Testing and Comparing Telescopic Tree Pruners
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If you have trees, bushes or tall shrubs in your garden you’ll know that pruning the branches back and keeping them in check can be a pain.
On this page, I look at the best telescopic, high-reach pruners you can buy in the UK.
These tools make light work of tall tasks and you won’t have to go anywhere near a ladder or risk a fall.
On this page you’ll find:
- My number one tool, including a video of me using it in 2022.
- A cheap pruner I previously owned, which is worth considering if you’re on a limited budget.
- Alternatives tools that get the job done.
Best Pick: I Recommend Gardena
My Best Pick for tree branch pruning and lopping is the Gardena Starcut 410 Plus Pruner, which is available on Amazon and other popular online retailers.
I tested this pruner in 2022 and put it through its paces by cutting hundreds of branches of variable thickness.
There’s so much to like about this tree pruner, but if you’re in a hurry, watch my 5-minute video where you can see me put it to the test on trees and shrubs:
- 2.2m (7.2ft) long when collapsed.
- 4.1m (23ft) long when fully extended.
- 6m pruning height (based on me and I’m 6ft2)
- Weighs only 2.1kg (4.6lbs).
- The mechanism and pully are internal so there are no ropes or parts exposed.
- The head rotates 200° which makes pruning awkward branches easy.
- Choose from two well-placed handles to activate the cutting blades.
- The gearing ratio is 12x, meaning only slight effort is enough to cut through tough stems up to 32mm (1.25″).
- Very good, solid build quality.
In 2022, I published a detailed review of the Gardena Starcut 410 Plus pruner on our blog, check out that review and the photos here.
I’ve used the Gardena Starcut 410 Plus lopper to cut many hundreds of branches on trees and tall shrubs in 2022, and overall, I’m delighted with the tool’s performance.
Here are the key points, based on the results of my extensive testing:
It’s lightweight at only 2.1kg (4.6lbs), which is important as I recently spent the best part of two whole days pruning dozens of trees and bushes. I’ve seen competing products that weigh double and even triple this and I can only imagine how much arm ache the user would experience!
Extending and collapsing the pole couldn’t be easier; I just opened the lever, slid the inner pole to the desired length and then closed the lever.
The tool has two handles which activate the cutting blades, and I found myself using the one at the end of the pole for higher branches and the sliding handle on the shaft of the pole for the lower branches.
Of note is how easily the blades chopped through the branches; I didn’t need to use much strength due to the gearing system, which increases the pressure on the wood by a factor of twelve.
I liked the fact that the pullies and mechanisms were all internal. I’ve used loppers before where the rope has got tangled or frayed and the mechanism dusty and dirty; this won’t happen with this tool.
I was impressed by the build quality of this telescopic pruner, but that wasn’t a surprise as I own several garden tools by this manufacturer including a manual lawn mower, and they’ve all been trouble-free.
I’m struggling to find negatives about the Gardena Starcut 410 Plus tree pruner, but there are a few of points to note:
- The collapsed length is 2.1m (7.2ft) which means it won’t fit into a small shed and not everyone has a larger shed or garage for storage.
- It doesn’t have a saw attachment, and in fact, the head can’t be changed at all as it’s fixed in place. Some tools have a saw attached or allow the user to replace the head with a saw for cutting through thicker branches, but this tool doesn’t.
- The price. This telescopic tree pruner is at the mid-range price point and there are similar products on sale for around half the price.
I rate the Gardena Starcut 410 Plus tree pruner 8/10.
For cutting branches up to 32mm, I rate it 9/10, but sometimes I came across thicker branches and without a saw attachment, I couldn’t cut them and had to put my ladder up and saw off them the old-fashioned way.
Fiskars competing product is the PowerGear X Telescopic Pruner which is currently selling for around 30% less.
Having used this tool briefly at a demonstration in a garden centre, I feel the build quality isn’t quite as good as the Gardena Starcut 410 and I didn’t like the exposed mechanism but the reviews and ratings online are comparable and it’s worth considering if you’re on a budget.
Best Value Tree Pruner: Spear & Jackson
Not everyone wants or needs to spend over £100 on a tree pruner, and for those on a limited budget or those with only a small number of shrubs, bushes or low-growing trees to prune, I recommend Spear and Jackson’s RazorSharp Telescopic Pruner.
This is the pruner that I used to own, and I’ve used it hundreds of branches. I did a great job of sawing through thick branches, but the secondary blade didn’t cut through the branches easily as the device doesn’t have a gearing system, which means it relies on brute force.
While this was an issue for me as I have dozens of trees and large shrubs in my garden, it might not be a problem for you if you have a small garden.
In 2022 this pruner was selling for around £45, which is very competitive. I consider this to be an “old school” type pruner, by that, I mean it has an external rope, a basic non-gearing mechanism and a saw attachment.
- Weighs 2kg (4.4lbs)
- Extends to 2.34m (7.64ft)
- Collapses to 1.6m (5.24ft)
- Cutting Width: Branches up to 30mm (1.2″)
At £45, this value tree pruner is perfect for occasional, relatively low-level tasks.
I liked the saw attachment that made chomping through thicker branches a breeze, and I liked the collapsed length of the pole – at 1.6m (5.25m), it fitted in my small garden shed easily.
Unfortunately, there are some issues I experienced that I feel are worth highlighting:
- It only extends to 2.34m (7.64ft), and the average user will only be able to reach around 4m (13ft), which might not suit every garden.
- The rope is external, and I believe it will likely fray after prolonged use. I found that the rope sometimes caught on the branches; I never had this problem with the Gardena Starcut 410 as that had an internal mechanism.
- It doesn’t have a gearing or ratchet system, so you must use brute force to cut through branches. I’m quite strong, but after prolonged use, even my arms got tired.
- The build quality is far below that of the Gardena and Fiskars products, but you get what you pay for at around £45 (2022 prices).
I only recommend this tree pruner for occasional usage on branches up to 4m (13ft) above ground level.
If you have lots of high branches to prune off, you’ll be better off paying a bit more and choosing a more robust tool, ideally with a gearing system, so you don’t need to use brute force to cut through the branches.
The one redeeming feature of this tool is the saw attachment which is great for cutting through thick branches, although expect to get tired and sore arms, I certainly did.
I rate this tree pruner 4/10, but for the occasional user on a budget, it’s a bargain at around £45.
Alternative Budget Telescopic Pruner:
Draper is a well-known budget tool manufacturer, and I’ve tested many of their products over the years. Their telescopic pruner is another “old school” device with external ropes, no gearing and a decent saw.
Consider the Draper 33855 Telescopic Tree Pruner as an alternative.
Best Battery Saw Pruner: Greenworks
Batteries have improved so much over the last decade that they’re now powerful enough to cut through branches up to 200mm (8″), and they can last for well over 50 cuts of thick timber and over 100 branches of various thicknesses.
My Best Pick for battery-powered telescopic saw pruners is the Greenworks Telescopic Chainsaw Pruner.
I tested this pruner at a demonstration event back in 2022, and I was surprised at how well it cut through thick timbers.
Weighing in at 3.75kg (8.25lbs), I found this telescopic pruner to be surprisingly lightweight, and as the battery is located at the bottom of the pole, I felt it was well balanced too.
- Weighs 3.75kg (8.25lbs) but is well balanced with the battery at the base of the pole.
- Collapsed length: 1.5m (4.9ft).
- Extended length: 2.8m (9.2ft).
- Cutting head: Chainsaw.
- Comes with 1 battery and charger.
Extending up to 2.8m (9.2ft) plus the user’s reach, this tool will prune off branches at a decent height, considering it has a chainsaw at the end.
I’m 1.89m (6ft2) and could take off branches at 4.6m (15ft) above ground level.
It’s worth noting that powered tools like this will never reach as high as my best pick, the Gardena Telescopic Pruner, for one reason – the weight of the cutting mechanism. But a reach of 4.6m (15ft) is decent, and of course, you won’t need to use any effort at all as the chainsaw does all the work.
I explored the reviews posted online, and several customers were cutting through branches up to 200mm (8″) thick; this gives you an idea of this tool’s potential.
I rate this tool highly for its ability to chew through thicker branches at height, but it’s just as useful for smaller stems found on shrubs and bushes.
This telescopic pruner isn’t cheap and is currently on sale for £175, including the battery and charger (I believe a newer model has just been released at a slightly higher price point too). However, the battery is compatible with over a dozen other Greenworks tools, so if you have one of their tools, you can buy this pruner without the battery and charger for about £110, which is very reasonable.
As with all powered tools, the pole length is limited and a cutting height of 4.6m (15ft) is far below that of my Best Pick which reaches 6m (20m) when held at head height.
Alternative Saw Pruner:
When it comes to the best battery-powered garden tools, I’ve always felt it’s best to buy into one brand so you can reuse the batteries on several different tools.
Greenworks is a decent, popular and reasonably priced brand but my alternative is Bosch’s Cordless Pruner. Their pole reaches 2.6m and the battery is compatible with over a dozen other tools. Bosch is similar in price and quality to Greenworks.
Expert Advice: 5 Things You Must Check Before You Buy a Telescopic Pruner
Before you buy a telescopic pruner, check these 5 things:
1) Ignore the stated cutting height and look at the length of the extended pole.
Manufacturers often overstate how high you can safely prune branches and while I’m 6ft2 and with a long reach, I was unable to reach any of the stated heights, even when I was standing on my toes! I suggest you look at the extended length of the pole rather than the “up to” cutting height, which is an estimate.
2) Only choose a cheap product for occasional use, they aren’t built to the same quality
Prices for DIY telescopic pruners range from £25 to £200, and some of the lower-end products are perfect for light use, but based on my experience and testing, I feel they won’t hold up well if used thousands of times.
3) Looking to cut hundreds of branches? Check the weight first
Unless you want a workout, sore arms and painful shoulders, I suggest you buy lightweight pruners if possible. Holding a heavy pole above your head isn’t an issue if you do it once but could be painful and awkward if you’re doing it all day.
4) Consider a telescopic pruner with a saw attachment
Some telescopic pruners have a saw attachment which, while it adds weight and bulk to the tool, is perfect for pruning thicker branches. As you can see from my video at the top of this page, most of the branches in my garden were no more than 32mm (1.25″) thick, so this wasn’t crucial for me, but you may wish to consider this.
5) Choose a Branded Product
There are plenty of cheap unbranded products on sale at Amazon and eBay, but most didn’t offer guarantees, and I couldn’t find spare parts for any of them online. I think buyers are better off buying branded garden tools, and the brands I have recommended on this page all include warranties over 12 months.
Author: Daniel Woodley
Daniel has over 18 years of experience in the construction, home improvement, and landscape garden industries.
He previously worked as a project manager and has experience in managing teams of tradespeople and landscape gardeners on both small and medium sized projects.
Daniel is also a keen gardener and enjoys growing unusual plants and tending to his lawn.
Why Trust Us? Our Testing & Review Process
Daniel has experience of using the cheap Spear and Jackson “classic” pruner from several years ago and wanted to compare it to a modern pruner.
After conducting an analysis of hundreds of reviews and ratings online, Daniel selected the Gardena Starcut 410 Pruner for testing over a four-day period in June and July 2022.
The Fiskars Pruner was selected as an alternative as it’s very similar with only subtle differences.
The battery-powered Greenworks pruner was highlighted based on its specifications and online reviews. Daniel also tried this pruner and several others, at a demonstration even. Powered tools like this are perfect for those with mobility issues, and we wanted to include this option in our guide.
While the initial testing period was four days. The Gardena Starcut 410 has been used several times since and as of February 27th 2023, there are no issues to report.
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