With hundreds of pruning shears available for the home gardener, how do you know which are the right ones for you? It’s hard enough to make sure your flowers, bushes, and fruit trees are getting enough water and have adequate sun. Now you have to think about what type of shears to use to prune your favorite rose bush? Well, yes, you do.
A quality pair of pruners may be one of the most important garden tools you will own. But before heading to your favorite garden store or spending hours doing online research, consider how you will be using the pruners. Is it to trim your rosebushes or other thin-stemmed shrubs? Or something more challenging, like cutting dead branches off that tree in in your back yard? Different jobs require different types of pruners.
Not All Pruners Are Created Equal
Anvil pruners are best for cutting deadwood.
How they work: The sharp top blade cuts against the lower dull blade and tends to crush the branch. They are usually more powerful than bypass shears, but they are more likely to cause damage to the plant’s fibers. They also tend to be a bit bulkier so making precise cuts can be a challenge. But if you’re looking for pruners to thin out dead branches, these will work well.
Bypass pruners are good all-purpose type pruners.
How they work: Similar to scissors, these have two curved blades, one sharpened and a thicker, unsharpened blade. If you’re only going to buy one set of hand shears, bypass pruners are a good choice. The sharpened blade slides against the unsharpened and makes a clean cut that doesn’t crush or damage the stem. They’re ideal for green stems or dead wood that is smaller than ½-inch around.
Ratchet pruners are a good choice for people with weak hands, wrists, or forearms.
How they work: Designed so that you can make incremental cuts without releasing the blade, you can squeeze and release and then squeeze again to make the final cut. Ideal for tougher, thicker branches.
Before Buy Pruning Shears
Keep these tips in mind when comparing pruners:
- Even the best quality set of shears may wear out—or get left out in the rain—and you’ll need to replace parts. Make sure you’ll be able to get parts for yours. Most reputable companies will replace any broken parts. Just be sure to always replace damaged parts with the same brand.
- Test the locking mechanism to make sure it stays locked when you’re using the pruners. You should be able to lock and unlock them easily with just one hand.
- Try opening and closing the pruners to see how much strength is needed to use them. If it feels like you’re doing arm curls at the gym, keep looking till you find a set that doesn’t zap your strength.
- See how the pruners feel in your hand. They should feel comfortable and not too heavy. If you aren’t able to open and close them easily, or if your hands feel squished into the handles, keep looking.
Choosing the Best Hand Pruners
Still wondering which pruners are right for you? Our recommendations include some of the best pruning shears on the market. We’ve included some of the top sellers—ARS, Fiskars, Felco, and Corona—as well as others that are worth considering. We’ve included pruners in a range of prices, but don’t be discouraged by more expensive options; a good pair of pruners can last a lifetime if you care for them properly and clean them regularly.
The 9 Best Pruning Shears
Key Feature: Cuts through larger 1-inch branches just as easily as smaller stems.
At a glance:
- Super sharp steel blades operate smoothly
- Ergonomic design with easy-to-use lock
If you’re going to get just one pair of pruners, these are the best choice. Whether you’re cutting deadwood from your hedges or trimming rosebushes, these will slice just as easily through 1-inch branches as they do through smaller stems. In test results, the ARS performed better than the Felco 2, making a super-clean cut every time.
Don’t worry about having to break them in. Even right out of the package, the super sharp steel blades will slide smoothly. The chrome plating on the blades also help prevent rust and sap from sticking to them.
These are designed for comfort and feature ergonomic handles with a lock that you can control with just one hand. They are also available with shorter (7-inch) and longer (9-inch) handles for smaller and larger hands. The shorter length also comes in handy if you’re working in a tight space.
Take note: ARS brands are not easy to find, but if you do find them at a price that’s right for you, buy them.
Key Feature: Great for pruning larger branches up to 1-inch in diameter.
At a glance:
- Competitive with more expensive top brands
- Easy to get replaceable parts
- Sharp carbon steel blades
These budget-friendly pruners cut through almost anything that the more expensive models do. Their carbon steel blades will slice through just about anything with easy.
The small sap groove collects sticky substances, so you won’t have to stop and clean the blades while pruning. Another plus is that they include a wire cutter notch for snipping wires. There’s also a built-in lock to keep them safe and secure when not in use.
The blade opens wider than other models which is great for cutting larger branches that other pruning shears can’t wrap around. The steel construction also ensures that they’re not going to bend or break, even when cutting through the toughest branches.
Take note: While these will get the job done, they may require more hand strength than other pruners due to being able to open wider. However, they do come in a 1/2 inch size which is perfect for smaller hands.
Key Feature: This original Felco pruner is appropriate for all types of pruning and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
At a glance:
- Expect years of use from this versatile pruner.
- All parts can be replaced easily and Felco offers a lifetime warranty.
- High quality hardened steel blades.
- One of the most trusted pruning shear brands.
This original Felco pruner will cut and snip with precision, with minimal effort. It can slice through small branches up to 1-inch in diameter and will glide through the stems of perennials.
These are definitely the go-to option for your average pruner. The ergonomically designed lightweight aluminum handles have a cushioned shock absorber that make these comfortable to use. Your hands will thank you, especially after spending a few hours—or a whole day—cutting dead branches from your apple tree or pruning roses.
With a hardened steel blade, a wire cutting notch, and a sap groove, these are a top choice. If they feel too large for your hands, check out the smaller Felco F-6 specifically designed for small hands.
Take note: These are a bit pricier than other pruning shears but being that Felco is a top brand, you’re getting high quality for the price.
Key Feature: Ideal for smaller pruning work and smaller hands.
At a glance:
- Ideal for thinning grape vines, shrubs, and small trees.
- With a lifetime warranty and readily available replacement parts, you can have peace of mind knowing these will last you forever.
Like its Felco cousins, these high quality pruners feature hardened steel blades that will cut branches up to 0.8 inches in diameter. Their smaller size makes them a great option for smaller hands and for reaching into tight spaces. It’s no wonder that they are often the preferred choice of florists.
But don’t let their size fool you, they are just as capable and reliable as Felco’s other bypass pruners. Even though they’re made of solid steel they’re incredibly light and good for those who do a lot of pruning. The short blade also makes them perfect for controlling your cutting, especially when pruning delicate plants or flowers.
Take note: Even though these are smaller than other Felco pruning shears, there is no compromise on quality or durability.
Key Feature: Extremely affordable, ideal for those who want a cheap, quality pair of pruning shears.
At a glance:
- Cuts easily through green wood and deadwood.
- Debris-resistant and rust-resistant blades.
- Well-known reputable and trusted brand.
- Comes with a lifetime warranty.
Sick of spending a lot of money on pruning shears? These high quality pruning shears offer a lot more than what you pay for them. And, with a lifetime warranty and a trusted brand, you cannot go wrong.
The Fiskars pruning shears are ideal for branches and stems up to 5/8” in diameter. The low-friction coating on the hardened carbon steel blades allows for easy cutting and prevents sap and waste from building up on the blades. You won’t need to stop in the middle of pruning to clean the blades.
Although the blades are rust-resistant, they are not rust proof. After a long period of continual use, the blades will rust but will not lose their sharpness.
The soft grip handles and an easy-to-use built-in lock make them comfortable for anyone not strong enough to use larger hand shears.
Take note: Sometimes the spring can break on these shears. However, with the lifetime warranty you can easily get them replaced.
Key Feature: A budget friendly choice and a good option for anyone with weak hands or arthritis with the shears’ power multiplier.
At a glance:
- Ratchet provides extra power, making it a top choice for anyone with hand or wrist issues.
- Comes with a lifetime warranty.
If you have some heavy pruning to do, these Gardenite pruners won’t disappoint. In fact, they’re specifically designed to reduce hand fatigue. Also, these shears have hardened carbon steel blades that are coated with non-stick Teflon to keep residue from sticking to the shears and slowing you down.
They’re a great choice for pruning larger shrubs. Because of their ratchet mechanism, they require less strength and pressure to use, making them good for anyone with arthritis. In fact, they offer up to five times more power than regular pruning shears when cutting.
They also provide increasing pressure are you continue cutting if you hit a thick branch. The ratchet mechanism will keep clicking more and more as you cut so you can get through those really thick branches.
They’re also just a great looking pair of pruning shears.
Take note: These pruning shears are backed by a 100% guarantee and Gardenite customer service will take care of you if you have any issues at all.
Key Feature: A good budget friendly choice when you need to make precision cuts in tight spaces.
At a glance:
- Will cut branches and stems up to 5/16-inch in diameter.
- Good for deadheading and light trimming duty.
- Extremely sharp “super grade” stainless steel blades.
These pruning shears are the perfect choice if you need to do precision trimming. In fact, you may find that you use these just as frequently for trimming your indoor Bonsai plant as you do for cutting back small flower stems in your garden.
Wherever you use them, you’ll find that the extra sharp steel blades are perfect for cutting, light pruning, and deadheading flowers. The rubber grip handle is also very long at 6.7 inches for extra comfort.
The carbon steel spring opens the blades smoothly, helping to reduce hand strain and hand fatigue. These are a great choice for smaller hands or anyone with limited hand strength.
These pruning shears are also great for indoor or outdoor herb gardens.
Take note: These are not the ideal choice if you are looking to prune larger shrubs or bushes.
Key Feature: Pulley mechanism designed to maximize hand strength and decrease force needed to make cuts.
At a glance:
- Professional option at an affordable price.
- Backed by a lifetime warranty from Gonnic.
Designed with comfort in mind, these have an ergonomic design and a lightweight handle with added cushioning. The high-quality ultra-fine polished steel blades are ideal for making precision cuts for smaller branches of trees, hedges, and rose bushes, up to 3/4 inches thick.
Other features include an easy-to-use safety lock, a sap channel, and a special spring-loaded pulley mechanism designed to maximize hand strength. This means you can make tough cuts with minimal force.
They’re also designed to be ergonomically and fit well in the hand. The handle is also non-slip and the shears are light in weight.
Take note: Locking mechanism prone to failure.
Key Feature: Great for making precision cuts in tight places and for anyone with compromised hand or wrist strength.
At a glance:
- Ideal for trimming small stems, especially in tight quarters.
- Spring loaded handles that open automatically after each cut.
- Spring is high quality and won’t fail like some other pruning shears.
- Simple locking mechanism.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use pair of pruners, your quest is over. These require less hand strength than other models, and the ergonomic design makes them an ideal choice for anyone with limited hand strength, arthritis, or carpal tunnel.
The straight blades are perfect for making precision cuts in tight spaces. They are easy to operate with one hand so you can keep your other hand free to keep nearby branches out of the way. (Think intertwined blackberry and rose canes.) The high quality spring is a nice perk to have too which automatically pops open the shears between each cut.
These pruning shears are also good for people who are left-handed or right-handed. The locking mechanism is also simple to use with both hands too, just lock them with the swipe of your finger or thumb.
Take note: Don’t expect these to cut through larger branches and stems.
Cut to the Chase
A pair of quality pruners is an essential piece of equipment to add to your gardening tool kit. Keep in mind that there are many options, including pruners for small or large hands, left-hand and right-hand users, as well as for anyone with strength issues.
Because you will be using them to thin out overgrown bushes, deadhead flowers, trim small shrubs, and cut deadwood, they will get years of use. You may even want to invest in a second pair—one for fine precisions cuts and one for pruning larger, dead branches. Follow our recommendations for selecting pruners, and you will be well on your way to transforming your once overgrown garden into a well-maintained, beautiful landscape.