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Lopper. What the Pros Say. 10 Things You Should Know

Keeping your garden in fine shape can be demanding since it requires more than just growing a variety of plants. One of the widely used tools in a gardener’s toolkit is a lopper which comes in different types and sizes to suit the pruning needs of your landscape.


Loppers are scissors-like tools that trim small branches (up to 2″ in dia). Their long handles and sharp blades help to cut woody branches easily, making them a handy tool for homeowners, gardeners, and forestry workers. Various types of loppers range from bypass to ratchet and compound action loppers. Each type is suited for a specific use, whether pruning live or dead branches or pruning for professional use.

So, let’s take a closer look at what loppers are, the different types available, and how to choose the right one for your gardening or forestry work.

What Is a Tree Lopper?

A tree lopper is a cutting tool typically used to cut branches and shape trees. It has a set of curved blades made up of high-carbon steel, and these blades are attached to long handles that provide leverage while cutting. Handles are ideally made from a lightweight material such as wood.

Tree loppers are available in different handle sizes. Some handles are even as long as 3 feet. Although they limit maneuverability, they provide enough reach to higher branches without needing a ladder.

Using tree loppers is also easier than a chainsaw as it’s a manual tool with minimal health and safety risks. Your gardening toolbox should have a tree lopper if you want to maintain your trees’ health and aesthetics.

What Is a Lopper Used for?

A lopper is used to trim branches of trees and herbs. They are commonly used where a pruner or a shear wouldn’t provide enough cutting strength, such as thick and woody branches.

If you’re a gardener or a homeowner looking to maintain your orchard, you often need to prune overgrown branches. Some of the trees may have dead branches that also require cutting down. Doing this helps expose the healthier branches to sunlight and reduces the likelihood of disease in your plant.

In the case of fruit-bearing plants, removing branches infected by fungi or bacterial growth becomes even more important to prevent the spreading of these effects to the remaining plant.

Various tools are available to help trim these branches, such as hedge shears, hand pruners, hacksaws, chainsaws, and loppers. Each tool serves a specific objective. For example, pruners or shears can easily trim small herbs and thin branches. Whereas, for large wooden branches (up to 5 inches in dia), you need a chainsaw to make cuts.

Loppers are used ideally where the branch dia is up to 2 inches. These branches cannot be trimmed using smaller tools like shears or pruners. The strong cutting blades and the large handles ensure that the user trims these branches without much manual effort.

Loppers come in various types depending on their blade design and mechanisms. Let’s explore these types in the following section.

What Are the Different Types of Loppers?

There are various types of loppers, including bypass loppers, anvil loppers, ratchet loppers, and compound action loppers. To better understand how they are used, continue reading:

Bypass Loppers

Bypass loppers are a common pruning tool for cutting branches in various outdoor environments such as gardens, orchards, and parks. They are made explicitly for trimming branches up to 2 inches in diameter.

Bypass loppers have a scissor-like cutting mechanism where two blades cross each other, resulting in a precise and clean cut that does not harm the branch. These loppers are the go-to tool for live pruning branches since they minimize the risk of damage and help prevent the spread of diseases.

Furthermore, their long handles allow for improved reach, eliminating the need for a ladder and rendering them a versatile and essential tool for any outdoor space.

Anvil Loppers

Anvil loppers are a pruning tool frequently used to cut thick, dead, or dry branches in gardens, parks, and orchards.

These loppers feature a cutting mechanism where a single blade is pressed against a flat surface (the anvil), allowing for greater force and leverage when cutting through branches up to 2 inches in diameter. They are more suited to remove dead or overgrown branches and in applications where you don’t require precision in cutting.

However, make sure that while using anvil loppers, you don’t damage the tree bark due to their strong crushing action. This could leave the tree vulnerable to diseases.

Ratchet Loppers

Ratchet loppers have a ratchet mechanism that allows the cutting to carry out in stages, with force required to cut decreasing with each turn. These loppers provide the same cutting strength as anvil loppers and are easier to operate too.

Ratchet loppers are common among professionals where there is a need for efficiency and slicing down many thick branches in less time. Due to their increased cutting power, they are also handy for people with limited hand strength. The added leverage makes it less strenuous to use and lessens the risk of injury.

Compound Action Loppers

Compound action loppers utilize multiple pivot points to amplify the cutting power exerted by the user. This makes them ideal for cutting through thick branches and woody stems.

The added leverage allows for more efficient pruning, reducing the time and effort required to trim and maintain plants and trees. They are a reliable tool for skilled landscapers and determined gardeners due to their durable design and soft handles.

Each type of lopper has its unique features and is suitable for a specific type of pruning. Hence, it would be best to use the right tool accordingly depending on the job.

What Is the Difference Between a Lopper and A Pruner?

A lopper and a pruner are different due to the size of the branches they can cut. Loppers are suited for thicker branches generally, while pruners are better at handling smaller ones.


Pruners are cutting tools generally used to trim branches less than 1 inch in diameter. Pruners resemble scissors due to their short handle and smaller blades. The smaller blade size makes maneuvering in tight spaces around branches easier, so they can be used with a single hand.


On the other hand, loppers are typically larger than pruners and can cut thicker branches (up to 2 inches in dia). Loppers have larger handles which provide greater leverage while cutting thick branches, and having large handles also ensures greater reach at higher branches.

To conclude, both tools perform the same function but differ in size, durability, and leverage.

What Is the Difference Between Shears and Loppers?

Pruning shears and loppers are scissor-like cutting tools that can be used to cut branches and shape hedges and trees. Both differ from each other in terms of size, blade design, and the type of branches they are suitable for.

Most people use the same name for shears, loppers, and pruners. However, these tools have some distinct differences that are mentioned below.


Shears feature long, straight cutting blades for shaping hedges, trimming overgrown branches, and maintaining straight lawn edges. They commonly operate on thin branches of herbs and smaller trees, and Shears feature comparatively shorter handles and are designed to be used with two hands. Most pros recommend the use of shears for branches less than 0.5-inch diameter.


Unlike shears, the blades in the lopper are curved and slightly shorter in length. Their handles are typically longer than shears (about 1.5-2.5 ft in height), allowing greater cutting leverage. Loppers are suitable for cutting thicker branches (up to 2 inches in dia). They are used to remove dead overgrown branches and shape trees and shrubs to reorganize their growth pattern.

To conclude, it’s good to have both tools in your armory. While cutting down small, thin branches of herbs and foliage, shears are a good option. It would be best to use loppers to lay down the thicker branches of larger trees.

What Size Lopper Should I Buy?

While buying a lopper, take note of the size of the branches you need to cut and the cutting space available. Loppers generally range from 15″ to 36″ in handle lengths. Larger handle lengths are ideal for thick branches (2 inches in dia), while a smaller handle would be suitable for thinner branches.

Before you buy a lopper, there are two things you should consider.

  • Type: Choose whether you want anvil or bypass-type loppers. Anvil-type loppers are more appropriate for cutting dead, thick branches due to their anvil-style sharp cutting blades. Bypass loppers would be better if your garden has live, green branches.
  • Handle Size: Lopper handles range from 15 inches to 36 inches in length. Loppers with larger handles (about 36 inches) provide the highest leverage and cutting power but limit the ease of use and maneuverability. Such loppers would be the best choice for cutting branches 2-2.5 inches in diameter. For even thicker branches, a chainsaw would be the ideal choice.

But generally, a handle of about 18-24 inches would suffice if you want to cut branches up to 2 inches in diameter. This would ensure sufficient cutting power while providing decent comfort and maneuverability.

What Is the Difference Between a Lopper and A Bypass Lopper?

The cutting mechanism is the main difference between a lopper and a bypass lopper. While all loppers are intended for cutting branches, bypass loppers are designed explicitly for trimming live branches.

A lopper is a gardening tool featuring long handles and a scissor-like cutting head, suitable for cutting small to medium-sized branches. On the other hand, a bypass lopper is a specific type of lopper with two curved blades passing by each other, much like a pair of scissors, to make an accurate and neat cut on live branches.

Live branches are characterized by their green color and flexibility. They transport water and essential nutrients and are hence ‘live’. These branches are often pruned to shape the plant. However, avoid excessively pruning live branches since it can affect overall health and make the plant vulnerable to pests.

Apart from the cutting mechanism, bypass loppers generally have smaller cutting capacities than other lopper types and are ideal for pruning trees, shrubs, and other live growth, where a precise and clean cut is required. On the other hand, other lopper types may have larger cutting capacities and are better suited for heavier-duty cutting tasks.

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  1. Mario Martin says:

    I love using loppers for pruning, they make the job so much easier.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for sharing your love for using loppers! They truly are a valuable tool for making pruning tasks easier and more efficient. Keep up the great work in your garden!

  2. Krin Hale says:

    I appreciate the tips on how to select the right lopper for my garden.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Krin! I’m glad you found the tips useful for selecting the right lopper. Happy gardening!

  3. Thomas Shelton says:

    Very informative article, thank you for explaining the differences.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      I’m glad you found the article informative, Thomas! Thank you for taking the time to read it and learn more about loppers. Let me know if you have any more questions!

  4. Sarah Hoffman says:

    I have used loppers before and they are so helpful in the garden.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience with loppers, Sarah. They are indeed a useful tool in any garden!

  5. Sean Harper says:

    I never knew there were so many types of loppers available.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      I’m glad you found the information helpful, Sean. There are indeed many types of loppers available, each suited for different pruning needs. Happy gardening!

  6. Ethel Cole says:

    Great information on different types of loppers!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Ethel! I’m glad you found the information on loppers helpful. Let me know if you have any questions about choosing the right one for your gardening needs!

  7. David Sullivan says:

    I didn’t realize there was such a variety of loppers to choose from.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your comment! Yes, there is a wide variety of loppers available to suit different pruning needs. I hope you find the perfect one for your gardening tasks.

  8. Lisa Castillo says:

    Loppers are definitely a must-have tool for any gardener or homeowner.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Lisa! I couldn’t agree more. Loppers are indeed a must-have tool for maintaining a beautiful garden or landscape. Their versatility and ease make them essential for any gardener or homeowner.

  9. Wanda Welch says:

    The video demonstrations were very helpful to understand how loppers work.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Wanda! I’m glad to hear that the video demonstrations helped you understand loppers better. Happy gardening!

  10. Hunter Byrd says:

    Nice breakdown of how to choose the right lopper for your needs.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Hunter! I’m glad you found the breakdown helpful. Let me know if you have any questions about choosing the right lopper for your needs.