Whether you’re an avid gardener or a homeowner looking to keep your hedges in tip-top shape, pruning shears are a must-have item in your gardening tool kit. Armed with a great pair of pole pruner, you can keep your plants happy, minimize the risk of injury, and make gardening all the easier.
Unfortunately, choosing the best pruning shears is no easy feat. There are dozens of different models and just as many brands making them, so picking out a quality pair is a tough task for even the greenest of thumbs. That’s where we come in.
From electric pruning shears to traditional Felco pruners and everything in between, we’ve put them all to the test to help you find the best of the best. Keep reading to learn all about pruning shears and discover the right pair for your gardening needs in 2019.
Types of Pruning Shears
When shopping for the best garden pruners, you’ll run across endless varieties claiming to be the strongest or easiest to use. However, nearly all pruning shears fall into one of three categories:
Bypass pruners, like the Felco F-2 or Fiskars Professional, are by far the most popular type of pruning shears. Similar to scissors, they have two blades that pivot past each other to cut stems, branches, and other materials in between them. The blades are also sharpened on only one side.
Unlike scissors, however, bypass pruner blades are usually curved, and they also need to be quite sharp in order to be effective, especially for cutting larger branches.
Rather than utilizing two sharp blades, an anvil pruner has a single sharp blade that lowers down against a flat surface to cut whatever material crosses its path. Despite only have a single sharp blade, both sides of the blade are sharpened, allowing it to work well without a super sharp edge.
While anvil pruners can come in handy for a variety of pruning tasks, they’re particularly helpful for cutting thick branches bypass pruners simply can’t handle.
Ratchet pruners work quite differently than bypass and anvil pruning shears. Thanks to a special ratcheting mechanism, they’re able to cut through tough branches easier, especially for users with less hand strength.
When squeezed, the handle and the cutting blade lowers and latches in place. Then, the handle is released and squeezed again to cut further into the branch, giving users with arthritis or strength problems a mechanical advantage.
|1. Felco F-2||Bypass|
|2. Fiskars Professional||Bypass|
|3. Gonicc 8" Professional||Ratchet/Anvil|
|4. Felco F-6||Bypass|
|5. BLACK+DECKER Alligator||Electric|
|6. RYOBI BSH-120||Electric|
|7. Gardenite Power Drive||Ratchet/Anvil|
1. Felco F-2 Classic Manual Hand Pruner – Best for All-Around Use
Like all Felco pruners, the F-2 makes clean straight cuts time and time again. Its sharp bypass blades are made of hardened steel and smoothly open and close to cut through branches up to an inch in diameter with minimal effort.
If the blades ever need replacing or something does happen to break, getting replacement parts and repairing the F-2 and other Felco pruning shears is a pretty easy task. This is a big plus, especially if you’re tired of buying new shears every other spring.
2. Fiskars Professional Bypass Pruning Shears – Best for Cutting on a Budget
Like Felco, Fiskars has been in the gardening market for a long time and continues to make quality garden products and shears, except with a more budget-friendly approach. The Fiskars Professional Bypass Pruning Shears are no exception.
Affordably priced yet made to last, these pruning shears feature a refreshingly simple design that’s perfect for cutting through stems and smaller branches.
The blades of the Fiskars Professional Bypass Pruning Shears also don’t disappoint. Made of fully hardened precision-ground steel, they’re meant to last a lifetime, literally. In fact, these Fiskars come with a lifetime warranty, which is saying a lot.
While the handles aren’t very ergonomic, they have soft grips for added comfort. There’s also an adjustable blade tensioner, giving you better cutting control.
Speaking of control, the blades feature a sap groove to keep sap from collecting on the shears and slowing you down. They also have a friction-free coating, but some users have reported problems with rust over time. Thanks to their lifetime warranty, however, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Are they the best pruning shears ever made? Probably not. But, if your idea of the best hand pruners is a pair that combines quality, affordability, and ease of use, these Fiskars might be for you.
3. Gonicc 8″ Ratchet Anvil Pruning Shears– Best for Light Cutting
At first glance, there’s admittedly nothing special about these shears, and they certainly don’t seem like the best garden pruners for serious heavy-duty work. However, while they’re not up for the challenge of cutting branches over 3/4 of a inch in diameter, they perform surprisingly well for the small stuff.
This is due in large part to the Gonnic’s sharp and reliable blades. Made of high-quality SK-5 steel, they provide superior precision when cutting through shrubs, hedges, and light branches.
As their name suggests, these shears utilize a ratchet design as well, allowing you to triple your hand power and cut through branches easier as it clicks and increases in cutting pressure.
4. Felco F-6 Classic Pruner– Best for Smaller Hands
In addition to shorter handles, it’s lighter in weight and has a smaller cutting capacity, making it a solid option if you’re interested in well-built pruner shears for smaller hands and cutting tasks.
However, don’t let the size of the Felco F-6 shears fool you. Chances are you’ll be surprised at what they can cut through and just how powerful they are.
Once again, they’re Swiss-made and feature sturdy hardened steel bypass blades that are guaranteed to last, and they also have top-notch grips for greater comfort and control.
Lightweight yet strong, these are arguably the best gardening tools for users with smaller hands hoping to tackle a variety of small pruning jobs.
5. BLACK+DECKER LLP120B Alligator Lopper Saw – Best for Large Limbs
The BLACK+DECKER Alligator Lopper Saw doesn’t look like your ordinary pair of pruning shears, and it doesn’t cut like them either. Rather than cutting small one-inch branches, this electric lopper saw is designed to easily cut limbs up to four inches in diameter.
In addition to its heavy-duty chain and cutting bar, the Alligator’s awesome-looking clamping jaws grab branches and cut them in one smooth, easy motion. This electric-powered scissor-like motion makes cutting tree limbs nearly effortless.
Needless to say, if you need a tool for pruning large branches and storm cleanup, the Alligator might be for you. Powered by a 20V lithium battery, it can make 200 one-inch cuts or 100 two-inch cuts per charge. As is the case with an electric tree trimmer or pole pruner, the larger the limbs, the fewer cuts it can make.
On the other hand, what is an issue for many is shoulder pain, which the BLACK+DECKER Alligator Lopper Saw helps resolve. Traditional long-handled branch cutters can cause sore shoulders in no time at all. While it’s a bit heavier, the Alligator requires minimal effort to operate and utilizes different shoulder muscles, giving your other muscles a much-needed break.
Whether ordinary pruning shears are just too boring or you’re searching for a unique solution for cutting larger limbs, these electric pruning shears are a unique option worth considering. Just don’t let its appearance intimidate you. While mighty, the Alligator has built-in safety features and is a lot tamer than it looks.
6. RYOBI BSH-120 Rechargeable Pruning Shears– Best for Arthritic Hands
These Ryobi electric pruning shears are a handy tool for anyone suffering from the pain, pins and needles, and numbness of arthritis. While they aren’t as heavy-duty as the Alligator Lopper Saw and can’t cut thick branches like an electric tree pruner, they’re easy to use and do a reasonable job cutting through a variety of branches, stems, and vines.
In fact, Ryobi BSH-120 Rechargeable Pruning Shears can cut just about any branch that fits in its jaws. Although an additional slice is sometimes needed to cut through certain branches, it definitely saves the hand muscles from aches and pains. In this regard, these pruning shears are worth their weight in gold.
The Ryobi BSH-120 Pruning Shears are also surprisingly lightweight, comfortable, and pretty straightforward to use. Just put a branch through the blades and pull the trigger – that’s all there is to it. There’s even an LED light that highlights where to make a cut. Replacement blades are also readily available, which is a big plus.
All in all, it’s a simple and straightforward pruning tool designed to put less pressure and stress on your hands. Whether you suffer from arthritis or simply want to avoid it later in life, these electric pruning shears may be the solution for you.
7. Gardenite Power Drive Ratchet Anvil Hand Pruning Shears– Best for Multiplying Your Cutting Power
If you prefer to prune to the sounds of nature rather than a buzzing electric motor, Gardenite’s Power Drive Ratchet Anvil Hand Pruning Shears might be a perfect fit. These nifty shears are super popular for a few very good reasons.
Firstly, it has a great ratcheting mechanism. With it, you can multiply the power of your hands by up to five times. This means you can enjoy extra cutting power without hurting your hands or using the help of an electric motor.
In other words, these mechanical shears do the work for you. With them, you can tackle heavy jobs and cut through much thicker stems and limbs than conventional pruners.
As anvil pruners, there’s one sharp blade on top and a flat, non-sharp anvil on the bottom. When the handle is squeezed, the top cutting blade comes down to cut through the branch while it is held in place by the anvil. While cutting, the ratchet clicks on to the next setting and then the next to provide you with more and more cutting pressure.
Best Pruning Shears Buying Guide
As you can see, a lot goes into making a quality pair of pruning shears. Not only are there several very different types to choose from, but there’s the blade, handles, construction quality, and more to think about in order to pick the best pruning shears for you.
What to Look for When Shopping for Pruning Shears:
• High-Quality Blades
Generally, the blades of pruning shears are made out of steel. However, there are different types of steel, and some are better for cutting and durability than others.
Look for pruner blades made of high-carbon hardened steel. Unlike poorer quality blades, high-quality hardened steel blades hold their edge longer, require less sharpening, and do a better job of avoiding nicks.
• Ergonomic Handles and Design
If you prune frequently, you should definitely consider pruning shears with comfortable handles and an ergonomic design as they require less pressure, minimize wrist strain, and make pruning a more enjoyable experience.
“Ergonomic” pruning shears often include angles blades, comfortable soft-grip handles, and a somewhat more curved shape. With these design features, even gardeners with severe arthritis can get out in their flower beds and prune away with minimal hand fatigue.
• Comfortable Size and Weight
Speaking of fatigue, the size and weight of pruning shears can play a huge role in their effectiveness and ease of use. Obviously, the larger and heavier pruners are, the more fatigue they cause.
Unfortunately, pruning shears for larger branches up to an inch in diameter or more tend to be on the heavier side. If you have larger limbs to cut and are worried about fatigue, it may be worth considering an electric model for extra cutting power without the extra weight.
• Safety Lock Feature
Most pruner shears have safety locks to keep them locked in a closed position. In addition to making shears safer for users, these locks also keep the blade protected when not being used.
All that said, some safety locks are better than others. The best pruning shears have locks that are easy to open and just as easy to close. They also stay open or locked, which is a big plus because there are few things more annoying than pruning shears that lock up while still in use.
• Spring Strength
A number of pruning shears utilize a metal spring or coil that compresses when you push the handles to make a cut and decompresses when you relax your grip. This spring controls the blades and reduces hand fatigue. While there are some pruning shears without springs, they’re more tiring to use, especially if you have some serious pruning to do.
When it comes to pruning shears, there are two primary types of springs used: wire springs and volute springs. Both types of springs work well and are used by the best pruning shears.
Regardless of which type of spring you opt for, it’s important to look for shears with springs that are attached tightly to the handles. This will keep it from popping out and causing endless headaches when pruning.
• Easy to Clean
When pruning trees and many plants, you’ll notice dirt and sap buildup on the blades over time. Sometimes, sap and gunk can even collect in between the handles, making it more difficult to open and close the shears. Worst of all, sap is corrosive, so it can eat away at the edge of blades and also cause rust.
Needless to say, cleaning your pruning shears is a must. Unfortunately, some pruning shears can’t be taken apart for easy cleaning or blade sharpening. Look for shears you can take apart quickly and clean easily to keep them looking and working like new.
• Replacement Parts
Just as some pruning shears can’t be disassembled for easy cleaning, not all shears have replacement parts available whenever something breaks or wears out. Generally, higher quality pruning shears have plenty of replacement parts available to choose from. In fact, much of the time you can order them straight from the manufacturer.
Cheaper shears, however, rarely have replacement parts available. They also tend to break or wear out more frequently, so you’ll need to purchase an entirely new pair when they need repaired. While you can get away with paying less for some things, you’ll end up paying more in the long run if you opt for cheap garden variety pruning shears.
Pruning Shears Buyer’s Tips
When it comes to gardening, landscaping, and anything that involves getting your hands dirty, there’s nothing more important than choosing the right tool. Hopefully, our buying guide and list of great pruning shears have been a huge help.
However, if you’re still having a hard time picking the right shears, take a look at their popularity. As is the case with most things, the most popular pruning shears are usually the best.
Also, consider where you’ll be buying your shears from. Prices, service, and shipping times can vary significantly from one vendor to the next. We’ve found Amazon to be the best place to shop for pruning shears as it hits the mark on each of these.
Making the Decision
So, now that you know all about pruning shears and the best options for 2019, it’s time to decide which ones are right for you.
To make this decision, think about what you’ll be pruning. Will light-duty pruning shears for small shrubs and flowers work, or do you need heavy-duty shears for cutting branches an inch or larger in diameter? Your answer to this question will help you determine whether bypass, anvil, ratchet, or electric pruning shears are best for you.
We’ve covered each of these types of shears in this guide and reviewed several of today’s top options in each category. By thinking about your needs and reading this guide one more time, you’ll be able to pick out a great pair of pruning shears and trim away!