Comparing garden loppers with pruning saws for cutting down branches on trees effectively

Pruning is a vital part of keeping your trees looking and growing healthily and is a technique that any gardener should make themselves not only familiar with but well-versed in too.

There is no shortage of tools designed to help with your running duties. From small secateurs to powerful electric pruning saws, the choices seem almost endless, but picking the right tool for the right job is what you need to know.

Today, we will look at the different tools that are available and in particular, compare garden loppers with pruning saws to shine a little light on the subject for you, and allow you to choose the right pruning tool for your gardening tasks.

One thing I will say before we start is that if you have tall trees, please don’t climb up in them like in this photo, and use a good tripod ladder, or long-reach chainsaw instead.

Reasons to prune your tree

We all know that trees and hedges can provide our gardens with much-needed shade and privacy, and we have articles on those subjects on this very site that you can check out by following the likes we have provided for you.

However, if they are left to grow without any pruning, you may find that some branches end up blocking access to your shed, scratch the windows on your house, reach over into your neighbour’s property, or end up colliding with wiring and other things.

Proper pruning is a good way to keep your trees ‘balanced’ and this will reduce the risk of branches dying out and then falling to the ground, which can be quite dangerous if the branches are a good size. if the tree is too far gone, you right have to cut down the tree, but we have an article on how to cut a tree down safely that you can read.

Pruning can help prevent damage from insects too, by reducing the amount of sap that the tree produces and therefore being less enticing for said creatures. You may also find that there is less chance of getting a fungal problem on a properly pruned tree.

Flower and fruit production can be improved if the trees are pruned correctly and at the right times, but every tree is different, so please look into the proper way to prune your specific trees before cutting any branches.

Different types of pruning tools


Here we will briefly look at the different types of tools used for pruning, and what they are best used for.


Secateurs are also known as pruning shears, or simply as clippers, and are small pruning tools that resemble scissors, and can be held in one hand.

There are two main types of secateurs: the anvil type and the scissor-type, known as bypass secateurs. Anvil secateurs have one sharpened bladed that ‘hammers’ into a blunt one, while the bypass type has two sharpened blades and therefore provides a better cut.

These tools are meant to be used to prune smaller tree branches and shrubs and are not the right choice of you have branches thicker than half an inch. Another thing to be aware of is that they do require quite a bit of hand strength, although you can buy ratchet pruning shears to help if you have problems in that department.

Or, you could just grab two samurai swords and do this 😂

Garden Loppers

Basically, loppers are long-handled pruning shears and are also available in the anvil or bypass design. Because their longer handles allow you more leverage, and their larger and wider blades are stronger, loppers can handle much thicker branches than secateurs and are often used for pruning fruit trees.

The long handles come in very handy for reaching up to cut branches overhead too, but just be careful that you don’t bring the branch down on top of you. I think a hard hat is always a good idea whenever you are pruning branches at heights.

Generally speaking, anvil loppers are better used for cutting off dead branches, as it doesn’t matter if the branch is crushed in the process. However, for branches that are still alive, the bypass type is preferred because the cleaner cuts can help the tree to recover from the damage, and with the right kind of watering, soil, and sunlight, they should recover just fine.

FYI- A good brand to lookout for when it comes to loppers is Fiskars, who create excellent gardening tools, just like these loppers-

Pruning saws

For branches up to 2 inches in diameter, a hand pruning saw can be a very effective tool, but anything larger than that should really be handled with a powered pruner or a chainsaw, whether that’s an electric chainsaw or petrol one.

Pruning saws come in a variety of styles and sizes, such as folding versions which are easy to carry around in holster or connected to your belt, long reach pruning saws that are fixed on the end of a long pole and are used to reach high branches without the use of a tripod ladder, and electric and petrol-powered pruning saws for dealing with more heavy-duty tasks.

There are pruning saws with curved blades and ones with straight blades, and both do a good job, however, I would say that curved blades are better for cutting larger branches.

This video shows you an expert discussing what he thinks is good technique with a running saw-


Comparing garden loppers with pruning saws

To keep things simple and a little fairer, we will emit any power tools from this comparison and just look at the hand tool versions.

Pruning saws tend to be quite a bit cheaper than garden loppers, and it is possible to get your hands on a decent folding saw for under 15 pounds. Pole saws and extendable pruning saws will cost more than that, but you can get one of those for around 30-40 pounds, which is about the same price as an average lopper. Having said that, Gardena has a great long reach bypass lopper on sale for over 60 pounds, but it is worth paying the extra for such a great tool.

Both of these tools will do their job well if used for the right kind of jobs. Loppers aren’t as good for thicker branches as pruning saws, but they do get the job done quicker on smaller branches.

Obviously, long-reach versions of these tools are a little cumbersome, just like long reach hedge trimmers, and that can’t be avoided, but even standard loppers are pretty big and can’t be carried in a pocket or anything like that, which puts them at a disadvantage when compared to a folding pruning saw.

If we are talking about the long-reach loppers v the long-reach pruning saws and not the powered versions, I personally prefer the loppers as I find the sawing action quite awkward at a long distance. Others may disagree with that though, so take it as just my own personal opinion. Here’s a clip of someone else giving theirs-

To really do a good job of our pruning, I have to say that you should have all of the tools mentioned in this article at your disposal. Secateurs for smaller shrubs, loppers for quickly dealing with branches that aren’t too large, and a good pruning saw for handling things up to 2 inches thick. For things larger than that, get yourself a chainsaw, or even a garden multi-tool that has that kind of attachment.

At the end of the day, you need different tools for different sized trees and branches, with no single tool being the overall winner in our comparison.

That’s all for today folks, we hope you found the answers you ere looking for on this page and invite you to explore our wonderful site further.

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message:

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