When And How To Use A Pole Saw Versus A Pole Pruner

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey

Does your home have lots of tall trees? Or maybe you have tall shrubs or even high-climbing vines that tend to grow out of control. Regardless of exactly what type of hard-to-reach plant life you have in your yard, it is bound to become difficult and even frustrating to maintain your home’s landscaping once you can no longer reach the plants. This is where pole saws and pole pruners come in handy. But what exactly are pole saws and pole pruners, and when is it a good idea to use one over the other?

Both pole pruners and pole saws are highly effective at landscaping hard-to-reach plants. Pole pruners are great at cutting hard-to-reach branches, vines and shrubs that are less than 3 inches thick. For branches upward of 8 inches in diameter, use a pole saw. Pole saws are great at removing dead tree sections, larger tree branches and dense, thorny bushes.

If you have a yard with tall trees and plants, a pole pruner and pole saw are definitely worthy investments. After all, without them, your landscaping will either look sloppy or you will find yourself paying out-of-pocket for a professional to come by and trim these unreachable spots.

If you are wondering whether you should buy a pole saw or pole pruner, or when to use which one, you are in luck. In this article, we will go over the major differences between a pole saw and a pole pruner, and when you should use one instead of the other.

What Is The Difference Between Pole Saws And Pole Pruners?

First, let’s discuss the similarities between pole saws and pole pruners. The main thing that connects these two tools is that both are designed to trim plants that are difficult to reach. They have extended handles and are designed to be functional even when the trimming is occurring several feet from your hands.

The differences between the two, however, mainly center around the type of plant or branch that needs trimming. Pole pruners are more versatile than pole saws. They are great for trimming vines, small branches, hedges and bushes. Like most pruners, they are easy to handle, and involve a squeezing or scissoring motion (depending on the design). This makes them easy to hold and use. But they are no good with branches that are more than a couple of inches thick.

Pole saws are essentially saws attached to an extended pole. They are specifically designed to saw through hard-to-reach and thick branches. They work on pieces of wood upwards of 8 to 10 inches in diameter.

They are not as easy to use as pruners, as they require a sawing motion rather than a quick snip. Still, for a hard-to-reach larger-sized branch, a pole saw is the best (and often only) option. Keep in mind, however, that while a pole saw can cut through fairly thick branches, it does not replace a chainsaw when it comes to cutting through large logs.

What Are The Different Uses For A Pole Saw And Pole Pruner

If you are debating between a pole saw and a pole pruner, the best way to determine which one is the best wood-cutting tool for you to buy is to understand the best uses for each. Below is a list of the top uses of both pole saws and pole pruners.

Popular Pole Saw Uses

Cutting Off Tree Branches

The most common use for a pole saw is to cut off tree branches. Most large tree branches are higher than a typical saw can reach, making a pole saw the best and only option. Additionally, since pole saws can cut through limbs upward of 8 inches thick, this means they tend to be perfect for cutting new growth and even medium- to large-sized branches on most trees.

Removing Dead Sections Of A Tree

Another great use for a pole saw is to trim tall dead sections of a tree. Certain limbs or parts of a tree can die off due to disease, bugs or a split in the wood. It is important to trim these sections off to ensure the problem does not spread or continue to waste the tree’s energy. Pole saws are great at making these difficult and precise cuts.

Cutting Off Large Fruit Clusters

Various fruits that grow on tall trees, namely coconuts and other tropical fruit trees that grow in clusters, can be sawed down with a pole saw. Just make sure there is a net bellow and you (and anyone around you) is wearing protective head gear. Getting hit on the head by a coconut might seem like a funny situation, but it can cause serious brain injuries and even death.

Popular Pole Pruner Uses

Cutting Vines Down To Size

Vines are known to go from zero to 100 feet at the blink of an eye. What began as a small cute vine can quickly climb onto a fence or your home and spiral out of control. Pole pruners are fantastic at pruning vines that are hard to reach. Whether they are high up, or you are trying to reach in close to the main stalk, pole pruners are your best friend.

Trimming Back Wall Shrubs

Shrubs along your fence and wall need regular maintenance. Sometimes, hedge trimmers are not available, or you are unable to reach the top of your shrubs with a hedge trimmer. Regardless, pole pruners are great at reaching these hard-to-reach spots on the tops or far-end of large shrubs.

Pruning Growths On Trees

Sometimes trees start growing plants within their trunks. Often these plants are not thick enough for a pole saw, but a pole pruner can nip them easily. Pole pruners have good control, and can cut off these small growths without ripping the bark or otherwise damaging the tree.

Trimming Back Thorny Or Thick-Branched Bushes

Some bushes might not be that tall, but they are so prickly that you need to stand far away for safety. If you need to prune or trim a bush with large thorns or prickly, sappy surfaces, consider using a pole pruner. A pole pruner has all the same functionality of a typical pruner, with the added benefit of allowing you a safe distance from the hazardous plant.

Different Types Of Pole Pruners

Bypass Pruners: These are the most popular type of pole pruners used by DIY landscapers. They act similar to scissors, with one curved moving blade and another sharp blade. They are great for sharp clean cuts.

Anvil Pruners: These pruners are similar to other large pruners, and while not as popular, they are great for thicker stems. They have one sharp curved blade that presses against the flattened “anvil.” These are a good choice for those cutting thicker branches (half an inch to 2- or 3-inch branches) on a regular basis.

Different Types Of Pole Saws

Manual Pole Saw: Manual pole saws are found in many sheds. They act like a typical manual saw. The benefit here is they do not require fuel or a power source. Therefore they are ready for use anywhere and any time. They do, however, take some effort, and there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to successfully sawing branches.

Gasoline-Powered Pole Saw: Gasoline-powered pole saws are popular among professional landscapers and those serious about getting larger branches down without the help of others. This type of pole saw essentially combines the height of a pole saw with the functionality of a hedge trimmer or chainsaw of sorts.

Just like a chainsaw, these gasoline-powered saws tend to be quite loud. While they work very well on thick branches, they might be more powerful than you need if you only require occasional use. They are also the most expensive type of pole saw.

Electric-Powered Pole Saw: Electric-powered pole saws are also available. They have much more power than a manual saw, but less than a gas-powered saw. The obvious downside to these saws are that electric power might not be readily available. They also just aren’t as powerful as the gas saw.

Tips To Remember When Using A Pole Pruner Or Pole Saw

  • Wear All The Right Safety Equipment: Make sure you wear a hard hat, protective eyewear, a face mask and gloves when using both pole pruners and pole saws. It is highly likely that small (or even large) objects will fall in your direction as you trim above you.
  • Cut Or Prune Perpendicular To The Branch: Do not prune directly overhead. Stand and saw (or prune) perpendicular to the branch. A bit of a distance will prevent the branches from falling on you, and will give you a better line of sight.
  • Make Sure You Are On Steady Clear Ground: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart on steady ground. Remove any potential tripping hazards.
  • Start Low Then Work Your Way Up: One common mistake is to trim high small branches first. Always start low and then work your way up. This will be easier and safer.
  • Grip The Pole With Both Hands Near Your Chest: Make sure you have a firm grip and complete control when using the pole pruner or pole saw. This means both hands firmly grasping it at all times.

Final Thoughts On Using a Pole Saw Versus A Pole Pruner

Pole pruners and pole saws are both very effective tools when it comes to trimming hard-to-reach tree limbs. But while pole pruners and pole saws are often assumed to be the same, they are quite different. Pole saws are great at cutting thick tree limbs (anything thicker than three inches, and upwards of 8 inches). Pole pruners, on the other hand, are more versatile. They are great at swimming shrubs, thorny bushes, wines and thin branches on trees.

Related Guides:

Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

More by Tom Gaffey