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The Complete Guide to help you choose the Best Manual Lopping Shears
and Pruning Loppers

by the Real Experts of Pruning Equipment

    1. Introduction

Cutting unnecessary branches is essential to ensure healthy plant growth. This treatment helps sunlight to penetrate into the plant organisms, thus protecting their health.

If the branches to be pruned are at an easily accessible height, either pneumatic pruning shears or electric battery-powered pruning shears can be used. However, when cutting shrubs at greater heights, the most suitable tools are telescopic lopping shears, pruning shears on extension pole and branch loppers.

These tools are ideal for pruning olive groves and fruit trees. Depending on the various requirements, the market offers a wide range of models with different features. What all these tools have in common is the grip provided by a pole, which can be fixed or telescopic.

    2. Pruning shears on extension pole, lopping shears and pruning loppers: a first overview

Despite being used for the same purpose, tools designed for pruning taller branches are not all the same. Both the intended use and the dynamics of operation help to set these tools apart. This is why, before purchasing a pruning equipment, it is necessary to have a good understanding of what differentiates the various categories on the market.

Before going into a more in-depth analysis of pruning shears, lopping shears and loppers, the following table and images provide a useful general overview of the characteristics of these tools.

Pruning equipmentCutting diameterPracticality of useFrequency of use
Pruning shears on extension pole10-20 mmHighMedium
Branch loppers30-40 mmMediumHigh
Lopping shears with external rope30-40 mmLowLow
Lopping shears with integrated rope20-30 mmHighHigh

Tools for pruning high branches can therefore be divided into two groups. The first one includes tools that properly belong to the pruning shears family. The second one, on the other hand, includes the category of pruning loppers.

    3. Pruning shears and lopping shears on extension pole

This first section encompasses:

  • Pruning shears on extension pole
  • Branch loppers

We usually picture pruning shears as classic tools with two levers to tighten and loosen manually. Yet, because they have to reach higher branches, they feature an extension pole that modifies their operation. Due to the different type of grip, the blades are operated by a handle at the bottom of the grip. When this handle is pressed, the movement imparted runs along the pole and clamps the blades, thus reproducing the mechanics of manual pruning shears.

    3.1 Pruning shears on extension pole

Pruning shears on extension pole are designed to reach and cut hard-to-access twigs. They are lightweight and easy-to-use tools, recommended for all hobby work on small shrubs up to 1.5 cm thick.

Most of these pruning shears feature a tipping head, so that the cutting unit can adapt to the direction of the branches.

Some models are equipped with the innovative “Cut and Hold” system. It is a pruning device that allows freshly removed leaves or twigs to be held between the blades so that they can be grasped without falling to the ground. This feature can prove useful when the cut branches contain fruits and flowers to be preserved.

    3.2 Branch loppers

Branch loppers are an improved and more performing version of the pruning shears on extension pole just described. They are designed to cut thicker branches of up to 3 cm.

Some models are equipped with the classic two shears levers, which are longer than those of ordinary secateurs for hedges.

Others have poles that can extend – in some models – up to 300 cm. Being able to rely on a telescopic pole makes it possible to adapt the tool to different uses, from pruning a rose garden to trimming orchards.

Branch lopper also often mount a tipping pruner head. Their light weight gives them stability and manoeuvrability, resulting in each cut being quick and clean.

Both pruning shears on extension pole and branch loppers are characterised by a good frequency of use. In other words, thanks to their practicality and low weight, they are perfectly suitable for medium to long working sessions.

    4. Lopping shears

A second range of tools designed for cutting branches at height is that of lopping shears. Their function is simply to shorten branches that are too long. This second category of equipment includes:

  • Telescopic lopping shears with external rope
  • Telescopic lopping shears with integrated rope

    4.1 Lopping shears with external rope

Lopping shears with external rope could be defined as long shears on a telescopic pole, with a cutting unit that moves by means of a rope.

The clamping of the blades is activated by the rope which – as can be seen in the picture – connects the two levers of the shears. Once the branch is positioned at the centre of the blades, a simple pull down on the rope handle will cut the branch with no effort.

Generally, lopping shears can cut branches up to 3/4 cm thick. Some models on the market, designed for heavy-duty use, include a pruning saw that can be attached to the pruner head of the tool, replacing the blades. This makes it possible to remove even thicker and stronger shrubs.

    4.2 Lopping shears with integrated rope

As one might guess, the characteristic feature of telescopic lopping shears with integrated rope is the fact that the rope is contained entirely within the structure of the tool.

These lopping shears, whose practicality is unmatched, are designed for heavy-duty use. An integrated traction rope allows to work without the risk of it getting caught in the branches.

Generally these tools feature a double cutting mode. The blades can in fact be operated either by gripping the central grip and sliding it downwards, or by pulling the rope on the lower handle.

The presence of a coating to protect the rope of the lopping shears plays a crucial role in its practicality of use. While it is true that cutting branches by pulling a handle does not require any particular physical strength, arm fatigue is inevitable in the long run. For this reason, lopping shears with external rope are generally not recommended for long working sessions in large orchards or olive groves.

On the contrary, lopping shears with integrated rope are actually the best choice for pruning in medium to large crops, thanks to a simplified and effective cutting mechanism.

    5. The advantages of purchasing lopping shears and pruning loppers

The use of lopping shears, branch loppers on extension pole or pruning loppers offers numerous advantages, making light pruning operations much easier. What are the main benefits that come from using these tools?

  • The ability to reach higher branches without having to use a ladder
  • The physical effort required to cut branches is significantly reduced compared to conventional manual pruning shears.
  • If the tool is equipped with a telescopic pole, it gains such versatility that it can be used to work in multiple circumstances.
  • The light weight of the construction materials gives lopping shears, branch loppers and loppers a remarkable lightness and improves their practicality of use.

    6. What are the main features to consider before moving on with the purchase?

The numerous models on sale come with their own characteristics and intended uses, which should be carefully assessed before the purchase.


Before moving towards a product for pruning higher branches, it is necessary to pay attention to the thickness of the twigs to be cut. The diameter of the shrubs also affects the cutting force required to prevent damage to the tool.

In general, if the branches to be pruned do not exceed 15 mm, you could opt for traditional pruning shears on extension pole. For shrubs 20 to 30 mm thick, it is better to choose branch loppers, including those of a hobby lever. When dealing with branches between 30 and 40 mm in diameter, it is necessary to purchase an heavy-duty branch lopper.

Lopping shears are mechanically less straightforward than pruning shears and branch loppers, and may therefore not meet the tastes of every pruner. However, it is a much more versatile and high-performance tool, being designed to reach heights of 400 to 800 cm. Despite the seemingly discomfort caused by the considerable extension of the pole, most quality lopping shears are equipped with a double pulley system. In this way, the effort required to pull the rope is reduced to a minimum. With these tools, you can cut shrubs up to 45 mm thick.


Whether it is pruning shears or a lopping shears, a tool with an adjustable pruner head will always be the best choice. This feature allows you to adjust the angle of the blades via a special mechanism at the base of the grip.

The adjustable cutting angle allows you to cut branches with maximum precision and from any direction.

  • GRIP

On both lopping shears and branch loppers, the supports for holding the unit can have a major impact on its practicality.

What makes the difference is first and foremost the construction material: a non-slip rubber grip is certainly the best solution for long work sessions without sweat making the grip slippery.

Many of these tools also feature a double grip, one at the base of the pole and one along it. In some models, the central grip can slide along the pole, to better suit the operator’s requirements and arm length.

    7. Major brands

Before moving on with the purchase of manual lopping shears and pruning shears and pruning loppers, it is advisable to take a look at the most professional and well-known brands in the world of pruning equipment. Choosing a reliable manufacturer gives the user the certainty of a safe and quality-certified tool to carry out work in a smooth and trouble-free manner.

The recommended brands, for both hobby and heavy-duty models, are: Archman, Stocker, GeoTech, Fiskars, Wolf Garten, Gardena and Castellari.

The following table shows the most representative models of lopping shears on extension pole, branch loppers or pruning loppers by the above-mentioned manufacturers.

ArchmanArchman Art. 107 – Ø 15 mmArchman Helium MT.2
StockerStocker Art. 604 Telescopic Pruning ShearsStocker Art. 606 – Telescopic Lopping Shears
GeoTechBranch Lopper on Extension Pole
FiskarsFiskars Light UP69 Fiskars UPX82Fiskars UPX86
WOLF GartenWOLF Garten RR 400 T
GardenaGardena Bypass 210/390 cm Lopping Shears
CastellariCastellari Tucano VG 6

If you are considering the purchase of pneumatic pruning shears or are looking for more information about it, we suggest you read the specific purchasing guide about pneumatic pruning shears.

If you are planning to purchase of electric battery-powered pruning shears or are looking for more information on it, read our specific purchasing guide about electric battery-powered pruning shears.

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