How to Use Loppers for Efficient Cutting and Pruning
Loppers are some of the most versatile gardening tools, and every gardener should have one! But what are loppers used for, and which is best for you? How to use this tool for efficient cutting and pruning? We’ll answer all that and more with this guide.
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What are Loppers?
Loppers are pruners with long handles and solid blades for clipping thicker branches that ordinary hand shears cannot cut. This tool prunes overgrowths, thins out dense foliage, deadhead flowers, and cuts soft and hard offshoots. The long handles let you cut accurately at a greater height and tight spaces.
Unlike a handheld pruner, loppers could cut stems that are at least pencil-sized in thickness. Thicker branches in high-up places like trees are easier to cut with loppers because you have more leverage and a longer reach.
No doubt about it, loppers make a great addition to your gardening arsenal. But which one is right for you? Loppers come in three distinct designs, and the differences boil down to the blade design:
Bypass: These loppers feature two curved, thick blades that glide past each other when making a cut. Bypass loppers provide the cleanest cut because the thick blade is sharp and durable. The cutting action is also smooth, so you can make quick cuts and prune plants in no time. This tool is perfect for plants that take a while to recover from pruning. Use this for thick, tough, and gummy branches.
Anvil: These loppers feature a thick sharp blade and a flat lower base. It works much like a knife on a cutting board. Although functional, anvil pruners aren’t as precise as bypass pruners. When the blade is dull, it tends to crush the stems rather than make clean cuts. Also, it requires much higher force, making pruning hard on the hands, arms, and shoulders. This is best used for softer, smaller stems.
How to Use Loppers
In terms of usage, loppers are pretty straightforward to use. It works just like scissors but is made for cutting plant branches. It does take a little practice if you’re pruning utilizing this tool for the first time, but once you get the hang of it, pruning becomes so much faster.
To prune with loppers, start by wearing protective gear. Wear your work gloves and safety goggles. We suggest wearing a long-sleeved shirt and work pants to protect your skin from cuts and injuries.
Choose the plant you want to prune, start with a healthy cutting angle and make quick cuts. Open the loppers’ blade to get a branch deep into the blade, ensuring the branch is correctly positioned for cutting. In one fluid motion, cut the branch. If the blade is well-maintained, cutting thick stems should be quick and clean. Prune just outside the branch collar and avoid leaving a stud because this can increase the risk of diseases in plants.
The secret to making precise cuts is to figure out exactly where you want to cut the branch and then line up the blade with that spot. It’s tempting to make small snips because it’s quicker, but you must let the branch go deep inside the blade for thick branches.
After you’re done with the pruning, clean the loppers well to remove dirt and gunk and prevent rust. You need to sterilize the loppers with ethanol or isopropyl alcohol as well as a vinegar solution to inhibit disease transfer.
Pruning and Safety Tips
Do not strain yourself. Avoid using loppers with extended arms unless you have to because this will strain the muscles. When straining, you won’t make a clean, precise cut, which will only hurt you and the plant being pruned. Loppers have long handles, and some, like the ECOgardener telescopic pruner, have adjustable handles, letting you prune at a much greater height without using a ladder. But if you have to use a ladder to improve your leverage and prevent an injury, do it.
Use the right tools. Avoid using short-handled pruners to work at a greater height because this will lead to accidents! In some cases, you might end up breaking the pruner because you’re not using the tool properly. If the branches are too thick, you must use loppers with tougher, sharper blades. Do not attempt to use the loppers beyond their intended purpose. If the branches are too wide for your loppers, it’s time to bring the power tools out.
Avoid twisting the lopper blades while cutting. Grip the handles firmly as you make the cut, and do not let the lopper blade twist; otherwise, you might end up damaging the blade, hurting the plant, or sustaining an injury. If the blade twists while cutting, it’s a sign that you’re using the wrong tool.
Avoid overusing your loppers. These tools are as tough as they come, but they shouldn’t be used for more than cutting branches at least pencil sized in diameter. Loppers are great for a certain branch thickness, but if the blades cannot cut deeply enough, it’s time to switch to a different tool, such as a pruning saw.
Care for the tools before and after use. The blades must be kept sharp, so regular sharpening is needed to maintain the loppers. Clean and disinfect the loppers after every use. Store the loppers in the shed, away from moisture to prevent rust. Be sure that the metal parts are completely dry before storage to prevent rust.
Finding the right tools for your pruning needs is key to a beautiful, healthy garden. Thankfully, you don’t have to look very far to find the best loppers for your garden. Get high-quality loppers and pruners at the ECOgardener.
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