Buyers' Guides

Best Pruning Shears—2021 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Best pruning shears

Failing to prune plants, shrubs, and trees on a regular basis presents a few problems: excess growth that blocks sunlight or prevents proper air circulation; introduction of pests and diseases; risk of property damage (especially during windstorms); and dead limbs that slow all the new, healthy growth in your garden

By removing the dead branches, leaves, and flowers on your plants, you make room for fruit and flower production and can enhance the shape of the shrub or tree.

As someone who’s a minimalist when it comes to gardening tools, pruning shears are one of the items that make my short list because sooner or later, you’ll need something a bit more bomber than ordinary household scissors for your trimming tasks.

But finding the right pair for your needs can be tricky—do you go with the heaviest, sturdiest pair or the lightest, no-frills version that might not last as long?

To help you narrow down the choices, I’ve reviewed my five favorite picks of the best pruning shears available. I’ve also provided a handy little buyer’s guide where I’ve outlined my top tips and everything I’d suggest you to look for in a high-quality set of pruning shears.

Okatsune 104 Bypass Pruners 

Okatsune 104 8.25-inch Bypass Pruners, Extra Large

As a professional quality gardening tool, the Okatsune 104 Bypass Pruners are made to last. Designed with razor-sharp blades, they allow you to make fine and precise cuts to your plants. I love the lightweight feel of these pruners; at only 8.6 ounces they’re easy to handle yet have the solid build of heavier models.

To accommodate different sized hands, there are three options to help you select the most comfortable pruners. (Women with smaller hands will especially love not having to settle for burly unisex shears.)

For safety purposes, these shears feature a sturdy safety clip that stop them from springing open unexpectedly and causing potential accidents. 

Though the handles don’t incorporate as much cushioning as other types of pruners, many would agree that this provides you with more control and allows you to create more precise cuts. They are easy to use and can be opened single-handedly. Simply brush the catch forward against your legs and they’ll unlock.

Pros

  • Quantity: They’re available in a single=pack or multi-pack option so you can select the quantity you need.
  • Sharpness: I’m impressed with the sharpness of the blades which allows for precise pruning.
  • Durability: With blades made from high carbon steel, these pruners cope very well with intense use.

Cons

  • Handles: The smooth coating presents a risk of your hand sliding forward when using them, so you might need gloves for better gripping.
Okatsune 104 8.25-inch Bypass Pruners, Extra Large
  • These Hand Pruners are the #1 choice of professional gardeners in Japan.
  • With care they will last a lifetime

Bahco Ergo Bypass Pruner 

Bahco Ergo Bypass Pruner PX-M2

From a brand that is recognized for producing high-quality, reliable tool, this is the Bahco Ergo Bypass Pruner. I like that these pruners come in right- and left-handed versions to cater to different users. They’re also available in multiple formats with an option available to suit all hand shapes and sizes.

The ergonomic design and vertical inclination support the natural positioning of your wrist and the lightweight feel makes them easy to handle. The angled head also helps to ease the strain felt by your arms and wrists when attempting to cut through tougher plants and stems. Thanks to the special soft-grip coating on the upper handles, these pruners are comfortable to use, resulting in less fatigue. 

Accessing vines and other hard-to-reach or delicate parts of your plants don’t have to be a challenge, thanks to the narrow counter blade. On the flip side, this tool is capable of cutting through stems and branches that are up to 3/4-inch thick. Because of this, you can use these shears to trim many plants in your garden, regardless of their shape and size.

Pros

  • Cost: For affordably priced shears, they’re constructed to a high standard using tough materials.
  • Durability: The blades are coated with Xylan which prevent them from rusting.
  • Ergonomics: The design helps to ease any wrist pain caused by continuous pruning. 

Cons

  • Safety lock: The mechanism responsible for holding the blades together can be a little difficult to use.
Bahco Ergo Bypass Pruner PX-M2
  • PX pruners have lightweight ergonomic design, natural wrist position, and ease of use because of high carbon steel blades
  • Left and right hand models available, 8 formats to fit every hand
  • This Product is manufactured in France
  • Professional grade ergonomic pruner ideal for all pruning work in the home or professional garden
  • Medium-sized handles designed especially for medium-sized hands

Felco F2 Classic Hand Pruner 

FELCO F-2 068780 Classic Manual Hand Pruner, F 2

Are you contending with unruly plants and thick stems that you’ve struggled to cut with your existing pruners? If so, I recommend the Felco F2 Classic Hand Pruner, which is a perennial favorite among gardeners and landscapers.

The high-quality hardened anvil steel blades allow for easy and precise cuts, but they’re also great for lighter applications and can be used to cut delicate, thinner plants. 

I like the feel of the handles. They’re lightweight (at only 8.8 ounces) and the rubber coating makes them comfortable to grip. They also possess shock-absorbing qualities which help to ease any strain and discomfort felt when opening and closing the blades. 

Featuring a hardened bolt and nut, the blade can easily be adjusted to suit the plant you’re pruning. This also makes it more convenient to make adjustments as they start to show signs of wear.

The internal spring mechanism is resistant to corrosion and is covered with a metal sheath to eliminate any effects of moisture.

Pros

  • Warranty: This pruner is covered by a one-year warranty, so there’s help available if you experience any issues or aren’t happy with your purchase. 
  • Sap groove: Directs the sap away from the blades to ensure the stickiness doesn’t affect how well these pruning shears perform.
  • Blades: They’re easy to sharpen and can be replaced when they become dull or damaged.

Cons

  • The size: They open quite wide and some people may find that this makes them difficult to use.
Sale
FELCO F-2 068780 Classic Manual Hand Pruner, F 2
  • Anvil blade with a sap groove
  • A hardened bolt and nut to assure exact adjustment of both the cutting and anvil blades
  • Rubber cushion and shock absorber
  • Ideal pruner for light applications and easily adjustable
  • Features strong blades with a wire cutting notch

Fiskars PowerGear2 Ultrablade Pruner 

Fiskars PowerGear2 UltraBlade Pruner

Endorsed by the Arthritis Foundation, the Fiskars PowerGear 2 Ultrablade pruners are especially great for older gardeners or those who experience wrist and hand fatigue, as they’re praised for their ease of use. The patented gear technology provides you with three times more power with each cut and the blades can cut through branches up to 3/4-inch thick.

You’ll appreciate the addition of the innovative cam mechanism which optimizes the cutting power and performance of this pruner while making it easier to cut through the middle of the branch (the section which tends to be the thickest).

In terms of durability, these pruners are made to last. The fully hardened bypass steel blades are treated with an ultrablade coating which forms a bond to the blade’s surface. As a result, they’re expected to stay sharper five times longer than standard untreated blades.

Your comfort as the user hasn’t been ignored either. Though the handles may not incorporate a soft-grip coating, they still contour to the shape of your hand and offer a nicely balanced feel that promotes natural motion.

Pros

  • Lightweight: Weighing a mere 8 ounces, they don’t feel too heavy and are comfortable to handle.
  • Warranty: Backed by a full lifetime warranty, you can return these pruners if you’re unhappy with them.
  • Ease of use: You don’t need to apply a huge amount of pressure to the handles to trim thicker stems.

Cons

  • Handle sticks: The mechanism that opens and closes the mechanism is prone to sticking. 
Sale
Fiskars PowerGear2 UltraBlade Pruner
  • Power through branches up to 3/4 inch thick with a pruner featuring patented PowerGear technology that gives you up to 3X more power on every cut
  • Patented design with modified gears and cam mechanism optimizes your cutting power through the middle of the branch, the toughest part of the cut
  • Fully hardened bypass-style steel blade includes an UltraBlade coating that bonds to the blade for an edge that stays sharp 5X longer
  • Contoured, rolling handle fits the shape and natural motion of your hand for comfortable use and reduced hand fatigue

Barebones Japanese Pruner 

Barebones | Japanese Pruner - Old World Japanese Design, Durable Steel Construction

My next pick is the Barebones Japanese Pruner. Though these pruning shears may be last on the list, they certainly don’t lack in looks, quality, or performance. The old-world Japanese-inspired design oozes a minimalist, modern appeal and offers plenty of dexterity for making precise cuts in your plants.

Unlike my previous picks, these pruners are solely made from stainless steel and do not incorporate any other materials. In my opinion, that means less things to break or break down. They offer unmatched durability and can endure intense use without becoming easily damaged. 

Thanks to their high-quality metal construction and sharp blades, this pruner will prove effective in its purpose. The thin handles are also easy to hold and allow you to maintain a secure grip while working. It might not look like it has enough cushioning, but in fact, you’re less likely to experience issues with hand and wrist fatigue.

Pros

  • Performance: These pruners effectively cut through thick branches and stems with ease.
  • The Weight: The lightweight feel of these pruners makes them easier to handle.
  • Comfort: The design of the handle offers plenty of comfort to the user.

Cons

Barebones | Japanese Pruner - Old World Japanese Design, Durable Steel Construction
  • VINTAGE-INSPIRED | Japanese Design
  • DURABLE | Steel Construction
  • MULTI-PURPOSE | Staple for Indoor and Outdoor Gardening
  • COMFORTABLE | Unmatched dexterity and Utility
  • LASTING STAPLE | Classic Copper Accents

Buyer’s guide 

With so many different types of pruning shears available, several factors are worth considering before making your pick. The model you choose will depend on what you need the shears for.

While some are great for cutting through thick stems, others are best suited for delicate pruning tasks. I’ve listed some criteria that’ll help you select the best product.

Quality of the blades

The quality of the blades will influence how well they cut through your plants. Most are made from either carbon steel or stainless steel. Both are effective, though carbon steel is praised for its toughness. Stainless steel blades typically have a non-stick coating which prevents the plant’s sap from clinging to the surface and affecting the performance.

The blades should also be easy to sharpen because over time, they’ll begin to wear. You may need to oil the blades occasionally to prevent any rust from forming (yes, even stainless steel blades). Look for blades with a friction-free coating, if possible, and ones that are shaped to allow for precise cuts even when dealing with delicate plants like soft-stemmed herbs.

Ergonomic design

As you can see, the handles of pruning shears come in a variety of sizes and contours. While some are curved and bulkier, others are straighter and slimmer. Find a style that you think will be easiest to use for the size of your hands (taking into account any special versions for left-handed users or arthritis-impaired users, if applicable).

Remember that some shears can expand quite wide, so you want to make sure you can still maintain a solid grip without overextending your hand.

Many types of pruners have coated handles that ease the pressure on your hands and wrists, which in return reduce any pain and fatigue caused by a long day of pruning. They should also have shock-absorbent qualities, which help absorb any shocks caused by tougher cuts on thicker stems.

Durability

Durability is super important when it comes to pruning shears, as they’re one of the workhorses in the garden. Sure, they might not be one of the more expensive things you buy for your yard, but over time, having to replace cheaply-made models every couple of years adds up.

Those that are susceptible to rusting aren’t going to deliver the long-lasting use you need and expect. The tougher the materials, the more effective the pruners are going to be at enduring intense use season after season.

Safety mechanism

The majority of pruning shears are designed with a safety lock to help prevent any accidents. This safety lock keeps the blades clasped together when the shears aren’t in use.

It’s a particularly important feature for spring-back types of shears where there’s a risk of the blades opening unexpectedly. You have to double-check that you lock the mechanism into place to lessen the risk of the jaws opening.

With some shears, it’s possible to unlock this mechanism single-handedly, but always make sure that when doing so, you handle them safely.

Weight

Weight is also likely to influence the product that you choose. Those on the heavier side are going to be more difficult to handle and cause your hands to tire out sooner. Those who suffer from any wrist problems or arthritis will benefit from investing in a lightweight pair because these pruners will be much more comfortable to use over prolonged periods.

On the other hand, some people may prefer a heavier pair of pruners with a more robust feel for assurance that they’re going to be able to cut through the toughest plant stems without struggling. Pruners that are too lightweight may bend or break under arduous trimming tasks, or simply not last as long if you do any serious pruning year to year.

Hand orientation 

Though most pruning shears are made for right-handed users, you’ll now find some models that are designed for left-handed users. Though they’re becoming more popular, they still aren’t offered by all brands so you’ll need to check this beforehand.

Replacement blades

A feature that I like about many shears is that they’re designed to allow you to replace the blades, rather than throwing out the whole tool when they begin to wear.

Not only will this reduce waste, it’ll save you money too, as you aren’t going to find yourself regularly replacing your existing pair (that you’ve already broken in and are used to) with a brand-new one when the sharpness of the blades deteriorates. 

Additional features

Impressively, some shears now serve more than one use as they incorporate special features like a wire cutter into their designs. Simply place the wire into the notch, and apply pressure and close the blades to cut the wire—all without needing a separate tool if you only need this done occasionally.

Other shears feature a sap groove which directs the sap away from the blades. This helps prevent the sap from gumming up your blades and reduces the need for heavy-duty cleaning at the end of your pruning job.

Cost

Pruning shears retail at various prices, and because of this, I recommend setting a budget before browsing the market to help you focus your search.

While it’s important to factor cost into your decision, you also have to make sure they’re suitable for your intended use. Those that seem surprisingly cheap may not offer the same quality as a slightly more expensive pair.

Warranty 

Many brands now provide a warranty with their pruning shears. Should you experience any issues with the shears or find yourself unsatisfied with their quality and functionality, you can return them within the specified time frame. The length of this policy can differ between brands.

Some brands offer a one-year warranty while others cover products for their lifetime. It’s also worth noting that some brands don’t offer a guarantee at all, so think about whether this is going to influence your decision. Check the product specifications beforehand for the warranty terms and how easy it is to request a repair or replacement.

Common questions about pruning shears

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring — all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »

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