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Best secateurs 2022: Take the effort out of your pruning from just £11


Deadhead your roses, chop back your perennials and get your shrubs in shape with the best secateurs for every job

Keeping your garden in tip-top condition involves a lot of pruning, and nothing makes this harder than a dull or clunky pair of secateurs. Switch them out for a new pair with sharp blades and some decent engineering, and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes. With the best secateurs, you can chop through tough stems, trim your shrubs or deadhead your roses in a snap.

There’s a wide range of secateurs out there, though, and they’re not all designed to tackle the same jobs. What’s more, there are big differences in style and comfort, which might sway your decision one way or the other. Read on to find out what makes the best secateurs, and which ones are the right ones for you.

Best secateurs: At a glance

How to choose the best secateurs for you

What types of secateurs are there?

There are two main types of secateurs, the anvil type that brings a blade straight down onto a blunter cutting platform, and the bypass type that passes two blades past each other, like a pair of scissors.

Anvil types need to be kept sharp as if the blade starts to dull their cutting ability can suffer, especially if attacking small, soft stems that might get squashed or torn.

Bypass secateurs benefit from their scissoring action, cutting cleanly, but aren’t always suitable for left-handers as most are made with a right-handed action. Conversely, anvil-bladed tools are often blunter at the tip, and lack the sharp point of a bypass pair that can be inserted into smaller places.

Some secateurs have a ratchet mechanism that gradually closes the blades over the course of a couple of squeezes of the handles, which is useful if you have small hands or don’t have the strength to squeeze them closed in one push.

Watch out for your tool’s recommended maximum cutting diameter. The blades may open wider, but loppers or a small saw may be a better choice for thicker stems or small branches.

Secateurs are available in many different sizes, just like the hands of gardeners, and it’s always a good idea to handle them in-store to get a feel for how they’ll be in use. If you’ve got big hands, don’t assume you’ll need the largest pair you can find – the length of handles may be a greater concern than the sheer size of the blades.

How should I care for the secateurs?

You should sharpen your secateurs with a steel or whetstone as soon as you notice a change in their cutting ability, as blunt blades will cause more harm to your plants by not cutting cleanly, possibly allowing in fungal infection or leading to insect damage.

Sap is deposited on the blades at almost every pruning session and should be wiped off after every use, otherwise it can clog your blades, introduce corrosion, and cause them to be unpleasant to use.

Clean them with soapy water, make sure they’re properly dry, and give the mechanism a spray with lubricant before putting them away. If you’ve been cutting back diseased foliage, consider a quick bath in disinfectant to avoid transferring the malady.

How much should I spend?

You can get a pair of secateurs relatively cheaply, from around £10. On cheaper pairs, watch out for the central spring mechanism, as this may break easily, rendering the tool useless.

Cheaper blades may also require more frequent sharpening as they can be made of inferior metals that lose their edge more quickly. Expensive Japanese secateurs use quality steel that’s purported to keep its sharpness for longer, but their price means they’re out of reach for most gardeners.

What features should I look out for?

The main choice in secateurs is between the anvil or bypass actions, and whether you want a ratchet or not. Once you’ve made your mind up on these, everything else is relatively minor. Look out for things such as safety catches, which will keep the secateurs closed when they’re not in use; ideally you should be able to open or close the catch while holding the secateurs one-handed, and a small or fiddly catch can soon become annoying. Replaceable parts are also a bonus. Nobody wants to bin a pair of secateurs just because the spring has failed.

Bright colours can make the tool easier to see if you drop them in the grass, which can save buying a replacement pair, while a simple loop on the handle, to which a wristband can be attached, will also save you from dropping them. A holster that clips onto your waistband is a useful accessory that can help prevent losing your tools as well.

Watch the weight when you buy. Lightweight plastics or aluminium can make a pair of secateurs more comfortable to use over a long day in the garden, while non-slip or soft-feel grips can also help. Some gardeners also prefer a closed-loop lower handle, which makes it easier to open the secateurs if they get stuck in a woody branch and the spring needs some help. We’re also seeing secateurs and pruners with extra gears or levers in the lower handle, to amplify the strength of your grip. These features can be gimmicks, but they can also make a real difference if you find pruning tiring, or your hands don’t have as much grip as they used to.

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The best secateurs you can buy

1. Gardena 8798 Comfort Ratchet Secateurs: The strongest secateurs

Price: £40 | Buy now from Amazon

Gardena’s heavy-duty anvil secateurs feature a beefy ratchet mechanism that gives you three times the cutting power. Combine that with the anvil design, and the non-stick upper blade will cut through branches up to 25mm in diameter, while the lower anvil stops them slipping.

This pair is particularly effective against dead or dry wood, slicing through branches you’d swear you’d need longer-handled loppers for with just three squeezes. However, it didn’t have any problems pruning smaller twigs of greener wood.

They’re heavier than the average pair of secateurs – and a lot more expensive – but they’re built like a tank and come with a 25-year warranty. You’ll need fairly big hands to hold them fully open, but the soft outer mouldings make them comfortable to grip. If you’ve got tough shrubs and small trees to keep in order, you’ll want these beauties by your side.

Key specs – Weight: 236g; Length: 20.7cm; Max cutting width: 25mm

2. Spear & Jackson Razorsharp 6358RS: The best secateurs for tackling tough, woody branches

Price: £19 | Buy now from Amazon

These anvil-style shears have a ratchet action so you can close them with multiple pulls of the handle while cutting harder branches, and a looped lower handle for pulling them open again easily.

There’s a safety catch for keeping them closed. The loop is big enough for large hands, but try them out first if you often wear thick gloves.

The aluminium body is accented with a non-slip plastic coating on the top handle, but could do with some padding below, as the metal of the lower handle can be hard on bare fingers.

With extremely sharp, Teflon-coated blades, they’re aimed at thicker, harder branches and stems, but the maximum cutting diameter is 20mm, the same as many other secateurs.

Key specs – Weight: 231g; Length: 21cm; Max cutting width: 20mm

3. Fiskars Plus PowerLever Anvil Pruner P741: The best anvil pruners for woody stems and branches

Price: £33 | Buy now from Amazon

These Anvil Pruners do a fantastic job of cutting through thick twigs and woody branches, thanks to a sharp hardened steel top blade and the ingenious PowerLever mechanism, which amplifies your grip for a clean cut every time. Armed with these, you can make short work of most heavy pruning jobs, and the rubberized orange top grip and curved bottom grip mean you’ll be as comfortable as possible while you’re at it.

If you’re dealing with really tough, dead wood branches then the P741s aren’t so ideal; without the ratchet action of the Spear & Jackson or Gardena ratchet secateurs, you’re limited to what you can manage in the one squeeze. All the same, we still managed to tackle thick stems of dead rosebush and some chunky branches from a hornbeam hedge, while the single action makes them a little faster and not so tiring to use.

Key specs – Weight: 182g; Length: 22.1cm; Max cutting width: 24mm

4. Wilkinson Sword 1111141W Aluminium Bypass Pruner: The best basic secateurs

Price: £11 | Buy now from Amazon

Combining aluminium handles with carbon-steel blades, these bypass pruners are no-nonsense cutting tools suitable for either right- or left-handed use.

The handles incorporate soft-grip material, which makes the secateurs more comfortable to use when you’re not wearing gloves, and a red plastic safety catch holds them closed until you’re ready to prune.

These are a classic tool with which to prune your roses, and their cutting diameter of 20mm is more than enough for most jobs. You don’t get anything special with a set of secateurs like this, but what there is – particularly the sharp, carbon steel blades – is well made and the coiled spring returns them to the open position easily.

If you prefer an anvil pruner, there’s one in the same range for the same price: model number 1111140W.

Key specsWeight: 200g; Length: 19.5cm; Max cutting width: 20mm

5. Fiskars Solid Bypass Pruner P321: The best secateurs for green shoots and lighter shrubs

Price: £14 | Buy now from Amazon

Fiskars’ lightweight bypass pruners are perfect for tackling thin green shoots. The chunky safety catch is easy to open with your thumb with the pruners held one-handed, and the spring seems tuned for repetitive, light snips, with just enough resistance to push the blades apart, but then easing off as you squeeze the handles together. Thanks to the ergonomic shaping and rubberized orange grip, you can prune away, hassle-free, for hours.

They’re not designed to tackle thick or woody stems, but trimming lighter shrubs, grasses and even overgrown rose bushes won’t be a challenge. The design actually stops the blades shifting sideways as they close. The hardened steel blades themselves are sharp and can be sharpened with a diamond file when needed, while the build quality feels impressively robust.

Key specs – Weight: 167g; Length: 20.1cm; Max cutting width: 20mm

6. Wolf-Garten RR5000 Professional Bypass Aluminium Secateurs: The most comfortable secateurs

Price: £35 | Buy now from Amazon

With a cutting width of 25mm, these can accommodate some larger branches, but lack the ratchet or gearing mechanisms to really make short work of them.

They’re a brightly coloured pair, with a double-sided safety catch that can be opened easily by right- or left-handers. The aluminium handles are softened on top and bottom by plastic panels, and there’s a rubber pad to stop a sudden closure from hurting your hand.

A hex nut on the left-hand side of the blade mounting allows a degree of disassembly to replace the blades, and there’s a wrist loop built into the top handle to make them harder to lose.

They fit well in the hand, springing open with a flick of the thumb and not taking much pressure to close, but are weightier than other pairs, and front-heavy.

Key specs – Weight: 399g; Length: 15.2cm; Max cutting width: 25mm

7. Gardena 8857 Garden Secateurs: The best secateurs for easy pruning

Price: £17 | Buy now from Amazon

These lightweight Gardena secateurs are perfect for most pruning jobs. They’ve got enough welly to handle the odd thick stem, without losing that nice, easy action that can keep you deadheading roses or tidying up unruly shrubs for hours. What’s more, the adjustable design gives you a choice of two handle widths, making them better for gardeners with small hands.

The safety lock on the top has an interim setting for cutting smaller stems. This means you don’t have to relax your grip so much when you’re snipping away, which can make a big difference when you’ve got a lot of smaller shrubs and perennials to prune. In fact, comfort is a real theme here, thanks to light but robust plastics, precision-ground stainless steel blades and a soft-touch grip on the top handle.

For your average, day-to-day pruning jobs, it’s hard to find a better pair of secateurs.

Key specs – Weight: 155g; Length: 19.7cm; Max cutting width: 22mm

8. Grüntek Secateurs Flamingo: The best budget secateurs

Price: £12 | Buy now from Amazon

These cut-price bypass secateurs have a lot of features you might not expect for the money, including an adjustable width that makes them easier to use for people with small hands, and a gear mechanism that makes them more effective at cutting through thicker stems. The two blades, one Teflon-coated, one carbon steel, can handle everyday trimming and pruning jobs with ease, leaving a good, clean cut.

If we’re grumbling, the small, metal safety catch is slightly fiddly, while the 18mm cutting width is probably pushing it; we wouldn’t fancy their chances with anything that thick. But they’re more robust than they might appear – one of our testers has had a pair in active use for the last three years – and the bright green/yellow livery makes them hard to miss if you drop them on the ground. The Fiskars and Gardena secateurs above win on build quality, design and comfort, but if you’re strapped for cash these make a decent alternative.

Key specs – Weight: 216g; Length: 20.5cm; Max cutting width: 18mm

9. Spear & Jackson Razorsharp Advantage Small: The best secateurs for smaller hands

Price: £14 | Buy now from Amazon

Many secateurs come in a range of sizes, but these Spear & Jackson bypass pruners are particularly good for gardeners with small hands. They’re lightweight and easy to grip, with a sliding catch you can easily work with the thumb while holding them one-handed. They’re also as sharp as the name suggests, with a great, light action that can help you deal with a lot of lightweight growth in record time. We also like the hole at the end of the upper handle – it’s perfect for threading through a wrist strap, even if you don’t get one bundled.

You’re going to need something with a bit more heft for thicker branches – the maximum cutting width is just 10mm – but otherwise this is a solid pair of secateurs with rust-resistant blades and effective shock-absorption as you snip. If you find the larger pairs hard to work with, give them a whirl.

Key specs – Weight: 149g; Length: 18cm; Max cutting width: 10mm

10. Fiskars X-Series Bypass Pruner P291: The best heavy-duty bypass pruners

Price: £23 | Buy now from Amazon

Fiskars’ chunky bypass pruners use a clever mechanism concealed in the handle to give you added cutting power. As you squeeze, the whole lower handle rotates, moving a gear that helps close the blades. As a result, the X-Series pruners can bite through surprisingly heavy stems and branches, although we’d still recommend a set of ratchet secateurs – or even a good pair of loppers – if you need to prune anything really thick or woody.

Not everyone will like the design, with one tester complaining that the way the handle rotates makes it feel like it’s wriggling out of your grasp. Others, however, found this pair felt more balanced and comfortable than rival heavy-duty secateurs, and liked the easy-release sliding catch on the top and non-slip grip on the upper handle.

Key specs – Weight: 220g; Length: 20.1cm; Max cutting width: 26mm

11. Stihl PG30 Professional Secateurs: The best bypass secateurs for the toughest pruning jobs

Price: £40 | Buy now from Sam Turner & SonsStihl may be best known for its professional garden power tools – especially chainsaws – but it can also manufacture a mean pair of secateurs. These ones have a similar design to Wilkinson Sword’s Razorcut Pro bypass secateurs but have a more robust gear mechanism for getting through thick stems and branches, and a larger 25mm cutting width. As long as you steer clear of hard, dead wood, you can cut through some really chunky branches, and there’s even a notch for cutting through wire – a handy extra if you’re training rambling roses or espaliering fruit trees.

We’ve also chosen these thanks to their bright orange colour, the easy safety catch and the thick, plastic-coated, cushioned handles. They are expensive, but you’re getting one beefy premium pair of pruners for your cash.

Key specs – Weight: 225g; Length: 21.5cm; Max cutting width: 25mm

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