Pruning Tools Buyers Guide – Choosing the Right Tools

pruners cutting through a branch
Might light work of pruning with the right tools

If you’re like most homeowners, you probably prune your flowers, plants, trees and shrubs a few times a year. Pruning is an important part of landscape maintenance, and it’s crucial that you use the right pruning tools for the job.

In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about pruning tools. I’ll cover the different types of pruners and saws. So whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, this guide has something for everyone!

Finding the right pruning tool for the right job

Secateurs

Secateurs are essential when it comes to all-round pruning of plants & shrubs. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials to suit your pruning needs (and budget).

There are two types of secateurs: anvil pruners and bypass pruners.

Anvil pruners have one sharpened blade that cuts against a flat surface on the pruner (the anvil). This type of pruner is good for cutting through tough, deadwood because the anvil provides extra cutting power.

Bypass pruners have two sharpened blades that slide past each other like scissors. This type of pruner is better for live plants because it makes a cleaner cut and is less likely to damage the plant.

I believe if you are going to spend money on a garden tool then this is one you do not want to economize on.

Follow any of these links for my recommendations for best pruners, ratchet pruners and secateurs for arthritic hands, small-handed secateurs, and even secateurs for left-handed gardeners.

Hand Shears

For trimming grass in awkward places hand shears are the pruning tool of choice. The blades on these pruning tools are much smaller and more delicate than those found on power shears making them ideal for working in small spaces in the garden such as along a fence line or between paving stones.

While they may not be as powerful as their electric cousins, hand shears have a number of advantages. Not taking up much room in the shed for one!

Keep your hedges neat with Hedge Shears

Keep your hedges looking crisp and tidy with hedge shears.

Hedge shears can be manual, pull stroke petrol, electric, or cordless battery versions.

There is no hard and fast rule which gives a better finish, it is all down to how much effort you are willing to put in keeping your hedge tidy in trying to impress the neighbours.

Loppers

heavy duty loppers cutting conifer branches
A decent pair of loppers to tackles branches that secateurs can’t.

Loppers are like secateurs big brother, they can tackle thicker stems than secateurs. The blades are much bigger, and they work in the same bypass action. This is where the blade cuts cleanly on one side of the stem as it passes by. Loppers come in two basic types anvil and bypass loppers.

Anvil versions have a straight cutting blade that comes down onto a flat anvil, or plate. This is best for cutting dry, dead wood as it severs the stem cleanly with one blow.

The downside of anvil loppers is that if you try to cut a living stem that is even slightly thicker than the loppers blade, it will crush the stem before cutting it.

Bypass versions have a curved blade that passes by a second, smaller blade. This lopper is best for living stems and green wood as it cuts cleanly without crushing the stem.

Gardening loppers can be either mini-versions, useful when you need to get in amongst the shrubbery & for pruning trees. Telescopic versions are great for those awkward to reach branches.

Pole Pruner

pole pruner cutting tree branches
Long reach pole pruners are ideal for tree and work on climbing plants

When needing to carry out pruning on high branches then pole – long reach pruners are the ideal tool. A pole pruner has a cutting head at the end of an extendable pole, which allows the user to reach high branches without having to use a ladder. The cutting head usually has either a bypass or anvil blade.

Pole pruners are also great for quickly removing large amounts of foliage, such as when thinning out trees & climbing roses.

Long reach pruners can vary in length from 1.6 meters to 4 metres in length and the cutting head can often be ‘quick changed’ with a saw, turning it into a pole saw (see below)

Needle-nose Pruners

Needle-nose pruners or garden scissors & snips as they are otherwise known as are the perfect tool for cutting soft herbs, flowers and deadheading.

More like scissors than secateurs snips are much lighter and easier to maneuver around flowering plants, handy if you are just needing to pop out and cut some flowers for a vase or some herbs for the kitchen.

Pruning saws

When pruning trees or needing a tool to cut branches that are too large for loppers then pruning saws are the ideal tool. They have a sharp blade that is set at an angle on a handle. The teeth on pruning saws come in different sizes and types depending on the size and type of branch being cut.

Available in different sizes with some having a curved blade which makes it easier to cut branches that are close to the trunk of a tree. The larger versions have a straighter blade and are used for cutting thicker branches.

Pole saw

A pole saw is a type of saw used to prune thick branches that are too high up or too thick to be cut with long reach pruners. Pole saws come in various lengths, with the most common being about 2 metres long. They usually have an adjustable head so that the blade can be angled for different cuts.

FAQ

What do you cut small branches with?

When cutting branches a pruning saw is the best tool for small branches, up to about four inches in diameter.

What is the best tool to cut bushes?

For cutting bushes it is best to use secateurs or loppers to take out branches and hedge shears to give the bush its shape.

What is the best tool to cut tree branches?

Depending on the diameter of tree branch either a pruning saw on pole saw will do the job.

What tool is used for pruning?

For all round general pruning of plants and shrubs a decent pair of garden secateurs.

Final Word from Me

Now that you understand the different types of pruning tools and what their purposes are, it’s time to choose the right one for your needs. Keep in mind the size of the job, how often you will need to use the tool, and your level of expertise. Consider also whether or not you want a hand tool or an electric tool.

With all of this information in mind, go ahead and select the perfect pruning tool for your garden!