In order to stay healthy and look their best, trees need occasional pruning to remove broken branches and thin out dense limbs. Perhaps the best way to tackle this project is with a pole saw—basically a chainsaw attached to a long pole that lets you reach up to cut branches while remaining safely on the ground.
While pole saws can make pruning a whole lot easier, they’re not right for every situation. That is, if you only need to control prune thin twigs, vines, or foliage, you may not need a pole saw. However, if you aim to cut tree branches between 2 and 8 inches in diameter, a pole saw could be just the ticket.
Learn about the main considerations when selecting a trimming tool for your landscaping needs, and explore some of the best pole saw models featured below.
- BEST OVERALL ELECTRIC: Greenworks 40V Cordless Pole Saw
- BEST OVERALL GAS: Poulan Pro PR28PS, 28cc 2-Cycle Gas 8 in. Pole Saw
- BEST BUDGET ELECTRIC: WORX WG309 8 Amp 10″ 2-In-1 Electric Pole Saw
- BEST LIGHT DUTY: WORX 20V Pole Saw with Auto Tension
- BEST HEAVY DUTY: MAXTRA Gas Pole Saw, 42.7CC 2-Cycle
- BEST LIGHTWEIGHT ELECTRIC: Sun Joe SWJ800E 8-Inch 6.5-Amp Telescoping Electric
- BEST LIGHTWEIGHT GAS: PROYAMA Powerful 42.7cc 5 in 1 Multi functional
- BEST TRIMMER ATTACHMENT: Greenworks 40V 8-inch Cordless Pole Saw
Types of Pole Saws
Pole saw power options include corded electric, battery-operated, and gas-powered. Not only does the type of power affect the cost of the saw, but it also factors into its intended use. Get to know these three types better to find the right pole saw for your landscaping needs.
For users with small yards, a corded electric pole saw is an affordable option. Since it connects to a power outlet, however, you’re restricted in how far you can trim by the length of an extension cord. They’re quieter than gas-powered models, but don’t expect silent operation—all pole saws make noise.
Electric pole saws aren’t as powerful as gas-powered models; the power they produce is measured in amperes (amps) and most range from 6 to 10 amps, which is powerful enough to cut branches 2 to 5 inches in diameter.
Cordless pole saws are powered by rechargeable batteries. They’re a good choice for medium-size to large yards if you don’t want to be restricted by the length of an extension cord. These pole saws are ideal for branches 3 to 8 inches in diameter and are quieter than their gas-powered counterparts.
Their power capability is measured in volts, which relates to battery size, and ranges from 40 to 80 volts. The higher the volts, the more powerful the saw. Battery-operated pole saws are typically more expensive than their corded counterparts.
If you have a lot of trees to trim and you don’t mind the noise, a gas-powered pole saw is a good option. Gas pole saws are measured by engine size in cubic centimeters (cc) and range from 20 to 40cc. The larger the engine, the more powerful the saw.
Professionals often use commercial-grade gas-powered pole saws because they can operate for hours and cut through branches up to 8 inches in diameter (branches larger than 12 inches in diameter are usually cut with heavy-duty chainsaws).
With the increased power of a gas pole saw comes a higher price and more maintenance requirements. Unlike electric tools, gas-powered saws require oil changes and fuel tank refills.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Pole Saw
Like all power tools, pole saws are designed to suit various needs; some are geared toward the do-it-yourselfer, while others are better suited for professionals. Consider the following factors when shopping.
Cutting Bar Length
On a pole saw, the cutting bar determines the maximum branch diameter you can cut. Bar lengths run from 6 to 12 inches, with 8 inches being the most common. Gas-powered pole saws feature the longest cutting bars (usually between 10 and 12 inches), which is one of the reasons they’re better equipped for tougher jobs.
The standard rule of thumb is that the cutting bar should be a minimum of 2 inches longer than the diameter of the branch you’re cutting. For example, you’d need an 8-inch bar to cut a branch 6 inches in diameter.
A pole saw’s “working height” often appears on the packaging but doesn’t indicate the actual length of the pole—it refers to the length of the pole plus your arm length. Manufacturers typically estimate 2 to 3 feet for arm length, so if the pole saw claims to have a 10-foot working height, the pole saw will be 7 to 8 feet long from tip to tip.
Most pole saws max out at 10- to 12-foot working height; at greater heights, the tool can become difficult to control safely, especially in windy conditions. Many models include telescoping poles that allow you to adjust the length. A telescoping pole makes it easier to quickly switch between trimming the hedge at ground level and cutting a tree branch 6 feet overhead.
Both gas and cordless pole saws rely on a fuel that will gradually run out as the tool runs. Gas pole saws need to have the gas tank refilled when they run out, which is a tedious delay that can make the job more difficult. However, if there is spare gas available on hand, refilling the gas tank doesn’t take too long.
Cordless pole saws operate on batteries that typically have a runtime between 30 to 60 minutes depending on the power output and the specific battery. Once the battery runs dry, it needs to be recharged, which is why it’s a good idea to have a spare battery so that one is always on the charger.
It’s important to remember that these tools aren’t supported by anything except the user, so the entire weight of the tool needs to be properly held, balanced, and controlled even when a telescoping pole is at its full length. If that isn’t possible for the specific user, then the tool is too heavy.
Gas pole saws have powerful engines, but the increased power also adds weight. Due to the heavy motors, they typically weigh between 20 to 25 pounds. Cordless pole saws weigh less than gas pole saws, but they can still weigh about 15 to 20 pounds.
The lightest option for a pole saw is a corded electric model. They don’t need a battery or the technology to equip and transfer battery power to a motor, so electric pole saws are usually less than 15 pounds.
Safety needs to be one of the first concerns when it comes to operating a powerful cutting tool like a pole saw. Take some time to look through the manual so that you can adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations for use. Also, keep in mind that while the pole saw may feel comfortable when it’s being used at ground level on a hedge, once the pole is extended the pole saw gets more difficult to hold, maneuver, and control.
Look for pole saws that are equipped with easy-to-grip handles and telescoping poles for better control over the saw. If the current height is too difficult to manage, a telescoping pole can be shortened to help the user regain control. Saw guards are also helpful to protect the user and the saw blade when the pole saw isn’t being used.
Manufacturers are constantly striving to make pole saws more comfortable and easier to operate. On some saws, you’ll find anti-vibration features and non-slip grips, and many pole saws come with a self-oiling chain. If it’s not self-oiling, you’ll have to oil the chain by hand, which will be detailed in the owner’s manual.
Some pole saws feature a cutting head that can be detached from the end of the pole for use as a handheld chainsaw. This can be helpful if you wish to cut a branch into smaller pieces after you’ve felled it—for firewood, say.
Our Top Picks
The list of top products below was chosen for excellence in a range of areas, including cutting bar length, working height, runtime, weight, and overall quality to help you find the best pole saw to maintain the trees, hedges, and other foliage in your yard.
With 40 volts of power, the Greenworks cordless pole saw offers top-notch cutting ability in a convenient battery-operated saw. It’s lightweight at just 9.2 pounds and particularly easy to handle, thanks to the inclusion of reduced vibration technology. The cordless pole saw comes with a battery and charger and it can be started instantly with the simple push-button control, instead of having to deal with the pull cords on gas pole saws.
The pole saw is great for reaching those high-up branches thanks to the tool’s generous pole length. Its telescoping bar extends for a maximum 8.5-foot working height and it has an 8-inch cutting bar enabling users to cut through out-of-reach branches up to about 6 inches in diameter.
- Easy to handle
- Simple push-button start
- No gas fumes
- Battery life limits prolonged use
With more than enough power to handle most small- to medium-size hedges and tree branches, the Poulan Pro gas-powered pole saw makes quick work of yard maintenance tasks, like pruning trees or trimming bushes. The gas pole saw features a spring-assisted pull cord that makes it much easier to start the motor without having to worry about whether the choke is in the right position or not.
This pole saw weighs in at a comfortable-to-carry 14 pounds, which is on the low end for a gas-powered product, and it also comes with a shoulder strap and a 3-foot extension bar for up to 12 feet of reach. Use the pole saw on branches up to 6 inches in diameter with the 28cc 2-cycle engine and the 8-inch cutting bar.
- Ideal for medium-size branches
- Easy spring-assisted pull cord
- Lightweight for a gas unit
- May be starved for gas when held at certain angles
The WORX corded electric pole saw is an affordable 2-in-1 power tool that can be used as both a pole saw when the extension pole is attached and as a regular chainsaw without the extension pole. The telescoping pole is 8 feet in length, giving the pole saw up to 10 feet of working range when it is fully extended. Weighing in at just 10 pounds, this pole saw is made so that it’s easy to hold and maneuver.
The corded pole saw features built-in automatic chain lubrication to ensure that the chain portion of the saw is always operating at peak efficiency, making for quicker, more controlled cuts. With a 10-inch cutting bar, the pole saw can be used on branches or tree trunks that are up to 8 inches in diameter. It also includes a blade protection cover to keep the saw blade safe when it’s not in use.
- Doubles as a regular chainsaw
- Automatic chain lubrication
- Blade cover included
- Can feel heavy when fully extended
- No chain break
This cordless pole saw is ideal for those with small to midsize yards. Powerful enough to trim branches up to 8 inches in diameter, it comes with an 8-foot detachable pole that gives users a maximum working height of 10 feet. When the extension pole is detached the saw can be used as a traditional chainsaw.
The pole is telescoping, and the 10-inch cutting bar has a hard plastic sheath for safe storage. It has an automatic chain oiler and weighs in at 8 pounds. Plus, it’s budget-friendly. However, one of the best features of this tool is the 3-position head that gives the user the option between 0 degrees, 15 degrees, or 30 degrees, to help trim hard-to-reach branches.
- Ideal for small to medium yards
- Telescoping pole
- Long battery life
This pole saw has a 10-inch cutting bar that can be used for pruning or trimming branches up to 8 inches in diameter. Even more impressive is the telescoping pole that can be adjusted from 8.2 feet to 11.4 feet, giving the user a maximum working height of about 13 feet.
However, the quick pace at which this pole saw cuts is due almost entirely to the powerful gas engine. The power produced by the 42.7cc 2-stroke pole saw engine allows users to handle heavy-duty tasks, like cutting down small trees or removing large branches. Despite the power and reach of this pole saw, it only weighs 13 pounds.
- Very long pole
- Powerful gas engine
- Can handle large branches
- Excellent customer service
- Chain may need adjusting after prolonged use
Weighing just 8 pounds, the lightweight Sun Joe corded electric pole saw is a great option if the pole saw will be used for more than an hour at a time. Users won’t need to wait for a battery to recharge or have to make a trip to the gas station with this corded electric tool that can run as long as there is an active electrical connection. However, movement is limited by the length of the extension cord, so it’s a good idea to invest in a cord that can reach any trees or hedges in the yard.
This pole saw has a telescoping pole that can stretch up to 8.7 feet, giving the user about 10.7 feet of maximum working height. It can cut through branches up to 6 inches thick with the 8-inch cutting bar and the pole saw automatically lubricates itself to help keep the saw blade in good working order.
- No battery recharging or gas refills needed
- Easy to use
- Sharp chain cuts well
Powerful, yet lightweight, this PROYAMA gas-powered pole saw weighs just 13 pounds, despite the 42.7cc 2-cycle motor. The pole saw is easy to lift, hold, and maneuver and it has a telescoping pole that can be adjusted from 8.2 to 11.4 feet, giving the user a maximum working height of about 13 feet. This pole saw can be used on branches up to 10 inches in diameter due to the long, 12-inch cutting bar.
Included with the gas pole saw are several additional trimming tools that can be attached in place of the pole saw. These extra attachments include a hedge trimmer, brush cutter, and a string trimmer. The pole saw also includes ear protection, a face shield, safety gloves, and a pole saw bar carrier to help keep the pole saw blade safe when not in use.
- Multiple attachments included
- Comes with safety gear and carry case
- Easy to assemble
The Greenworks cordless pole saw features a telescoping pole that extends from 6 feet to 8 feet, giving the users about 10 feet of maximum working height. It comes with a hedge trimmer attachment that has a pivoting 20-inch blade. The head of the hedge trimmer can be set between 7 different positions with a 105-degree range of motion.
This cordless pole saw has an 8-inch cutting bar, so it is capable of safely cutting through branches that are up to 6 inches in diameter. It weighs only 10 pounds and is equipped with an instant electric start. The pole saw comes with a battery charger to keep the 40V battery charged and it also has an automatic chain oiling system to help preserve the pole saw blade.
- Multiple angle positions
- Two tools in one
- Fast-charging battery
- Battery can be difficult to remove
- Trimmer blade is not suited for heavy use
For a reliable pole saw suitable for most garden work, consider the Greenworks 40V Cordless Pole Saw, which is budget-friendly and cordless. For shoppers looking for a powerful solution to multiple gardening tasks, then the PROYAMA Powerful Multi functional is an excellent choice with several tools in a single unit.
How We Chose the Best Pole Saws
The best pole saws are able to manage unruly trees, hedges, and other foliage in the yard with relative ease. Our list of suggested pole saws will allow users to reach up to 12 feet for those difficult-to-reach branches. We made sure to provide plenty of options for shoppers—with powerful gas pole saws capable of handling most branch thicknesses, or lightweight units for maneuverability—while also providing choices spanning a range of budgets.
Whether shoppers prefer the added power from a gas unit, a fume-free cordless electric, or a corded electric unit for uninterrupted yard work, our top picks offer the best choices available on the market across the wide range of styles available.
FAQs About Your New Pole Saw
Pole saws are dangerous tools that should be used only if the individual is confident about how to operate the tool and has taken proper safety precautions, like wearing personal protective equipment. To learn more about how this tool can be used, take a look at these commonly asked questions and the answers below.
Q. Can you use a pole saw as a chainsaw?
A pole saw is intended to cut difficult-to-reach branches in order to trim trees, hedges, and other foliage. While the saw does effectively cut through wood, it’s not large enough to fully replace a chainsaw. A chainsaw has the power and size to be able to cut through the trunk of a tree, while a pole saw is best used for tree trimming.
Q. Can you trim hedges with a pole saw?
These versatile tools can be used in place of a hedge trimmer to maintain hedges, vines, and brambles, if necessary.
Q. How big of a limb can I cut with a pole saw?
Depending on the size of the saw and the power potential of the tool, pole saws can be used to cut branches from 2 to 9 inches in size. Just keep in mind that the best electric pole saw will likely have less power output than the best gas pole saw, so if the tool will be used regularly for very thick branches then a gas pole saw would be better.
Q. Can a pole saw get wet?
While most pole saws have some resistance to water, it isn’t a good idea to get the pole saw wet because the water can damage the electric components of the tool or it can cause rusting and corrosion on the saw. However, it should be noted that there is no harm in using a pole saw to cut through wet wood—just make sure to properly clean the saw after use so that moisture doesn’t cling to the metal and cause rusting.
Q. Is it safe to use a pole saw on a ladder?
Even the best pole saws aren’t safe to use on a ladder. The saw is situated at the end of a long, telescoping pole that may be able to reach up to 12 feet away without the need for a ladder. Electric pole saws also have power cords that can cause users to trip, but even with a cordless pole saw it’s too difficult for the user to keep themselves balanced while operating this power tool on a ladder.