Which tree pruner is best?
The best tree pruner is one that is big enough to remove woody material from your trees while being easy to handle. Tree pruners not only come in different sizes and shapes but in manual and powered versions that use different methods. With the right tree pruner, you can prune away anything from large tree limbs to small branches.

What is a tree pruner?
A tree pruner is a tool designed to trim dead or diseased branches from trees to maintain their health. Pruners are also used to shape trees and shrubs to make them look more appealing by removing live branches that are too short or too long. Pruners use one of several different methods and are designed to cut small, medium or large twigs, branches and limbs.

What to know before you buy a tree pruner
There are four different categories of tree pruners, each designed to perform a specific task.

Hand pruners are the smallest, good for one-handed cutting of twigs and branches about the thickness of pencils. They are also called pruning shears.
Loppers are bigger than shears and have bigger blades and longer handles. You use two hands to supply the power and leverage.
Pruning saws are hand saws with curved, toothed blades that cut branches up to 8 inches thick.
Pole saws are pruning saws on long handles for cutting branches overhead while staying on the ground.
What to look for in a quality tree pruner
Hardened steel and carbon steel are strong materials that won’t break or bend under pressure. Higher-grade steels also stay sharp much longer than lower-quality steel found in budget pruners, loppers and saws. Some blades are treated with coatings that reduce friction and channel away tree sap to make cutting easier.

Wooden handles are strong but deteriorate over time.
Steel handles are the strongest and most durable but also the heaviest.
Aluminum handles are lightweight but lack the strength needed to cut larger limbs and branches.
Fiberglass handles are strong and lightweight.
Hand pruners should have ergonomic grips designed so your hand rests comfortably in the proper position. Look for grips that are made of long-lasting, nonslip materials.

Four types of tree pruners
Choose the tree pruner that is sized for the limbs, branches and twigs you want to remove.

Hand pruners
These manual hand tools are also called pruning shears. They are made to be used with one hand and are for cutting branches smaller than an inch in diameter.

Bypass pruning shears work like a pair of scissors: two blades passing each other.
Anvil hand pruners have a sharp upper blade that closes onto the anvil, the lower jaw.
These long-handled bypass pruners are made to cut larger branches. Their design uses two sharp blades to cut the branches from both sides at once with a levering action. They look like a bigger, stronger and sturdier pair of hedge shears and are good for pruning branches from 1 to 2 inches in diameter, about the width of a finger or two.

Pruning saws
Pruners and loppers work by pinching and slicing through tree limbs and branches. A pruning saw is a hand saw that cuts with a back-and-forth motion. Pruning saws are used to cut bigger branches than loppers can handle.

Pole saws
Pole saws are pruning saws with long handles, so you can cut those overhead branches you can’t reach from the ground. They are considered to be much safer to use than pruners or loppers that would have you balancing on a ladder. Because they’re tools with a single long handle, it is no longer feasible to cut with a scissoring motion, so a saw with sharp teeth does the work.

Hand-operated: These are less expensive than powered pole saws but require more strength and stamina on your part.
Powered: They cost more and are heavier than manual pole saws, but they cut more quickly and make pruning less of a chore.
Best hand pruners
Best Fiskars Bypass Pruning Shears
Fiskars Bypass Pruning Shears

These garden shears have nonslip grips and two friction-coated steel blades that come together to make clean cuts on branches up to five-eighths of an inch thick.

Sold by Amazon

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Best Haus Garten Titanium Heavy Duty Bypass Pruning Shears
Haus & Garten Titanium Heavy Duty Bypass Pruning Shears

The titanium coating on the hardened steel blades can cut branches up to 1 inch thick. The cushioned pads absorb shock and are ideal for people who have arthritic hands.

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Best Fiskars Power Lever Anvil Pruner
Fiskars Power Lever Anvil Pruner

The special levering technology maximizes mechanical advantage to make cutting twice as easy. This tool is made for pruning away dry, dead growth up to five-eighths of an inch in diameter.

Sold by Amazon

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Best Corona Long Reach Cut N Hold Pruner
Corona Long Reach Cut ‘n’ Hold Pruner

You can cut small branches up to half an inch in diameter with this 46-inch tree-trimming tool. The cut and hold feature grips the wood until you release it, keeping you safe from falling branches.

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Best loppers
Best Tabor Tools Compound Action Anvil Tree Trimmer
Tabor Tools Compound Action Anvil Tree Trimmer

Cut branches up to 2 inches in diameter easily with this 30-inch steel-handled tool that weighs less than 4 pounds. When the blades are dulled from extensive use, you can easily swap out new ones.

Sold by Amazon

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Best Spear Jackson Razor Sharp Heavy Duty Telescopic Ratchet Anvil Loppers
Spear & Jackson Razor Sharp Heavy Duty Telescopic Ratchet Anvil Loppers

These pruners easily handle 2-inch branches with a carbon steel blade and a ratchet action that advances the spring-loaded blade in short, easy steps. The handle length adjusts from 18 to 31 inches.

Sold by Amazon

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Best pruning saws
Best Corona AM Leonard 7-Inch Razor Tooth Folding Saw
Corona A.M. Leonard 7-Inch Razor Tooth Folding Saw

The blade is chrome-plated, and each razor tooth has three sharp angles for faster, smoother and easier cutting of dead and hard limbs up to 3 inches in diameter. The blade folds into the ergonomic handle for safety.

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Best pole saws
Best Corona Dual Link Tree Saw and Pruner
Corona Dual Link Tree Saw and Pruner

The compound action pulley design adds leverage to give this tool three times the cutting power of competitors. Use one of the lightweight reinforced fiberglass poles for a 6-foot extension or both to double your reach.

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Best DeWalt Battery-Powered Adjustable Length 20V Pole Saw
DeWalt Battery-Powered Adjustable Length 20V Pole Saw

The battery that powers this 4-inch chainsaw-on-a-pole makes up to 96 cuts before needing to be recharged. The pole extends up to 10 feet for a total reach of 15 feet.

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Best Echo 21.2 cc 2-Stroke Gas Pole Saw
Echo 21.2 cc 2-Stroke Gas Pole Saw

This 15-pound saw has a shaft nearly 8 feet long, and its weight is supported by a shoulder strap. Rubber grips on the front and rear handles reduce vibration and operator fatigue.

Sold by Home Depot

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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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Expert Shopper › Lawn & Garden
First time mulching in the fall? Here’s what you need to know
by Laura Reed
October 4, 2023

Adobe Stock
How to quickly and easily mulch fall leaves for a cleaner, healthier yard
Your big shade trees may be a source of joy most of the year, but come autumn, their fallen leaves can result in a lot of work. Leaving them out can smother your lawn or cause disease, while bagging them and disposing of them means losing their valuable nutrients. Mulching may sound intimidating, and it’s still a lot of work, but mulching both cleans up your yard and improves soil health. Best of all, you may be able to mulch with the lawn mower that’s already in your garage.

Shop this article: WORX WG430 Electric Leaf Mulcher, Greenworks 20-Inch 3-in-1 Electric Corded Lawn Mower, Toro 51621 UltraPlus Leaf Blower Vacuum

How mulching helps your yard
Raking and bagging leaves takes time, while burning leaves releases carbon into the atmosphere. Mulching leaves and grass clippings helps them break down faster, returning essential nutrients to your lawn instead of losing them in a landfill. Mulch also acts as effective insulation against winter temperature drops, helps soil retain water and prevents weeds.

Over the long term, mulching leaves and grass clipping helps your soil accumulate organic matter, retain soil moisture, and provide nourishment for microorganisms that keep soil healthy. Mulching leaves also ensures your lawn isn’t buried under a soggy mat of organic matter, which prevents light and oxygen from reaching the grass and can even result in disease.

Even if you don’t plan to use the mulch, cutting up leaf debris into mulch helps it fit into collection bags much more efficiently. However, saving and recycling your mulch is a valuable investment in your property and a good use of natural resources.

October Prime Day: Here are the best early deals

How to mulch
Mulch leaves as soon as possible after they fall. The mulch pieces should be small enough that they blend into the grass in your lawn rather than sitting on top of it. Adding a nitrogen-based fertilizer can also help leaves break down faster so the soil absorbs the nutrients sooner. To use mulch in your landscaping, spread a 2-inch layer by hand or with a rake.

How to mulch leaves with a mower
If you don’t have to deal with a lot of leaves, or if you don’t want to store additional equipment, a lawn mower with a mulching function can be an excellent multitasker for lawn care. Three-function lawn mowers (meaning mowers that feature side discharge, mulching and bagging) make the task easier, particularly if you need the mulch elsewhere on your property.

Simply set the mower to its highest deck height, insert the mulch plug, and switch to the mower’s dedicated mulching blade if it comes with one. Once your mower is set, mow a test strip. If needed, lower the mower deck to the next lowest cutting height and try again. Once you’ve determined the best height, mow in stripes, passing over the discharged mulch to cut it up even further. Leave the mulched leaves to decompose in your turf or use the bagged mulch on other plants or in your compost.

Your leaf cover should be less than 6 inches deep to use a mower effectively. If it’s piled higher than that, you’ll need to rake or use a leaf blower to clear away enough leaves for your mower to handle.

Other mulching methods
If you only have to mulch a couple bags of leaves, a string trimmer or weed eater can make quick work of dry leaves. Pile the leaves into a bin to contain them for efficient shredding.

For larger amounts of leaves, a dedicated leaf shredder, multifunction leaf blower, or even a wood chipper helps quickly generate mulch. Leaf shredders range from expensive walk-behind mulchers to multipurpose, budget-friendly handheld models. Some standalone leaf shredders even let you shred directly into a bag for easy cleanup.

Best mulchers
Orange and black mini wood chipper on white background
SuperHandy Mini Wood Chipper

Small yet rugged, this powerful mulcher can reduce 15 bags of leaves to one. It’s also capable of mulching branches up to 3 inches in diameter. It’s powered by a 7 horsepower, four-stroke, single-cylinder engine and features an adjustable chute.

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Black and orange WORX WG430 Electric Leaf Mulcher on white background
WORX WG430 Electric Leaf Mulcher

This efficient electric mulcher features a unique upright design that’s easy to use and reposition around your yard. Simply drop leaves into the top to mulch 53 gallons of leaves per minute, reducing 11 bags of leaves into one.

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EGO Power+ 56V 21-Inch Select Cut Lawn Mower
EGO Power+ 56V 21-Inch Select Cut Lawn Mower

This highly customizable lawn mower makes mulching easy thanks to its seven-position cutting height and variable self-propel speed. Its cutting system includes a specialized mulching blade that produces fine mulch pieces.

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Green and black Greenworks 20-Inch 3-in-1 Electric Corded Lawn Mower on white background
Greenworks 20-Inch 3-in-1 Electric Corded Lawn Mower

Simple yet reliable, this lawn mower is a great pick for smaller yards. It can mulch even wet grass clippings effectively, and it’s easy to use thanks to its seven cutting heights and lightweight, easy maneuverability.