Gardening: In praise of pole pruners, and no ladder climbing – Greensboro News & Record



Pole pruners make it easier and safer to prune stems high up in a plant; useful if you’re trimming the top of a high hedge.

Two millennia ago, the Roman writer Columella described the vintoria falx, a six-part, specialized pruning tool for grapes. What a stir that tool must have caused among Roman grape growers when it was first introduced!

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

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

My pole pruner is capped by both a saw blade and a shear blade, which makes the pruner not quite as nifty as Columella’s six-part tool, but useful nonetheless.

Powered pruners

The main problem with using a pole pruner is that it’s difficult to maneuver a blade at the end of a long pole. The problem is compounded with larger branches because they require an initial undercut to prevent tearing of the bark as they come down; to make that undercut, you have to work the pole against gravity.

Enter the powered pole pruner, an innovation of the 21st century. This tool is, essentially, a chainsaw on the end of a telescoping pole. In some models, the motor or engine is mounted atop the pole, near the chain. In others, the motor or engine is at the base of the pole, where you’re holding the tool, with the turning motion transferred up the pole to the chain at the end.


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