Pruning is an essential part of keeping your roses and shrubs healthy and attractive. But get it wrong, and it can prove fatal to your beloved plants!
Something this important deserves the right tool for the job. So read on as we take you through our list of the best pruning shears on the market today.
The Best Pruning Shears on the Market 2020
1. Felco F-2 Classic Manual Hand Pruner (Our Top Recommended)
Felco is well known as masters of high-quality garden tools. So if you’re looking to invest in some top-of-the-range pruning shears, take a look at their F-2 model.
Felco says the design of these has been unchanged for 50 years. Every aspect has been carefully thought through to provide the perfect pruning experience.
First up, there are the blades. They’re made of hardened steel and feature a notch for wire cutting to keep the edges sharp.
Then there’s the sap groove. This clever innovation clears out sap and debris with every cut. That means you’ll never again find your blades wedged together with a bit of green stalk that’s impossible to remove. You can adjust your cutting width by the smallest of fractions too.
The handles are made of aluminum that’s guaranteed for life. The cushioned covering and shock absorption system are as comfortable for your hands as they’re easy on your plants.
All this precision engineering is also available to gardeners with smaller hands. Felco’s F-6 pruner has almost all the same features as the F-2, but on a smaller scale. If you like the F-6 but have struggled with standard shears before, they could be the ones for you.
Both the F-2 and F-6 are genuinely brilliant pruning shears. There are just two issues to bear in mind.
The first is the price tag. They’re considerably more expensive than others out there. In fact, you can get a decent pair of shears for half the price or less.
In Felco’s defense, however, every single part of these can be replaced, and they come with a lifetime guarantee. They should be the last pair of pruning shears you ever have to buy.
The second issue is a perennial problem for desirable products – less reputable manufacturers produce fakes. If you see Felco shears at a price that looks too good to be true, be wary – it probably is. Look for a guarantee of authenticity before you buy.
- Top-notch construction and performance
- Sap groove prevents sticking when pruning sappy wood
- Every part can be replaced, and there’s a lifetime guarantee
- Expensive – but you’re paying for quality
- Watch out for fakes.
2. Power Drive Ratchet Anvil Hand Pruning Shears
If you’re looking for pruning shears that are easy on your hands, check out this offering from Power Drive.
They have an innovative ratchet mechanism that multiplies the power of the cut. As the blades close, the ratchet clicks into place, so you can release the handle and start again. It means you can perform a single cut in several easy stages, rather than all in one go.
The ratchet also intensifies the power with each stage, so you get maximum strength when you need it. It’s far less effort, and you get a cutting power of around five times that from your hand alone.
The result is that you’ll be able to cut thicker stems than with other shears – up to an inch in diameter. If you’ve got a large area to prune, or suffer from arthritis or painful hands, these are an excellent choice.
The blades are made from carbon steel that’s been heat treated to make it even stronger. They can be sharpened, but you won’t need to do it often. And while there’s no sap groove here, the blades are coated in Teflon to avoid them sticking together.
So are there any negatives?
We’ve heard of some gardeners having difficulty with the ratchet mechanism. It can take a bit of getting used to, but it’s worth persevering. It really does make pruning much easier.
We’ve also come across a few instances where the lock to keep the blades closed is stiff. This seems to be a quality assurance issue, as the majority work well.
Having said that, manufacturers Equinox International stand behind their product. They offer a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, with a refund or exchange if you’re unhappy. It’s reassuring to know you won’t be out of pocket if you find the shears don’t suit you.
- The ratchet mechanism is great for smaller or painful hands
- Tough carbon steel blades cut through woody stems with ease
- Teflon coating avoids sap sticking the blades together as you cut
- The locking mechanism can be difficult to engage
- You may find the ratchet mechanism takes some practice to get used to.
3. VIVOSUN 6.5″ Gardening Hand Pruner Pruning Shears
VIVOSUN’s pruning shears are well worth considering if you’re looking for an economical option. You can pick up almost ten pairs of these for the same price as a pair of Felco shears.
For that price, you wouldn’t expect much in the way of bells and whistles – and you’d be right not to.
These are simple shears with straight blades. The handles are fairly lightweight plastic (though they do have rubber grips for comfort). And there are no design features like ratchets, sap grooves or Teflon coating.
What you get for your money is a strong pair of stainless-steel blades. They’re very sharp, and their narrow profile makes them excellent for fiddly pruning. If you’ve got topiary to clip, they’ll work beautifully. You’ll find, though, that they’ll struggle with tougher foliage.
The mechanism is spring-loaded to help increase the power of the cut. If you’ve got smaller hands, you may find the spring is longer than ideal. That means that the handles finish further apart, requiring more effort to close them.
It’s possible to address that by shortening the length of the spring. If you’re handy enough to do that, you’ll be getting some good shears at a bargain price.
The lack of a sap groove or Teflon coating means that sappy plants can cause problems. It’s another reason to avoid using these shears for plants with thicker stems.
When you’ve finished pruning, clean off any sap that’s lingering on the blades. Soak them in a few inches of olive oil for a couple of minutes, then dry with a soft cloth. They’ll come up well and you won’t risk damage from scraping at the steel.
- Sharp steel blades work well for everyday pruning
- Narrow blades are excellent for fiddly jobs
- Very economical buy – you can pick up a pair for the same price as a cup of artisan coffee
- Handles are lightweight
- Long spring may be uncomfortable, particularly for smaller hands
- Blades are likely to stick with sappy plants
4. Fiskars 91095935J Steel Bypass Pruning Shears
Fiskar’s keenly priced bypass pruning shears offer lots of features for not very much cash.
First up, there are the blades. As the name suggests, these are bypass blades. In other words, you get two curved cutting edges that pass over each other when you close the handles. The result is a good, clean cut.
The blades are made from hardened high carbon steel. They’re designed to stay sharp, even over prolonged use. They’re beveled too, so they’ll pass smoothly over each other as you cut.
The blades also have a low-friction coating, helping them slice cleanly through woody stems and resisting rust. And there’s a sap groove, to avoid them sticking when you’re cutting green stalks.
There’s a lock to hold the shears closed when not in use, so that you can transport them safely. It’s designed to slide into place easily, whether you’re right- or left-handed. The mechanism might, however, be a little stiff for some.
The handles are steel too, with cushioned rubber sleeves that make them easy to grip and comfortable to use. The all-steel construction is designed to last, and they come with a lifetime warranty.
These aren’t, though, the heaviest duty shears on our list. Fiskars recommend them for cutting through stems up to five-eighths of an inch in diameter. For best results, we’d recommend using different shears for anything above three-eighths of an inch.
All in all, these are good quality and well-designed shears at a very competitive price. If you don’t have to cut through thicker stems, they’re a good bet.
- Durable all-steel construction
- Low-friction coating and sap groove keep the blades moving cleanly
- Very competitive price
- Won’t work well on thicker stems
- The locking mechanism can be a bit stiff.
5. Gonicc 8″ Professional SK-5 Steel Blade Sharp Anvil Pruning Shears (GPPS-1001)
These pruning shears from Gonicc use an anvil design. That means there’s a single curved cutting blade which cuts against a solid anvil on the other side. The crushing motion works well for woody or dead vegetation.
These are another pair of shears where the blade is made from carbon steel. In this case, it’s something called SK-5 steel, which is designed to be ultra-strong and hard wearing.
Like the Power Drive shears from Equinox, these use a ratchet mechanism to cut the effort needed when pruning. The ratchet allows you to squeeze and release the handles without the blade returning to its starting position. So you can squeeze several times for a single cut.
Together with the ratchet design, that makes these shears a good option for tougher pruning. You should be able to cut through woody stalks up to about three-quarters of an inch across.
The handles here are aluminum. They’re not quite as strong as steel versions, but they’re lighter and easier to maneuver. The handle with the cutting blade is coated in PVC so it’s non-slip.
The second handle is bare aluminum. That’s because the anvil design means you won’t need to squeeze it shut. Even so, we think that two rubber-coated handles would have been more comfortable.
The locking mechanism comes with pros and cons. The button is significantly bigger than on other shears we’ve tried. That means it’s easy to slide into place using one hand. But over time, it can become loose.
On the plus side, there’s a lifetime warranty. So if you run into quality issues with the lock or anything else, ask for a refund or replacement. We’ve heard good things about Gonicc’s customer service.
- Sharp carbon steel blade and anvil design is good for pruning woody plants
- Ratchet mechanism multiplies the power of your hand
- Lifetime warranty and highly-rated customer service
- The locking mechanism can become loose over time
- Only one handle has a cushioned grip.
6. Corona BP 3180D Forged Classic Bypass Pruner With 1 Inch Cutting Capacity
These simple, well-made bypass pruners from Corona are built to last a lifetime.
The blades are made from heat-treated forged steel. They’re strong and durable, and the blade and hook are hand-matched for precision.
Even better, you can sharpen them to restore a mean edge. A metal file will work fine, but Corona also makes a sharpener specifically for their shears.
And if you find some way to destroy the blade, it can be replaced. The same goes for the spring in the spring-loaded mechanism. So there’s no reason not to keep using these year after year.
They have all the design features of more expensive shears too. There’s a sap groove to stop the blades from sticking. And a handy cutting notch will make short work of wires. That notch is closed when not in use to avoid accidents.
There’s no button to lock these shears. Instead, a small wire loop fastens over a hook to keep them closed. It’s a bit more fiddly to use, but it has the advantage of security. Once the wire is in place, it won’t slip back out.
Although we’re reviewing the 1-inch version, Corona makes these shears with half and three-quarter inch cuts too. We like the versatility of the larger cut, but those with smaller hands might find a different size more comfortable.
So is there anything not to like?
Well, the spring is fairly stiff. If you’ve got arthritis or your grip isn’t as strong as it was, a ratcheted design will be better. And the red rubber casing on the handles could do with more cushioning. It can slip out of position over time too.
But these are minor gripes for a very well-made set of shears at a price that won’t break the bank.
- Strong sharp blades will handle tough stems up to an inch across
- They’ll last for years, and both the blade and spring can be replaced
- Simple but effective locking mechanism
- Spring-loaded mechanism is a bit stiff
- The handles aren’t as well cushioned as we’d like them to be.
7. MLTOOLS 6 Inch Mini Trimmer Pruning Shear P8234 (Best for the Money)
If you’re looking for lightweight shears for easy pruning of smaller plants, take a look at these from MLTOOLS.
They’ve got a simple spring-loaded design, light enough for anyone to use comfortably. The straight, slender blades are similar to the shears from VIVOSUN. They’re just as strong as those too, made from high-quality stainless steel.
The grips are plastic and are designed not to slip. For our money, though, they’re the weak point in these shears: they feel a little flimsy compared to others. On the plus side, they’re a good-looking bright green. You won’t have to worry about spotting them again if you drop them in the middle of your shrubs!
The ultra-sharp blades mean you need a locking mechanism you can be confident in. Happily, that’s exactly what you get here. There’s a button which slides easily into place with just one hand. And unlike other shears that use this design, we’ve heard no reports of it slipping.
These are a little more expensive than the VIVOSUN shears, but they’re still a bargain buy. And they come with a promise from the manufacturers to provide a full refund to any dissatisfied customers.
They won’t be the right choice if you’re looking for heavy-duty shears. They won’t handle woody stems, and there’s no sap groove to prevent sticking. But if you want a sharp pair of shears for deadheading, shaping, or pruning slimmer stems, they’re well worth considering.
- Very sharp, straight blades ideal for deadheading and lighter pruning
- Light and easy to use
- Effective locking mechanism
- Handles are rather flimsy
- No sap groove or non-stick coating on the blades.
Still not sure which of these shears are right for you? Read on and we’ll help you find the right tool for your pruning needs.
What kinds of plants will you be pruning?
When it comes to pruning, not all plants are the same. Do you need to cut through thick, woody stalks in an established hedgerow? Do you have sturdy rose stems to contend with? Or are you looking for something to handle the green, whippy foliage of plants like honeysuckle or jasmine?
Of course, the answer might be “all of the above”. If that’s the case, you might want to invest in two pairs of shears to get the best results.
That’s because the basic design of shears makes a big difference to how they work with different plants.
For woody foliage, anvil designs generally work best. These are shears that have a single cutting blade that cuts up against a solid anvil. The stalks are effectively both cut and crushed. Blades with non-stick coatings work well here too, as they will cut cleanly through tougher foliage.
If you’re looking to prune plants with greener stems, though, bypass shears will usually work better. These have two curved blades that pass over each other, similar to scissors. They’ll give a clean cut even on sappy stalks.
And speaking of sap – it can be the very devil when you’re pruning. The sticky substance can easily gum up your shears, meaning you’ll have to stop and wipe the blades before continuing. To avoid this, look for shears with grooves to keep it away from the blades.
Delicate trim or hard pruning?
If you’re looking for a manicured finish for topiary, narrow, straight-edged blades are the best. You’ll have to compromise on power, but they’ll give you a neat finish. Just check the blades are good and sharp. Both the VIVOSUN and MLTOOLS shears reviewed here will work well for this.
If, on the other hand, you’ve got large areas of sturdier plants, opt for shears with curved blades. And look for handles that are well cushioned. You’ll want the comfort if you’re working for long periods of time.
What kinds of hands do you have?
Before you answer, “The kind with four fingers and a thumb,” bear with us! What we mean is, how big are your hands? And how strong are your wrists and fingers?
When it comes to size, the key issue is how far the handles open out. If the distance is very wide, it can be uncomfortable for smaller hands. And if you’re pruning a large area, you’ll really feel it.
Look for options with a ratchet or pulley design to help take the strain. And consider shears specifically designed for smaller hands.
For gardeners with bigger hands, make sure the handles are long enough for you to grip comfortably. You’ll also have the advantage of greater leverage with longer handles.
For anyone with weaker hands or aches and pains, a ratchet design will hugely improve your pruning experience. You’ll get great performance with far less effort. And your hands will thank you for it when you’re done.
And whether your hands are big or small, check out the cushioning on the handles. If you’re using your shears a lot, it will make a big difference to your comfort.
Ready to choose?
We hope you’ve enjoyed our round-up of the best pruning shears out there today. Whatever your budget, you can get great results by matching the tool to the job.
For light topiary, our pick is the Mini-Trimmer from MLTOOLS. It has everything you need at a very keen price. But if money is no object and you have serious pruning to do, you can’t beat Felco’s F-2 shears. Just make sure you get them from a respected retailer to avoid knock-offs!
Whichever option you choose, effective pruning will soon give you a garden that’s the envy of your neighbors.