Gardening can be a very relaxing and enjoyful time if you have the right tools and equipment. When it comes time to trim bushes, trees, or shrubs, owning a solid pair of loppers is very important. Hand pruners are great for smaller branches or for dead heading roses and bulbs, but loppers are essential for cutting medium-sized branches. I use them all the time in my yard to cut back trees and large shrubs. I'm always amazed at how easy the loppers are able to cut through thick branches (up to 2 inches in diameter) and keep my workload to a minimum. Don't throw away your hand pruners just yet as those are handy for taking off smaller branches and trimming back overgrown bushes or plants. What I have found to be effective in my yard care is to cut down the larger branches with my loppers and then cut them into even small pieces using the hand pruners when possible. That way I can stuff more yard debris into my garbage can each week. Loppers are sold at all major hardware stores and home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot. I happened to find mine online at Amazon.com where I was able to read all the reviews and pick the best product based on the consumer feedback and opinions.
Buying Guide - The key to the added leverage you get from loppers is the longer handles. Loppers are generally 21 to 33 inches in length and some even have gearing mechanisms that increase the cutting power even more. The blade on a quality lopper should be made of carbon-steel for the best cutting performance. The blades either have an anvil or bypass action that cuts through branches. I own the bypass loppers which I prefer, but many people like the anvil loppers for cleaning cutting ability. Anvil loppers resemble bolt cutters, there is a single blade on top and you compress the branch down onto a flat anvil where it is snipped off. We have some pictures above of the different types of loppers you can buy for your gardening needs. The majority of loppers will cut through branches from 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, while the electric loppers like the Black & Decker Alligator Lopper cuts through branches 4 inches thick. Rubber coating on the handles provides a better grip and helps absorb some of the vibrations you find when cutting through wood. The handle materials can be made with wood, aluminum, fiberglass, or lightweight tubular steel. Pricing varies from around $30 for the low end varieties all the way up to $175 for the Florian Ratchet Lopper. The top selling brands are Felco, Hickok, Sandvik, Snap Cut, Florian, Fiskars, Corona and Black & Decker. Finding reviews for all types of loppers is quite easy. About.com in their gardening section has some excellent feedback on all the popular products - done by an expert in the field. For regular consumer and owner reviews, Amazon.com, Epinions, and Wal-Mart.com offer up some great feedback on garden lopppers. It's always nice to read up on what others think about their purchases before you make the same mistakes. The salespeople at Home Depot and Lowes are a fairly good source when shopping for loppers, but they will usually only tell you about the brands they carry in their stores. Buying online is not a bad idea if you can wait for delivery as we found some great pricing on several sites like Amazon.com. The good news is that most loppers are pretty solidly make and should last you a lifetime - a resharpening of the blade every few years is about all you'll have to do. You can browse the top selling garden loppers online here.
Best Garden Loppers:
For everyday gardening needs, the Fiskars Bypass Lopper ($23) is an excellent choice. We found it recommended on several gardening and landscaping sites as a quality "basic lopper". The 27-inch lopper has hardwood handles, precision ground blades, and the ability to cut through 1 1/4 inch branches. Fiskars has a solid reputation in the industry making this purchase an easy decision. With a lifetime warranty you can't go wrong. The fully hardened blade will stay sharper longer and give you precise cutting performance for years to come. The non-stick blade is corrosion resistant and the non-slip grips on the handles give you the ultimate in leverage for quick cuts. Fiskars.com has their entire selection of pruning shears and loppers online. View all the most popular Fiskar loppers online here.
For a slightly more powerful choice, consider the Fiskars 9154 PowerGear 31-1/2-Inch Bypass Lopper which features a length of 31 1/2 inches. Great for cutting large branches or vines and the dual hinge gear system increases the cutting power. The blade is totally replaceable and features a 2-inch diameter cutting capacity. The handles are made with lightweight aluminum so you get more work done before tiring out. Customer reviews on Amazon are 95% positive with comments like "hard working tool", "excellent for heavy pruning", and "best loppers ever". The loppers are well designed, offer superior performance, and reduce the effort needed to cut back branches.
Top Rated Electric Loppers:
When it comes to heavy branches, sometimes a traditional sized lopper will not cut through it and you need something a little more powerful. The Black & Decker Alligator Lopper ($99) is an electric lopper with added power to get you through those tough branches. This power lopper will take care of branches that are 4" in diameter with a 4.5 amp motor. The clamping jaws grab the branch and hold it while the cutting action takes place. Many owners say the Alligator Lopper is similar to a low powered chain saw. Reviews are mostly positive on the "Gator" as it's called by owners, but one person notes that you are better off with a chain saw when trying to get through branches and limbs that are 4 inches in diameter. It's definitely the cheaper way to go than purchasing a full powered chainsaw, but don't expect chain saw like performance from the Alligator Lopper.
The most expensive of the bunch are the ratchet loppers that cost upwards of $175 to $200. The top rated Florian Ratchet Lopper will cost you $175 but provide you with improved leverage and cutting ability with minimal effort involved. You can find it online at Floriantools.com with all there other yard tools listed. Great for heavy pruning needs or trimming down branches up to 2" in diameter. The blade is teflon coated and made of carbon steel and needs periodic sharpening to stay ultra sharp. The ratcheting mechanism on this lopper will increase your leverage to cut incredibly. Reviews are very positive on this design and it's worth taking a look at if you do a lot of pruning and trimming in your yard or on the job. Another excellent option is the Toro Ratcheting Loppers ($36) which can be found online at Toro.com. You get ratchet cutting action, non-slip handles that are telescoping, a high carbon steel blade, and the trusted name of Toro products. The one negative on these loppers are that the telescoping handles are hollow to allow for the expansion or collapsing of the handles making them more susceptible to bending (perhaps that is why they are so much cheaper than the Florian loppers above). One reviewer said the handles bent on the 2nd use. The other reviews we read were very favorable calling the Toro loppers "a yard master" and "the easiest tool for trimming branches". You can read more reviews in depth online at Amazon.com in their product feedback section.