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Published Aug 9, 2023 5:00 PM

Old scissors may be a go-to option for trimming leaves and harvesting flowers, but keeping the garden under control is much easier with pruning shears. They have sharp, thick blades that slice through branches, stems, and vines so you can wrangle the unruly plants in your yard. Whether you want standard bypass pruners, heavy-duty anvil pruners, ratchet pruning shears, or even power pruning shears, a diverse array of options are available. However, it’s helpful to learn about blade and handle construction, the various types of pruning shears, and the application each type is best suited to handle before choosing the best pair for managing your garden. This guide will help you find the best pruning shears for your situation.

How we chose the best pruning shears

Many common gardening tasks require pruning shears, like trimming houseplants, harvesting herbs, and cutting dead growth out of the garden. Years of experience taking on these tasks with pruning shears in hand and independent research into more than 30 potential products helped form the basis for this list of the best pruning shears.

Several different types of pruning shears are commonly used, so I reviewed each type during product selection. We also considered the material used to construct the pruning shears. High-quality options typically feature sharp, durable blades with natural corrosion-resistant features or a coating to help protect the blades. I also took weight, handle material, grip, and ergonomic design into consideration, as these factors often improved the functionality of the tool.

The best pruning shears: Reviews & Recommendations

Whether you’re growing vegetables in raised beds or trimming your hedges, gardening and taking care of your yard are a lot easier when you have the right tools. Our recommendations for the best pruning shears to keep in your shed or gift to a new plant parent will help get the work done more quickly and efficiently so there’s time to stop and smell the roses.

Best overall: Will’s Sword Bypass Pruning Shears

Will’s Sword

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Why it made the cut: Made with corrosion-resistant alloy steel, these pruning shears are well-suited for trimming soft, green growth.

Specs

  • Type: Bypass
  • Blade: Alloy steel and aluminum
  • Weight: 8 ounces

Pros

  • Appealing wood grain handles
  • Lightweight, aircraft-grade aluminum and alloy steel construction
  • Rust and corrosion-resistant
  • Comes with a safety lock

Cons

  • Handle isn’t cushioned

Affordable and aesthetically pleasing, Will’s Sword Bypass Pruning Shears feature smooth, aircraft-grade aluminum handles with an attractive wood grain design that stands out alongside standard garden tools. These bypass pruners slice cleanly through new and young stems, leaves, and branches, so users won’t have to fight to trim green, flexible growth thanks to the sharp, alloy steel blades that are naturally resistant to rust and corrosion—though it’s important to keep the blades clean and dry when they are not in use. 

While the lightweight aluminum improves the tool’s durability without increasing the weight, the hard surface of the handle can become uncomfortable after a long period of use. Wear gardening gloves to help reduce hand fatigue while using these pruning shears. And make sure to use the built-in safety lock to prevent kids from playing with the shears or to keep the blades from opening accidentally.

Best ratchet: The Gardener’s Friend Pruners

The Gardener’s Friend

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Why they made the cut: The enclosed bottom handle helps improve the user’s grip while the tough, carbon steel blades easily snap dead branches.

Specs

  • Type: Ratchet
  • Blade: Carbon steel
  • Weight: 7.8 ounces

Pros

  • Anvil-style cutting mechanism
  • Safety lock
  • Ratchet feature is ideal for users with weak grips
  • Ergonomic, slip-resistant enclosed handle

Cons

  • High price

The Gardener’s Friend Pruners are an excellent option for anyone who struggles to close regular pruning shears, thanks to a built-in ratcheting function that allows the blade to catch and hold the branch without continued pressure. The user can release their grip, and the pruning shears will remain closed on the branch or stem. Then they can simply squeeze the handles again to cut further into the branch, releasing after each squeeze to rest their hands, if necessary. 

Designed with an anvil-style cutting mechanism, these pruning shears are better for crushing and snapping dry, dead branches and stems than they are for slicing through soft, green growths. These pruning shears also have a safety lock to help protect curious kids and prevent the shears from opening when they’re not in use. It’s also worth noting that these pruning shears are a bit pricier than the average model due to the ratcheting function.

Best anvil: Gardena 8903 Anvil Pruners

Gardena

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Why it made the cut: The sharp, stainless steel blade cuts and crushes dead and dying plant growth against the thick anvil base.

Specs

  • Type: Anvil
  • Blade: Stainless steel
  • Weight: 8.8 ounces

Pros

  • Fiberglass reinforced handle
  • Integrated spring and stopper to reduce wrist strain
  • Corrosion-resistant construction
  • Ergonomic, slip-resistant grip

Cons

  • Not well-suited for soft, green growth

The Gardena 8903 Anvil Pruners feature an integrated spring and a stopper that sits between the two handles in order to catch the motion of the pruning shears and reduce hand and wrist strain. These pruning shears feature fiberglass-reinforced handles with an ergonomic, slip-resistant grip that helps to prevent unnecessary hand fatigue while improving control. Just keep in mind that the anvil-style cutting mechanism isn’t a good option for handling soft, green growth. 

While these shears only have one blade to snap or crush plants instead of slicing through them, the blade is still sharp enough to do harm if the tool isn’t handled carefully. Lock this set of anvil pruning shears with the simple slide lock on the top of the tool to prevent the blade from opening accidentally. This function keeps the user safe, but also helps to keep any children or nearby pets safe from the sharp, stainless-steel blade.

Best power: SereneLife Electric Pruning Shears

SereneLife

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Why they made the cut: Users can rest their wrists and hands with these power pruning shears that run for up to seven hours with a fully charged battery.

Specs

  • Type: Power
  • Blade: Plastic and stainless steel
  • Weight: 2.6 pounds

Pros

  • Up to seven hours of battery life
  • Ergonomic handle design
  • Electric cutting function
  • Reduces hand and wrist fatigue

Cons

  • Much heavier than manual pruning shears

Make gardening a little easier with the SereneLife Electric Pruning Shears. These power-pruning shears are easy to use. When you grip the ergonomic handle and press the trigger, the blades will close automatically, cutting through branches, twigs, or stems. You can work with these pruning shears for up to seven hours on a full battery before needing to worry about charging them.

When the battery is dead, just plug the pruning shears in—they should recharge in 3 to 5 hours. The handle and body are made of durable plastic, with a textured, rubber coating to improve user control and comfort. They also have stainless-steel blades that are resistant to rust and corrosion, though it’s still important to clean and dry the blades to keep them in top operating form. It’s worth noting that at 2.6 pounds, these power pruning shears are significantly heavier than manual pruning shears, so make sure to take regular breaks while working with them to avoid hand fatigue.

Best budget: Fiskars Professional Bypass Pruning Shears

Fiskars

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Why they made the cut: The lightweight design and ergonomic grip help to reduce hand and wrist fatigue while using these pruning shears.

Specs

  • Type: Bypass
  • Blade: Carbon steel
  • Weight: 0.8 ounces

Pros

  • Rust-resistant blade coating
  • Angled head for improved maneuverability
  • Ambidextrous handle design
  • Ergonomic, slip-resistant grip

Cons

  • Spring may stick without lubrication

Bypass pruning shears, like this high-quality option from Fiskars, are ideal for cutting through soft, green growth with a quick snip. Users will need to put some force into the pruning shears, but the ergonomic, slip-resistant grip helps to improve control while reducing hand and wrist fatigue. The handle is made for both left-handed and right-handed individuals, so users won’t have to struggle with a tool designed for the opposite hand.

You can harvest herbs, collect flowers for a vase, or simply trim back unruly plant growth with these versatile pruning shears. In addition to their high-quality carbon steel blades with a rust-resistant coating, these shears also have an angled head that makes it easier to get under the leaves of a plant to reach the stem. However, some users have mentioned that after using the shears, the spring between the handles can get stuck if the pruning shears are not regularly lubricated.

Things to consider before buying pruning shears

Before deciding on the best pair for maintaining your yard and garden, it’s important to have at least a basic understanding of the tool types, design, and materials used to make pruning shears. Consider these factors so you can make an informed decision while looking for pruning shears.

Type

When most people think of pruning shears, they really only have one image in mind, but there are actually four different types of pruning shears that are commonly used. These various types are separated based on function and design.

Bypass pruners are probably the type of pruning shears you are well-acquainted with. These common garden tools look like heavy-duty scissors or wire cutters that have thick, curved blades. Both blades are sharpened, and when the user squeezes the handles, the blades close on the stem, leaf, or branch to shear through the tough plant fiber. Bypass pruning shears can range in price and quality, so you will surely find a set that works for your garden.

Anvil pruners have a single sharpened blade and a grooved, stationary base, or anvil, that is used to catch the blade. They are better for snapping through dry, dead branches than trying to slice through soft, green branches. This design differentiates anvil pruning shears from bypass pruners which use two sharpened blades to shear instead of snap or crush.

Ratchet pruners take a step toward convenience with a built-in ratcheting system intended to make yard work easier. These pruning shears are especially useful for anyone with weak grip strength due to conditions like arthritis. They are also great if you prefer the “thought over force” approach to gardening because the ratcheting function allows these shears to cut through branches up to three-quarters of an inch in diameter with significantly reduced effort.

Power pruners eliminate the need for manual force by powering the cutting blades with an electric motor. This significantly reduces strain and fatigue on the wrist and hand, though you will need to pay more for these premium tools.

Blades

Pruning shears don’t just come in different types based on function and design, they’re also made with various types of metal, so it’s helpful to know which types are best for the gardening tasks you have in mind. 

Stainless-steel blades are inexpensive and common, so you won’t typically need to worry about the cost. While stainless steel isn’t a good choice if you plan on sharpening your pruning shears, it is the best option for cheap, effective blades that naturally resist corrosion. To help your stainless steel pruning shears to last longer, make sure to clean and dry the pruners before storing them safely when not in use.

Carbon-steel blades are harder and more durable than stainless steel, making it an excellent option for pruning shears that will be used to cut through tough branches, stems, and vines. Make sure to clean and dry the blades after use, as carbon steel is more susceptible to rusting and corrosion than stainless steel.

Titanium-coated blades are typically made of stainless steel, and they have a titanium coating that increases corrosion resistance and durability. Pruning shears with titanium-coated blades are usually the most expensive option. Still, they are more durable than stainless-steel blades and better than carbon-steel blades in corrosion resistance, so expect a higher price for pruning shears with this premium material.

Ergonomics and comfort

The small size of pruning shears can be deceptive. Many amateur gardeners head out with a set in hand and later regret going as quickly as they did or working as long as they did because the hand and wrist strength required to grip, squeeze, and open the shears several (or several hundred) times is greater than they expected.

To help ease the strain and fatigue that can come from using pruning shears, look for a set with a comfortable, ergonomic grip designed to mimic the hand’s natural resting position. Many manufacturers offer easy-grip handles with textured grips to help improve user control and reduce fatigue. If your hands are still getting tired all the time, you can opt for a set of ratchet pruning shears or power pruning shears so the required grip strength is significantly reduced or eliminated entirely.

FAQs

Q: How much do pruning shears cost?

You won’t need to worry about saving up to get a good pair of pruning shears. These inexpensive gardening tools typically range from $15 to $30. However, if you need a set of anvil pruners to help with weak hand muscles or you prefer the convenience of electric pruners, then you may need to spend up to $85.

Q: How do you use pruning shears?

Pruning shears are a type of small gardening tool for clipping branches, twigs, and leaves. They essentially function like scissors, so all you need to do is completely open the pruning shears, slide the branch all the way into the opening, and close the shears by squeezing your hand to apply pressure to the handles. When the handles come together, the blades of the pruning shears close and slice through the branch. 

Q: How do you prevent pruning shears from rusting?

Gardening tools, like pruning shears, are typically used for working in the soil, slicing through plants, and adding water to the garden and yard. This means that gardening tools are regularly covered in water, damp soil, and sap, which can cause the tools to rust. Protect your pruning shears by spraying them with a lubricating oil, like WD-40. Another important step is to clean and dry your tools before storing them in a safe location.

Final thoughts on the best pruning shears

The angled cutting head of the Fiskars Bypass Pruning Shears helps reduce hand and wrist fatigue, while improving maneuverability and user control. However, if you are looking for a more affordable set of bypass pruning shears, then the Will’s Sword Bypass Pruning Shears are a great choice.

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