Pruning shears are also sometimes referred to as pruners or clippers, and they are probably one of the most important and commonly used gardening tools. We usually use them for trimming and shaping plants, pruning out damaged or dead branches, and cutting back perennials.
Your personal best pruning shears are hard to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for. This is why we’ve prepared this guide, so you can get better acquainted and learn all the important stuff about pruning shears.
We’ve also included several reviews of pruning shears which we strongly believe deserve your attention.
Best Pruning Shear Reviews
How to Choose the Right Pruning Shears
Basically, pruning shears are designed to cut anything that’s up to half an inch of thickness. For branches thicker than that you will need a pruning lopper.
Before we get into further details about what you need to take into consideration before buying a proper pair of pruning shears, we need you to first think about what type of wood you will be pruning. Do you need some heavy-duty shears or just a light pair for an occasional cut here and there?
Also, you need to think about your budget. Obviously, the more expensive ones are usually the best ones for the job, but perhaps you don’t need to break the bank to find the best pruning shears for your needs.
Without further ado, let’s go into a more detailed guide about what you need to pay attention to when choosing your next pruning shears.
Things to Consider Before Buying Pruning Shears
Different Types of Shears
First of all, let us introduce you to three different types of pruning shears.
Bypass Pruning Shears
These are the most common and definitely the most popular. As the name suggests, the two blades pass by each other during each and every cut, very similar to the way a pair of scissors work, and by doing so they provide you with a rather clean cut.
The thicker of the two blades is an unsharpened one, while the one that actually does the cut is the only one that’s sharp. This is very useful if you are thinking about growing a crown of thorns.
Anvil Pruning Shears
Over here we have a completely different concept where a straight sharp blade (the upper jaw) cuts down and closes onto an “anvil,” basically a flat edge, at the lower jaw. It might be easier to understand if you imagine using a knife to cut things on a chopping board.
These are commonly larger and heavier than their bypass counterparts and are usually used for cutting dead wood.
Ratchet Pruning Shears
These are actually more of a slight twist to the anvil shears concept, and they come with a clever mechanical solution. As you squeeze down to make the cut, ratchet pruning shears latch, making it easier to cut in smaller steps instead of a single big one.
As such, they can be used for the thicker branches.
All things considered, bypass pruning shears are the easiest to use and they always give you the cleanest cut. Also, if you factor in replacement parts and maintenance, they are surely the ones to go for.
Design and Comfort
Even though ergonomics might not be among your top priorities when choosing a pair of pruning shears, you can’t really deny the advantages of a well-designed product.
Your pruning experience will be much more enjoyable if you use ergonomically designed tools which can reduce the strain on your wrists.
As far as handles are concerned, there are a number of shapes and types. For example, there are pruning shears designed for people who have small hands. Also, there are those who are for left-handed people.
Also, if you use the ratcheting type of shears, they can cut thicker branches but you are going to have to squeeze the handles a few more times to get the job done. Such shears come equipped with latches on the handles, and you can utilize these latches so that you can open the shears by using just one hand.
If you intend to spend quite a lot of time pruning, maybe you should check out models that come with rotating handles which turn as you open and close the shears. These can reduce the amount of hand fatigue considerably.
The quality of any pruning shears is largely determined by the quality of the blades. In most cases, the blades on pruning shears are made from steel. In recent times we’ve seen a growing number of models which come with blades covered in non-stick coating. These are excellent for cutting trees that have sap or similar materials of sticky nature.
The best pruning shears commonly features blades made from carbon steel or hardened steel. Such blades are made to last as they are much more resistant to damage. They also don’t need to be sharpened that often. If you use pruning shears with poor quality blades, you will not get such clean cuts, and the pruning task will be more laborious.
Needless to say, poor-quality blades can also damage your plants. It is also very important to pay attention to how close the blades move in relation to each other. Quality shears often let you adjust the tightness of the blades and therefore provide you with the optimal performance.
Even though it doesn’t seem like an important feature to have on your pruning shears, a locking mechanism is actually quite a good thing to have. It is included so that you can lock your shears when they are in the closed position. First of all, this makes the shears much safer as you can’t accidentally cut yourself.
Also, when you lock the shears in closed position, you keep the blades protected from damage.
As is usually the case with tools, there are several locking mechanisms to choose from. Always go for the ones that feature a latch designed so that it doesn’t get in your way when you’re actually using the shears. A properly designed latch needs to stay put when the shears are open or locked.
A poorly designed locking mechanism will keep locking up during use and that can be quite annoying after a while.
In most cases, pruning shears come equipped with a spring located between the two handles. This design uses the potential energy of a spring to push the handles apart when you relax the grip. This reduces workload and hand fatigue.
Basically, there are two different types of springs: wire springs and coiled springs. They are equally effective, but you should always go for the shears with firmly attached spring.
Some newer shears also use a spring to assist the cutting head, so that might just be the best possible option.
Weight and Size
These two very important factors especially if you plan on using your pruning shears on a regular basis. The size basically determines how comfortable you will be during the pruning experience.
Also, if you intend to use your shears quite often, you should choose those that are lightweight, with all else equal. Of course, heavy-duty shears will often be heavier also.
Frankly speaking, the cutting capacity is defined by the distance you have between the fully opened blades on a pair of shears. Still, this doesn’t determine the diameter of branches that you can cut. You also have to take into account your own strength and the hardness of the wood.
Easy Disassembly and Maintenance
All tools need to be properly maintained and cleaned. Besides that, you will need to sharpen the blades from time to time, the frequency of which will depend on the blade material.
With prolonged use, large amounts of dirt and sap get built up between the handles and on the jaws, so it is very important to disassemble to shears and clean them up properly.
Even the best pruning shears can get damaged, broken, or worn out. This is why it is very important to always go for shears which have lots of replacement parts available. Before purchasing, you can always check this out by contacting a distributor in your area.
If you go for cheaper shears which have no spare parts, you can simply replace them with a new pair. Make your own calculations as to which investment seems like a better idea.
Now that you are fully informed on what to look for when shopping for a new pair of pruning shears, let us show you a few models which we strongly believe are worthy of your attention.
Pruning Shears Reviews
If you’re new to the world of gardening and you are looking for your first pair of pruning shears, these might just be the best pruning shears for you.
These anvil shears come equipped with a ratchet mechanism which multiplies the power of your squeeze by five. They are very easy to use, and they make some really nice and clean cuts through the branches.
This is mostly due to the fact that the GT-3142 from Gardenite features an excellent hardened carbon steel blade that has been heat treated for increased durability. Also, the blade is covered in a thin layer of Teflon. The non-stick property makes the cutting process easier.
The latches on the handles make the job easier, and you can cut through branches by using smaller steps.
On the other side of the pricing spectrum we have these magnificent bypass pruning shears from Tabor Tools. The very instant you pick them up, you realize that these are a serious piece of machinery. Extremely well-made and sporting a very ergonomic design, these are really hard to beat.
These are medium-weight pruning shears that are well suited for people with medium-sized and even small hands. As for the cutting capabilities, these will cut through branches that are up to three quarters of an inch in thickness. The cutting and bypass blades are coated with chrome and capable of some really clean cuts.
The spring between the handles absorbs the shocks and makes the cutting process much easier on your hands. It is really hard to imagine suffering hand fatigue when using these shears. The comfort is enhanced even further by the soft grip handles.
Here we have a really hardcore pair of pruning shears, made for some heavy-duty projects. The first thing you’ll notice is that they are made entirely of steel (except for the grip layers). As such, they are a little bit on the heavier side of things.
The blades are ultra-strong as they are also made from heat-treated hardened steel for increased durability. Between the handles you will find a high tension spring, also of steel, which is firmly attached and coupled with a cleverly designed locking mechanism.
Since they are a bit heavy they will take some getting used to, but the rubberized grip on the handles compensates for that to a certain degree.
It’s great to know that these pruning shears come with a no-questions-asked lifetime guarantee.
This is another pair of pruning shears that’s a bit on the heavy duty side of things. Quite big and bulky for a pair or shears, they feature really large blades which can cut branches of up to an inch in diameter.
Both the cutting and the bypass blades are made from forged steel alloy for an easy cutting experience, although we don’t suggest pushing the shears to the limits of one-inch branches. They are also equipped with a sap groove which prevents residue buildup.
As far as maintenance and cleaning are concerned, the Corona Classicut has some really clever solutions, as you don’t have to stop cutting that often to get rid of the dirt and residue between the blades.
Between the rubberized handles, designed for a comfortable cutting experience, you will find a coiled spring and a locking mechanism designed to prevent mishaps.
If you are on a really tight budget, you should not worry, as there are quality pruning shears with really attractive pricing. The Mockins Professional is probably the best pruning shears that can be bought for pocket money.
These are anvil shears and they are best for lighter-duty use. Besides having lots of plastic parts, they are characterized by a modest cutting capacity of one third of an inch. But when they cut, they do cut very well, as long as it’s something they can handle.
As is the case with most anvil pruning shears, they are excellent for cutting dead wood, and are a little less precise.
These shears are not imposing, so even those with smaller hands can use them quite comfortably, and the handles with rubberized grip are quite comfy.
The cutting blade is made from stainless steel, as is the anvil. Even at this steal price, the shears come with a locking button as a safety measure. Between the handles is a steel spring for an easier cutting process.
Last but not least, we have another set of bypass pruning shears, this time coming from a highly reputable manufacturer of gardening tools.
The Fiskars All Streel Shears will cut through any branches up to 5/8” thick rather easily. The cutting blade is made from hardened steel and won’t become dull even after heavy use. It is further covered with a non-stick coating. The bottom bypass blade is made of a different grade of steel and features a sap groove, as well.
On top of all this, they come with a lifetime guarantee.
Hopefully this article will shed some light onto what you really need to look out for when searching for the best pruning shears for your gardening endeavors. Besides the included guide and a number of really good shears reviewed here, we think we should proclaim the winner here.
If we really had to pick one, we would definitely go for the S821 anvil shears made by Tabor Tools. Even though they are a bit pricey, we consider it a great investment. They are built to last, very comfortable to use, and always make nice, clean cuts on branches of up to a quarter of an inch thick. It is simply the best product of the bunch, simple as that.
Last update on 2024-02-23 / Affiliate links / Product Images from Amazon Product Advertising API