Every gardener knows how useful a good pair of pruning shears can be. However, choosing the best pruning shears from the hundreds of brands on offer can be a real hit or miss, given the “sheer” number of pruning shears reviews that are out there! Other names for these essential garden tools are: secateurs, pruning clippers, pruning scissors.
Some pruning shears are designed for heavy duty gardening tasks and some for lighter work. It is vital to know the differences, not only between types of pruning shears but also to understand how each type works, so that you make an informed choice, suited to the kind of jobs you want them to do.
In this guide, we research the best pruning shears on the market today and we answer all the important questions about each one so that you don’t have to spend hours of your time weeding through lots of verbiage.
Key questions answered in this guide are:
Top 10 Best Pruning Shears: Reviews
Read our reviews of the 10 best garden shears for your garden available today. Bearing in mind that “one size fits all” is not realistic, the top manufacturers produce larger and smaller versions of their pruning shears.
So, if our top ten best pruners don’t quite fit the bill, have a look at similar shears by the same manufacturer and you should find a pair that meets your specific needs.
Here’s our list of 10 best pruning shears 2020:
- FELCO 2 Pruning Shears
- ARS HP-VS8XR Hand Pruners
- Okatsune 103 Bypass Pruners
- Corona ClassicCUT BP 3160 Pruner
- FELCO 310 Picking and Trimming Snips
- Bahco ERGO (PX-M2) Bypass Pruners
- Gonicc SK-5 (GPPS-1004) Pruning Shear
- FELCO 31 Pruning Shears
- Corona RatchetCUT RP 4224D Anvil Pruners
- Gardenite Ratchet Anvil Pruning Shears
FELCO 2 Pruning Shears
The “Rolls Royce” of pruning shears. These are the legendary, top quality pruning shears used by horticulturists and farmers the world over. They will stay sharp far longer than other shears and remain comfortable to use for hours on end.
They can easily be stripped down for cleaning and sharpening and Felco maintain a ready supply of spares when parts eventually wear out.
If you buy a genuine Felco 2 from a reputable source, you cannot go wrong with these professional pruning shears. They are exceptional in every way and have proved their worth time and again to successive generations. A cut above the rest – Buy them – you’ll be glad you did!
ARS HP-VS8XR Hand Pruners
Crafted by Japanese manufacturer ARS, these pruning shears have strong, super sharp blades and a well thought out rotating handle which reduces stress on wrist and hand and once you get used to the way it works, is less tiring to use for longer periods of time than other pruners.
ARS are obsessed with quality control and the high satisfaction levels of online reviewers lends weight to the company logo – a crocodile – with the motto: “A cut above the rest”!
This is a precision cutting instrument and a serious contender among top of the range pruning shears.
The ARS HP-VS8XR is a first-class, quality tool which should give years of sterling service. While the rotating handle is not to everyone’s taste, these pruning shears are in a class of their own and come highly recommended if you only want to buy the best!
Okatsune 103 Bypass Pruners
These uniquely designed pruning shears from Japan are forged from Izumo Yasugi steel – the same steel that Samurai swords are made from!
Without going into detail, this manufacturer has developed a way of producing blades that combine hardened steel which retains a razor-sharp edge while at the same time having enough flexibility to maintain perfect alignment of the blades.
The innovative design of both the flex-pin spring and the reliable, easy to operate locking mechanism make these pruning shears simple to use and maintain.
Without sacrificing quality, these superbly engineered Japanese pruning shears are excellent value for the home gardener who finds it hard to justify the cost of a pair of Felco pruning shears.
Corona ClassicCUT BP 3160 Pruners
These beautiful pruning shears from Corona are robustly made from drop-forged, high carbon steel and are hollow ground which means they stay sharp for many hours. They can easily cut through 1/2” to 3/4″ branches.
The Corona Clipper company began making steel clippers for harvesting the orange groves of California during the 1920’s. Their tools are reliable, of consistent quality and dependable.
The Corona BP 3160 pruning shears are a tried and tested, elegant, well-engineered, top quality pruning tool representing great value for money. They will last a long time if properly cared for. Ideal for gardeners who value elegant simplicity!
FELCO 310 Picking and Trimming Snips
These high-quality pruning shears are Italian made, and are officially designated by FELCO as “Grape Harvesting Scissors”. However, for light pruning of flowers, dead-heading, trimming of vines, ivy, cutting back strawberry runners etc., they are unbeatable.
One excellent feature is the rounded ends, which give great protection to the user while still being narrow enough for precision cutting.
The FELCO 310 snips are ideal for anyone who regularly uses a smaller pair of well-made trimming scissors. They will not disappoint so long as they are used for light work and not forced to tackle bigger jobs.
Bahco ERGO (PX-M2) Bypass Pruners
Bahco is a Swedish company with a long history of manufacturing top quality steel tools. It is now owned by SNA Europe, part of Snap-On Inc. Their pruning shears are manufactured in France.
In addition to making tools with top quality steel, a lot of research and development has gone into the ergonomics of these very good pruning shears.
They have been specifically designed to reduce strain on wrists and hands to reduce the risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other musculo skeletal disorders.
The Bahco ERGO bypass pruner is very comfortable to hold and use and is designed to minimize the risk of repetitive strain injury. It is backed up by a company with a solid reputation for quality tools and should give years of reliable service.
Gonicc SK-5 (GPPS-1004) Pruning Shears
These Gonicc pruning shears have established a reputation for great value while meeting the essential requirements of a good pair of pruning shears. (N.B. Although some online listings describe this model as Anvil Pruning Shears, they are actually BYPASS shears.)
A budget buy for gardeners who want a very reasonably priced pair of bypass shears, backed up by a responsive company who will replace any goods that do not give full satisfaction.
FELCO 31 Pruning Shears
The FELCO 31 is the anvil type of pruning shears. Made in Switzerland, they are primarily designed for cutting back tough deadwood such as vines and old ivy up to 1” in diameter. Instead of slicing through stems as bypass shears do, these work with a very effective chopping action.
FELCO have paid a lot of attention to the leverage and the ergonomics of these pruning shears, resulting in a tool which is a pleasure to use and which can be relied on to make short work of the toughest pruning jobs.
Anyone who needs a reliable, well made pair of anvil pruning shears which will stay sharp and give yeoman service should consider buying these excellent pruning shears.
Corona RatchetCUT RP 4224D Anvil Pruners
Corona have been making high quality pruning shears for many decades and this ratchet driven anvil model is no exception.
The full aluminum one-piece handle and hook, coupled with the high carbon, non-stick steel blade is a winning combination which makes light work of the most challenging pruning jobs.
A great ratchet-driven anvil pruning shear, the quality of which is backed up by class leading Corona Clipper company, Southern California. A reasonably priced, quality pruner, which is comfortable and easy to use.
Gardenite Ratchet Anvil Pruning Shears
Gardenite are the company behind these workmanlike, ratchet powered, anvil pruning shears. The robust ratchet mechanism increases the cutting power by up to five times, making it child’s play to sever tough limbs and branches up to an inch thick.
This is a great help to those who have arthritis or lack the arm and hand strength to deal with heavy pruning. Anvil shears are ideal for a wide range of pruning tasks, from dead-heading to pruning fruit tree branches.
Gardenite’s Power Drive ratchet anvil pruning shears are a good low-cost solution to the challenge posed by the toughest pruning jobs. The extra leverage provided by the ratchet gives several times the cutting power for the same effort you would use for ordinary pruning tasks. Gardenite’s guarantee makes this a no-brainer!
Why Not Use a Pair of Scissors?
While it is possible to cut flower stems with scissors, these useful kitchen implements are not really meant for prolonged, heavy duty use.
Anyone who has ever tried to use scissors to cut through the stems of bushes or other plants quickly discovers that scissor grips soon begin to hurt the outside of your fingers even when cutting through thin stems, which can often be surprisingly tough.
The handles of pruning shears are designed to be grasped and are opened and closed using a whole hand grip which not only allows the user to exert more power but can be used for extended periods without discomfort.
Types of Pruning Shears
There are two main types of pruners: Bypass and Anvil.
Bypass pruning shears have two blades which pass each other with a scissors action to sever plant stems.
Anvil pruning shears have one blade which closes onto a fixed steel “anvil” to chop the plant stem between the blade and anvil.
N.B. Anvil pruning shears are not recommended for use on “green” plant material where the sap is freely flowing, because the anvil action crushes the stem rather than giving the clean cutting action of a good sharp pair of bypass shears.
Crushing “green” stems makes it easier for unwanted organisms to attack the plant, whereas cutting the stem with sharp bypass blades allows the plant to heal quickly and minimizes disease.
Anvil pruning shears come into their own when pruning deadwood, where greater purchase is needed on tough old stems and dead branches.
Anvil shears will continue to cut well even when they lose their sharp edge, whereas bypass shears must be kept sharp to work effectively.
Simple or Geared?
Anvil shears come in two flavors: simple anvil shears or anvil shears with gears – i.e. a ratchet mechanism which, when the user closes, opens and closes the handles again, engage a ratchet which gives extra leverage and enables thicker stems or branches to be cut through with less effort than would be required with the simple type of shears.
A pair of simple pruning shears does what it says on the tin – it makes simple cuts in plant stems when the user closes the handles, without providing the additional leverage provided by a ratchet mechanism.
Bypass shears invariably come in just one flavor: they are designed to work by the simple cutting method, without a ratchet. These are the easiest type of shears to use for most normal pruning jobs as they don’t require any extra effort or additional adjustments to operate the shears.
Remember! The best pruning shears are the ones that are best suited to the kind of work you need them to do! Price considerations aside, you should also consider how often you will use them and whether you have small or large hands and/or a strong or a weak grip. Each of these factors will influence your choice.
How to Choose the Right Garden Shears for Your Needs?
If most of your pruning involves smaller plants or cutting and dead-heading flowers then a pair of bypass shears with the simple type of cutting mechanism will most likely meet your requirements.
However, if you regularly prune thicker branches of bushes and trees, you may be better off with the greater cutting power that a pair of anvil or geared/ratcheted bypass pruning shears will give you.
Remember, not everyone’s hands are the same size or strength, so the best way to find your ideal pair of pruning shears is to go to a garden tool outlet and physically pick up and handle several models.
You will then have a much clearer idea of their respective weight, ease of using the locking mechanism and how easy or difficult they are to grip, open and close.
Who Makes the Best Pruning Shears?
This is an important question because not all pruning shear manufacturers are equal! Some manufacturers take great care over the quality of their product and will guarantee to repair or replace their shears if defects arise in normal use during the guarantee period.
The very best manufacturers also stock a supply of spare parts so that, for example, worn blades can be replaced economically without having to purchase a completely new pair of pruning shears.
Some manufacturers outsource the manufacture of their shears to China or Taiwan and depending on the company, can have variable quality control standards while others pride themselves on the fact that their product is made in Europe or the USA.
In our top 10 reviews, we have selected companies which have an excellent reputation for quality and customer service.
How Much to Spend On a Decent Pair of Pruners?
How much to spend very much depends on four things: your budget, how often you will use the pruning shears, what kind of pruning jobs you will use them for and how long you intend to keep them before buying a new pair.
If you have a limited budget, choose the most appropriate of the shears we review, at your price point.
If you will use pruning shears regularly, choose the best quality you can afford – you generally get what you pay for!
If you are the kind of person who keeps tools for several years and you are willing to put in some time each year to maintain them in tip-top condition then buy a top of the range pair suited to the kind of work you want them to do.
On the other hand, if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t have time to look after them or tends to lose them, then buy a less costly pair from our top ten, so that it won’t break the bank when you come to replace them!
How to Maintain Pruning Shears
It is important to clean pruning shears regularly so that the transfer of disease and harmful bacteria between plants is minimized.
The old saying is especially true when it comes to using pruning shears: “Take care of your tools and your tools will take care of you!”
Cleaning Pruning Shears
- Wash the blades in warm soapy water, giving them a good scrub with a pot scourer to remove any stubborn gunk and dried on sap.
- Dry the blades with an absorbent cloth or kitchen paper.
- Wipe the blades with, or dip them in rubbing alcohol or a 70% solution of isopropyl alcohol and allow to dry. This will get rid of any remaining dampness and prevent rust forming.
- Finally, wipe the blades with some linseed oil or other suitable lubricant such as bike chain oil, to protect the blades.
TIP 1: A “quick and dirty” daily routine used by some field workers, is to wash the pruning shears in a 10 percent solution of bleach in water to kill off any harmful bacteria, dry them off, then protect with a spray-on cooking oil. (However, cooking oil will eventually “gum-up” the works, and is not recommended for long-term maintenance).
TIP 2: To clean hardened sap residue from blades, soak them in vinegar to loosen the dirt then scrub with a mildly abrasive cream cleanser such as Gojo or Fast Orange.
Sharpening Pruning Shears
- Clean the blades as described above but wait until you’ve sharpened the blades before applying lubricating oil.
- Use steel wool or emery paper to rub the blades clean of any rust or dirt then rinse and dry the blades.
- Open the shears so that the bevelled edge of the blade is facing towards you.
Note: Anvil shears have only one blade but it must be sharpened on both sides, while bypass shears must remain flat on their inside surface to allow the blades to butt snugly against each other as they cut. The outer, bevelled surfaces of both blades on bypass shears need to be sharpened.
- If possible, carefully secure the shears by the handles in a bench vice while you sharpen the blades. You may wish to wrap the handles in an old cloth to protect them being marked by the jaws of the vice. If a bench vice is not available, you will need to hold the shears open while you work on the blades.
- Use a flat, diamond coated medium file (see below for an innovative and very effective alternative carbide file tool). Follow the bevelled edge on the blade with the file, filing away from your body with smooth strokes. Do this ten or twenty times until the bevelled edge restores a sharp edge to the blade.
Note: If you don’t have a diamond file, you can use a a blade sharpener, such as a chef uses to sharpen kitchen knives.
- Turn the shears around and carefully file off the “burr” that may have formed on the inner edges of the blades on bypass shears – or – if sharpening Anvil shears, repeat the sharpening process on the opposite bevel of the single blade, taking away any burr that forms until the edge is smooth and sharp.
- Wipe some linseed oil or other light oil onto the blades to prevent oxidization and rust.
TIP: Corona have produced a great little tool made from super carbide which makes it even easier to sharpen pruning shear blades. It’s called a Corona AC 8300 sharpening tool and can be bought online for around ten dollars. Corona have also produced a useful short video demonstrating how to use it. Alternatively, the FELCO sharpening tool is worth considering too.
Hopefully the tips given in our reviews will help you to make an informed choice when buying your next pair of pruning shears. Remember, there is no “one size fits all”, especially when it comes to deciding which pair of pruning shears is best for you!
Every one of us is unique, in size and strength, in the type of garden we have, how often we need to use our pruning shears, how much we want to spend what kind of pruning we want to do and so forth. Pruning shears come in all shapes and sizes with basic or more advanced features to meet different pruning requirements.
We have restricted our “10 best pruning shears reviews”, to brands and manufacturers which make good quality products so that whatever pair of pruning shears you decide on, you should not be disappointed. Happy pruning!