Gardening: To the praise of pole pruners, and without climbing stairs Lifestyle


Two thousand years ago, the Roman writer Columella described the vintoria falx, a six -part, specialized pruning tool for grapes. What a fuss that tool could have caused to Roman grape growers when it was first introduced!

A recent innovation in pruning, in the last century or so, was the pole pruner, which is a pruning saw or rope-powered cutting talent mounted on the end of a pole. With it, you can work on branches even 15 feet tall while your feet are planted in terra firma.

That’s perfect for people like me who prefer not to work from the stairs.

My pruner pole is capped by both a saw blade and a cutting blade, which makes the pruner not as good as Columella’s six-part tool, but still useful.


Make the job easier

The main problem with using a pole pruner is the difficult maneuver of a blade at the end of a long pole. The problem is combined with larger branches because they require an initial undercut to prevent cutting of the skin on their descent; to make it undercut, you need to work the pole against gravity.

Enter the powered pole pruner, a 21st century innovation. This tool is, essentially, a chainaw at the end of a telescoping pole. In some models, the motor or engine is mounted on top of the pole, close to the chain. In others, the motor or engine is at the base of the pole, where you hold the tool, along with the rotational motion that moves the pole to the chain at the end.

Compromises are inevitable when you mount a chainaw to the end of a pole. A compromise between weight and strength, for example.

A powered pole pruner can relieve you of some cutting effort, but you will need to position and hold the motorized saw that sits on the very end of a long pole. If you make the jigsaw lighter, that translates into less force. The cutting bars on these saws are usually less than a foot long.

Electric motors are lighter than gasoline motors, so provide another solution to the weight problem. Battery power looks perfect, except battery power is limited. A corded, electric pole pruner seems like a good compromise, then, as long as you’re not too far from a plug and have a good extension cord.



A variation on the pole pruner is causing a motion, in my backyard somehow. That’s the pole powered hedge trimmer, an oscillating trimmer mounted on the end of a pole. They, too, can be powered by gasoline or electricity.

Why put a hedge trimmer at the end of a pole? For tall hedges, of course! A nice feature of most pole hedge trimmers is the head angle that can be varied, a useful feature if you are cutting the top of a high hedge to be flat.

Like stone or brick walls, large fences create bold and respectable shapes that screen and enclose the scene, and our eyes and feet will direct it. Since I got a pole hedge trimmer, I was able to draw my 9 -foot tall crabapple hedge on a green wall with a “door” carved into it – all my feet were happily planted in terra firma.


Lee Reich regularly writes about gardening for The Associated Press. He is the author of a number of books, including “Growing Figs in Cold Climates” and “The Pruning Book.” She blogs at He can be reached at [email protected]

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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