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Must-Have Pruning Tools for Gardeners

By: Garden Gate staff
Stock your garden shed with these must-have pruning tools and you’ll be ready to make the cut! What’s the difference between them? Let’s take a look.

Pruning tools arranged on a wood surface

Find the right pruning tool for the right job

Having the right pruning tool for your tasks will make gardening easier and keep your garden healthier and better-looking. Start with a high-quality, well-made cutting tool and keep it sharp and rust-free — clean cuts ensure your plants recover quickly and look better than ever. What are the pruning tools every gardener needs in the shed? Here's our list!

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Pruners with red handles: Use hand pruners for branches up to ½ in. thick. Cut just above a set of leaves or a branch so you don't leave a stub.

Hand pruners

Hand pruners are best for cutting small stems. Bypass models, like these Felco pruners, have blades that work like scissors to make a clean cut. There are also ergonomic models available for a more comfortable grip.

When to use hand pruners

Use hand pruners on branches up to ½ in. thick. Don’t wrestle blades through a big branch. You could damage the tool and the plant.

Hand pruners we recommend

Fiskars Steel Bypass Pruner
Corona Forged Classic Bypass Pruner
Felco Ergonomic Hand Pruner

Needle Nose pruners: Needle-hose pruners work best on green stems and for deadheading.

Needle-nose pruners

Odds are you already have a good pair of pruners. But you may have noticed that they don’t fit into tight spots or are cumbersome when it comes to delicate trimming.

When to use needle-nose pruners

Needle-nose pruners allow you to get into small areas and to cut off a damaged leaf or two. They’re more substantial than scissors when it comes to cutting woody plants and snipping off fibrous perennial stems. Once you see how handy they are, you’ll grab them every time you head to the garden.

Needle-nose pruners we recommend

Corona FS 4120 Hydroponic Micro Snip Scissors
Tabor Tools Straight Pruning Shears
WYF 8.1″Gardening Hand Pruner Pruning Shear

Loppers in use: Loppers are great for cutting through branches ½ in. to 1½ in. thick.


Stronger than hand pruners, but less work than a pruning saw, loppers take the middle ground. The longer the handles, the more leverage you have, so the larger the branch you can trim. Some loppers have ratcheting gears to assist you in cutting hard wood wood with less effort. These models often have anvil blades, where the cutting blade meets a flat surface of the opposite blade, much like a knife on a cutting board.

When to use loppers

Loppers will cut branches from ½ in. to 1½ in. thick. Use bypass loppers for green wood, but anvil loppers to cut hard, dead wood because they tend to crush stems as they cut. Get loppers with telescoping handles to reach out of the way branches.

Loppers we recommend

Tabor Tools Anvil Lopper
Fiskars 28 Inch Bypass Lopper
Corona ComfortGEL Extendable Bypass Lopper

Hedge-Shears: Hedge shears make shaping evergreens easy by snipping many stems at once.

Hedge shears

With hedge shears, you can cut several stems at once, or even clusters of light branches. But they prune indiscriminately, leaving behind stubs and partially snipped leaves, so don’t use them for precision pruning.

When to use hedge shears

Hedge shears will cut branches that are up to ¼ in. thick, or less. Use them frequently to prune for a formal look. They work great to deadhead blooming shrubs or shear off ornamental grasses in spring as well.

Hedge shears we recommend

Corona HS 3950 Extendable Hedge Shear
TABOR TOOLS B212A Telescopic Hedge Shears
Fiskars Garden Powergear2 Hedge Shears

GW tools-prunning-saw: For larger branches like this, a pruning saw is your best choice.

Pruning saw

Pruning saws are great tools for working through larger branches. Most cut on the pull stroke. That lets you put some body strength into the cut and keeps the teeth from gumming up. Folding pruning saws are a great option, as they are easier to store.

When to use a pruning saw

Use a pruning saw on branches between 1 in. and 10 in. in diameter. Choose fine-bladed saws (8 teeth per in.) for green wood, and coarse-bladed saws (4 teeth per in.) for dead wood.

Pruning saws we recommend

Corona RS 7120 Razor Tooth Pruning Saw
Fiskars Pruning Saw

Pole-pruner: Pole pruners often have a saw blade with a lopper-style cutting hook underneath so you can use either feature.

Pole pruners

Pole pruners help extend your reach to make pruning trees easier. They operate like regular saws and loppers, except to close the lopper blades, you pull a rope lever.

When to use a pole pruner

When you want to prune the branches of a tree or shrub that you can’t reach with any of the other tools, use a pole pruner. Get one with a telescoping handle for greater reach.

Pole pruners we reccomend

Corona TP 6870 MAX RazorTOOTH DualCOMPOUND Action 14-ft. Tree Pruner
DocaPole 6-24 Foot Pole Pruning Saw
Milliard 6-16 Foot Extendable Tree Pruner/Pole Saw

Pole saw from OREGON brand: Cut high branches with ease using a power pole saw.

Pole saw

Battery-operated or gas-powered, a power pole saw is a worthy investment if you have lots of trees that need trimming or maintenance to save your arm from wearing out. It has the power to cut larger branches swiftly, but can get a bit heavy after long use.

When to use a pole saw

Use a pole saw on large, high branches that might be tedious to cut with a manual saw. Remember to use protective equipment when cutting branches above your head to avoid accidents from falling branches and debris.

Pole saws we recommend

Oregon Cordless Pole Saw
EGO Power+ Pole Saw

Published: April 2, 2019
Updated: April 28, 2021

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work in the garden. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

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