The 10 Best Pole Saws
This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Maintaining a good looking garden can take a lot of work, but it is a whole lot easier with the right tools, like these tree trimmers and pole saws, which can help you get through most tidying up sessions. There are gas-powered, corded, and battery-operated options, so there's something to suit everybody's needs and preferences. We've ranked them by power, versatility, and durability. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
August 27, 2020:
Removed the Poulan Pro 28cc 2-Stroke because of availability issues. Removed the Worx Electric 10-Inch in favor of the Notch 40209 to include a manually operated pole saw. Added the Husqvarna 525PT5S.
Like with any Husqvarna gas powered tool, the 525PT5S comes with an ultra-reliable motor with a very smooth pull. While it does mitigate some of the reliability problems commonly associated with small engines, it will require maintenance and care. You need to run oil in the gas since it doesn't have a separate motor oiling mechanism. If you don't, like with any internal combustion engine running dry, you run the risk of catastrophic failure including severe damage to the cylinders, pistons, rings, and other components. Apart from that, make sure you use fresh gas. We often have a tendency of keeping gas stored without any sort of stabilizing agent. Once the gas goes bad, it can cause all sorts of starting problems and indeed, it's one of the most common causes of small engine problems.
Note that some of the advertised reach parameters actually include standing height and not simply the length of the tool. The Craftsman Max Chainsaw for example, advertises as giving you a 14-foot reach. However, the length of the actual tool is only about 10 feet and the advertised reach includes the height of 6-foot person holding it at chest level. So make sure you take that into consideration and confirm the actual length with the manufacturer.
Using pole saws is extremely dangerous. Make sure you can stand well clear of falling limbs and that your saw is in good working order.
April 24, 2019:
We've upgraded a nuance in the selection of the Greenworks model previously at number four to the same model, but with a 3Ah battery instead of the 2Ah. That, combined with the device's continued performance, has moved it into our top spot at number one. Elsewhere, the gas-powered Poulan Pro model at number 10 on last year's list has been replaced with a slightly stronger model, upgraded from the 25cc unit to its 28cc big brother. It may seem like a minor increase, but the smaller engine had also been suffering from some durability issues, making our new choice both stronger and more reliable.
The Poulan is now the only gas-powered offering on our list, as electric models have largely taken over the market. The Remington Maverick on our previous list, for example, was a gas-powered option that's become harder to find as the company appears to have pivoted in the direction of electric power.
Making The Cut: Choosing The Right Pole Saw
However, a pole saw with a longer reach may also outweigh some smaller options.
The trimming of branches and brambles growing high above the ground used to be a laborious and time consuming project, necessitating the use of hand-operated mechanical saws or a ladder to reach the tree limbs with a chainsaw. Today, there are multiple pole mounted chainsaws available for purchase, and these powerful tools make a once tedious project easier and safer.
If your property has numerous trees that require periodic pruning, or if your professional work calls for frequent trimming of tree branches, then buying a good pole saw is a great idea. The first thing you must consider is simply how much reach you need. Many pole saws can extend out to as much as ten feet, meaning most users can reach branches as high as fifteen feet above the ground with ease.
However, a pole saw with a longer reach may also outweigh some smaller options. Lighter weight saws can be easier to safely use while on a ladder or while in a tree, so make sure to take into account tool weight as well as reach.
After length and weight, the biggest choice a person must make when choosing the right pole saw pertains to its power source. While gas powered pole saws will often deliver the most torque, they are also noisier than electric saws and require more effort (and potential mess) in the refueling process. Many people turn to electrically powered pole saws, which still offer plenty of power.
Within the category of electric pole saws, you must choose whether you are interested in a corded saw or a battery powered saw. A corded saw offers the obvious benefit of never needing a new battery. Battery powered saws on the other hand are more portable, as they can be easily moved about and have no risk of getting power cords snagged on branches.
For the homeowner looking to do occasional light trimming, a corded saw is likely the best choice, and is certainly the more cost effective. For the professional landscaper or arborist who moves from project to project and might not have easy access to an outlet, a battery operated saw is the way to go. Just look for saws with batteries rated at 20 volts or higher to ensure they boast enough power to get through stubborn branches.
Pole Saw Safety
As with any power tool, proper use of a pole saw means safe use. As pole saws put a potentially dangerous whirling blade at the end of a long rod — an arrangement to which most people are not usually exposed — their safe use requires extra care. Before you turn on your pole saw, practice lifting and lowering it and maneuver the tool around over your head, effectively miming the process of trimming branches. Once you are comfortable with its weight and with the leverage produced by the saw's distant head, you are almost ready to commence its use.
As with any power tool, proper use of a pole saw means safe use.
But first, you should get yourself outfitted with appropriate safety gear. This includes ear protection, as power saws can create a decibel level that is uncomfortable and that can even damage hearing; gloves to keep your hands safe; and protective googles or glasses to prevent debris from scratching your eyes. When using a pole saw, you might even want to consider wearing a hard hat, as falling branches can cause serious injuries.
When using a pole saw, never stand directly underneath the branches you are trimming. Also, be wary of the potential arc along which a branch may swing if it is only partially severed from the trunk. Make sure no person or object stands to be struck by a falling or swinging branch, taking special precaution around electrical wires and phone lines.
Also, take the time to inspect and clear the ground around the tree you will be trimming. As your eyes will be predominately facing upward during pole saw use, you need to make sure you remove or at least note any tripping hazards, such as roots, rocks, or other obstacles prior to commencing your work.
How To Properly Prune A Tree
It might seem ironic, but chopping limbs and branches off a tree can be the best way to keep the tree healthy. And pruning a tree is not just the best way to keep it in good physical shape, but also the best way to keep it looking great at the same time. Removing the lower branches that grow off a tree trunk can help to maintain the ideal shape of the plant. Lower branches also tend to be more sparsely vegetated, thus not as attractive and robust in appearance.
Always cut from the top down to prevent the branch from pinching the saw blade.
When possible, prune and trim trees during their dormant cycles in the late fall and winter instead of during growth periods of the spring and summer. Also be aware that removing larger limbs should be left to professionals both for your own safety and for your tree's health. With most trees, removing branches thicker than five or six inches in diameter can have a serious impact on overall plant health, especially if they are removed improperly.
Once you have identified a branch to be removed, follow a three step process for proper removal. First, use your pole saw to make a small, shallow cut on the bottom of the branch a few inches away from the trunk. This cut prevents the falling branch from tearing away too much bark or core material from the trunk.
Next, cut all the way through the branch several inches farther away from the trunk than the safety notch you carved. Always cut from the top down to prevent the branch from pinching the saw blade. Once the limb has been removed, clear it from the work area before proceeding.
Finally, you can now make your third cut as close as possible to the trunk, removing all but a little stub of the branch. (There is no longer a risk of the heavy limb pulling down more bark and wood than wanted, so the initial notch can be disregarded.)