Pruning is one of the most effective ways to beautify and care for your garden. And as I have previously promised it’s easy to do. But, what makes pruning easy is the shears you prune with.
I have been gardening and pruning for 22 years and this is what I learnt about the tools of the trade:
A moment before I begin, I promise you this:
I am well aware that as a man and a professional landscaper, I have large strong hands…. Many of you on the other hand, don’t have these characteristics. So, in recommending tools to you - newbies, hobbyists and past time gardeners who just want a good set of tools to enjoy their hobby with – I promise to consider your needs, not mine, and this is the base line: if they are comfortable enough for my 16 year old daughter and my 92 year old grandma – then I’m happy to recommend them.
And another thing: If you're not a pro gardener I assume you won't be hanging around the garden wearing a leather tool belt around your hips and operating 3-4 different tools 4-5 days a week. I know that most of you use your pruning shears every now and then, mostly for shrubs and flowers, and occasionally for larger deciduous or fruit trees – and where that is the case I want to make sure you have the right tools.
Tip #1: A small pair. Yep, that's right. The smaller the shears the more comfortable they are to hold and operate with one hand. Whether you are left or right handed, it doesn't matter. I'm 6 foot tall and have large hands and still, I will always use the smallest shears I can find.
Let me explain – All pruning shears have a mechanism that automatically opens the holding grips, so you can squeeze them and make the cut. Now imagine that you’re holding large shears that don’t fit in your hand, and they open wide, but wider than your hand can hold… now try to cut… Get the idea?? Way too hard.
Tip #2: Light weight. The combination of small and lightweight is what you’re looking for. Small lightweight shears are the easiest to work with.
Tip #3: A simple mechanism. Avoid sophisticated locking, self-oiling shears that make you coffee… The fewer the parts the better it is for you and for your plants. They are also much easier to maintain.
Tip #4: Stainless steel. These will simply last longer. Good high quality pruning shears will serve you for years to come.
Tip #5: Long blades. This isn’t a must. You can always move stems out of the way with the other hand. Although they are great for pruning roses, then again, you’re probably not pruning roses all day. So, long blade shears go into the 'nice to have’ category, definitely not a must.
Tip #6: I believe you should keep it simple, so it will be simple to keep. So when looking at product specifications, don’t be blinded by the shears capacity to cut through 2.5” branches – firstly because if the shears open to 2.5”.. you probably won’t be able to hold them open in your hand. And, it very much depends on what it is you’re pruning. Basic shears will work for hibiscus, but perhaps not if your growing bamboo. My point is – don't be blinded by fancy specifications, consider your garden and your needs.
In 22 years of pruning, I have handled hundreds of hand pruning tools, and I only use 6 pairs on a regular basis. That's right SIX pruning shears in 22 years. They served me so well, I had no reason to use others. I believe this has a lot to do with simplicity.
Providing general guidelines on 'how to prune' any kind of plant is important, but there are plants, and there is YOUR plant. So despite there being loads of information on this site, I also provide specific and personalized support. If something wasn't clear, or you're not sure of your plant's name, simply send me a picture with your question. Use the form below and I'll get back to you. In the mean time, see what others are asking.