Garden Tidbits - Expert Advice for the Garden

Pruning Paraphernalia

Now we get into the pruning season for the warmer areas of the country. Believe it or not, in mild winter areas you can prune once 60-80% of the leaves have fallen off the tree.

Bad tools can cripple or maim a gardener. So, pick a set of well-made, sturdy pruning tools. Here’s a brief list of my essential gizmos:

Hand Pruner

Hand pruners are usually reserved for cuts up to 1/2 to one-inch in diameter. My favorite hand pruner is the Felco # 8— the most comfortable and easily-used by-pass pruner on the market. It has three important improvements:

The handle is curved to the actual form of your slightly closed hand.

The upper handle has a jog in it to keep your hand from slipping off the handle when pressing forward into a cut.

The blade is angled slightly down to reduce the forward, and straining, rotation of the wrist. 

Felcos are made of light-weight aluminum, well-built, and easy to maintain and sharpen. Some other manufacturers have copied most of these features


Loppers can cut limbs up to several inches in diameter. You'll never need a lopping shear if your trees are well-trained from the start. If you're restoring an abandoned tree or shrub, you’ll need a lopper to remove older wood. Don’t go cheap with wooden  handles. Choose either a 17, 24 or 30-inch aluminum or fiberglass-handled loppers. Examples include the Felco F-20 or F-21 or the Sandvik P16-40 (16") or P16-60 (24").

Don’t bother with those fancy ratchet loppers, they don’t work that well and aren’t worth the extra money.

Hand Saw

The one hand saw required will probably be a 12" bladed, folding saw. Make sure you get one that has a locking mechanism for the open position.  Good brands are the Felco #61 and the ARS #210-DX.  

If you’re restoring a disheveled, abandoned tree with large limbs slated for removal, you may want to buy a large, 24 to 36-inch long curved pruning saw with large, one to two-inch saw teeth. The bigger the saw’s teeth and the wider the space between the teeth, the faster the saw will cut.  

Remember, all pruning saws cut when you pull the saw toward you.


Don't do this at home!! Or anywhere!!! (NOT my house!)

Ladder & Pole Pruner

If you’re caring for really large shade or fruit trees, you’ll need a pruning ladder and/or a pole pruner.

First, buy a three-legged, aluminum (not wooden) orchard pruning and picking ladder. These come six, eight, 10, 12, 14 and 16-feet tall and cost from $75 to $200. Not cheap, but the most comfortable way to prune a large tree with hand pruners and a lopper. Pole pruners are much more difficult to use and more stressful.

If ladders scare you, an extending pole pruner is best. Buy one with fiberglass poles (no wood) which telescope from six to twelve feet. The only variety worth buying has a cast metal head (where the clipper and saw are) and a chain-and-gear driven mechanism when you pull the rope to clip a limb up to two-inches in diameter. A good pole pruner will set you back $125-180.

Now, with all these pricey tools, you’re ready to be a real clip joint!

Let me know what you think! Email me at

** Read my "Longbit" about Beneficial Insects and Companion Planting.

Read Other Tidbits in our Archive:

Shovels and spades


Mixing the Horticultural Interlopers with the Natives

Drip irrigation


Pruning tools and paraphernalia

Cultivating Shrubs and Trees with Bambi

Caterpillars are pests aren't they?

Peasant Gardens versus Convenience

Planting a Tree

Parallel Drip In-Line Emitter Tubing

Trees that Heave Patios & Walkways

Succulent Asian Pears

Wacky Garden Myths

Winter Pruning

In-line Drip Emitter

Super Sturdy Pressure Regulator

Myth: Taproots Anchor All Trees


Soil Biota and Moisture

Off Season Beauty

Cistern Water for Landscapes

Double Digging vs. No-Till Method

Parabolic Windbreaks

The Limits of Diversity


Grey Water

Microbial and Fungal Inoculants

Non-Leguminous Nitrogen Fixers

Soil Amendments

In-Line Drip Irrigation

Friendly Fungus

• Fungus Benefits for Plants

Summer Pruning

What's Ornamental?

Deep Watering for Survival Only



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