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Hand Pruner: What the pros say

A decent pair of hand pruners is a handy gardening tool. They are ideal for trimming and pruning soft or woody perennials and are very simple to use while working with flowers and small shrubs. Although many other tools are available for specific garden specializations, it is difficult to beat pruners for the versatility and usefulness of tasks.

Hand Pruner:

Hand pruners are handheld gardening tools that remove twigs, stems, and branches. They are made up of two blades straightened and sharpened to produce a smooth cut. High-quality steel is often used to make the blades, providing longevity and sharpness. To guarantee comfort and safety, handles are frequently made of metal or plastic and feature a non-slip grip.

In this article, I will explain different types of prunes and their applications, help you choose a pruner, and show you how to measure your hand and find the correct pruner size. I will also answer some related questions that I often get.

What are pruners used for?

Pruners are primarily used to remove diseased, damaged, or dead stems and branches from plants and bushes. The sections of plants that have withered must be removed because disease-carrying insects and other pests are drawn to dead stems.

Pruning helps plants grow healthier and stops undesired growth. Gardeners should check the kinds of plants and shrubs they have to determine when it is ideal for pruning them to maintain a healthy garden.

Types of pruners

There are three basic types of hand pruners:

1. Bypass Pruners:

For gardeners, bypass pruners are frequently regarded as a “must-have” tool. Similar to the blades on a pair of scissors, the curved blades on these pruners “bypass” one another. One blade is sharp, while the other is dull, resulting in a clean cut as long as the tool is sharp.

The sharpened side of the pruners can be used for various jobs depending on how you hold them. Bypass pruners work well for trimming small shrubs, rose bushes, and tree limbs (less than a quarter inch in diameter). Keep your loppers close if this situation arises because cutting thicker branches might dull the blades.

Bypass pruners are available in several sizes. I recommend testing them in your hand to ensure it’s the right fit for you.

The blades are available in several sizes as well. Larger blades are suitable for trimming back perennials, while smaller blades are ideal for delicately pruning rosebushes or most deadheading tasks.

2. Anvil Pruners:

Anvil pruners are convenient tools, although they are less used than bypass pruners. These pruners close on a flat-edged metal with a single straight (instead of a curved blade).

Due to their design, anvil pruners should not be used to cut green plant material as they may bruise or crush stems, harming your perennials. Because of their bulkier shape, they are unsuitable for trimming tasks that call for quick movements and close angles.

You also shouldn’t use your anvil pruners to cut branches that are too big, just like with bypass pruners. For heavier pruning projects, keep a pruning saw nearby. For cutting larger dead branches, larger loppers that require two hands to hold are also available with the anvil design.

3. Ratchet Pruners:

Like anvil pruners in many ways, ratchet garden pruners have an additional mechanism that enables staged cutting. For gardeners with small hands or weaker hands owing to arthritis or other ailments, this increases leverage.

Pruning is repetitious and can strain your hands and wrists like other gardening chores. To avoid this, spread out your tasks and avoid doing the same for an extended period. Ratchet pruners are needed for large trimming projects to reduce discomfort and exhaustion.

Types of pruning cuts

There are three types of pruning cuts. Each has its own purpose and is used at different stages of plant development.

  • Heading Cut: This cut removes the tip of a branch or stem. Heading cuts are commonly used to promote branching and bushy growth. When making a heading cut, you should cut just above a bud or lateral branch to encourage new growth in that area.
  • Thinning Cut: A thinning cut removes a plant’s entire branch or stem. Thinning cuts are made to improve plant structure which promotes air circulation. When making a thinning cut, you should ensure that you cut at the point of attachment to the main branch or trunk and not in the middle of the branch.
  • Shearing Cut: A shearing cut simultaneously removes the tips of many branches or stems. It is mostly used to shape a plane into a desired form. Hedges and other formal plantings are commonly shaped using shearing cuts. When making a shearing cut, use a sweeping motion with the blades of the pruners to make a smooth, even cut.

How do you pick a hand pruner?

It would be best if you considered the following factors while selecting a hand pruner:

● Purpose of the Task:

First and foremost, think about what you’ll be cutting. For example, will it be branches, shrubs, or flowers? Remove dead branches in fall and spring? Or do you want to trim and shape your plants?

Once you’ve determined your primary goal, you can choose the best pruner for the job. Check the package of the product to see the pruner’s primary purpose.

● Hand Pruner comfort:

Consider comfort next. Pruners are not a one-time purchase; you will use them repeatedly and possibly for extended periods.

Hold the pruner before purchase to get a feel of its grip. Consider weight and design if you have mobility or strength issues. You don’t want to tire out your hand by holding something too heavy or bulky.

● Hand Pruner Quality:

The quality between pruners can vary greatly. You can feel the difference in the used materials when you hold them. Generally, the more heavy ones use thicker metal. Pay also attention to the finish of the materials used.

Most pruners have a mechanism that keeps the handles locked together when closed. Choose one that is simple to open and close and stays open or closed. When you relax your grip on a pruner, a spring between the handles pushes the handles apart. Choose one with a tightly wound spring.

● Hand Pruner Cost:

The cost of hand pruners varies. Although you don’t need to spend much money on pruners, I recommend spending a little more for a good pair than a cheaper one with poor design and quality.

What pruner size do I need?

Using the correct tools for the task will increase the quality of the work, increase your joy, and be less exhausting.

Avoid using hand-held pruners that are overly heavy or have a too large opening for your hand size. I recommend measuring the height and width of your hand. At the base of the fingers, measure the width of the palm. Measure the height between the middle of the base of your hand and the tip of your middle finger.

For hands that are less than 3.5″ wide and 6.25″ high, I advise using a 0.5″ pruner. If your hands are between 3.5″ to 4″ wide and 6.5″ to 8″ high, you might want to get a 0.75″ pruner. A 1″ hand-held pruner should work fine for people with larger hands.

Ensure the pruners do not open wider than your hand can comfortably grasp. Also, consider pruners with longer handles, which offer greater cutting force with less effort.

Can I use scissors to prune

If your household scissors are sharp enough, you can use them even though they aren’t made for gardening or pruning.

But heavy-duty tasks like chopping thick branches cannot be done with scissors. However, they can trim plants, particularly indoor plants, and remove overgrown and dead leaves.

When making delicate cuts, scissors are convenient because they allow you to do them without hurting the plant.

Make sure to sharpen regular scissors with a sharpening tool. A dull blade takes more strength to cut something; the increased wounds will harm the plant and may lead to an infection.

What is the difference between a pruner and a lopper

Pruners are one-handed tools, and they are used for smaller stems and branches that are typically less than a half-inch wide.

Loppers are two-handed tools used for medium-sized branches and stem that are too big for pruners, typically less than 1.5 inches thick. For larger branches or stems, use a pruning saw. 

What are the differences between shears and secateurs

The difference between secateurs and garden shears may not seem significant to many inexperienced gardeners. After all, the only difference between them is the length of the handle, and they both perform a similar task.

Shears often have a longer handle than secateurs, which helps to cut slightly higher with shears thanks to their larger handles. The blade’s honed design ensures that the gardener never loses control even when the reach is extended, resulting in a clean cut every time. This suits them best for pruning hedges, bushes, and lawns.

Secateurs are the best tool for tricky pruning jobs. They are frequently used one-handed and are typically used to trim delicate plants with soft stems, slender branches, and delicate foliage. In some ways, these more compact hand tools are more suited to artistic endeavors than labor-intensive tasks.  

Secateurs are among the most versatile tools in your toolbox because they are strong enough to cut through thick branches. They come in various styles, forms, and ergonomic designs that anyone can use regardless of hand size, shape, or grip strength.

What is a hook and blade pruner?

The hook-and-blade pruner cuts like a pair of scissors. The hooked lower blade holds the branch while the curved blade cuts it. Because the blade passes along the hook when cutting, this one-hand pruner is also known as a bypass pruner.

How often should I oil my hand pruners?

You should clean and oil your hand pruners after each use to prevent rust and maintain their sharpness. Use a clean, damp cloth to wipe away dirt and debris, and apply a few drops of oil to the pivot point and blade.

How to sharpen hand pruners

Sharpening your hand pruners is not difficult; you only need a sharpening stone or a file. Hold the pruners at a 20-degree angle and move the file or sharpening stone across the blade in a circular motion. Keep doing this until you feel the blades are sharp enough.