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The feeling of a well-engineered edged tool in a person’s hand evokes some sense of archaic satisfaction. Whether it’s an ax or a pruning shear, there’s something very satisfying to working with an effective blade. Imagine the fun we had testing these shears.
A good pair of pruning shears balances cutting efficacy, intelligent design, usability, and durability. Even with advanced technologies, creating a lasting sharp edge remains a craft that manufacturers’ reputations rise or fall.
Together, we’re going to look at nine pruning shears from different manufacturers. We put them through their paces and summarized their achieved balance. We also provide you with some (quite a lot of) pruning tips and guidelines. Follow the link if you want to skip directly to the evaluation; else, let’s dive into the value-add topics first.
Choosing the Right Pruning Tools
Choosing which tool to use depends largely on the branch size and the amount of pruning. It is good to test a tool before buying it. Alternatively, get unbiased information from this site.
As with most of our Best Of reports, the price of an item doesn’t play a major role. We are interested in performance and your reliance on us as a source of good information.
It is worth noting that the smaller a branch is when pruned, the sooner the wound created will seal. Use hand pruners to prune small branches (under an inch in diameter). There are many different types available – we explore nine.
Based on their cutting action, Pruning shears fall into two main categories; by-pass or anvil styles.
- Anvil-style pruners have a straight blade that cuts the branch against a small anvil or block.
- By-pass pruners use a two bladed that slides past each other – the bottom one concave and the upper moving blade convex.
We prefer the by-pass style pruner for greenwood and the anvil style for deadwood. All pruning shears are available for left-hand dominant people.
Common Pruning Terms
We are removing entire stems, limbs, or branches. The process of thinning allows sunlight to reach the plant’s core. Thinning also focuses energy on the surviving branches rather than new growth, side shoots, or suckers, preserving the branch’s natural apical dominance.
We are removing Individual stems and branches. Execute pruning cuts in the middle of branches, alongside branches, or adjacent to buds to encourage new growth in the desired direction. Denser branching is encouraged by heading cuts, resulting in a more dense canopy. They tend to encourage suckering unless a dominant leader is left, which destroys any natural apical dominance the branch previously had.
You are free to remove as many branches and stems as you like. You chop through all branches and stems indiscriminately, ignoring any side branches or buds. Hedges and bushes with dense, thick branches and foliage are only suitable for shearing.
Pinching off a blossom with your thumb and forefinger is one of the simplest “cuts” to make. Pinching the stem prevents it from elongating and promotes bushy growth. It works well for guiding growth on tiny shrubs and pine trees to give them a similar appearance.
According to Paris Yates of the Seattle Urban Food Systems (UFS), the best time for most fruit tree pruning is during the winter months of January, February, and March. Most fruit trees are deciduous and go into a ‘dormancy’ during the winter. However, as can be seen in our video below, there is value to summer pruning too.
Fruit Tree Pruning Calendar
The winter months of January, February, and March are ideal for most fruit tree trimming. Most fruit trees are deciduous, which means they go dormant in the winter.
In winter, the metabolic processes slow, making it a good time to prune the tree for health and structure. It is critical to remove dead, dying, and decayed wood from the tree to maintain its general health and vitality. Pruning for form and structure aids in developing optimal growing conditions and increased quality and quantity fruit production.
- Remove small branches or “thin” to allow air and light to move through the tree and reach all branches
- Remove all dead, dying, and decaying wood on tree branches
- Prune branches or ‘head back” for optimal fruit production
Pruned trees, using basic procedures such as thinning and removing deadwood. “Heading back” is a distinctive technique linked with fruit plants. This approach involves removing the tree’s outermost growth to make the branches short and thick rather than long and thin.
The aim is to direct nutrients to fruit development rather than branch development. Thicker, stronger branches prevent branches from breaking under the weight of the fruit. Pruning fruit trees regularly also aids in the management of disease and pests.
Scrub Pruning Calendar
For your convenience, we’ve included an extract from Scrubs Pruning Calendar, published by the Virginia Cooperative Extension in 2001.
|Cherry laurel (Prunus)||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Nov||Dec|
|Harry Lauder Walking Stick||May||Jun||Jul|
|Hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, Althea||Jan||Feb||Mar||Nov||Dec|
|Hypericum, St. Johnswort||Jan||Feb||Mar|
|Indian Hawthorne (Raphiolepis)||May||Jun||Jul|
|Mahonia, Orgon Grapeholly||May||Jun||Jul|
|Sweetshrub, Carolina Allspice||Jul||Aug|
Tree Renovation by Pruning
Old apple, plum, cherry, and maple trees frequently become neglected, resulting in unkempt and unmanageable.
Without having to remove these trees, they can often be nursed back to a more manageable form. Strategically considered pruning cuts, executed over reasonable and well-selected, are needed to renovate elderly trees.
Most trees are not fond of heavy pruning, and they are even less tolerant of poor or inappropriate pruning. Do not attempt to solve all a neglected tree’s issues in a single year. Do renovative pruning over a two- or three-year period.
Only trees with a sound, robust trunk, and primary branches that show traces of previous healthy growth are worth renovating. A tree should sometimes be removed rather than renovated. Observe proper watering and fertilizing practices during this remodeling period.
Please consider the following when planning to renovate an old tree.
- Is it worthwhile to save the tree? Does the tree hold some other sentimental importance? Is the tree in good condition? Is the tree in the right spot? Is it a source of shade, or does it obstruct lawn mowing? Is it infested with bugs and diseases?
- The ultimate purpose of tree renovation is to heavily prune a tree for two, three, or even four years so that you don’t have to prune it as much after the repair is complete. It’s an annual task that is worth accomplishing.
- For the next three years, prune the tree twice a year: once in the early spring and again in July or August.
- Pruning in the spring encourages a lot of new growth. Pruning in the summer and fall does not induce excessive new growth.
- In any given year, try not to remove more than 20-percent of the whole tree as severy pruning stimulates fresh growth.
- Reduce the tree’s total height by 3-feet every year. For example, a 27-foot tall tree should be shortened by 3-feet a year, resulting in a 18-foot tree in three years.
Evaluating the Nine Best Pruning Shears
We evaluated nine different brands to expose you to all the quality products out there – not only those highly ranked by search engines algorithms. We have also mixed and matched anvil and bypass types and included a pair for left-handed people. Here are our finalists (in no specific order).
|Pruning Shears||Approval Rate||Type||Body material||Blade Material||Cutting Diameter||Weight|
|Felco Pruning Shears (F 16) – High-Performance Swiss Made Left-Handed One-Hand Garden Pruner with Steel Blade||96%||Left-handed bypass||Forged Aluminum||Hardened Alloy Steel||5/8″||7.36 oz|
|Gardena 8905 Bypass Pruner||93%||Right-handed Bypass||Fibreglass Reinforced||Stainless Steel||1-inch||3.2 oz|
|HAUS & GARTEN ClassicPRO Titanium Bypass Pruning Shears||93%||Bypass||Drop-forged Aluminum||Titanium||1-inch||9 oz|
|Steelhead 7″ Anvil Pruning Shears||96%||Anvil||High carbon steel with non-stick Duragrip||Japanese SK-5 Steel||5/8″||6 oz|
|Kynup Gardening Shears Heavy Duty||93%||Bypass||Aluminum and Silicon||Stainless Steel||1″||10.6 oz|
|Fiskars 91095935J Steel Pruning Shears Bypass Pruner||93%||Bypass||Aluminum and Silicon||Steel||5/8″||10.4 oz|
|Corona BP 3180D Forged Classic Bypass Pruner with 1 Inch Cutting Capacity||95%||Bypass||Maxforged Steel handles covered with Silicon||Maxforged Steel||1-inch||11 oz|
|Tobisho Pruning Shears Type a Bracket Stop 200mm Bonsai||99%||Bypass||Forged Steel||Japanese SK-5 Steel||1-inch||8.5 oz|
|Opinel Hand Pruning Shears with non-slip beechwood handle||85%||Bypass||Beechwood, Stainless Steel, and Silicon||Stainless Steel||3/4″||2.3 oz|
Felco has been making cutting tools for 70 years. Based in Switzerland, the company prides itself on its products’ precision, ergonomics, and quality.
The Felco Pruning Shears (F 16) – High-Performance Swiss Made Left-Handed One-Hand Garden Pruner with Steel Blade (yes, that’s the full name) is made of forged aluminum handles hardened steel blades. Felco manufactures its tools to ensure the interchangeability of the parts.
Ninety-six percent of Felco product users score them either 4- or 5-star. Their 5-star rating is 90-percent – very impressive.
This unit, made for left-handed people, is one of our favorites in the batch we tested. It handles well, is well balanced, and has a cushioned shock absorber that we truly enjoyed. We also liked the wire cutter for small wires and a sap groove that minimizes the blade sticking.
They are slightly smaller than most standard pruners and ideal for medium-sized hands. They sharpen easily and hold their edge well.
Gardena is a German company that has been making quality garden products since 1961. For interest, you may want to watch this video regarding Gardena’s production and quality control processes.
The Gardena 8905 Bypass Pruner is an absolute delight to use. Comfortable for medium hands, super-sharp, lovely balance. German engineering at its best. Again.
The approval score of 93-percent is less than I expected. The Gardena tool we had was really a pleasure to work with. I cannot fault it. It’s made from quality materials and equipped with the most innovative features you could ask for.
Haus & Garten
You may imagine that this is a German company, judging from the name – but it’s not. Founded by Greg Shultz, the company is based in Nevada, U.S.A.
As far as quality goes, though, it may be superior to any others we evaluated. Dang, these Haus & Garten ClassicPRO Titanium Bypass pruning shears are a delight to work with. The titanium-coated Japanese steel blade, which is replaceable if needed, is amazing.
Made for medium to large hands, it’s for heavy-duty use – somebody that needs extra power. It would be a great product for professional gardeners where fatigue may be an issue – or for people who do not have strong hands.
Their approval rating is 93-percent, of which 80-percent gave them a five star. Here’s a link to a video on the product for your further information.
So we’ve had Switzerland, Germany and the great U.S.A. Steelhead has offices in Atlanta, Georgia, but the product is made in Taiwan using Japanese steel. Isn’t it lovely when we can all work together to get a good pair of anvil secateurs into your hands?
And this Steelhead 7″ Anvil Pruning Shears is a good pair for pruning and clearing out dry & dead shrubs, citrus, peppers, vegetables, roses, trees, and other plants with thick woody foliage. All the units we tested had safety features, but this easy one-handed top lock & unlock switch allows for easy locking.
The unit is medium-sized, has a comfortable grip, and has an easy action.
The Kynup Gardening Shears Heavy Duty’s rated satisfaction is 93-percent, with 79-percent of that 5-stars and only 2-percent under 3-stars. That type of rating concurs with our findings. These shears cut through wood like butter.
You may want to better sure the spring, though. Kynup provides you with an additional one, but if the first one can get lost, so can the second one. Take some glue and glue the spring ends to their holders.
We found the Fiskars 91095935J Steel Pruning Shears Bypass Pruner ideal for cutting half-inch stems and light branches. Of the twenty-four thousand reviews on Amazon, 81-percent gave this product a five-star rating.
We would not have been one of them (that gave a 5-star rating), but that is because we had some super contenders to compare the Fiskars with.
This Corona BP 3180D Forged Classic Bypass Pruner is the second of three shears that scored an approval rate of more than 95-percent. That’s quite amazing – as is the product.
This unit cuts like a pro. The Corona feels solid. Corona heat treats the entire tool and cutting blade so you can re-sharpen the blade while retaining its hardness and strength, Season after Season. The blade is also replaceable for the further life of the tool.
This Japanese tool has a score of 100%. It’s quite marvelous, but some of the other products were too.
We could wax lyrically about it, but the numbers speak for themselves regarding the Tobisho Pruning Shears Type a Bracket Stop 200mm Bonsai.
And now to our unique French product, the Opinel Hand Pruning Shears with non-slip beechwood handle. These manual hand pruners (also called clippers, pruning shears, secateurs, or scissors) will serve your need for many years to come.
The locking system has three positions to fit the diameter of the branches and the size of your hand. The stainless steel blade has a 3/4″ capacity. A protected spring prevents dirt from entering the mechanism and eliminates the chance of pinching.
We had fun testing these exceptional tools. None of the tests were marathons, though, like pruning a vineyard or orchard, but we did put them through their paces – and were impressed by all of them.
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