Due to the many tasks associated with gardening, horticultural practitioners need good quality tools, especially for pruning. The three most important types of pruning tools are hand pruners, shears, and loppers.
This article will explore some of the best pruning tools available on the market. We’ll also cover some tips on how to choose the right pruning tool for your needs.
The 3 best pruning tools
Felco F2 Classic Bypass Pruner
A good pair of bypass pruners (also known as secateurs) is an essential and versatile piece of kit for any gardener. And Felco’s F2 Classic Bypass Pruner is one of the best in the business. The well-engineered coil spring and large grips make these pruners extremely durable and comfortable to use.
Berger 4490 Hedge Shears
A pair of shears are essential for trimming and shaping hedges. These Berger 4490 Hedge Shears are used exclusively by the staff at the New York Botanical Gardens because they last for decades. The wooden handles also make them comfortable tools when doing a lot of trimming at once.
Corona AL 8462 High-performance 32-inch Orchard Loppers
Loppers are great for trimming thicker branches in difficult-to-reach areas. The Corona AL 8462 High-performance Loppers make even the toughest branches easy to deal with. These loppers are lightweight and comfortable to work with thanks to aluminium handles, especially when pruning fruit trees. They’re also impressively affordable.
Hand pruners are the most versatile type of pruning tools, able to handle a variety of tasks including deadheading flowers and light pruning of woody perennials and shrubs. Here are the three best hand pruners on the market:
1. Felco F2 Classic Bypass Pruner
Hardened steel curved blades
Lightweight metal grips
Rubber-cushioned shock absorber
Swiss company Felco has been making high-quality horticultural tools since 1945, and the F2 Classic Bypass Pruners continue this storied tradition. It’s the perfect tool for making clean, precise pruning cuts.
The F2 Bypass Pruners are extremely durable and can be expected to last several decades. Quality materials are used in every aspect of the design, from the two hardened steel blades to the ergonomic metal grips. The cutting mechanism also features a rubber-cushioned shock absorber to make pruning as comfortable as possible.
If anything should go wrong with these pruners, Felco also makes replacement parts. One pair of these F2 Bypass Pruners should last gardeners a lifetime of pruning. The blades are also adjustable thanks to a hardened bolt and nut system.
2. Corona 3180 Forged Classic Bypass Pruner
Forged steel cutting blades
Replaceable and resharpenable blades
Multiple cutting capacities for different hand sizes
American tool maker Corona was founded back in the 1920s and produces some of the horticultural industry’s most dependable tools.
The Corona 3180 Bypass Pruners feature two forged steel blades to create a strong but precise pruning implement. These pruners make clean, smooth cuts and the blades can also be sharpened or replaced as needed. The plastic-coated non-slip handle also makes pruning comfortable and secure, especially when pruning for long periods.
These pruners also have three available cutting capacities ranging from 1/2-inch to 1-inch. This allows gardeners with different-sized hands to choose the appropriate size.
3. ARS Needle-nose Hand Shears
Needle-nose Anvil blades
Ergonomic grips and security strap
Although bypass pruners are more versatile, every gardener needs some anvil pruners as well. These tools are ideal for cutting back dead growth and old wood.
These affordable Needle-nose Hand Shears from Japanese brand ARS are made with high-quality metals for good durability. The needle-nose blades are ideal for trimming dead growth away from fruit trees or for harvesting ripe fruits from the branch.
The ARS Needle-nose Hand Shears also feature a precisely engineered spring and ergonomic handles for superior comfort while pruning.
Garden shears are used for applications such as trimming box hedges or shaping ornamental plants. Here are the three best hedge shears for any gardener:
1. Berger 4490 Hedge Shears
Professional grade chromium-plated blades
Beech wood handles
Integrated damper to reduce pruning fatigue
Self-cleaning sap grooves
German brand Berger’s 4490 Hedge Shears are so efficient that the New York Botanical Gardens swears by them exclusively as their go-to hedge trimmers.
The chromium-plated straight steel blades are designed with professional use in mind and can handle any domestic shearing task. For comfort and ease of use, the handles are made from beech wood to prevent slipping.
The handles also feature an integrated damper to reduce the physical impact of pruning on the hands. The blades are also designed with self-cleaning sap grooves to wick away any debris or sap that might interrupt pruning.
2. Okatsune 22-inch Precision Hedge Shears
High-quality steel blades
Japanese white oak wooden handles
Able to reach tight spots
Several Japanese brands have a reputation for making efficient and precise horticultural tools, including Okatsune. The company was founded in the 1940s and has continued to produce high-quality pruners and shears since then.
Okatsune’s 22-inch Precision Hedge Shears are elegant and functional, with sharp steel blades that allow for precise hedge trimming. The medium-sized blades are designed to make it easy to reach tight spots within the hedge to trim wherever is needed.
The comfortable handles are made using Japanese white oak, helping to prevent any slips when using the shears for long periods. Okatsune’s Precision Hedge Shears are ideal for shaping hedges for topiary tasks.
3. Milwaukee M18 Hedge Trimmer
24” hardened steel blade
2-hour charge runtime
Hedge pruning can also be done with electric trimmers, such as Milwaukee’s M18 Hedge Trimmer. Established in 1924, the American company has specialised in creating heavy-duty tools for decades, including horticultural tools.
The M18 Hedge Trimmer continues this rugged tradition, offering a 24” hardened steel blade that can easily cut through most hedges. The high-performance brushless motor puts more power at the pruner’s control and the cordless trimmer is capable of two hours of use thanks to the lithium-ion battery.
The ergonomic grip and an increased distance from the trigger to the bail mechanism provides good control. And because this trimmer is electric, gardeners don’t have to deal with petrol fumes and snaking power cords.
When hand pruners aren’t long enough to reach a stubborn branch, a pair of lopping shears can solve the problem. These tools can also cut through thicker stems than hand pruners can. Here are the three best loppers available right now:
1. Corona AL 8462 High-performance 32-inch Orchard Loppers
Self-cleaning forged blades
Shock absorbing damper to reduce strain
Blades can be replaced or sharpened
Not content with producing quality hand pruners, Corona also offers these efficient and affordable lopping shears. The Corona AL 8462 loppers are ideal for tougher branches or awkward pruning angles thanks to their 32-inch aluminium handles and rubber grips. The handle also features a shock absorber to prevent hand or shoulder strain during long pruning sessions.
The forged steel blades of the Corona AL 8642 loppers can handle most branches thanks to their hooked design. This allows gardeners to reach even the most awkward crevices during any pruning task. The blades can also be sharpened to prolong their usefulness or replaced completely without having to buy a completely new pair of loppers.
2. Felco 200 Straight Cutting Loppers
Straight and tapered cutting blade
Aluminium alloy handles and rubber grips
Easily adjustable blades
Choice of sizes and blade styles
Felco’s second entry on this list takes the form of the Felco 200 Straight Cutting loppers. This versatile piece of kit features both a straight blade and a tapered blade in its head design. This gives extra cutting power and excellent control while allowing pruners to reach difficult spots. The blades can also be adjusted easily or purchased as two curved blades if needed.
Felco also goes above and beyond by making replacement parts for any component on these loppers, just in case something does go wrong. These durable loppers also feature aluminium alloy handles with rubber grips for plenty of comfort and control during pruning. A damper system is also present to avoid hand and shoulder strain for gardeners.
3. Fiskars Extendable Hand Loppers
Compound levers for more cutting power
Hardened steel blades
Budget gardening tools are often sub-par, but these extendable loppers from Fiskar’s won’t break the bank or deteriorate after a few uses. Finnish brand Fiskar is one of the oldest companies in existence and was established in 1649.
Fiskar’s Extendable Hand Loppers are designed to be effective and easy to use, with two hardened steel blades anchored by a compound lever system for exceptional cutting power. These loppers can quickly tackle tough branches and stems and are durable enough to last for several years.
The main advantage of these loppers is the extendable steel handles. Gardeners can set the length anywhere between 25” and 37” to easily reach difficult branches. The rubber grips provide comfort and stability.
How to take care of your pruning tools
Once a gardener has assembled a roster of pruning tools, it’s important to take care of each piece of equipment to get the most use out of it. There are a few simple things that horticulturalists can do to care for their pruning tools.
The main thing to remember is to keep any pruning tool clean as much as possible. This means sterilising the tool regularly, especially if pruning away diseased branches. Pathogens can survive on the blade of a pruning tool and can be spread to other plants if the implement is not cleaned.
Like any cutting tool, pruning equipment also has to be oiled and sharpened regularly to maintain peak efficiency. This is especially true if the pruners are made from cheaper metals because these blades get damaged and nicked more easily.
How to pick the best pruning tool
When choosing any pruning tool, there are a few factors to bear in mind to find the perfect tool for the needs of each individual gardener. Here are some things to consider when choosing a pruning tool:
Type of pruning tool
The blades used in most pruning tools generally fall into two distinct types – anvil pruners and bypass pruners. These two styles have slightly different designs and are suitable for different types of work.
Anvil pruners typically have at least one straight blade that is thicker than the other blade. These tools use this flat surface like an anvil to crunch through thicker stems. These tools are best suited to removing dead or old wood because their cutting style can damage younger, healthier stems.
Bypass pruners are more versatile than their anvil counterparts, with two curved blades made for control and precision. One of these blades is sharper and thinner than the other and the mechanism is similar to those on a pair of scissors. Bypass pruners are also known as secateurs and can be used for virtually any pruning task.
Evaluating the design of a pruning tool is an important consideration for both comfort and ease of use. Many pruning tools used ergonomic handles and shock absorbers to reduce the physical strain of pruning. Poorly designed tools can cause cramps and muscle problems.
Size and weight
Hand size is also an important consideration when trying to find a comfortable tool. Many brands will offer different versions of each of their pruning tools to help gardeners pick the right size for them. Weight is also something to evaluate because if a tool feels too heavy then it will be uncomfortable to use for long periods.
Ease of use & maintenance
A good pruning tool should be easy to use and maintain. Some can even be deconstructed to make cleaning and maintenance easier. Debris such as sap and small leaves can clog up the blades or mechanisms of a tool, so being able to clean these areas easily is vital for maintaining an effective tool.
Hand pruners vs electric pruners
Although hand pruners have been around for decades, it’s now possible to purchase electronically-powered pruning shears. These cordless tools typically charge like a phone and can deliver increased cutting performance with less physical effort for the gardener.
This may be a good option for elderly gardeners with arthritis or any disabled horticulturalists. Here are some of the best electric pruners available.
In conclusion, there are plenty of great pruning tools available for gardeners. Every horticultural tool kit should at least include some hand pruners, hedge shears, and loppers for a versatile lineup that can tackle any pruning task. When choosing a new pruning tool, follow the recommendations above while also considering factors such as design and ease of use.