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Looking for the best hand pruners can be very difficult given the wide array of brands and models available. For starters though, consider what you intend to use them for — light or heavy trimming?
Next up, consider performance, quality of parts, ergonomics, durability, and of course, cost. Hand pruners can go from less than $10 to almost $100.
I happened on my sister some time ago and she was trimming her herbs with her kids' school scissors. (The horror!) I immediately gave her an extra pair of hand clippers and she's been a happy bunny ever since. (I also taught her how to take care of them.)
Hand pruners just make gardening that much more fun. You get accuracy and precision, and snip-snip-snipping away with really sharp blades is just oh-so-satisfying. There's too many choices out there so to make your buying decision easier here are our top 5 recommendations.
THE FIVE BEST HAND PRUNERS
#5 Hydrofarm HGPP400C Curved Blade Pruner
If you are doing light pruning and trimming, or doing indoor gardening, these handy clippers are a good choice.
These are Amazon's Choice for hydroform scissors.
Surgical stainless steel blade so they don't rust
The slight curve of the blades makes for more precise trimming
Blades keep sharp; I haven't had to sharpen my own Hydrofarm pruners yet
Great value for price
Comes with plastic sheath and a belt loop
Not made for heavy pruning; they will break if you try to use it on thick branches or even items that are NOT twigs or plant stems
The spring is the weakness of this product; fortunately, you can buy replacement springs but it would've been a nice idea if you got one extra with your first purchase
If you use these for more than 6 hours, you are liable to feel hand pain
#4 The Gardener's Friend Pruners
These hand pruners are the bomb. And by that, I mean they're really AMAZING. They're more expensive than the Hydrofarm pruners but if you are clipping thicker branches or stems, have weak hands, or doing outdoor gardening, then these are the best hand pruners to get.
Highly recommended for hands weakened by age or diseases like carpal tunnel or arthritis; ergonomic
Hardened carbon steel blade
Super easy to snip and trim thin foliage like flower blossoms
Similarly easy to cut thru thicker branches (as thick as 1-inch) with the pruner's ratchet action; watch the video below to see for yourself
The ratcheting mechanism is metal hence the excellent performance and durability
Good for left-handed gardeners also
Has a snap-on and snap-off oiler pad
These pruners are really stiff upon first use; longer use will make them looser and more comfortable to use
Opening these pruners is not intuitive for some users; you need to grip the handles as you slide the button because just sliding won't open these shears no matter how much force you apply
Watch the Gardener's Friend in action in this five-minute video. If you want to know how ratchet pruners work, you will also learn it from this demo.
#3 Gardenite Ultra Snip 6.7 Inch Pruners
Gardenite isn't a big brand name unlike some of our picks on here but they've come out with really popular hand pruners. These Ultra Snips are a favorite pick for light trimming and pruning.
Amazon's Choice for plant snippers.
Excellent performance as a little plant clipper; blades are pointed and sharp and overall have a good balance in one's hands
Recommended for indoor gardening and thin branches and stems like iris and lilies; also great for bonsai because of the small size and precision-cutting
Stainless steel blades
Unlike the Gardener's Friend, they are very easy to open and close
These are recommended for gardeners with really small hands
After months of use, still work very well and the blades have not dulled (though this depends on your own use and care)
Should come up with a holster as these are so pointed and sharp you'll poke a hole thru your clothing if you try to put them in your pockets
The lock mechanism works so well that you have to be careful when you open these pruners so that they don't jump in your hand and accidentally poke something
#2 Fiskars Micro-Tip Pruning Snip
Apart from Felco, Fiskars is a common name you will hear for pruning shears and with good reason. These are an amazing pair of shears for a crazy low price.
Does its intended use well and that is a light and small trimmer for thin and light stems, flowers, herbs, and other tender plants; good for indoor gardening also
Good for gardeners with small hands
The small size of these pruners and their blades make for good detail work
The shears come with the rubber sleeve so you don't poke your clothing or yourself with the pointed blades (but never put on the rubber cap while the blades are dirty, of course, especially with diseased plants)
This two-pack deal is better value for money than getting just the one
Are obviously not as durable as the more expensive pruners on our list; the spring can be weak
Not for anything thick or woody like rose stems or hydrangeas
Some buyers find them smaller than expected
#1 Felco F-8 Classic Pruner
Felco is a huge brand name for horticulturists and they have a lot of awesome quality gardening tools. These pruners are no different. This is a light pruner that can cut through stems, branches and wires up to a 1-inch diameter.
All things considered, this is our pick for the best hand pruners.
Amazon's Choice for Felco pruning shears.
F-8s are Swiss-made so you know you are getting quality with your purchase
Hardened Swiss carbon steel blades
Excellent performance for light pruning, trimming, and deadheading
Balanced and feel great in your hands and cut smoothly and cleanly
Super high satisfaction rating from users of the Felco hand pruners
Not recommended for left-handed gardeners; for that, check out the Felco F-2s
More expensive than other pruners on this list
Not meant for heavy pruning; get a different brand and model for that like the Gardener's Friend
Honestly speaking, we like all the Felco models. Gardeners have different needs and different hand sizes so it's a matter of finding the right model for you. I'm sharing this video review even if it's for the F-2 because a lot of the things that Laura says in this video are applicable to most Felco shears.
Hand Pruner Buying Guide
When it comes to hand pruners, there are several different styles and options to choose from, and it's important that you do your research before settling on one.
Choose a Style
One of the first things you can do to help you narrow down your choices is choosing a style. There are three main styles of hand pruners to choose from.
An anvil-style hand pruner has one sharpened blade that comes down and closes against an anvil or a flat edge. You can compare them to the slicing motion a knife makes against a cutting board for a reference. They're slightly bulkier, but they work well for removing thick dead wood.
Bypass hand pruners are one of the more popular types due to their versatility. It has two curved blades, and they slide by each other to cut the foliage or branches. One blade is slightly thinner and sharp while the other one is unsharpened and dull. They work like a pair of scissors.
Ratchet-style hand pruners work just like anvil hand pruners, but they can cut in several stages instead of one slicing motion. They're a good choice for people who have weakness in their hands or who need more leverage when they're pruning and cutting around the yard.
Important Hand Pruner Considerations
Once you've picked out a style, you want to focus on how high-quality the pruner's materials are. Ideally, the blades should be made out of steel because steel is resistant to rust and corrosion, and it withstands wear and tear very well. Also, look for a stick-proof coating that can protect the blades against sap. The handles should also be semi-close together, so it's easy to use.
This one may seem silly but just consider it. If your pruning shears don't have brightly colored handles and you set them down outside, how hard is it going to be to find them again? Look for pruning sheers with bright red, yellow, or orange handles because this will make them stand out against your other tools or the foliage.
Your pruner's cutting capacity simply refers to how large your blades can open and how thick the branches can be. They start around .5 or .75 inches and go up to around 1.25 inches. So, if you intend to cut thicker branches, it's a good idea to make sure that your pruners can open their blades wide enough to cut them successfully.
Using your hand pruners for extended periods can cause fatigue to your hands and wrists. If the handle has an ergonomic design, this can lessen the strain on these areas of your body. Look for handles with comfort grip and that can rotate can reduce the strain on your wrists, and they should have a horizontal inclination so you can keep your wrists in a neutral position when you use it.
No matter how high-quality your hand pruners are, they'll need some routine maintenance to keep them sharp and usable. You want to make sure that you wipe them down after each use to remove any excess moisture. It's a good idea to make sure that there is no dirt or debris stuck in any parts of your pruners because this can jam them.
Replacement Part Availability
If you use your hand pruners a lot, parts will eventually wear out and break. It's important to see how difficult it is to get replacement parts or if replacement parts are even available. Higher-quality pruners usually have replacement parts available directly from the manufacturer, so they're easier to get sent to you.
As these pruners are sharp and you tend to carry them around, built-in safety features are essential. Several hand pruners have a locking mechanism that keeps the blades closed when you're not using them or carrying them around. Some also come with a carrying case that covers the blades when you store them.
Hand pruners typically have a spring between the handles that help to push the blades apart when you stop squeezing the handles. This spring gets a lot of use, so you want to make sure that it's durable enough to withstand wear and tear. You can choose from wire or coiled metal, and you want to make sure that they're firmly attached to the handles.
Weight and Size
Although some hand pruner designs are bulkier than others, you want to make sure they're not too bulky to carry around. You want to take into account how well the pruners fit into your hand. Also, the heavier your pruners are, the more fatigue you'll feel in your hands and wrists when you use them.
Maintenance and Sharpening Tips
Routinely sharpen the blade before it dulls.
Always use a sharp blade because it cuts cleaner.
Sharpen away from the blade.
Apply light machine oil regularly to the blades.
Clean your pruners after each use.
Store the hand pruners in a dry environment.
Never put your pruners away wet because they can rust.
A good pair of hand pruners is a must for anyone who routinely works in the garden or finds themselves cutting branches. Now that you know how to choose the best hand pruner, you can decide which style works best for your needs. If you maintain them, they can last for years.