Know and practicing the rules of pruning are most important, but almost equally important is using the right tools. It's not necessary to have an extensive collection of equipment. All you need are tools that are matched to the job, keep a sharp edge, and are easy to sharpen and handle.
Proper care will help equipment do a better job and last longer. Keep equipment sharp and in good operating condition and store it in a dry room. When pruning diseased plants, disinfect all shear and saw blades with alcohol or liquid chlorine bleach after each cut to prevent spreading diseases to healthy plants.
Power equipment, such as lightweight chainsaws, can be purchased or rented. These are particularly useful in cutting fallen trees or large limbs. For pruning in trees, power saws should be used only by professional landscape managers.
Hedge shears are used mainly for shearing plants into hedges or formal shapes. The most common type is manually operated, but power driven shears may be more practical if large areas of hedges are involved.
Pruning saws, both rigid and folding, are very useful for cutting larger branches than hand shears or loppers can handle. Tree saws are also available for cutting large tree branches. Pruning saws, which usually cut on the pull stroke, are preferred over carpenter's saws because they cut faster and easier.
Pole pruners are used to remove tree branches that cannot be reached from the ground. Two types are generally available. One has a small tree saw attached to the end and can be used to remove small as well as large branches. The other and more commonly used type of pruner is similar to a large pair of loppers. The operator pulls on a rope or lever to bring about a cutting action.
Pruners of both types are available in various lengths. The poles--wood or aluminum--either are one piece or consist of collapsible sections.
Lopping shears are for cuts larger than those made with hand shears. Usually they will cut branches up to 2 inches or more, depending on the size of the blade opening. Select loppers with handles no longer than are comfortable to use.
Hand pruning shears are of many kinds. Most of them are designed for cutting stems up to 1/2 inch in diameter. If you have to twist the shears to make a cut, the branch is too large. Make a close cut by placing the blade of the shears against the branch or trunk from which the limb is to be removed. The blade should cut upward.