Chop, Chop, Time to Lop
If you need to shape overgrown trees and shrubs, you need heavy-duty pruners. Thankfully, this suite of serious tools lets you stay on the ground as you work.
The best time to do a major pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs is in the winter, when their leaves have dropped and you can clearly see the branch structure. "When woody shrubs, like lilacs, become old and overgrown, they need a major-renovation pruning to encourage flowering and vigor," says TOH landscape contractor Roger Cook. "That means removing the thick branches—not just the small water sprouts—a few at a time over a few years."
What to Look for in a Lopper
(1) Bypass blades: Their scissoring action severs live limbs cleanly, so cuts heal quickly.
(2) Compound-action jaws: They multiply force to make it easier to muscle through a branch.
(3) Unbreakable handles: These are steel, but fiberglass works well too.
(4) Contoured rubber grips: Paddle-like projections provide a comfortably wide surface to press against.