Why I Can’t Live Without My Pruning Loppers

Put down the chainsaw—a quality pair of loppers are the way to go for keeping a neat tree line.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: J. Keeler Johnson

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love trees, particularly those that have been pruned into beautiful, stately specimens. Throughout the year, but especially on cool days in the fall, I can be found on the edges of fields that border forests, caring for the mature trees and thinning out the young ones that are trying to invade the fields.

To put it another way, I spend a lot of time trimming tree branches and cutting down small trees—literally hours and hours, maybe even days of each year. I love the appearance of a well-cared-for tree line that is free of shrubby plants or sapling trees, allowing people to admire the mature trees and walk up to them without fighting through a mini-forest of twisting, crossing branches.

For all these reasons, I can’t live without my pruning loppers.

And when I say pruning loppers, I’m not talking about small pruning shears that fit in one hand and are good for pruning rosebushes and other small plants. I’m talking about large, powerful pruning loppers designed to cut through sapling trees more than an inch thick with little effort on my part.

After making do for a long time with a simple pair of loppers that were short, lightweight and relatively capable, I upgraded to a much larger pair made by Corona, and I was amazed at how much better they worked. Thanks to the longer handles (more than 2 feet in length), I had much more leverage for pruning thick branches and sapling trees, and because the blades opened wider than my smaller loppers, jobs that once required a handsaw can now be handled with my loppers.

These Corona loppers served me well for two years of intense pruning—truly, I probably cut thousands of small trees and branches with them—before a dead pine branch proved to be too much and one of the metal handles snapped off. I wound up replacing them with a 2½-foot set of loppers manufactured by Fiskars, and I’ve been immensely pleased with them. Despite their size, they’re lightweight and easy to carry around, and their strength is exceptional. Thanks to a special geared design, they have more cutting strength than traditional loppers, and I can cut through pretty much anything I can get the blades around.

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Of course, some people might prefer to forego pruning loppers and simply use a chainsaw for their tree trimming needs, but for me, loppers are the way to go. They’re fast and easy to use, don’t require maintenance, and can maneuver into places where a chainsaw could never go, such as the center of a crowded apple tree crown or flat against the ground to cut a sapling tree so low it won’t leave a stump. Plus, in this age of powerful machines, it can be pleasant to take a pair of pruning loppers out into the woods and trim trees without the roar of a gasoline engine, working in peace and quiet with only the sounds of nature to listen to. As long as you have a quality pair of loppers, you might find tree trimming to be very enjoyable!

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