Beginner’s Guide To Mastering Garden Shears 2021: Tips On Safety, Selection, Maintenance And More


Perhaps every inexperienced gardener faces some questions when it comes to using his first garden shears. Before you hurry to search the web, have a look at our extended FAQ. We’ve gathered the most common questions in one place.

What Are The Garden Shears Types?

Shears are effective garden tools used for cutting stems and branches with up to 1″ in diameter. Don’t use the tool on larger branches than it can deal with. Otherwise, the blades may be ruined. Available in different sizes and types, garden pruners are designed for different specific tasks. To get a better idea, let’s review the main types of garden shears.

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  • Basic Pruning Shears

Basic pruning shears are used for cutting stems, small branches and twigs with up to 3/4″ in diameter. These can be roses and vegetable plants. They can also be used for grooming work on manicured hedges and shrubs. Such a tool has two concave blades used at the same time.

  • Bypass Pruners

Bypass pruners are highly popular. They have two blades with the top one sharpened and the lower hook not. Whenever cutting a branch or anything else, the upper sharp blade passes by the lower unsharpened one, and this makes the name of the pruner type. This type of shears provides clean cuts. They don’t cause crushing damages to any type of green and live growth. Bypass pruners are equally used by right- and left-handers.

  • Anvil Pruners

The best garden shears of anvil type feature an upper sharp blade and a lower heavy flat edge. When cutting, the blade comes down on it. As a rule, anvil pruners are used to trim thick branches that other pruner types can’t deal with. Despite the power, these tools are lightweight and compact. They are widely used by women and people with small hands.

  • Ratchet Pruners

Ratchet pruners are best for people with hand pains. People with weak hands or injured wrists will find it highly convenient and easy to use this type of shears. The tool deals with thick stems and branches efficiently. Due to the extra part these shears have, branches are trimmed in steps rather than in one action. The “D” handle makes it more comfortable while the safety latch stands for extra protection.

What Are The Critical Garden Shears Parts & Components?

To understand how long handled garden shears work, it’s crucial first to find out what parts the tool has. Depending on the type of the pruners, the critical parts differ. Here are the components of ordinary bypass pruning shears:

  • ergonomically shaped handles
  • upper sharp blade
  • lower unsharpened hook
  • sap groove
  • shock absorbing pad (optional)
  • thumb lock (optional)

Anvil pruners have the following parts:

  • upper sharp blade
  • lower heavy flat edge
  • ergonomic handles
  • right arm, pivot, and center nuts and bolts
  • gear screw

What concerns a tool with a ratchet mechanism, here are its major components:

  • lower blade
  • anvil
  • anvil bolts
  • center nut and bolt
  • ratchet mechanism
  • ratchet nut and bolt
  • spring
  • clip
  • handles

How To Choose The Right Garden Shears?

To make landscaping more manageable and beautiful, you can’t do without a pair of good hedge shears. Whether those are long-handle garden shears or any other type, the tool must be quality. How to choose the best model? Let’s find out that together. Here are the basic criteria to base your choice on:

  • Left or Right Handed Preferences

Left-handed users may find it difficult to use a pruner if it’s not designed well. The tool must be reversed like scissors. This way the top blade appears on the left and the user can cut the plant or branch cleanly without tearing chunks off them. Most reputable brands have left and right handed models.
Additionally, when buying garden shears for a left-handed person, make certain it has a blade locking mechanism moved to the right side. This way the user can operate it with his left thumb.

  • Weight

Lightweight of garden shears is an important feature. A heavy-duty tool may work well, but the user’s arms might give out quickly while using it. If you have a large yard that occasionally requires much work to do, you’d better go for models with aluminum or fiberglass handles. Those with steel handles may weigh you down.

  • Blades Quality & Materials

The quality and sharpness of blades are perhaps the most critical criteria we pay attention to when choosing garden pruners. Nearly all models have sharp blades. The thing is how long they will stay sharp! Best models have high tempered or carbon steel blades with the latter being even more durable. If the blades are covered with chrome or titanium plating, they won’t rust over time until you sharpen the tool.
Blades also have different forms. If you mostly work with branches thicker than 1/4″, you’d better consider shears with serrated blades, while tools with wavy blades are great for trimming open-structured plants.

  • Availability & Safety of Lock Mechanism

The availability of a locking mechanism is a great benefit. It keeps the shears closed when not used. This way the sharp blades are protected against damages while not appearing hazardous for people around. If the lock mechanism is quality, it will be easy to operate, yet won’t accidentally work on its own while cutting, while no branches or twigs will get caught in it. Most quality pruners have this feature.

  • Ergonomic Comfort

The best garden shears for cutting grass are usually very easy to use. But when the matter concerns hand shears, the ergonomic design of handles becomes an important feature. These tools rely on the strength of your hand. Hence, it’s important to make sure they suit the size and strength of your hand, have ergonomic handles, which fit comfortably in hands and don’t cause blisters.

What Are Some Essential Knowledge About Garden Shears?

  • The first anvil pruners were produced in 1923 by Walther Schröder in Kiel, Germany. The model was named “Original LÖWE”. It went international in 1925.
  • At antique times, cutting plants as a part of gardening was widely spread in East Asian and European topiary. They used specialized scissors (first garden shears) for cultivating Japanese bonsai and Chinese penjing over 1000 years ago!
  • Modern Europe first learned about pruners in 1819. Antoine Francois Bertrand de Molleville, a French aristocrat, was considered the first inventor of garden secateurs.
  • Scissors or Black and Decker garden shears (as well as those by other brands) are included in the list of ten most essential garden tools worldwide.
  • Today pruners sometimes come equipped with lights. This allows working with the tool at nights.

How To Use Garden Shears Safely?

Undoubtedly, it is important to know how to sharpen garden shears or how to choose the most reliable models, yet being aware of safety rules is not less critical. Sharp objects are no joking matter. Remember this and adhere to the following primary safety tips of using your garden pruners:

  1. Safety gloves.
    Wearing safety gloves is the first rule. This way you will ensure yourself against blisters and occasional cuts. Choose those which can withstand cuts from sharp objects.
  2. Handle with care.
    When using this tool, never hold it by the sharp end or walk around holding the handle. Don’t leave children unattended among these garden tools, and make sure the safety lock is on.
  3. Hold the tool properly.
    Being watchful is mandatory. Right-handed users must cut from right to left, while left-handed ones vice versa. Using pruners, never bend your wrist at an uncomfortable angle, but keep it in a neutral position. Don’t try to catch the tool once it falls. When cleaning garden shears, don’t touch the blades.
  4. Use it for the correct purpose.
    Always use garden pruners as intended. Don’t ever scrap, screw or pry an object from or on a surface with this tool. Additionally, don’t cut metal or other hard things with the shears.
  5. Store properly.
    Storing pruners properly will increase their lifespan. After every use, clean the tool, oil it, switch on the lock mechanism and store it in a safe and dry place.

How To Maintain and Oil My Garden Shears?

Cleaning and oiling punters must become a regular job as they are very prone to rust. Using a stiff brush, clean the crevices from the dirt, wash the blades using soapy water and dry the tool thoroughly. Then pass to oiling. Apply only a couple of lubricating oil drops to the blades and the pivot joints. Use a soft towel to wipe off the excess oil.

How to Sharpen Garden Shears?

Before sharpening garden shears, clean and dry the blades well as mentioned above, yet don’t oil them. Secure the shears in a bench vise, use a coarse diamond hand file to sharpen the blades. The file must be drawn along the blade’s contour. Do this until there’s a sharp edge formed. In the end, file off any burrs that might have accrued on the blade’s backside, and oil the blades.

How To Clean and Sterilize Garden Shears?

Clean your garden pruners with a stiff brush and warm soapy water to remove any dirt. Then pass to sanitizing the tool. Create a mixture of pine oil or bleach (0.9L) and water (2.8L) in a bucket, submerge the blades in this disinfectant. Pull the shears open to expose the cutting edges to the sterilizing solution. Leave the tool in the liquid for five minutes. After removing them from the solvent, spray the tool with clean water and dry before using it.

Can I Use My Garden Shears for Metal Garage Works?

If the pruner has a notch specially designed for metal wires, you can use it purposefully. Otherwise, avoid using the tool for cutting metal. This can cause nicking and blunting the blade, which in its turn, will complicate cutting tree branches later.

Is There Any Reason to Purchase Garden Shears with a Rotating Handle?

There are pruners with rotating handles. They reduce friction and minimize hand stress during repetitive use. If you have hand pains, such tools are great. Lowes garden shears and other models with rotating handles are also equally convenient for both right-handed and left-handed users.

Can I Use It and Work for Pruning the Smaller Branches of Fruit trees?

Young fruit trees have delicate branches. Sharp pruners must be used for cutting small branches of fruit trees so that not to crush them but make accurate and even cuts. Otherwise, you may damage the tree.

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