How to Prune With Loppers


Loppers or lopping shears are handy gardening tools used for pruning. Lopping shears, which require two hands to operate, look something like long-handled hand pruner. Available in handle lengths ranging from 15 to 32 inches, loppers provide extra leverage, making it possible to cut branches up to 3 inches in diameter. Lopper handles can be made from either heavy wood or lighter, stronger combined materials.

Step 1

Cut dead wood with anvil-type loppers, designed with one sharp blade that cuts against a flat surface. Use scissor-type or bypass loppers to make clean and precise cuts on live branches. This type of lopping shear includes two sharp blades that cross like the blades on a pair of scissors.

Step 2

Keep your shoulders aligned and your upper arms in a comfortable position when pruning with loppers. Use long-handled loppers to prune branches above you, and to use less force when cutting smaller branches.

Step 3

Position the loppers on the selected branch at a location near the trunk, a lateral branch or a bud. Place the branch as close to the inside hinge of the loppers as possible.

Step 4

Turn the loppers so that they will cut at a 45-degree angle. Use the same amount of pressure on both handles to make a single clean cut through the branch.

Step 5

Maintain your lopping tools regularly. Apply household oil with a rag to clean and lubricate the blades and other metal parts of the loppers. Use an oil stone to keep the blades sharp, and treat wooden-handled lopping shears with linseed oil.

Step 6

Clean and disinfect your lopper blades after pruning diseased branches to prevent spreading the disease when making the next cut. Dip the blades in a solution of one part bleach or alcohol mixed with nine parts water. Oil the loppers when the pruning job is complete to prevent rust.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never twist or put added tension on loppers when pruning. Don't use lopping shears to cut anything except branches.

Things You'll Need

  • Household oil
  • Rags
  • Oil stone
  • Linseed oil
  • Bleach or alcohol
  • Water
  • Bucket


  • Clemson University: Pruning Trees
  • Texas AM University: Proper Pruning Techniques
  • Garden Loppers: How to Select the Perfect Garden Loppers for Your Needs
  • Garden Forever: Pruning Basics

Who Can Help

  • National Gardening Association: Garden Tools 101
Keywords: lopping shears, pruning with loppers, prune branch

About this Author

Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published on Yahoo!, the Travel Channel and Intel.