The Pruning Shears for Lawn and Garden Care
Handle essential garden duties with the best pair of pruners for your tasks and budget.
Keeping your 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 often look and function like household scissors, pruners are made to cut through stems and branches instead of paper and fabric. Read on to learn how to choose the best pruning shears for your gardening style and needs, as well as to see why the below options are highly recommended:
- BEST OVERALL: Mockins Stainless Steel Bypass Pruning Shears
- RUNNER-UP: Saboten 1210 Thinning Shears
- BEST FOR FLOWERS: TABOR TOOLS K7A Straight Pruning Shears
What Makes a Great Pair of Pruning Shears?
Types of Pruning Shears
Pruning shears are available in a few basic types:
- Bypass pruners feature two sharpened blades designed to cut through plant stems and soft green tree branches (up to 1/2-inch in diameter). Bypass pruners make sharp, clean cuts, which are essential to the health of the plant (ragged cuts invite disease). Don’t use bypass pruners to cut dry, brittle dead branches, which can jam or even bend the blades.
- 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 1/2-inch in diameter), anvil pruners use a crushing rather than cutting action, so 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 you to exert less pressure on the handles yet cut larger branches (up to 3/4-inch in diameter). Squeeze the handles halfway to engage the ratchet mechanism, holding blade pressure on the partially cut branch while releasing the handles to open wider and allow you to 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 and the power pruner does the rest, cutting easily through branches (up to 1-inch in diameter).
A Variety of Blade Material
Pruning shear blades are constructed of different types of metal and feature different coatings, each with their own unique set of pros and cons.
- Stainless steel blades: Stainless steel resists 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 you try to cut too-thick branches.
- Carbon steel blades: Carbon is a hardener, making carbon steel blades tougher and stronger than stainless steel. Carbon steel is likely to rust, however, if the shears are not cleaned and hand-dried after cutting green branches, which contain moisture. Carbon 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 you the best of both worlds. Note: The coating imparts a gold color.
- Non-stick blades: Teflon coating on carbon steel blades helps deter gunk and sap buildup, allowing you to prune longer before cleaning. Non-stick coated blades are available on a variety of pruning shears.
More Options to Consider
There are a few other factors to weigh before choosing your ideal shears.
- Spring loading. 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, because if it breaks off, you’ll have to use the shears as you would ordinary scissors.
- Locking mechanism. 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 when they inadvertently lock (usually because you bump them with a finger or thumb) while pruning. A locking mechanism located near the blades may help prevent inadvertent locking.
- Ergonomic design. Using manual pruning shears means 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.
The Best Pruning Shears
For sharpness, ease of cutting, and durability, we’ve selected the following top pruning shears as best in class.
1. BEST OVERALL: Mockins Stainless Steel Bypass Pruning Shears
Whether you wish to trim flowers, harvest fresh herbs, or cut back unruly vegetable vines, Mockins Stainless Steel Bypass Pruning Shears are a worthy option. They feature soft-grip, ergonomic rubber handles, a locking mechanism, and super sharp stainless steel bypass blades to make cutting green garden stems a snap.
2. RUNNER-UP: Saboten 1210 Thinning Shears
For those who want smaller shears without sacrificing cutting ability, the Saboten 11210 Thinning Shears might be just the ticket. These little bypass pruners feature sharp Teflon-coated carbon steel blades, easy-grip handles, and a built-in locking mechanism.
3. BEST FOR FLOWERS: TABOR TOOLS K7A Straight Pruning Shears
Cut flowers last longer when stem cuts are clean and sharp, and this is where the TABOR TOOLS Pruning Shears shine. Their long pointed bypass blades make it easy to select the right stem to snip without inadvertently cutting others. A favorite of florists, these shears boast super sharp, Teflon-coated carbon steel blades that remain clean after multiple cuts. Rather than a locking mechanism, the shears feature a safety strap that fits around the ends of the handles to keep blades closed when not in use.