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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.