Whether you're pruning shrubs, trees, vines or flowers, it's important to choose the right pruning tool for the job. Most home gardeners have a pair of hand pruning shears in their tool shed for trimming dead branches, shaping plants and keeping their trees and shrubs healthy.
What Are the Different Types of Pruning Shears?
When you’re shopping for pruning shears, you’ll find three types of hand pruner choices that can cut limbs up to a three-quarter inch in diameter. Hand shears are indispensable for gardeners and each one works differently.
Bypass Pruners – Favored by most gardeners, bypass pruners give you a close, neat cut. The shears consist of one curved blade that has a sharp outside edge. The other blade is thicker and unsharpened. The two blades cross each other, similar to the way scissors cut.
Anvil Pruners – These pruners consist of one sharp blade and one flat blade. When pruning the branch, the sharp blade cuts through and presses against the flat blade. One problem with anvil pruners is that many times the blades crush the stem, rather than giving a clean cut. If you’re looking for precision pruning, the flat blade of these shears won’t let you get very close to the base of the stem.
Ratchet Pruners – If you have limited strength or small hands, ratchet pruners could be the right pruning tool for you. The shears use a ratcheting mechanism that can increase cutting power by 700 percent, depending on the quality of the tool. Ratchet pruners use a continuous cutting motion, moving to the next ratchet setting each time. This increases the pressure on the limb until it cuts through it with minimal effort on your hand.
How to Choose the Right Pruning Shears
When choosing pruning shears, consider the following guidelines before selecting one.
Weight – Hold the shears in your hand to get a feel for the weight. Are they too heavy or too light for the extent of your pruning job? Also, consider how the pruner fits your hand. Does your hand comfortably fit around the handles when the blades are fully extended? Do you need a left or right-hand model?
Operation – Open and close the shears a few times, watching how the blades come together. Are they easy to open and close? Do the blades pass each other smoothly? If choosing an anvil pruner, make sure the sharpened blade meets the flat blade.
Safety – Check the shears for a locking mechanism that keeps the blades closed when not in use.
Quality – If you want a pruner that performs better and lasts longer, consider a high-quality tool. Look for pruners with replaceable blades. If the pruner is held together with rivets, rather than nuts and screws, the blades can’t be replaced. Also, pruners with high-tempered steel blades allow you to sharpen them for cleaner cuts.
Tips on Using Pruning Shears
Using proper handling techniques will prevent your hands from tiring when using pruning shears. Keep your arm bent, rather than fully extended, holding your wrist straight to prevent strain. Avoid using the tip of the blades because your hand will tire quicker from repetitive snipping. Instead, position the pruners at the top of your palm, making swift, strong cuts.
Wear safety goggles, gloves, work boots, comfortable clothing and a hat for protection against flying bark and twigs while pruning.
Use your free hand to move the limb you’re cutting away from the edge of your pruner. This makes it easier to cut.
Position the blades at a 45-degree angle, making your cut about ¼ inch above the shoot. If you lop it straight across, it can cause rotting because water gathers on the cut. Be sure to open the blades completely and put them all the way around the limb. Once you have the limb positioned in the pruner, make one swift cut through the limb.
How to Maintain Pruning Shears
Maintaining your pruning shears is important for keeping your tool operating efficiently and avoiding injuries. If your pruner is sticky from built up sap or has dull blades, it can cause slipping that results in cuts or other injuries.
When working with diseased plants, disinfect your pruner with nine-parts water to one-part bleach solution. After disinfecting, spread oil on the blades and moving parts to prevent rusting.
Sharpen the blades whenever you notice it takes more effort to make a cut. Keep a sharpening stone in your pocket for sharpening your pruner when needed. Replace the blades when they are worn or damaged.
Our Pruning Shears Reviews
The Felco F-2 Classic Manual Hand Pruner is ideal for the casual gardener who needs a pair of shears to prune bonsai trees or branches from flowers or bushes. These shears are for light application, but they are still strong enough to cut through wire.
The high grade steel blades are strong enough to handle moderate gardening and stay durable, but they are made out of lightweight metal so that the shears don’t feel like a burden. The shears are also highly adjustable, so it’s suitable for a wide range of jobs that you might need it for.
The shock absorbing cushioning of the handle is a great feature to prevent hand injury and cramping to occur. It’s also great for preventing arthritis and hand fatigue that comes with repetitive movements and wrist strain.
The blades are also built to resist sticking due to sap and get rid of the sap on their own. You can keep the blades clean no matter what task you have on hand.
The Gardener’s Friend Ratchet Pruning Shears also look quite nice. They are made out of a lightweight alloy body with hardened high carbon blades, making it quite sharp and strong. They are also light enough so not to hinder you in anyway. The blade is coated for ease of usage, but they are also replaceable in case you want new blades.
The handle is designed to be comfortable on your hands. These shears are also specifically designed for weak hands so you don’t need a strong grip to get cutting.
Also, with the looped hand grip and finger guide, you will not have these shears slip from your hands anytime soon. You might want to check these shears out if you are considering a quality set of pruning shears.
The Gardenite Power Drive Hand Pruning Shears are great for pruning hedges and trees that require some heavy duty shears. Despite the work you have cut out for you, these make the task much easier as the ratcheting system makes your hand strength much stronger and the cutting action feels effortless.
The blades are made out of hardened steel, so they are strong, super sharp and durable.
The handle is still quite comfortable so that you don’t have to endure any hand or wrist strain and other pains that may occur with prolonged usage.