Choosing the from Various Types of Pruning Shears: Your Essential Guide


In gardening, not all tools work for every garden. Gardens, whether inside or outside, are all unique. That means they need different tools. But there are some tools almost every gardener will use. One important tool is a good set of pruners. It doesn’t matter how much they cost, cleaning and looking after them regularly will make sure they work well. Let’s check out the four types of pruning shears available and what makes each one special.

What is a Pruner?

Pruners play a fundamental role in gardening. They’re not just for trimming and shaping plants; pruning shears are used for cutting live stems, flowers, and removing dead bits. When you prune properly, you can boost your plant’s health, make it fuller, and guide its growth in a specific way.

Types of Shears for Pruning

Four primary kinds of pruners exist: bypass pruners, straight blade pruners, anvil pruners, and ratchet pruners. Let’s now explore the unique details of every type available.

Bypass Pruner

A bypass pruner stands out as a key tool for gardeners. These pruners boast two curved blades that work in a manner similar to a pair of scissors, where one sharp blade bypasses the other, ensuring a clean cut when the tool stays sharp. The versatile nature of bypass pruners allows you to adapt the sharpened side for various tasks, making them ideal for precise pruning of small shrubs, roses, and slender tree branches (less than a quarter inch thick). When dealing with larger branches, it’s advisable to have loppers on hand, as cutting them can potentially dull the bypass pruner blades.

Bypass pruners offer different sizes, so it’s a good idea to try them out to find the most comfortable fit for your hand. Many models come in various sizes, and finding the right one can significantly impact both comfort and efficiency. For instance, Felco’s #2 stands as their popular size, yet the #6 suits smaller hands better. Remember, longer handles provide more leverage. The blades also vary in size. Smaller blades work well for precise tasks like pruning rose bushes or deadheading, while larger blades prove useful for trimming back irises, phlox, bee balm, and other perennials.

Anvil Pruners

Anvil pruners function with a distinct mechanism compared to bypass pruners. Instead of two blades passing each other, anvil pruners have a single straight cutting blade. This blade slices through the branch and meets a flat surface (the anvil) on the other side, somewhat similar to a knife cutting against a chopping board.

These pruners excel in cutting dead branches, twigs, and stems. However, they aren’t the best choice for live stems because the anvil can potentially damage the soft tissue of living plants due to the crushing action. Additionally, their design, with a broader anvil section, makes them less suitable for precise, close work compared to bypass pruners. The wider contact area might lead to less accurate cuts in more delicate pruning tasks.

Straight Blade Pruners

These pruners fall in between the strength and functionality spectrum of floral shears and bypass pruners. While they might not offer the same robust, clean cuts for larger stems as bypass pruners do, their blades are more resilient than the scissors typically used by rose growers.

What sets these pruners apart is their sharp blades, allowing them to access tight spaces for delicate bud trimming and pruning—reaching areas where bulkier bypass pruners might struggle. They prove especially handy for cutting flowers for arrangements and precisely removing leaves from stems. Some models incorporate both metal and plastic components, but all-metal designs are also available.

Ratchet Pruners

Ratchet garden pruners share similarities with anvil pruners, but they come with an additional mechanism that enables cutting in stages. This incremental cutting feature enhances leverage, proving beneficial for gardeners with smaller or weaker hands, including those affected by conditions like arthritis. Considering the repetitive nature of pruning tasks, they can strain the hands and wrists, so it’s crucial to vary tasks and avoid prolonged periods focusing on a single activity. When handling extensive pruning work, employing ratchet pruners can reduce strain, discomfort, and fatigue.

Considerations When Purchasing a Pruner

When acquiring pruners, several factors warrant consideration. From the nature of your gardening tasks to the specific features of the tool, these deliberations can significantly impact your pruning experience.


To start, it’s essential to determine the main focus of your pruning tasks. Are you primarily trimming flowers, shaping shrubs, or dealing with branches? Identifying whether you aim to maintain live plants or focus on seasonal cleanup, especially targeting dead branches during spring and fall, helps in selecting the most appropriate pruner for your specific goals. When considering pruners, package labels often indicate the intended use, guiding you to choose the most suitable tool for your gardening needs.


Additionally, prioritize comfort when considering pruners. Recognize that this tool won’t be a one-time use item. It’s a tool you’ll handle repeatedly, possibly for extended durations in a single session.

When contemplating a purchase, test the pruner to gauge its grip and how it feels in your hand. If you encounter strength or mobility challenges, pay attention to the weight and design of the pruner. A tool that’s excessively heavy or bulky can quickly tire your hand and impede your pruning experience.

Quality and Cost

The majority of pruners are equipped with a locking mechanism that secures the handles when closed. Opt for one that offers ease in opening and closing while reliably maintaining its position, whether open or closed.

Consider the spring situated between the handles, responsible for gently pushing them apart when your grip loosens. Select a pruner with a securely attached spring for optimal functionality.

While prices may differ, it’s important not to overspend, but rather prioritize quality over cost. It’s wiser to invest a bit more in a well-designed, high-quality pair of pruners than to settle for a cheaper alternative that compromises on both design and overall quality.

Care and Maintenance

For prolonged durability, it’s crucial to maintain the cleanliness and sharpness of your pruners. After usage, ensure to wipe off any accumulated dust or debris.

Naturally, avoid leaving your pruners exposed to rain or harsh weather conditions. To aid in keeping the parts well-lubricated, a spray of solvent, like WD-40, proves effective for the blades, locking mechanism, and spring. In case your pruner offers blade tightening capability, make it a regular practice to tighten them. With time and usage, the blades might gradually loosen, affecting the effectiveness of bypass pruners.

Select the Best Type of Pruning Shears for Your Garden

Equip yourself with the perfect pruning ally and elevate your gardening experience! From understanding the diverse types of pruners to recognizing crucial factors like purpose, comfort, quality, and maintenance, this guide arms you with the knowledge to choose the ideal tool for your gardening needs. Optimize your pruning precision and efficiency.


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