Keeping a garden and landscape in top shape requires care and maintenance, including regular pruning. Whether you need to trim back dense branches or gather herbs for dinner, the job will be faster and more efficient with a good pair of pruning shears.
Though they resemble household scissors, hand pruners are made to cut through stems, shrubs, and branches instead of paper and fabric. We tested the following pruning shears in our backyard landscape to find out how each would perform in real-life gardening situations. Later in the article, read our reviews to learn why we consider the top selections to be the best pruning shears in each category. But first we share the shopping criteria we used to narrow down our list.
- BEST OVERALL: Felco 2 One-Hand Pruning Shear
- BEST BUDGET: Fiskars Bypass Pruner
- BEST FOR FLOWERS: Fiskars Non-Stick Softgrip Micro-Tip Pruning Snip
- BEST BYPASS: Corona ClassicCUT Bypass Pruner
- BEST ANVIL: Gardena Anvil Pruning Shears
- BEST RATCHET: The Gardener’s Friend Ratchet Pruning Shears
- BEST POWER: Sun Joe Cordless Rechargeable Power Pruner
- BEST LEFT-HANDED: Felco 9 One-Hand Pruning Shear – Left-Hand Version
How We Tested the Best Pruning Shears
We sourced our test pruners based on top-selling models and the recommendations of gardening enthusiasts and professionals. Our list represents a diversity of pruning needs and user preferences. After comparing the measurables and first impressions, we used them in our backyard tests for a variety of pruning projects. Each pruner was used to make a minimum of 20 cuts, including green and dead branches up to 0.75 inch in diameter.
Our top concerns were performance, durability, and comfort. Most importantly, each pruner must cut green and/or dead wood cleanly to its rated size capacity. We included models that represented either high-quality construction for an extended working life or a bargain price for a less durable tool. We considered three aspects of comfort: weight, grip, and ease of use or smooth action. With prices ranging from less than $15 to more than $50, we noted bargains and premiums on the models with outlying cost differences.
Our Top Picks
To qualify as a top pick, garden pruners should be sharp, strong enough to sever the desired stem, durable, and comfortable to hold without slipping. For sharpness, ease of cutting, and durability, the following pruning shears are tops in their class. One is sure to be a welcome asset to any garden tool collection.
Bypass pruners are widely considered the most versatile design, and Swiss-made Felco 2 pruners are some of the best. The handles are made of lightweight, yet incredibly durable precision-ground cast aluminum, and the replaceable blade is hardened steel. A red, rubberized grip provides a bit of cushion and helps prevent losing the pruners in the garden. Other notable features include a sap groove along the blade to keep debris from building up, a thumb-controlled locking mechanism, a replaceable spring, and an adjustment tool. Best of all, the tool is designed to be easily disassembled for cleaning and repairs like replacing the blade or spring.
We like everything about the Felco 2 pruner. The handle shape is well-sized and comfortable, and the spring has just enough resistance for easy pushback without causing hand fatigue. At just over 8 ounces, it is a fairly lightweight tool, but very strong and capable of cutting branches nearly 1 inch thick. In our tests, the Felco 2 and left-handed Felco 9 pruners had the best overall performance in terms of comfort, strength, durability, and ease of use. It’s no wonder these are the pruners of choice for professional landscapers, nursery workers, and gardeners.
- Type: Bypass
- Blade material: Hardened steel
- Weight: 8.5 ounces
- Strong, lightweight cast-aluminum body for long-term durability
- Replaceable hardened-steel blade for versatility
- Easy to disassemble and reassemble for cleaning and maintenance
- Extremely durable and easy to use
- Premium price for top quality
Get the Felco 2 pruning shears at Amazon, The Home Depot, or A.M. Leonard.
From a well-known name for gardening and landscaping tools comes the Fiskars Bypass Pruner. These hand pruners sharply trim green stems and branches up to ⅝ inch in diameter.
The Fiskars gardening shears feature a precision-ground steel cutting blade that stays super sharp, even with frequent use, and it comes with a low-friction coating to cut through stems easily and resist gumming up the blade with sap and debris. The shears come with a padded nonslip grip for comfort and feature a locking mechanism to keep the sharp blades closed when not in use.
Right out of the box, our first impression was that the Fiskars steel bypass pruners looked and felt less impressive. Then we used them. They worked great for green wood and fairly well for drywood cuts up to their ⅝-inch listed threshold. The thin profile made them less comfortable, especially for hardwood cuts, and the slide lock felt flimsy. We still doubt their long-term durability, but they performed better than expected during our trials. For the price, these would be a good, inexpensive bulk-purchase option for volunteer groups.
- Type: Bypass
- Blade material: Precision-ground steel
- Weight: 10.4 ounces
- Suitable for heavy-duty use; precision-ground steel cutting blade
- Low-friction coating prevent scuffs and scratching on the blade
- Padded, nonslip grip prevents strain and hand fatigue
- Locking mechanism prevents unwanted cutting and injuries
- Slightly heavier than comparable options; may cause some strain with heavy-duty use
- Users have reported manufacturing defects and poor quality
Get the Fiskars bypass pruning shears at Amazon, Ace Hardware, or Walmart.
The Fiskars Non-Stick Softgrip Micro-Tip Pruning Snip is designed for tip pruning and repetitive trimming of flowers and herbs to encourage healthy new growth. The overall tool length is just 6 inches, with a 2-inch stainless steel blade and 4-inch handles. The cushioned grip and easy-action spring reduce hand fatigue and improve user comfort. An easy-open lock and blade cover protect the blade in transport and storage. This pruner received the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease of Use seal as a preferred tool for those suffering from reduced hand strength and mobility.
This tiny scissorlike pruner was one of the most comfortable and easy to use in our roundup. The smooth cutting action, smaller size, cushioned grip, and spring-return handle made it a pleasure to work with. It excelled at making precision cuts in pliable green growth but also worked well on fine woody material like mature sage, oregano, and thyme stems. The narrow, precision blades cut cleanly all the way to the tip. For herb and flower growers, the Fiskars Non-Stick Softgrip Micro-Tip Pruning Snip is a must-have for the tool box.
- Type: Bypass
- Blade material: Steel
- Weight: 2.6 ounces
- Narrow, pointed blade is suitable for smaller branches and plants
- Extra-sharp, precision cutting for quick and easy use
- Cushioned, nonslip-grip handle prevents strain and hand fatigue
- Locking handle and blade cover prevents unwanted injury and cutting
- Not built for thick branches; should be used for pruning small plant varieties
Get the Fiskars Micro-Tip pruning snips at Amazon, Ace Hardware, or Walmart.
Corona ClassicCUT hand pruners are built for durable functionality at an affordable price. They are simply yet durably assembled from two pieces of forged steel: a set of narrow-profile hook-and-blade handles that are slant ground and hand matched for close, precise cuts. The design cuts efficiently through dry or green wood. Other features include a nonslip grip, sap groove, resharpenable blade, and handle lock.
In our tests, the Corona ClassicCUT bypass pruner stood in contrast to our top pick in terms of weight and construction, but their design worked exceptionally well. These forged pruners were heavier and felt more rugged yet elegantly simple in design. The solid steel blade was perfectly sharpened, operated smoothly, and cut cleanly through each test branch. The straight-handle design was slightly uncomfortable for cuts that required more pressure, and the lock was not quite as easy to operate, but overall this was an outstanding tool with excellent durability at a price less than half that of Felco. The ClassicCut Bypass Pruner should be a top candidate for any serious gardener.
- Type: Bypass
- Blade material: Stainless steel
- Weight: 10.7 ounces
- Heavy-duty construction provides long-term use and durability
- Budget-friendly price compared to other options on the market
- Blades are easy to sharpen if needed
- Locking mechanism is not conveniently located
- Less comfortable for pruning harder or thicker branches
Get the Corona pruning shears at Amazon, Ace Hardware, or The Home Depot.
Dry, stiff twigs and small dead branches are no match for the Gardena Anvil Pruning Shears that feature a precision-ground blade that won’t lose its edge. These anvil pruning shears come with a fiberglass reinforced grip that helps the user exert maximum pressure on twigs for cutting. These anvil pruners also come with a padded, nonslip upper grip to help users get a firm grasp on the pruners.
The upper blade is sharp and narrow, and the anvil base supports the twig, so these anvil pruning shears cut through woody stems with ease and make quick work of thinning out dead branches.
We liked the mild arch in the Gardena Anvil Pruning Shear’s lightweight fiberglass handle. It felt more comfortable than straight handles without adding weight, and it seemed to increase leverage for tougher cuts. The slide lock worked smoothly, and the handle bumpers gave just the right amount of cushion without hindering the cut. Also, integrating the handle spring into the pivot joint was a really nice touch to eliminate common problems of traditional handle springs (like breaking, getting lost, or getting in the way). This was an excellent anvil-style pruner.
- Type: Anvil
- Blade material: Stainless steel
- Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Suitable for heavy-duty use; can take on medium to large branches
- Reinforced fiberglass handle resists damage and provides long-term use
- Ergonomic design; padded, nonslip upper grip prevents strain on the user’s hands
- Smaller blade opening (about 0.5 inch); may not take on thick branches
Get the Gardena pruning shears on Amazon or Sears.
The Gardener’s Friend Pruning Shear’s’ ratcheting catch-and-hold action helps gardeners cut branches with less hand pressure while obtaining maximum cutting action. The first squeeze of the Gardener’s Friend Pruners securely grasps the stem, while the second squeeze increases blade pressure to cut through the stem without needing to have a monster grip.
These anvil-type, carbon steel pruning shears will cut through dry, woody stems (up to 1 inch in diameter) that might otherwise be difficult to sever with standard shears. This added ratcheting power is especially helpful for gardeners with weak grips or for those who have arthritis.
In our tests, the Gardener’s Friend pruners operated almost exactly as described. They cut tough branches easily using a three-gear ratchet system that powered through tough dead branches. Unfortunately the sliding lock mechanism was cumbersome to operate because the ratchet lever seemed to get in the way. It did work after several attempts, but each time we unlocked and relocked the pruners, we had similar difficulty.
- Type: Ratchet
- Blade material: Carbon steel
- Weight: 7.8 ounces
- Carbon steel construction is suitable for very heavy-duty use and for senior gardeners
- Anvil-type cutting mechanism can take on tough cutting tasks
- Locking mechanism included to prevent unwanted cutting and injury
- Lock was cumbersome to operate; may not be ideal for some users
Get the Gardener’s Friend ratchet pruners at The Gardener’s Friends.
For trees, flowers, and hedges, this Sun Joe Cordless Rechargeable Power Pruner is made for heavy-duty trimming and maintenance. With a 3.6-volt construction, this pick is capable of trimming green wood branches and stems of 0.5 inch thick in 0.6 seconds. LED lights and a built-in safety switch help to avoid unnecessary cutting and allow for precise cuts where needed. This model also comes with a charger and a safety cover for storing.
In our tests, the Sun Joe pruner did not hesitate. It easily cut through green wood of all kinds, up to about a half-inch in diameter. At 1.6 pounds, it is nearly three times the weight of traditional bypass pruning shears. We think this an important consideration since energy saved from squeezing pruners will transfer into energy used to carry and maneuver this heavy, bulky tool. But those with impaired grip may find it helpful.
- Type: Power
- Blade material: Stainless steel
- Weight: 1.6 pounds
- 3.6-volt construction can take on heavy-duty cutting tasks
- Trims thick branches in less than 0.6 second for quick and easy use
- LED and built-in safety switch prevents unwanted cutting
- Cuts slower than manually squeezing regular pruners
- Heavyweight compared to similar options
Get the Sun Joe pruning shears at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Walmart.
Pro-quality Felco pruners are available for left-handed gardeners, too. The ergonomically designed Felco 9 carbon steel pruners are made with strong, lightweight precision-ground cast-aluminum handles and hardened-steel replaceable blades. This bypass pruner also feature bright red rubberized grips, a thumb lock, and a replaceable spring. All Felco pruners include an adjustment tool for quick, easy disassembly and reassembly for cleaning, maintenance, and repairs.
Like a mirror image of our Best Overall pick, but with a more comfortable grip, the Felco 9 is an awesome pruning tool. It tested head and shoulders above the other pruners in terms of comfort, strength, ease of use, and durability. The Felco 9 felt great in-hand, operated extremely smoothly, and the blade displayed superior sharpness in the cutting tests. The ergonomic grip (also available in the right-handed Felco 8) on this bypass pruner was like a cherry on top, improving on a top-quality tool. Don’t be scared off by the premium price tag. Lefties won’t go wrong with this pick.
- Type: Bypass
- Blade material: Carbon steel
- Weight: 8.6 ounces
- Lightweight aluminum handles prevent strain when in use
- Replaceable hardened-steel blade for versatility and effective use
- Ergonomic design reduces hand fatigue during long-term tasks
- Easy disassembly and assembly for maintenance and repairs
- Premium price point compared to similar pruning shears
Get the Felco 9 pruning shears at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Gemplers.
What to Look for When Choosing the Best Pruning Shears
Besides the various types of shears, other factors are worth considering, such as the material used to make the blades, whether the shears’ design is ergonomic and straightforward to use, and whether the shears come with safety features.
Types of Pruning Shears
The primary reason people use any pair of pruning shears is to cut through green or dry stems, but each type of shear has its own benefits and considerations. First, consider the plant or type of trimming, then decide which type of pruner is best suited for the task. Many gardeners have multiple pairs of pruning shears because trimming tasks vary so widely.
The best bypass pruners feature two sharpened blades designed to cut through plant stems and soft green tree branches (up to ½ inch in diameter). Bypass pruners make sharp, clean cuts, which are essential to the health of the plant, as ragged cuts invite disease. Don’t use bypass pruners to cut dry and brittle dead branches, as doing so can jam or even bend the blades. For these heavy-duty jobs, a pruning saw may be the better choice.
Anvil pruners have only one sharpened blade that presses into a groove on a stationary base (anvil). Designed to sever small stems and branches (up to ½ inch in diameter), anvil pruners use a crushing rather than cutting action, so they are suitable for trimming dry dead branches, which snap easily. Anvil pruners are not recommended for soft green branches and stems, which can become crushed and frayed by the shears.
Ratchet pruners are based on the anvil design but feature a catch-and-hold ratchet mechanism, which allows users to exert less pressure on the handles, yet cut larger branches (up to ¾ inch in diameter).
Squeezing the handles halfway engages the ratchet mechanism, putting pressure on the partially cut branch. Releasing the handles helps users get a fresh grip to squeeze again. Like regular anvil pruners, ratchet pruners are better suited to dry, dead branches than fresh green ones.
Power pruners, available as anvil and bypass, reduce the wrist and hand fatigue associated with using manual pruners. Like other battery-powered tools, power pruners operate on a rechargeable battery. All it takes is a light squeeze on the handles. The power pruner does the rest, quickly cutting through branches up to 1 inch in diameter.
Pruning shear blades are made of several metal types and feature different coatings, each with their own set of pros and cons.
- Stainless steel blades: Stainless steel blades resist tarnishing, so blades made of this metal won’t rust or corrode. Though they work well cutting green stems and branches, stainless steel blades are difficult to sharpen once they become dull. They can also become misshapen if the user tries to cut branches that are too thick.
- Carbon-steel blades: Carbon is a hardener, making carbon-steel blades tougher and stronger than stainless steel ones. Carbon steel is likely to rust, however, if the shears are not cleaned and hand-dried after cutting moisture-rich green branches. Carbon-steel blades are a good choice for cutting through tough dead branches.
- Titanium-coated blades: A coating of durable, corrosion-resistant titanium gives carbon blades the rust resistance of stainless—offering the best of both worlds. Note that the coating imparts a gold color.
- Nonstick blades: Teflon coating on carbon steel blades helps deter gunk and sap buildup for a longer pruning life before the blades need to be cleaned. Nonstick coated blades are available on a variety of pruning shears.
The right type of handle on your pruning shears can help reduce fatigue in your hands when cutting thick branches or stems. Many shears are made with grips and ergonomic designs, while others are reinforced so less pressure is required to cut through plants.
For added luxury, some options even include fiberglass for durability or shock absorption for more comfortable gardening. Finally, as power pruners cut through branches and stems automatically, these models usually come with rubber grips that are easy to hold and cause almost no strain on your hands.
Unlike household scissors, which are opened and closed by hand for each cut, pruning shears feature a spring that forces the blades apart after each cut so all you have to do is squeeze the handles to cut again. When shopping for pruners, look for a securely attached spring. If the spring breaks off, you’ll have to use the shears as you would ordinary scissors.
Using manual pruning shears requires a lot of repetitive hand movements, which can lead to wrist and hand fatigue. Many manufacturers offer easy-grip handles to offset fatigue; seek handles that fit the shape of your hand and feel comfortable.
Most pruning shears have a locking mechanism that holds the blades together when not in use. This is both a safety feature and a way to protect a sharpened blade edge. The biggest complaint about locking mechanisms is sometimes they inadvertently lock (usually because of a bump with a finger or thumb) while pruning. A locking mechanism located near the blades might help prevent inadvertent locking.
The Advantages of Owning the Best Pruning Shears
When it comes to good gardening, it pays to have the right tool for the job. Attempting to use scissors or a knife to prune small stems and twigs is foolhardy. A good pair of gardening shears will make quick work of plant-trimming projects with several advantages:
- The ability to thin out dead branches using an anvil-type pair of shears.
- Reducing hand fatigue by using pruners with nonslip, ergonomic handles.
- Reducing trimming time with a quality pair of pruning shears, leaving time for other activities.
Tips for Buying and Using the Best Pruning Shears
A nearly endless array of pruners is available from home improvement and gardening retailers. Armed with ample information, shoppers can make an educated choice about which shears are the best for their trimming needs. The following tips can help.
- Match the pruning shears to the job—bypass pruners for green stems and an anvil blade for dry stems.
- Think about branch size. Larger, more powerful pruning shears cut thicker stems. If annual yard work requires cutting many thick stems, a hefty set of pruning shears or perhaps a pair of loppers can make the work easier.
- Wipe away sap and debris from the shears before storing them to reduce the risk of rust and increase their useful life.
Pruning shears vary as to type and purpose, so gardeners frequently have two or more pairs in their garden tool collection.
Q. What is the use of pruning shears?
Pruners are meant for cutting branches, twigs, and stems in your garden. They can also be used by florists and professional gardeners.
Q. Which is better, bypass or anvil pruners?
Bypass shears are better for cutting through soft green stems, while anvil pruners are better for cutting through dry, woody stems.
Q. What are the best pruners for roses?
Use a bypass pruner for cutting through fresh green rose stems when collecting blooms for a bouquet, but use an anvil pruner, such as the Gardena Anvil Pruning Shears, to remove dead branches at the base of the rose.
Q. Can I use scissors for pruning?
Not unless you want to ruin your scissors. Household scissors are not suited for cutting through thick stems. A pair of pruning shears is the best bet.
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