A pair of pruners is perhaps the most reached for (and most often misplaced) tool in a gardener’s armoury. Whether you are cutting tree stems to encourage growth, or hacking back invasive brambles, you’ll need decent secateurs that are up to the task in hand.
When purchasing your pruners, there are two types to consider: for pruning live stems, you’ll want to make sharp, precise cuts, so go for a pair of crosscut secateurs, where the blades slide past each other, like scissors. For the more destructive gardening tasks, such as chomping through dead branches, a pair of anvil secateurs is your tool of choice. With this type of pruner, the top blade bites down onto a lower base plate, cutting and crushing as you apply the pressure.
Ideally, try out a pair before buying, as comfort is key. Someone with dainty, presidential paws, for instance, will be less suited to the secateurs chosen by someone with hands the size of spades. Other factors to consider are weight, sharpness and springiness.
Even with all of these variables taken into consideration you may still be overwhelmed by the abundance of blades on offer, so stand by your rose beds – we’ve assembled ten of the best secateurs money can buy.
- 1 So Which Pruners Are Right For You?
- 2 Choosing Pruning Shears Based on Brand
So Which Pruners Are Right For You?
First, take stock of what kinds of things you’ll be pruning. Do you need a heavy-duty tool that will cut through 1-inch wood, or will a light-duty pruner for flowers and small shrubs be enough? That will help you decide whether you need a bypass, anvil or ratcheting anvil pruner.
Then determine your budget. Like most gardening tools, pruning shears come in a range of price points and, while you typically get better quality at higher prices, it’s not always necessary to pay more to get what you need (see the point above).
To help you make the right decision, we’ve provided two different ways of choosing pruners – by brand and by rating (although that only applies to the pruning shears that we’ve reviewed).
What to consider before purchasing a good pair of secateurs
At first glance you would probably say that they all look the same and do the same thing. Whilst they all do prune, some do have nice little features to make your life a little easier.
- The thing you pay the most for is the blade. Some blades are made from quality hardened stainless steel and will last a life time, staying razor sharp even after lots of pruning. They can also be sharpened using a tungsten carbide blade or ceramic stone when needed.
- There are two types of secateurs. Bypass secateurs work like scissors and a great for getting a clean neat cut, especially on more fragile stems, whilst anvil secateurs have one blade which brushes through the stem are often good for cutting through thick, more solid stems.
- Consider the catches that hold the handles together when not in use. Some get in the way when pruning and slip open which can be frustrating.
- Some use a ratchet system to cut, these can take slightly longer to cut through branches but can make cutting through thick or hard wood type stems easier. They are also good for gardeners who may have arthritis or weak hands and have difficulty using normal secateurs
- The size, some are simply designed to cut through a larger diametre stem so have larger handles and blades.
- Finally a good design seen on some models is rotating handles which rotate when you close the pruners, this can help to stop blisters and sores.
Spear and Jackson Anvil Secateurs
Spear and Jackson are another big-outfit manufacturer of garden and hand tools. They have a big selection of pruning tools with this one – the “6758GS” anvil model – as a stand-out piece. The main feature of these secateurs that I noticed was their lightness and snug-design (as you can see from the “insert” handle in the picture). Depending on your perspective, this might be a benefit or a hindrance. They’re particularly easy on the hands so are a good option if you have weak wrists or arthritis.
Because they’re anvil secateurs they’re suitable for slightly thicker, “woodier” stems and are also coated with PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) for resistance to rust and, supposedly, for helping keep the blade sharp. There’s also a type of “gear” feature which allows you to determine the extent to which the blades open, making the process of cutting a tad less strenuous. Spear and Jackson offer a ten-year guarantee which, given the price of this tool, is no small statement of confidence.
Finally, I also liked the fact that the main handle was “pure” metal, so no risk of a grip material rubbing off and becoming loose.
OUR BEST PICK
Felco Model 2 Secateurs
Felco secateurs are regarded as the ‘finest in the world’ by many professional gardeners who have has the same pair for over 20 years.
Under testing, they cut cleanly through anything we tested them on, this included lots of thick rose stems, tree branches, as well as more fragile soft foliage. They all ways produced a clean straight cut and thicker branches only needed slight force to cut through.
Fiskars Traditional Bypass
One of my personal favourites! These are smaller secateurs for smaller branches. Their main benefit is their “pocket” size – you pop them into your back pocket and use them for light trimming as you go about other tasks. They’re well-crafted and have a handful of unique features to recommend them. There’s the usual self-cleaning sap-groove and non-slip handles. Everything is steel (apart from the handle coverings) so there’s no fiddly plastic bits that are at risk of coming loose. Very well-made piece and, in my opinion, especially suited to small urban gardens.
You can also conveniently buy them in a pack of three if you prefer to have some spares.
HALF THE PRICE OF FELCO
Spear & Jackson Razorsharp Secateurs
These Spear & Jackson secateurs are much cheaper than our ‘Best Pick’ Felco model. Not quite the same standard, but they still impressive and produced straight clean cuts on all types of stems.
They have all the great features of the Felco model and also have a two cutting widths setting, this means you can set it to prune smaller branches or larger branches.
They offer the best value for money and come with an impressive 10 year guarantee. Spare blades and springs are also widely available. These are perfect for amateur gardeners.
Choosing Pruning Shears Based on Brand
For a novice gardener who won’t be doing much pruning or deadheading, the Corona, Fiskars, and Dramm pruners are an excellent choice. They’re affordable and long-lasting, and some can be taken apart to clean and sharpen.
If you’ll be doing more pruning work, you can’t beat a Felco, ARS, or Bahco pruner. While they’re more expensive, they are readily available, will last forever, and parts can be easily cleaned, sharpened, and replaced. There are models for smaller hands, lefty’s, and with rotating handles.
And don’t forget a holster or scabbard to carry your pruners while you’re working in the garden. This will protect both you and the pruners from harm, and will keep them clean.
For photos and details on specific pruners from the brands below, see our Top 10 Best Watering Cans Reviewed 2017