blades with a rag dipped in some type of solvent (mineral spirits, turpentine, etc.). Rub blades with lubricating oil to prevent rust. Lubricating joints and moving parts keeps tools operating smoothly.

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