Hand pruners stand as essential tools in the realms of gardening and landscaping. These compact yet robust instruments act as an extension of a gardener’s hand, facilitating precise cutting, shaping, and the preservation of plant beauty. However, amidst the multitude of options flooding the market, choosing the ideal hand pruner can prove to be a challenging endeavor.
Enter our comprehensive guide, designed to explore the diverse array of hand pruners available and provide invaluable insights to simplify your selection process. Whether you’re a seasoned horticulturist, a passionate home gardener, or someone newly exploring the realm of pruning tools, this blog aims to furnish you with the necessary knowledge to make well-informed decisions.
Bypass pruners stand as an essential tool for gardeners, often deemed a necessity. These pruners feature two curved blades that bypass each other, resembling a pair of scissors. One blade is sharp, while the other remains dull, facilitating a clean cut as long as the tool stays sharp. Depending on how you grip the pruners, you can utilize the sharpened side for various tasks. They excel in pruning small shrubs, roses, and tackling smaller tree branches (under a quarter inch in diameter). However, for cutting larger branches, it’s prudent to keep loppers at hand, as doing so may dull the blades.
Available in various sizes, it’s advisable to try bypass pruners to ensure a comfortable fit for your hand. Many models offer a range of sizes, and finding the right fit can significantly impact comfort and efficiency. For instance, while Felco’s #2 represents their best-selling size, the #6 caters better to smaller hands. Remember, longer handles provide increased leverage. Additionally, blade sizes vary: smaller blades suit delicate pruning like rosebushes or most deadheading tasks, while larger blades prove handy for trimming irises, phlox, bee balm, and other perennials.
Maintenance and Care: Regular cleaning plays a crucial role in preventing sap from gumming up and blunting the blades. After use, wipe the bypass pruners with a clean, soft cloth and prevent rust by occasionally applying WD-40 or a similar solvent suitable for metal cleaning. Sharpen the pruners with a whetting stone or a fine file before commencing work.
Straight Blade Pruners
Sitting between floral shears and bypass pruners in terms of strength and functionality, these tools offer a balance. While they might not deliver the robust clean cuts on larger stems akin to bypass pruners, their sturdier blades outmatch typical scissors commonly used by rose growers. Some gardeners appreciate their sharp blades for precise bud trimming and accessing tight spaces—where bulkier bypass pruners might struggle. Moreover, they excel in cutting flowers for vases and trimming leaves from stems. Some models feature a combination of metal and plastic parts, while others boast an all-metal design.
Maintenance: Due to their finer and more delicate blade construction, proper care is vital. After each use, wipe these tools clean of any debris and ensure they remain dry for longevity.
While anvil pruners possess utility, they lack the versatility of bypass pruners in garden applications. Featuring a single straight blade that closes against a flat-edged metal piece (the “anvil”), these pruners aren’t suitable for cutting green plant material, risking stem bruising or crushing and potential damage to perennials. Their bulkier shape also limits their practicality for tasks requiring flexible motion and close-angle cutting.
Similar to bypass pruners, it’s advisable to refrain from using anvil pruners on branches exceeding half an inch in diameter; larger branches warrant the use of loppers or a pruning saw for more efficient pruning. The anvil design extends to larger two-handed loppers designed specifically for cutting sizable dead branches.
Maintenance: Regularly cleaning anvil pruners to remove sawdust and dirt ensures smooth functionality. Over time, the blade section might become dull, necessitating sharpening or replacement.
Ratchet garden pruners closely resemble anvil pruners but feature an additional mechanism allowing cutting in stages. This added functionality improves leverage, particularly beneficial for gardeners with smaller or weaker hands due to conditions like arthritis. As pruning involves repetitive movements that can strain the hands and wrists, it’s advisable to vary tasks and avoid extended periods of the same action. Employing ratchet pruners for extensive pruning tasks can significantly alleviate pain and fatigue.
Maintenance: Ensure regular cleaning of your ratchet pruners and apply a lubricant or solvent such as WD-40 to maintain smooth operation of all parts.
Selecting the Right Hand Pruners
Selecting the most suitable pruners involves several key factors to consider, such as size, shape, price, ergonomics, and availability for both left and right-handed gardeners (although left-handed pruners might not always be readily available in garden shops, it’s worth inquiring with the manager about ordering a pair). The design of handles and blades holds significance, with some designs proving more comfortable and efficient than others. Modern garden tools often integrate safety features, including locks or mechanisms aimed at safeguarding users while maintaining blade sharpness.
Ergonomics play a vital role too, encompassing design elements that aim to reduce the risk of injury from repetitive stress or poor posture. Features like cushioned handles, snugly fitting curved handles, rotating handles to alleviate pressure, and designs enabling pruning without awkward hand positions are worth considering.
Similar to any tool, the price often reflects quality. Pruners crafted from hard-tempered carbon steel tend to endure sharpening better over time compared to those made from cheaper metal. Additionally, the ability to replace parts, especially blades, significantly extends the longevity of your tools.