It is peak gardening season and you need the tools to get your garden looking tip-top shape. You have your gloves, shovels, rakes, and maybe even a hand trowel. Yet you’re missing one key gardening tool; the pruning shears.
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What Are Pruning Shears?
Also known as secateurs or clippers, pruning shears are an essential gardening tool. These little tools fit neatly in a back pocket and allow you to cut small branches, offshoots, and overgrowth. They are also essential for pruning and caring for Bonsai Trees and roses.
So you definitely need a pair of pruning shears, clippers, for your garden. But what type of shears should you purchase?
It depends on your garden’s individual needs. Specifically, if you have roses that you are taking care of then you will need the right pair of pruning shears to get the job done. Taking care of roses and other orchids can be particularly difficult and pruning is a necessary part of this. The dead stems and inward offshoots need to be trimmed to help the plant channel essential nutrients to healthy blooms.
Regardless of the type of garden, you will need a handy pair of shears to cut off unwanted sprouts and dying stems.
Type of Pruning Shears
Bypass Shears are the most popular pruning shears and clippers. This is because of their versatility. The curved blades make clean, precision cuts that are perfect for pruning most small plants and bushes.
The pruning shears are named after the way each blade bypasses each other much like scissors do. Often these shears feature a “hook” that catches and holds the branch in place as the blades come down.
Using these shears are recommended for stems and branches that are an inch or less in diameter.
Generally, if you are only going to buy one pair of pruning shears, then it should be bypass shears. This is because of its versatility and usefulness for completing most jobs.
Anvil shears are named because of how the shears feature only one blade coming down on a flat metal surface, or an anvil, which sometimes will have a groove notched for the blade.
These shears simultaneously cut as they crush the branch or stem. These shears should not be used for precise cuts and are best used for dead wood and other harder material.
These shears should only be purchased if you often need to make rough cuts or older denser bushes and shrubs. For most people, they are a nice to have and not a necessity.
These shears are perfect for older gardeners and arthritic hands. The design allows for the user to squeeze and let up, before squeezing again to finish the cut. This can be a game changer for seniors who struggle with weak hands and arthritis.
These shears use a rachet mechanism to cut in stages and require very little applied pressure. Sometimes they are classified as a type of anvil shears.
These shears are truly in the nice to have category. They feature two concave passing blades that somewhat resemble a beak. They are only suitable for very narrow stems and so aren’t nearly as versatile as other types of pruning shears.
I used to be a fan of Fiskar’s bypass shears, but I think the quality has gone down over the years. They are still very cheap to buy from Amazon though, and generally they can get the job done.
Nowadays, I typically use Gonicc bypass shears in my garden. They are the next price step up (around $20-$25) for a pair, but they are definitely sturdier and the price difference isn’t so much. There is about a $7-$8 difference in price between the two.
The Gonicc bypass shears are extremely lightweight and the handle is made out of a combination of aluminum and PVC. The blades themselves however are made from stainless steel. The pair that I purchased came with an extra spring in case the original one wears out, but I haven’t had to replace my spring yet.
They are perfect for smaller plants and shrubs and I’ve not had any splaying with my cuts over the two years, give or take, that I’ve owned them.
They are rated to cut branches a quarter of an inch in diameter, but personally I have cut larger diameters with little to no problems. I’ve cut maybe up to half an inch in diameter branches before.
If you are someone with arthritic hands or weaker hands, then these are very easy to cut with and beat out some other bulkier options for bypass shears.
Also, this is a small point, but the red handles are definitely harder to lose in your garden. For me this was a little bit of icing on top of the quality pruning shears cake.
So all in all, I recommend the Ginocc bypass shears. I have tried cheaper (Fiskar) and I have used more expensive shears (Felco) and I think Ginocc is the best considering both quality and price.
You can purchase them below through Amazon if you want. Any purchase through our link provides a small commission to Gardener’s Guide and helps us continue to make great and useful content for you.
Gonicc also makes a great pair of anvil shears, but because these shears are less used in the garden price becomes very important. For this reason, I am suggesting Steelhead anvil shears are the best shears to buy.
They are durable, provide powerful cuts, and most importantly are on the cheaper end of the spectrum.
The reasonable price doesn’t really diminish the quality either. They are lightweight and fit a small to medium hand very well. Although larger hands could probably make do.
They are good for larger cuts and are rated for 5/8’s of an inch of branch diameter. That’s a bit over half of an inch. Again I was able to use them for some branches that were closer to a full inch in diameter, but it’s usually best to use Loppers for larger cuts.
If you have weaker hands or arthritic hands than I would suggests Gonicc’s anvil shears for larger diameter cuts. They make another great pair of shears, but the price is about $10 more (around $18 total). The difference in comfort and ease of use is worth the extra money for some people especially if you are older.
I have only owned my pair for about a year, but they haven’t worn down yet.
Again, they have a bright yellow color that makes them hard to lose in the garden which is a nice little feature to have.
I will make a mention of the Gonicc anvil shears here, because they are also a great option especially if you don’t mind the slight price increase. If you have weaker or arthritic hands, then I would opt for the Gonicc anvil shears compared to the Steelhead anvil shears.
Sometimes I found myself brute forcing the Steelhead shears, but the Gonicc anvil shears seemed just a bit easier. Anvil shears are used for larger branches and this in itself can be challenging for the elderly or arthritic hands, and sometimes no level of quality of shears will be enough.
I will say that I’m not a huge fan of the steel and black design. These are very neutral colors that are easily to misplace. It does look sleek and modern though.
Rachet shears are a specialty tool. They are designed for those who are older with weaker hands or for painful arthritic hands.
If you want a good pair of rachet shears then we recommend Power Drive rachet shears. There are other quality choices on the market. For example Gonicc and Felco both make quality pairs of ratchet shears, but neither match the ease of use of Power Drive’s model.
These shears are best used for larger cuts just like normal anvil shears and can cut up branches up to 1 and ½ inch. They also advertise as having 5 times the power of normal shears, and while we can verify that, they are absolutely easy to use.
They are slightly more expensive than the other options such as Gonicc and Felco, but not significantly. There is approximately a $5-$7 difference in price.
There are some great shears to pick from and generally you should start with a pair of bypass shears as these are the most versatile pair of shears out there.
I recommend Gonicc Bypass Shears although Fiskar bypass shears are also very popular. The Gonicc shears are simply better quality without a huge difference in price.
There are other types of shears that are used for larger diameter cuts such as anvil shears and ratchet shears. Rachet shears are also a great option for those with arthritic or weak hands.
We hope you found the perfect pruning shears for your garden. Check out our other guides to learn how to use these shears in your garden such as pruning your privacy shrubs or trimming yellowing leaves.