Which Garden Pruners Are Best?

Every gardener has a particular type of hand-pruner she adores and other types she dislike with an intense passion. But, much like shoes, there's no need to select just one pair of pruners; a gardener is better served by having several sharp, high-quality pruners, each best suited to its specific purpose. Anvil pruners, bypass pruners or specialty tools like bonsai shears can each be the best tool for different pruning needs.

Hand Shears

There are two commonly sold types of hand pruners: the bypass pruner, which cuts in a shearing, scissor-like manner, and the anvil pruner, in which a single sharp blade cuts like a guillotine against the center of a flat dull anvil. The Iowa State University Extension Service says the scissor-type bypass hand shears are the preferred variety, as they make clean cuts, whereas anvil pruners are inclined to crush the stem being cut. The Virginia Cooperative Extension Service also recommends bypass pruners, noting that the width of the anvil can prevent you from getting in close to the desired pruning node. Anvil pruners are not without their advantages, however. The University of Minnesota Extension notes that anvil pruners can cut through a larger branch than bypass pruners. Anvil pruners are also generally less expensive than bypass pruners.

Long-Handled Pruners

Long-handled pruners, also called lopping shears, can also be purchased in bypass and anvil varieties, as well as ratcheting models, which generate additional leverage for large branches. Clemson University advises that long-handled pruners are a necessity for pruning rosebushes. The crushing action of long-handled anvil pruners means that the pruners maintain a grip on the cut branch, so the gardener can withdraw it from the interior of the plant being pruned without having to reach and arm in, as would be the case with a bypass pruner cut. For this reason, long-handled anvil-style pruners may be the best pruner for cutting brush or prickly canes like roses and berry bushes.

Bonsai and Specialty Pruners

Specialty growing situations, like bonsai and topiary pruning, require special pruners. Bonsai shears are small, elegant scissors with narrow points for selectively cutting out tiny branches amongst dense growth. Bonsai shears are also the best pruning tool for thinning sprouting seedlings in a seed tray.

Keywords: pruning shears, garden pruners, hand pruners

About this Author

Cindy Hill has practiced law since 1987 and maintained a career in freelance writing since 1978. Hill has won numerous fiction and poetry awards and has published widely in the field of law and politics. She is an adjunct instructor of ethics and communications.