The Pruning Shears for Lawn and Garden Care

Handle essential garden duties with the best pair of pruners for your tasks and budget.

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The Best Pruning Shears, According to Gardeners

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, 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 and to find out why the following pairs are tops in their class.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Mockins Stainless Steel Bypass Pruning Shears
  2. RUNNER-UP: Saboten 1210 Thinning Shear
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: VIVOSUN Hand Pruner Shear with Stainless Steel Blades
  4. BEST FOR FLOWERS: TABOR TOOLS K7A Straight Pruning Shears
  5. BEST BYPASS: Fiskars 91095935J Steel Bypass Pruning Shears
  6. BEST ANVIL: Gardena 8855 Anvil Pruning Shears
  7. BEST RATCHET: The Gardener’s Friend Anvil-Style Ratchet Pruners
The Best Pruning Shears Options

Photo: amazon.com

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 benefits and considerations. First, consider the type of trimming or plant, and then decide which type of pruning shears is best suited for a task. Many gardeners have multiple pairs of pruning shears because trimming tasks vary so widely.

Bypass Pruners

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.

Anvil Pruners

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

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, holding blade pressure on the partially cut branch while releasing the handles to open wider and help 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

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 quickly through branches up to 1 inch in diameter.

What to Look for When Buying 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 shear’s design is ergonomic and straightforward to use, and whether the shears come with safety features.

Blade Material

Pruning shear blades are made of several metal types and feature different coatings, each with its 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 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. 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 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.

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.

Ergonomic Design

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.

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 of a bump with a finger or thumb) while pruning. A locking mechanism located near the blades might help prevent inadvertent locking.

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 anvil pruners 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.

Our Top Picks

To qualify as a top pick, gardening shears 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.

Best Overall

The Best Pruning Shears Option: Mockins Stainless Steel Bypass Pruning Shears
Photo: amazon.com

For trimming flowers, harvesting fresh herbs, or cutting back unruly vegetable vines, these Mockins Stainless Steel Bypass Pruning Shears are a worthy option. They feature soft-grip, ergonomic rubber handles to reduce hand fatigue, a locking mechanism, and super-sharp stainless steel bypass blades to make cutting green garden stems a snap. With the sharp cut afforded by the Mockins shears, plants can be healthier, less prone to diseases, and more likely to thrive after pruning. These bypass shears perform well at cutting green indoor or outdoor plants.

Runner-Up

The Best Pruning Shears Option: Saboten 1210 Thinning Shear
Photo: amazon.com

For those who want smaller shears without sacrificing cutting ability, the Saboten 1210 Thinning Shear 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. Slightly smaller than other shears, the Saboten shears are well suited to small hands, and they feature shock-absorbing grips that help prevent slipping and reduce hand fatigue. These small-but-mighty pruners work especially well for thinning out plants with dense growth.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Pruning Shears Option: VIVOSUN Hand Pruner Shear with Stainless Steel Blades
Photo: amazon.com

Keeping plants pruned and in good shape doesn’t have to cost a lot. These VIVOSUN Pruning Shears come with super-sharp bypass blades made of stainless steel. The blades feature pointed tips to help the shears precisely trim plants with close-growing stems. The VIVOSUN shears come with ergonomic handles and nonslip grips for reduced hand fatigue, and the micro-tip snips make it easy to cut away only the portion of the plant that needs it. Larger shears tend to cut indiscriminately, but these precision shears offer the ability to carefully select a spent blossom and cut it away without fear of cutting away budding blossoms. The shears also feature a locking mechanism that holds the blades in the closed position when not in use.

Best for Flowers

The Best Pruning Shears Option: TABOR TOOLS K7A Straight Pruning Shears
Photo: amazon.com

Fresh flowers last longer after clean and sharp stem cuts, and this is where the TABOR TOOLS Pruning Shears shine. Their long pointed bypass blades can help select the right stem to snip without inadvertently cutting others. For florists or gardeners who love to share their colorful flower crops, 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.

Best Bypass

The Best Pruning Shears Option: Fiskars 91095935J Steel Bypass Pruning Shears
Photo: amazon.com

From a well-known name for gardening and landscaping tools comes the Fiskars Bypass Pruning Shears. These pruners sharply trim green stems and branches up to ⅝ inch in diameter. The Fiskars 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 blades closed when not in use.

Best Anvil

The Best Pruning Shears Option: Gardena 8855 Anvil Pruning Shears
Photo: amazon.com

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 shears come with an ergonomic grip that helps the user exert maximum pressure on twigs for cutting. It also comes with a padded, nonslip upper grip to help get a firm grasp on the pruners. The upper blade is sharp and narrow, and the anvil base supports the twig, so the shears cut through woody stems with ease and make quick work of thinning out dead branches.

Best Ratchet

The Best Pruning Shears Option: The Gardener’s Friend Anvil-Style Ratchet Pruners
Photo: amazon.com

The Gardener’s Friend Pruners’ 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—the second squeeze increases blade pressure to cut through the stem without needing to have a monster grip. These anvil-type 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.

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 leaves time for other activities.

FAQs About Pruning Shears

Pruning shears vary as to type and purpose, so gardeners frequently have two or more pairs in their garden tool collection.

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 8855 Anvil Pruner 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.