Trees and shrubs are beautiful natural garden features but it is important to keep them under control. This means pruning them, which can be difficult if they are already large.
A pole saw has a long reach, which allows you to cut high branches without climbing a ladder. Keeping your feet on the ground is much safer but it is still important to learn how to use these saws properly.
In this article, we will explain how to use a pole saw to keep your trees and shrubs under control. This includes what you can cut, the equipment you need, how to make cuts, and some important tips.
- Wear safety gear like a hard hat, goggles, gloves, and earplugs while using a pole saw.
- Pole saws are ideal for pruning, trimming, and brush clearing in your garden.
- Follow safety precautions like clearing the area, planning your cuts, and keeping a balanced stance.
- Use the pole saw at a 60-degree angle and avoid standing directly under the branch being cut.
What Can a Pole Saw Cut?
Pole saws are essentially chainsaws on the end of long poles, extending your reach significantly. This makes them ideal for some specific tasks:
If you need to prune high branches, a pole saw will enable you to do it without climbing a ladder. Unlike traditional pole saws, which could be exhausting to use, modern power saws can remove branches in seconds.
Pole saws are also useful for lighter garden work such as trimming bushes and shrubs. Wide bushes can be difficult to cut with manual garden tools but a pole saw will trim them easily with quick sweeps of the blade.
Brush grows quickly and can become a problem if left unchecked. A pole saw provides sufficient cutting power to chew through the most stubborn branches and makes short work of keeping your garden tidy.
What You Need
Like any DIY task, there are some important pieces of equipment you will need to complete the job safely.
How to Use a Pole Saw Safely
Pole saws are simple tools and will cut through shrubs and branches quickly. However, there are some important steps you should take before, during, and after the cutting process.
1. Before You Start
- Remove any fallen branches or large stones from the area where you will be standing. Pole saws are powerful tools, so it is critical to remove any trip hazards to ensure you don’t lose your footing.
- Decide which branches you want to cut in advance to help you work safely. Removing smaller branches first will make it easier to access thicker and taller limbs. You should also remove longer branches in sections rather than in one large piece.
- Hold the saw so its weight is balanced and it feels comfortable in your hands. When fully extended, pole saws can place a strain on your arms and back.
- Adopt a comfortable, balanced stance to ensure you don’t fall while cutting.
- Only use a pole saw when the weather is dry. Rain will make the ground slippery and increase the risk of losing your footing. It will also make it more difficult to maintain a grip on your electric pole saw, and you shouldn’t expose the tool to rain.
- Only makes cuts in daylight. If you can’t see your work clearly, you won’t be able to complete it safely.
- If your saw isn’t cordless, always be aware of where the power cord is. Cords are a common trip hazard and you need to avoid cutting them accidentally.
- Never try to force the saw to cut more quickly than it is capable of. If you apply too much pressure, you could lose your balance and suffer an injury.
- Don’t cut trees if there are low-hanging power cables nearby.
- Check for bird nests on the branches you want to cut. Try to remove branches at times when birds aren’t nesting in your region, so it is best to do it in fall and winter.
- When in doubt, hire a professional. Removing branches is relatively straightforward but you shouldn’t try it if you are uncomfortable.
2. Put on Your Safety Gear
Put on your protective goggles, gloves, hard hat, and earplugs. Falling debris is a common hazard when using a pole saw. It’s also important to make sure you are wearing appropriate clothing and footwear. Ideally, you should wear tough boots with protective toecaps. Thick clothes will also offer some protection if small pieces of debris fall on you.
3. Clear the Area
As mentioned previously, make sure there are no trip hazards or other obstacles that could cause you to lose your footing. It might be worth cordoning off the area you are working in, to prevent anyone else from wandering in while you are cutting.
4. Power Up
If you have a corded saw, plug it in, ensuring the cord is out of the way and won’t trip you or get cut accidentally.
5. Follow the Plan
Start removing branches, starting with those that are smaller and lower down to prevent them from breaking off the bottom branches unexpectedly. Place the saw’s blade against the top of the wood and press its trigger to start sawing. It should cut through the branch quickly, causing it to fall to the ground.
6. Cut the Thicker Branches
Once you have removed the smaller branches, you can start cutting the thicker limbs. Don’t try to cut them off with a single sweep. Make a groove cut at a 45-degree angle, followed by a straight downward cut so the two cuts connect. Then, place the saw’s blade in the point of the groove and slice through the branch, increasing the speed as it progresses through the wood.
7. Power Off
Once you have successfully removed all the branches you want to be gone, unplug or switch off the saw. Make sure the saw’s blade has stopped completely before going near it. You can now remove your safety goggles and ear protection and start cleaning up.
Tips on How to Use a Pole Saw
Always Cut Branches From Above
Placing your saw’s blade on the top of a branch will help you cut more easily without needing to stand in the path of falling debris. Gravity will also encourage the blade to work its way through the wood. There will be situations where you need to cut the underside of a branch but you should avoid it where possible.
Read the Owner’s Manual
You should always read the owner’s manual before using a power tool for the first time. This will teach you exactly how to operate it and how to deal with any common situations that might occur.
Before trying to tackle major cutting tasks, practice using your pole saw for smaller cuts to familiarize yourself with how it feels to use it. This will reduce the risk of any surprises when you use it for larger-scale cutting later, which will improve your overall safety.
Use a Safety Harness
A safety harness clips onto the saw and connects to your torso. This also takes some of the saw’s weight, so you won’t have to carry it all with your hands. As a result, prolonged use will be more comfortable, which makes a harness ideal for larger pruning jobs.
Wear Steel-Capped Boots
Ideally, no branches or debris will fall on you but accidents happen, so it is worth wearing protective footwear. Boots with steel toecaps are designed for industrial use so they will save your toes if anything falls on them. They also have thick soles to reduce the risk of slipping, so they are ideal for working in your garden.