Best Pruning Shears

graphic for this post that discusses pruning shears

If you’re anything like me, it’s amazing how quickly my plants grow in every direction. They even grow in directions I don’t want them to grow!

While I used to think it was very difficult to stay on top of my plants, I’ve since realized that having the right pair of pruning shears made this previously burdensome task something I now enjoy. With a little research and some careful consideration I was able to find the right pair for my needs.

Armed the right pair of shears, keeping your plants in check will be a breeze. We’ve put together this buying guide that will teach you everything you need to know to find the best pruning shears for your needs.

Best Pruning Shears in 2018

Product Cutting Capacity Blade Style Weight
ARS HP-VS8R 8″ Bypass Hand Pruner (Our Choice) 3/4″ Bypass 10.4 oz
Felco 2 Anvil Hand Pruner 1″ Anvil 8.8 oz
Gardenite Anvil Pruning Shears 1″ Anvil 8 oz
Tabor Tools S821 Bypass Pruner 3/4″ Bypass 4.8 oz
Felco 7 Bypass Hand Pruner 1″ Bypass 12 oz

Best Pruning Shears – Buyer’s Guide

While the world of pruning shears may at first appear daunting, it is easy enough to find the right pair when you apply the right criteria. As plants come in all shapes and sizes, the truth is that no one pruning shear will be the right tool for every job. For example, while pruning shears may be great for pruning smaller branches, you might want to consider the right pair of loppers or even a pole saw if you’re looking to prune larger branches.

As a quick note before we get started, keep in mind that the “right” pair of pruning shears will depend on a variety of factors. As such, the truth is that what’s right for you may not be the best choice for your neighbor, and vice versa.

What Kind of Pruning You’re Doing

First things first, the type of pruning work you expect to perform will affect what type of pruner is best for you. The reality is that most people will be best suited by going with a pair of bypass pruners. Much like how a scissors functions, bypass pruners feature a pair of (typically curved) blades that run past each other to create a clean cut. As they produce such a clean cut, they are best used for pruning green limbs of living plants, as the clean cut has a better chance of healing properly.

For other applications, anvil pruners may be a better fit. Anvil pruners operate by utilizing an (typically straight) upper blade that strikes down on a perpindicular cutting surface, similar to the way a kitchen knife strikes a cutting board. They are best used for cutting dead or dry material, but please note that their cutting by crushing mechanism may damage green limbs. As they are used for different purposes, those who expect to spend serious time pruning may benefit from owning a pair of both anvil and bypass pruners.

Quality of Blade

It’s also important to consider the type of steel the blades of your pruning shears use. While more expensive, pruning shears with high carbon steel blades are usually very durable and can keep a nice, sharp edge. The extra durability makes them easier to maintain and keep sharp, as they are less likely to develop nicks and dents in the blades. Due to their durability and sharp edges, high carbon steel blades should be considered a must-have feature for those who expect to heavily use their pruning shears.

Though they may not be as durable, lower grades of steel can also work well for some. As these blades are cheaper to produce, they are usually found on more budget-friendly pruning shears. As they are less durable, pruning shears using lesser grades of steel may be a good option for those who expect to infrequently use their pruning shears and therefore might want to save some money.

Ease of Maintenance

Depending on how frequently you expect to use your pruning shears, it may be important to consider how easy it is to maintain the pair. When used, sap, dirt and other materials can tend to get stuck in between the blades, therefore reducing the performance of your shears. As such, being able to easily take apart your pruning shears makes proper maintenance of your shears much easier. Also keep in mind that routinely cleaning your blades reduces the risk of rust, which in turn helps your shears have a longer life.

Being able to easily take apart your pruning shears also makes it much easier to sharpen your blades. As clean, sharp blades are key, shears that are easier to maintain will consistently perform better.

Ergonomic Handle Design

While this does mostly depend on personal preference, some people may want to consider pruning shears with handles that feature an ergonomic design. As ergonomically-designed handles are made to more closely fit the user’s hand, when going this route it’s more important to ensure the shears are a good fit for your hands. As they are more custom-molded to fit your hand, pruning shears with ergonomic handles are a great choice for those who expect to spend many hours pruning plants.

While ergonomic handles are nice, they are not always the best fit for everyone. For example, I’m almost a foot taller than my wife and therefore have farily larger hands. As we were looking for pruning shears that we both could comfortably operate, we ended up going with a traditional handle that, while not a perfect fit for either of us, was good enough for each of us.

Locking Mechanism

Last and certainly not least, we highly recommend that you only purchase pruning shears with a locking mechanism. As pruning shears are typically small enough to be kept in a tool box, for safety reasons it’s much better to have shears that can lock with the blades closed. For shears that utilize a springback mechanism this is an essential feature that helps keeps the blades from being exposed when not in use.

Pruning Shears Buying Guide: Top Products

Now that we’ve taken the time to understand the key criteria, let’s take a look at the best pruning shears on the market today.

ARS HP-VS8R 8″ Bypass Hand Pruner

ARS HP-VS8R 8″ Bypass Hand Pruner Specs
Cutting Capacity 3/4″
Blade Style Bypass
Weight 10.4 oz

Made by the Japanese company ARS, these HP-VS8R Bypass Hand Pruners feature a super sharp blade that is hard chrome plated for extra durability. These pruners utilize a rotating handle to lessen the effort needed for each cut.

While these pruners do cost more than an amateur might want to spend, they offer top-notch performance and are cheaper than some of the other high end models. Users had mixed feelings on the rotating handle but many found them to be natural after some getting used to.

A top-of-the-line option in the bypass pruners market, these pruners would be a great choice for someone who anticipates spending a lot of time pruning and doesn’t mind paying for quality.

  • Top quality pruners
  • While pricey, not as expensive as comparable models
  • Super sharp edge
  • Very smooth operation
  • Easy to lock and unlock
  • Some didn’t enjoy rotating handle

Felco 2 Anvil Hand Pruner

Felco 2 Anvil Hand Pruner Specs
Cutting Capacity 1″
Blade Style Anvil
Weight 8.8 oz

Manufactured by Felco, the most prestigous brand in the pruning world, the Felco 2 Anvil Pruner is made for serious pruning. Featuring a replaceable anvil blade made from high-end hardened steel, these pruners are a joy to use.

While these may be a bit too expensive for some to justify, they are top-notch anvil pruners that are very easy to use as they are well-balanced. As they are well constructed and designed to last a lifetime, these pruners have replacement parts readily availalble.

These would be a great choice for any serious gardener or professional looking for a pair of anvil pruners that they can use for years and years to come.

  • Legendary quality and performance
  • Built to last a lifetime
  • Replacement parts easy to get
  • Well balanced and easy to use
  • More than some might want to spend

Gardenite Anvil Pruning Shears

Gardenite Anvil Pruning Shears Specs
Cutting Capacity 1″
Blade Style Anvil
Weight 8 oz

Featuring a sleek, modern design, these Gardenite Anvil Pruning Shears are designed to provide the greatest cutting power for your effort. The ratcheting mechanism allows for users to lock in their progress on the cut without necessarily finishing it.

A pair of anvil pruners with great cutting power, these pruners provide excellent value for the money. The ratcheting feature is a great way to ease your way through the larger cuts.

As they are more budget-friendly, these pruners would be a good choice for those who might not anticipate heavy pruning needs.

  • Great value for the money
  • Delivers excellent cutting power
  • Ratcheting feature makes large cuts easier
  • Some had issues with the locking mechanism

Tabor Tools S821 Bypass Pruner

Tabor Tools S821 Bypass Pruner Specs
Cutting Capacity 3/4″
Blade Style Bypass
Weight 4.8 oz

A great option from Tabor Tools, the S821 Bypass Pruning Shears sport a modern design and offer some serious performance for a great price. Featuring a chrome-plated stainless steel blades that are super sharp, these pruning shears are made to make very clean cuts.

While they may not necessarily offer the exact performance and durability of the high end models, these bypass pruners offer great value for the money. It’s important to note that some users have experienced durability issues with the spring after heavy use.

Even though there might be slight durability issues with the spring, these pruners would be a great option for those who are looking for top-tier performance but can’t justify the cost of the high-end models.

  • Fantastic value for the money
  • Super sharp blades
  • Clean cutting
  • Great for small or medium-sized hands
  • Spring broke for some after awhile

Felco 7 Bypass Hand Pruner

Felco 7 Bypass Hand Pruner Specs
Cutting Capacity 1″
Blade Style Bypass
Weight 12 oz

Another great offering from the Felco brand, the Felco 7 Bypass Hand Pruners are just about as good as it gets in the pruning world. Utilizing extremely sharp blades and an innovative rotating handle, these pruning shears are built to handle years and years of serious use.

Featuring the top-quality construction expected of a Felco pruner, these bypass pruners provide great value even though they are more than some might want to spend on pruning shears. Even though some users aren’t a huge fan of it, the rotating handles help create a more natural hand motion that allows for hours of pruning.

Those with smaller hands but looking for similar features might want to check out the Felco 6 Pruner. Besides that, these pruners would be a great choice for serious gardeners or professionals who aren’t afraid to pay for years and years of relaible service.

  • Top-notch quality construction
  • Built for years of serious use
  • Rotating handle leverages natural hand motion
  • Replaceable blades
  • Too pricey for some to consider

Our Choice

While there are many great options, our favorite pair of pruning shears is the ARS HP-VS8R Bypass Hand Pruners.

Featuring the great performance of the Felco pruners but at a more reasonable price point, these pruners are an excellent choice for all kinds of users.

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