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Best Loppers

Updated September 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 14 Models Considered
  • 5 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 133 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best loppers

    Last Updated September 2018

    A good set of gardening tools can help you maintain your home’s curb appeal. For many people, it’s also just plain fun to work with a set of top-notch gardening tools. One of the stars of the show is the lopper.

    Loppers are pruning tools. You can use them to trim down foliage, stems, and branches to achieve the sizes and shapes you want in your yard. You can also use them to get rid of dead, dying, or damaged branches and stems.

    Loppers aren’t the only pruning tool available to you; there are also hand pruners, hedge shears, and pruning saws. If you’re looking for some clarification on what loppers can do for you, you’ve come to the right place. The shopping guide below explores the role of loppers in successful gardening and explains terms and concepts you need to know to choose the right pair. When you’re ready to shop for loppers, we invite you to look at the chart at the top of this page, where we highlight our favorite loppers available right now.

    Your gardening tool collection should include a variety of pruners, including loppers, hand pruners, and garden shears. When it’s time to prune your shrubs and small trees, a good lopper will make the job much easier and more enjoyable.

    Terms to know: anvil and bypass

    Before discussing the different types of pruners and their uses, we first need to explain the terms “bypass” and “anvil,” as you’ll encounter both when shopping for loppers.

    A bypass lopper has two blades that slide past each other, much like a pair of scissors. This action renders a nice, clean cut on living stems and branches. However, the tool sometimes becomes jammed when cutting through dead, diseased, or especially fibrous plant material.

    An anvil lopper has one sharp blade that closes onto a slightly softer, thicker anvil. The action is something like bringing a knife down onto a cutting board. Anvil pruning tools are great for trimming away dead or diseased branches and twigs because they crush through the dry branches easily. However, this crushing action can rip or tear living plant material.

    Keep your loppers in good condition by wiping them clean after every use.

    Types of pruning tools

    Loppers are just one type of pruning tool; there are others as well. We explore the different types of tools below so you can make an informed decision as you shop. Many people find it beneficial to keep several different pruning tools in their gardening arsenal.

    Hand pruners

    As the name suggests, hand pruners are small tools that fit comfortably in your hand and have small, slightly curved blades. Use hand pruners for cutting stems or branches that are less than three quarters of an inch thick. You’ll find both anvil and bypass hand pruners, and if you are an avid gardener, it’s best to own both types.

    Loppers

    Loppers share some similarities with hand pruners, but these tools are larger and have longer handles. You’ll want a lopper to tackle branches that are between three quarters of an inch and two inches thick. Both anvil and bypass loppers exist, and again, if you spend a lot of time working in your garden, you’ll want both. If you must limit yourself to one kind of lopper, however, make it a bypass lopper.

    Hedge shears

    With fairly long handles and blades that cut with a scissoring motion, these tools look like oversized scissors. The blade length makes it easy to cut through many small stems or thin branches with one swipe. Hedge shears aren’t right for trimming thick branches, but they’re great for manicuring lighter foliage.

    Pruning saw

    A pruning saw is a small hand saw used to cut through branches thicker than two inches. These tools are very handy if you need to tackle overgrown shrubs, trees, or even large rose bushes.

    EXPERT TIP

    Dull blades won’t cut cleanly, so after a vigorous pruning session, sharpen your lopper blades with a flat mill file.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    What to look for in a lopper

    When shopping for an anvil or bypass lopper, there are a few things to consider.

    Lopper blades

    The best loppers have hardened or carbon steel blades. This super-strong metal won’t crack or bend when tackling tough branches, and it won’t need sharpening as often as lower-quality steel. Pass by any loppers that have burrs, rough spots, bends, or other visible imperfections in the blades.

    Nonstick coating

    Some loppers have a nonstick coating on the blades. While not absolutely necessary, this is a nice feature that helps the blades glide through sticky sap without a mess – a big plus if you prune pine trees or other sappy plants.

    Adjustable blade tightness

    Quality loppers have a screw that allows you to adjust the tightness of the blades.

    Specialized cutting action

    While basic loppers are good for most tasks, there are specialized loppers made for tougher situations. Ratcheted blades catch as you squeeze, so you can release without losing pressure before finishing the cut. These are especially good if you have arthritis or hand weakness, as you can “rest” your hand while pruning a thick branch. Geared blades have small gears at the fulcrum of the blades. This gives you more leverage during a cut and thus the ability to tackle thicker branches without excessive effort. Compound action blades have extra hinges in the fulcrum, thereby increasing your cutting power without increasing your effort.

    Length

    Loppers come in a wide range of lengths; you’ll find some around a foot long and others over 30 inches long. While longer loppers give you more leverage and thus more cutting power, lengthy tools are also heavier and more difficult to work with. Most people find loppers between 20 and 28 inches to be the most comfortable. If you can’t settle on one length, consider a pair of telescoping loppers that allow you to extend the handles several inches when necessary.

    Handle material

    Lopper handles may be made of wood, steel, hardened aluminum, or fiberglass. Wood and steel are heavy yet strong. Fiberglass and aluminum are lighter; choose one of these materials if you’re concerned about wielding too much weight.

    Grips

    Your hands absorb a lot of pressure while pruning. For this reason, most good loppers have a cushioned, non-slip grip. Some are ergonomically designed for enhanced comfort while cutting.

    For the best performance, oil your lopper blades periodically with a few drops of WD-40 or a similar lubricant.

    Tips

    First of all, you should know what you’re pruning and when the best time for pruning is. Deciduous trees should be pruned while they are dormant. Early-spring shrubs like lilacs and viburnums should be pruned after they bloom. Late bloomers such as butterfly bush, crape myrtle, and smoke bushes should be pruned before they bloom.

    While pruning is something of an art, and there are specialized techniques for creating topiaries and other elaborate forms, some basic guidelines exist that work for just about every type of shrub.

    • Before you begin pruning, remove any dead, broken, or diseased branches. Cut these away entirely.

    • Next, look for branches that overlap or rub together. Cut the more awkwardly placed branch back to the nearest crotch where two branches split off.

    • Encourage new growth in plants with multiple stems by cutting a few of the older stems down to the ground.

    • Clip away suckers, which are small stems or shoots coming up from the plant’s roots.

    • Now, shape and size the shrub to your liking. Make cuts on a slight angle, and place the loppers right above a bud on the branch being cut.

    • Most shrubs look best when left to their natural shape. Don’t go crazy with your loppers; when pruning for appearance, remove just enough to keep the plant attractively shaped. As a general rule, don’t cut a shrub down by more than a third unless you are doing winter pruning.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    If you’ve been cutting diseased wood or foliage, dip or spray the lopper blades with a 50/50 mixture of bleach and water to prevent the spread of disease to the next plant you prune.

    Lopper prices

    You can find cheap, basic loppers for less than $20, but these aren’t generally known for their smooth performance. For a quality garden lopper, expect to spend at least $25 and more likely $35 to $50.

    Loppers with specialty mechanisms and telescoping handles generally cost the most. It’s a fairly significant investment, but if cared for properly, a good set of loppers will last you a decade or more. For this reason, many people decide it’s worth it to spend a little extra on a high-quality product.

    Our test process

    FAQ

    Q. How should I care for my loppers to keep them in good condition?

    A. Loppers and other gardening tools will last longer and work better if cared for properly. After each use, wipe away any sap and sawdust. (Pro tip: you can use turpentine to remove dry sap from your loppers.) If the blades are especially dirty, hose them off and use a scrubber to remove grunge. Then, wipe the blades dry and store them in a shed or garage out of direct sunlight and away from intense heat.

    Q. Can I use my loppers to prune or deadhead small plants like perennials and annual flowers?

    A. You can, but it’s difficult to use large loppers on small plants. You’ll find the task much easier with a hand pruner. Loppers are best suited for the pruning of shrubs, small trees, and large rose bushes.

    Q. I want to use loppers to trim branches on a tall shrub. How do I reach?

    A. A pair of loppers with a telescoping handle lets you reach a foot or two higher for pruning trees or tall shrubs; you may wish to buy a tool with this type of handle. If you want to prune even higher than that, you’ll either need to balance on a ladder while cutting or use a pole pruner, which has a very long handle designed to reach up into tree branches.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Linsay
      Linsay
      Editor
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor
    • Michael
      Michael
      Writer
    • Michelle
      Michelle
      Writer

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