The "lilacs of the South," crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia spp.) provide abundant flower color in the heat of midsummer and many selections develop multi-colored, exfoliating trunk bark for winter interest. Little maintenance pruning is required on these trees for abundant flowering. Clip away spent flower clusters and focus on removing damaged, rubbing or dead twigs---not creating severe branch wounds with over-pruning.
Hand pruners also may be referred to as hand shears, pruning scissors or secateurs. A "must-have" for every gardener, hand pruners facilitate easy, crisp and clean cutting of woody branches and twigs that are no larger than 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Hand pruners work perfectly for removing suckering shoots from crape myrtle trunk bases and old flowers at branch tips, and for the removal of small branches that are damaged, rubbing against one another or simply "in the way."
Occasionally a branch on the crape myrtle may grow too closely to another branch or may be headed toward a building facade or other feature. Branches with diameters greater than 3/4 inch but less than 1 and 1/2 inches are best cut with loppers. Lopper cutting blades are larger and of a heavier construction than those of a hand pruners, and have long handles that provide added torque during the cut.
Sometimes the height or angle of the pruning cut you wish to make seems too difficult or awkward with loppers, which requires both hands to be on the cutting tool. Hand saws, or pruning saws, are streamlined metal saw blades with coarse teeth that readily cut through woody plant tissue. The hand saw requires only one hand, allowing the other hand to grasp, stabilize or remove the branch being cut. Use a hand saw to sever branches or small trunks of crape myrtles that are between 1 to 4 inches in diameter. Wear gloves to protect your hands in case the blade jumps or slips from the cutting area.
Only when an entire, large-sized crape myrtle tree is earmarked for removal or major structural pruning would a power chainsaw be warranted. Significant protective equipment and safety precautions accompany use of a chainsaw. Consider using one only when branches or trunks over 5 inches need removal.