Tree Loppers

5 Best Tree Loppers That Make Short Work of Tough Branches (2021 Review)

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In this guide we’ll take a look at the best tree loppers for the UK market.
I’ve compared design, durability, build quality and cost
to give you my top recommendations.

What are the Best Tree Loppers?

In a rush? Here's my top choice...

Spear & Jackson 8290RS Razorsharp Heavy Duty Telescopic Ratchet Anvil Lopper

Extremely powerful, easy to use, and practical!

These heavy duty loppers by Spear & Jackson have a telescopic handle that can extend from 40 - 80 cm. They are extremely tough, able to easily cut through branches of up to 5 cm, with a clever ratchet system that makes them pleasant to use and extremely efficient.

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Everything I Recommend

IMAGE RECOMMENDED PRODUCTSPRODUCT FEATURES
  • Cuts branches <5 cm
  • Clever ratchet mechanism
  • Rust proof
  • Cuts branches <5 cm
  • Very lightweight
  • Powerful cutting action
  • Cuts branches < 4 cm
  • Lightweight aluminium handles
  • Good value for money
  • Long handle
  • Comfortable, secure grip
  • Great durability
  • Strong anvil grips branch
  • Extends from 68 - 100 cm
  • Lightweight and ergonomic handles

More Detailed Tree Lopper Reviews

Spear & Jackson 8290RS Razorsharp Heavy Duty Telescopic Ratchet Anvil Lopper

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • Cuts branches <5 cm
  • Clever ratchet mechanism
  • Rust proof
OUR RATING
100
PRICE
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Spear & Jackson 8290RS Razorsharp Heavy Duty Telescopic Ratchet Anvil Lopper Review

These Spear & Jackson 8290RS Razorsharp Loppers offer a great ‘middle ground’ between pruners and saws when cutting back hedges and trees.

If you’re approaching a large hedge, these anvil loppers can cut through branches of at least 4.5 cm thick, snapping through them quite easily when traditional loppers would require a lot more effort.

One of the features that makes these loppers so effective on bigger branches is the ratchet mechanism. Unlike standard loppers, you winch the blades down so that the loppers take the brunt of the work (it’s not a case of it relying on hand/arm strength alone).

Whilst they can cut through smaller branches too, you’ll probably still want pruning shears on hand to make the job quicker – you have to winch the blades down every time, which can take a while if the branch is small.

You can, however, use these loppers on branches that are larger than 4.5 cm in diameter if you cut into them with a saw first, which is why they make a good middle ground between a pruning shear and a saw.

These loppers are also telescopic, so they extend from 40 – 80 cm with a twist-and-lock mechanism, making it possible to cut higher branches without a ladder. This works well, but has its flaws – primarily because as the handles extend, the ratchet width gets wider. As a result, they can be quite difficult to use in confined spaces as you need to be able to open them sufficiently wide to engage the ratchet first.

Made with aluminium handles and carbon steel blades, Spear & Jackson customers have rated them as long lasting; however, it’s worth pointing out that this construction isn’t the most light weight. At 1.89 kg, they may get tiring if used for long periods, especially when extended.

All in all, these are some of the best tree loppers for medium jobs, making it a lot easier to cut through relatively thick branches with limited effort. As mentioned, they’re ideal when used in conjunction with pruning shears and a saw, to allow each tool to be used as effectively as possible.

Pros

  • Can cut through branches up to 4.5 cm thick
  • Telescopic handle allows you to reach higher branches - you get 80 cm from the extended lopper length plus arm reach
  • Perfect for medium-duty gardening work
  • The ratchet function makes it easier to cut through thicker branches without being so demanding on the hands

Cons

  • Smaller branches take longer to cut than with traditional loppers because you still need to winch in the ratchet
  • The ratchet system can be hard to implement if there isn't enough space to fully open the handles
  • They weigh 1.89 kg which, especially when extended, may become tiring over time for those with limited mobility or strength

Fiskars 1000584 Bypass Loppers

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • Cuts branches <5 cm
  • Very lightweight
  • Powerful cutting action
OUR RATING
95
PRICE
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Fiskars 1000584 Bypass Loppers Review

If you’re fed up of pruning taking ages, these Fiskars FSK1000584 Bypass Loppers will shave some time off compared to traditional loppers.

The reason for this is two-fold: they’re relatively light, at 1.06 kg, meaning they won’t slow jobs down by being tiring to hold, plus they use a ‘rack and pinion’ system to cut through thicker branches.

They’re sufficiently capable of cutting through branches up to 5 cm thick, and can also cut smaller branches because the ratchet doesn’t need to be fully extended to work. It only needs to be opened as much as the branch size demands.

However, it does therefore still have some of the same problems as other ratchet loppers when trying to cut thick branches in confined spaces, because there’s not always enough room to open the handles wide enough.

The handles are made from fibre-glass reinforced plastic which is both strong and light, and the precision-steel blades have a non-stick coating which should reduce the number of times you have to stop working to clean the blade.

Unlike some other models featured on this list, these Fiskars loppers aren’t telescopic, so they have a set length of 69.2 cm. The general consensus is that this offers a good length-to-weight ratio, and they’re useful for both closer jobs as well as those which require reaching a little further. Of course, it is worth bearing in mind, particularly if you have tall hedges and trees, that they won’t have quite the same range as telescopic loppers.

Pros

  • Weigh just 1.06 kg so won’t get too tiring if used for long periods of time
  • Grip is both comfortable and sufficiently non-slip
  • Suitable for both left and right handed users
  • Utilise a rack and pinion mechanism to make it less tiring to cut through branches up to 5 cm in diameter

Cons

  • May be difficult to use in small spaces as the handles need opening wide for maximum effectiveness on thick branches
  • Handles aren’t telescopic so you may need a stepladder to reach branches above your head
  • Require regular oiling to keep the rack and pinion mechanism working efficiently
  • Only intended for use on green, live wood, not old dry branches

Spear & Jackson Razorsharp 18-30 Inch Telescopic Ratchet Bypass Lopper

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • Cuts branches < 4 cm
  • Lightweight aluminium handles
  • Good value for money
OUR RATING
90
PRICE
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Spear & Jackson Razorsharp 18-30 Inch Telescopic Ratchet Bypass Lopper Review

Spear & Jackson have a good reputation amongst gardeners for creating quality equipment, and their Razorsharp 18-30 Inch Telescopic Loppers are a good all-round tool for the garden.

They’re telescopic bypass loppers, and aren’t as heavy as Spear & Jackson’s 8290RS anvil loppers. These weigh 1.68 kg, so they should be slightly easier to manage, and are roughly the same size with an un-extended length of 45 cm and an extended length of 76 cm.

When it comes to cutting, they use a ratchet mechanism and can get through branches of up to 4 cm in diameter. They use carbon-steel blades that have been coated to protect them from rust, and seem to maintain their sharpness well even with regular use.

Considering Spear & Jackson’s reputation, these are also some of the best tree loppers in terms of value for money – they’re relatively inexpensive, yet bring a lot to the table in terms of quality and design. The main thing to bear in mind is that their maximum cutting diameter is a little lower than more expensive models, so their functionality will depend on what size branches you’re hoping to prune.

Pros

  • Handles extend to 76 cm for taller branches
  • Ratchet action means less hand strength is required to cut larger branches
  • Handle grips are comfortable and ergonomic

Cons

  • Ratchet action means cutting thin branches can take longer than it would with traditional loppers
  • Not particularly light at 1.68 kg so may become tiring, especially when used extended or horizontally
  • There is no locking mechanism to keep the blades shut when carrying them so they need to be handled with care

Fiskars PowerGear X Tree Pruner UPX82

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • Long handle
  • Comfortable, secure grip
  • Great durability
OUR RATING
87
PRICE
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Fiskars PowerGear X Tree Pruner UPX82 Review

This Fiskars PowerGear X Tree Pruner is one of the best tree loppers for accessing branches that are tricky to reach.

Not only is it 1.6 m long, but it also has an adjustable head that can be positioned at any angle through 230°. The benefit of this is you don’t need to hold the pole at an awkward angle; it can be kept relatively straight whilst the angled blades do the cutting.

This tool can manage twigs and branches up to 3.2 cm in diameter, but it doesn’t have a ratchet system like many of the tree loppers featured here, so its cutting ability relies slightly more on hand strength.

The cutting mechanism works by using a ‘pulley’ system. As you pull down on the shaft of the lopper, a cable is pulled down inside, forcing the cutting blades to close. As a result, it can’t get through really thick branches, but does handle smaller ones at the tops of trees well.

One benefit of this cutting system is that it is easier to use in dense shrubbery than a ratchet lopper. Whereas ratchet loppers require space to open out the handles, this Fiskars Pruner is pretty streamlined.

Additionally, thanks to its length, this lopper is particularly useful for pruning without the use of a ladder, although you do need to have reasonably good aim to position the blades accurately from such a distance. Fortunately, it is not particularly heavy, at just over 1 kg, so shouldn’t be unwieldy.

The biggest downside is that the aluminium shaft isn’t extendable; therefore, it’s not very practical for pruning hedges and trees lower down, or at close range – it’s only really intended for pruning at lofty heights.

As the furthest-reaching tree lopper featured here, it certainly has its uses. But you’ll likely want a shorter tool as well, to use in combination with this lopper, for cutting lower branches.

Pros

  • Very lightweight at 1.05 kg so not unwieldy despite its 160 cm length
  • Head rotates 230° making it easier to cut at difficult angles without having to hold the shaft at an awkward angle
  • Easier to use than ratchet loppers in dense bushes because the cutting system does not require a lot of space

Cons

  • Not telescopic so it's difficult to cut lower branches at closer range
  • May struggle to cut thicker branches above 3.2 cm in diameter

Davaon Pro Ratchet Telescopic Anvil Lopper

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • Strong anvil grips branch
  • Extends from 68 - 100 cm
  • Lightweight and ergonomic handles
OUR RATING
85
PRICE
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Davaon Pro Ratchet Telescopic Anvil Lopper Review

If you’re keen to avoid hiring professional help to deal with overgrown trees and hedges, these Davaon Pro Ratchet Anvil Lopper work through some pretty tough areas without too much difficulty. In fact, Davaon claim that they have 5 times the cutting power of regular loppers.

Whilst that’s pretty hard to measure, they’re more than capable of cutting through branches of at least 4.5 cm thick, and this is made easier on the hands with the built-in ratchet system. Thick branches are managed bit by bit, and the carbon-steel blades also help in getting through tough branches.

Even after extended use, the blade remains sharp, and are strong enough to cut through bamboo as well as different tree branches like laurel and leylandii hedges.

Considering how well they cut, and the fact that they’re telescopic as well, they offer good value for money. They’re inexpensive, whilst providing more versatility than non-telescopic loppers.

The handles extend from 68 – 100 cm which makes them useful for pruning both low and high branches. The only thing to look out for is not to force the loppers to cut very hard large branches when fully extended, as the aluminium handles can bend.

Even so, on most reasonably-sized branches, the ratchet system works well to create a neat cut, much quicker than would be achievable with traditional loppers.

Despite the aluminium handles, these loppers still weigh 1.6 kg which may get a little heavy. As with most telescopic loppers, they can feel unbalanced when used fully extended for prolonged periods, so it may be necessary to take a few extra tea breaks (which, arguably, is hardlly the worst news…!).

Pros

  • Telescopic function allows you to reach branches up to 1 m away
  • When not extended, the ratchet action makes it easier to slice through branches up to 4.5 cm thick
  • Handles are very easy to lengthen - simply twist the end and extend

Cons

  • When the handles are fully extended you should only attempt to cut branches of up to 1.5 cm, any larger and the handles may bend
  • Tricky to use in confined spaces as the handles need to be opened wide
  • Weigh 1.6 kg so may cause fatigue with prolonged use - especially when the handles are extended as they feel unbalanced
  • May struggle to cut through particularly hard branches

Things to Know Before Buying Tree Loppers

Tree loppers are immensely useful tools, suitable for many different tasks. They’ll help keep your garden looking neat by trimming hedges, pruning trees, and cutting back shrubs.

Loppers offer the perfect midpoint between pruning shears and pruning saws. In fact, given that some loppers can cut branches of up to 5 cm in diameter, you may end up using them more than other tools.

Finding the best tree loppers to use in your garden will depend on what you plan to use them for. To help you in your search, here’s everything you need to know about these useful tools:

A logical place to kick this article off – what are the benefits of using tree loppers and why buy them in the first place? Their uses stretch far and wide, but a couple of common reasons for needing to use tree loppers in the garden are:

  1. To stop trees from blocking out sunlight. Tall, thick trees/hedges may be blocking light reaching your garden, making things feel a bit dark. If this is the case, other plants may not be getting enough light either. Lopping and pruning is necessary to make sure trees don’t overpower nearby plants and flowerbeds!
  2. To stop plants from interfering with each other. Again, if trees, plants or shrubs are positioned close together, you may find that their branches start to intertwine. This isn’t great for the aesthetics of the garden or the health of the plants – lopping back some branches can stop plants from meddling with each other.
  3. To keep peace with the neighbours. No matter how good your relationship with your neighbour, trees that start to encroach on their property are going to cause tension. Pruning and lopping will keep branches on your side of the fence and avoid any fraying nerves.
  4. To maintain shape. Sometimes bushes, shrubs and trees will take things into their own hands (branches?) and start to grow in unexpected directions. To keep things looking neat, pruning and lopping is necessary.
  5. For health and safety purposes. Pruning can help protect the health of the tree just as much as the health of anyone in the near vicinity. Damaged branches should be lopped off to avoid them breaking and causing damage to property, other plants, or people. Diseased branches need to be removed to try to stop the problem from spreading through the tree.

There is a fair amount of confusion, and crossover, in the branch-cutting world when it comes to the difference between loppers and pruners. Being sure of each tool’s purpose can help when it comes to choosing which one to use for the job.

“Pruners” generally refers to a small one-handed tool which is used for cutting shrubs and flower bushes (like rose bushes). Thanks to their compact size and proximity to the plant, these pruners are great for ground-level jobs and for accurately cutting small plants.

There are also ‘pole pruners’ which have a mechanism like a litter picker. They consist of one long pole. These are used for cutting higher branches and only require one hand to activate the cutting mechanism. The other hand stabilises the pole. They’re great tools, which will stop you from having to get the ladder out, but they’re better suited to light work – they don’t have the same strength as tree loppers.

So, what about tree loppers? What distinguishing features do they have?

Traditional tree loppers essentially resemble long secateurs. They look like big scissors.

A lot of tree loppers will have a ratchet that makes it easier to prune larger branches. This allows the blade to be ‘winched’ down to cut branches, making the job easier on the hands. Ratchet loppers are often more suitable for a variety of tasks, and can cut branches up to 5 cm in diameter; however, this does depend on the model, as some won’t be as strong.

More basic tree loppers won’t have a ratchet system.

There are two different types of cutting systems that loppers and pruners may have.

Loppers with an ‘anvil’ cutting system have one cutting blade and one anvil blade. The cutting blade moves, whilst the anvil blade stays still. It works similarly to a knife cutting on a chopping board – the branch finds itself trapped under the cutting blade (the knife) and is sliced against the anvil (the chopping board).

If the loppers make use of a ‘bypass’ cutting system, the two blades will glide past each other, like scissors. Both of the blades move, and the branch is cut when the two blades cross.

So, which cutting system makes for the best tree lopper?

Anvil Loppers: Pros and Cons

With anvil blades, the cutting action is more powerful. All of the cutting force is distributed over the one moving blade. As a result, loppers using this system will be better suited for cutting thicker, tougher branches.

However, a disadvantage of anvil loppers is that they are more likely to damage and crush the branch. When the cutting blade comes down, the force is felt on both sides of the branch being cut, crushing it structurally.

If cuts aren’t clean, and plants get crushed, it not only damages the plant but also increases the risk of bacteria entering.

Therefore, anvil loppers are not ideal for creating neat, clean cuts, and are better suited to cutting dead branches than live ones.

Bypass Loppers: Pros and Cons

Loppers with bypass blades require more strength than anvil loppers. Both blades need to be powered to move past each other. As a result, it is more difficult to cut through thicker branches using bypass blades.

That said, bypass blades create a much cleaner cut. Thanks to the bypass cutting action, only the side of the branch which is being discarded is in danger of being crushed.

Bypass blades are therefore well suited to pruning living stems and branches as they won’t damage the remaining plant.

Jobs are often made easier if you can avoid lugging a ladder around.

Loppers with telescopic handles can allow you to have a much further reach when pruning and lopping. Some telescopic loppers can extend to up to a metre in length making it much easier to reach the upper branches of trees and bushes.

You do sometimes have to forfeit a bit of accuracy when using telescopic loppers. It can be harder to have complete control over the exact cutting point from so far away.

However, we’re generally talking about being out by centimetres, which shouldn’t be too noticeable at the top of trees and hedges.

It’s advisable not to extend telescopic loppers more than necessary for the job in hand; the longer the handles are extended the weaker they will become. Such is the nature of telescopic handles.

Tree Lopper FAQs

Bypass loppers act similarly to scissors. They have two blades that ‘bypass’ each other, cutting through the branch when the two blades slice together. To use bypass loppers, you keep the loppers steady with your weaker hand, and with your stronger hand push down on the handle to move the blade and cut the branch.

Anvil loppers have one blade which moves to crush the branch against a metal surface on the other side. The cut might not be as clean as with bypass loppers, but anvil loppers tend to be more capable of dealing with thicker material.

  1. Prune in late winter or early spring, before new growth starts.
  2. Determine which branches are the skeleton branches (important main branches) as these should not be removed.
  3. Decide which branches you want to remove first – these should be the ones that show any sign of damage. Simply remove these branches using your pruners/loppers.
  4. Any areas that are very thick with branches can be thinned.
  5. Remove branches that cross over so that air can circulate around the tree.
  6. Eliminate any branches that are growing inwards.
  7. If you are pruning for aesthetics, remove any branches that stick out at odd angles. You may need to stand a short distance away to identify these.

To prune safely, wear a long sleeve top, gloves to protect your hands, and safety goggles at all times. If you are pruning taller branches, a hard hat is highly recommended. For safely pruning the branches above your head, it’s recommend to use telescopic loppers as opposed to a ladder.

Sources
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