What Are Loppers Used For: Tips On Using Garden Loppers For Pruning
Gardening is easier when you choose the right tool for a particular task, and it’s hard to get by without loppers. If you want to start using garden loppers, read on. You’ll find tips on when to use loppers and how to use loppers.
What are Loppers Used for?
Almost every gardener owns a hand pruner, also called hand shears. That’s the scissor-sized tool to clip thinner branches or stems, deadhead flowers, and take off soft shoots. So what are loppers used for? Loppers are super-sized pruners. If a stem is thicker than a larger sized pencil, cutting it with a hand pruner could damage the light tool. When you are using garden loppers, with their long handles, you have a lot more leverage to prune heftier branches. You also have a longer reach.
Knowing when to use loppers can save you time, energy, and the cost of a new pair of hand pruners. Long-handled loppers are the perfect tool for clipping woody stems between ½ and 1 inch (1.5 to 2.5 cm.) in diameter.
Using garden loppers gives you high leverage without much effort on your part. On the other hand, you’ll need to use two hands to make the cuts and the tool is heavier than pruners.
How to Use Loppers
Using loppers efficiently takes a little practice, but once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll wonder how you managed without them. When you are learning how to use loppers, you want to think about both the ease and accuracy of a cut. To get the best results from using garden loppers, figure out exactly where you want the cut, then line up the blade itself with that location.
Another good tip is to be sure to open the blade and get the branch deep inside it prior to cutting. If you let yourself snip with the loppers, like you might with scissors, your hands will get tired very quickly. Once you place the lopper blade correctly, it’s time to cut. Close the loppers around the branch in one smooth motion.
Types of Garden Loppers
There are several types of garden loppers to choose between. Fortunately, figuring out the types of garden loppers is fairly easy since you’ll find the same types as pruners: bypass and anvil.
The most popular garden loppers are bypass loppers. Like bypass pruners, these have one blade that slices past a thick base as you close the tool.
The second are called anvil loppers. The blade in a set of anvil loppers connects with the fat lower base at the end of the cut. This makes them easier to use but less precise than bypass loppers.
Tree Trimming Basics
Tree trimming or pruning is an essential part of tree maintenance. Loppers make the task simpler and quicker—while making the job easier for you. The same thing can be said of shrubs which will also benefit from regular trimming. However, the basics between the two vary.
These aren’t the model we recommended above, but there’s something a teensy bit funny about a bunch of loppers hanging out (and it’s a good illustration of what the tool is all about). So here ya go.
The primary reason to trim trees is to control its shape. Using a set of loppers allows you to get rid of awkward-looking branches and remove branches that distort the overall natural shape of your trees. For example, thinning branches near the tops of your trees allows light to penetrate further into the base to encourage branching.
You can improve the appearance of trees by removing branches that are growing downward. You can also remove others that are growing inward as well as branches that run parallel or cross over others. When done while the trees are young, you can influence its mature form. Left on its own, trees will grow regardless of aesthetics or other considerations. And in some cases, the health of your trees may suffer.
Keeping Trees Healthy
Looks aside, tree trimming can improve its vigor and flower or fruit production. Thinning branches gives you control of several factors that can affect your trees’ health. For example, you can remove diseased or dead branches that can leave a tree vulnerable to further damage. Not unlike thinning garden plants, you can also trim trees to encourage one central trunk.
You can keep water sprouts or suckers under control. Water sprouts are small branches that stick straight up whereas suckers spring up from the base of the trunk. A general rule of thumb is to encourage your trees to keep their natural form rather than trying to shape them into something different.
Loppers for Pruning Trees
Loppers are the tool for the job when it comes to larger branches over an inch in diameter. At this point, hand pruners won’t cut it. The short handle length lacks the leverage you need for thicker branches. The handles for loppers are about two to three feet in length. However, some types have telescoping handles that can increase the leverage you have for pruning trees.
The types of loppers include bypass and anvil models. Bypass loppers are named because of the action of the blades in which the top blade bypasses the lower one, not unlike scissors. They are effective trimmers for small branches and softwood trees as well as live trees. They are the most common type.
Anvil loppers are named for the action of their blades. These loppers are heavier than bypass models. Their sharp cutting surface makes them a good choice for larger branches and hardwood trees. Because they might crush branches, they make a better choice for cutting dead rather than live branches.
How to Use Loppers
There are two types of pruning styles, thinning out and topping. They differ by degree. Thinning out is essentially selective cutting that removes an entire branch. Topping, on the other hand, is the complete removal of the top of a tree. When utility companies trim back trees from power lines, you may see some trees that have been cut to a flat top.
Thinning out is basic tree maintenance for controlling the tree’s shape and appearance. You may opt to top a tree if there are size limitations and to encourage growth outward from the sides. Whichever type of pruning you’re doing, it’s important to cut at an angle. Leaving a flat surface leaves a place for water to pool and increases the risk of disease. Keeping your blades sharp will encourage clean cuts.
Like your trees, your loppers will benefit from regular maintenance. You should clean your loppers after each use and drying the blades and handles to prevent rust from forming. And you should keep the blades of your loppers sharp to avoid crushing branches. Sharp blades mean less work for you and less damage to your trees.
This video by Prune Like a Pro explains how to sharpen your loppers with a couple of different methods to keep them in top working condition.
2. Wolf-Garten RR900T Telescoping Bypass Lopper
The handles extends from 25.6 inches in length to 35.5 inches in length, not only ensuring that you use minimal effort when cutting, but also affords you a greater leverage to reach highly positioned branches easily.
It also means that you don’t have to stoop so low when cutting branches or twigs that are way below your reach.
The tool weighs just 3.86 lbs which is fairly lightweight when compared to other loppers in its size range.
When it comes to quality, the Wolf-Garten RR900T is definitely not lacking as it’s a German constructed tool. The blades remain sharp even after heavy use.
It’s a bypass lopper you can definitely pass on to your kids when your time here is up.
Best Powered Lopper
Black & Decker Alligator Lopper 4.5 Amp Electric Chain Saw (LP1000)
The Black & Decker Alligator Lopper uses the same lithium-ion battery system as any of your other 20-volt Black & Decker electric tools. Battery life will provide 150 cuts of 1.5 inches per charge. Equipped with innovative clamping jaws that grip and saw through branches that are up to four inches in diameter in a single stroke. Backed by a two year limited warranty. Battery and charger are not included for the price listed above.
Scotts Cordless 7.2 Volt Rechargeable Power Pruner (PR17215S)
The Scotts Power Pruner is a cordless electric tree pruner that is lightweight, compact, safe, and easy to use. It was designed to cut the stress and muscle fatigue out of tough pruning tasks. Battery and charger are included, and it is backed by a two year warranty and an excellent customer support team.
It is important to note that this is an electric pruner, not an electric lopper, so it only cuts branches that are up to ¾ inches thick. This product should be paired with an electric pruner for gardeners that have low arm strength and stamina and want to trim their plants and trees quickly and easily without over exertion.
WORX JawSaw 20V Chainsaw with Auto-Tension (WG320)
The WORX brand JawSaw is a highly rated, safety-minded chainsaw lopper with a protective guard to keep your hands and fingers out of harm’s way when pruning. Cuts through branches that are up to four inches in diameter. High-speed chain stays oiled and tight and makes fast cuts. The JawSaw is a lightweight tool that you won’t regret lugging around.
CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Lopper (CMCCSL621D1)
Craftsman tools are a household name, and one that has long been associated with quality. You can be confident that you are purchasing a good product if it bears the Craftsman name, and for even more assurance, they offer a limited three year warranty on their cordless lopper, just in case you find a way to wear it out in less than three years time. This cordless powered lopper has patented clamping jaw blades that grip and cut through tree limbs in one fluid motion.
The Craftsman Cordless Lopper cuts through branches that are up to four inches in diameter in a compact design that stores away easily. Chain and bar are replaceable. Includes battery and charger.
*BONUS BUDGET SET*
IGarden 3 Piece Combo Garden Tool Set with Lopper, Hedge Shears and Pruner Shears (B00VXTFJFS)
If you don’t want to spend a ton of money on your pruning equipment but you want to get a complete set, this three piece combo will provide all the trimming tools you need without breaking the bank. All three pieces are made with high carbon steel blades and comfortable rubber handles that are easy to grip. Are these tools that will last you a lifetime? No, they are not. But according to reviews, they should get you through a couple of seasons before needing to be replaced. If you need something to get you by until you can afford to invest in some quality pruning gear, this is a good buy.
Once you have picked out your set of pruning tools, you shouldn’t have to reinvest in pruning ever again. A pruning tool set may consist of two pairs of hand pruners, two loppers, and a powered cutting tool, such as an electric lopper, or a chainsaw. That is because there are different types of pruning tools for different types of pruning. That may seem like a lot of tools to invest in just to keep your plants properly trimmed and neat, but once you have your set, you should be set for life.
We may have to replace some of our gardening tools from time to time, and there are certain things, like gardening gloves and potting soil, that you will always have to buy more of, but once you find the right pruning equipment, those tools should either last you for the rest of your life, or come with a lifetime warranty so that you can replace them anytime they start to show signs of wear or deterioration.
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