Best Pruning Shears: Different Snips For Your Pruning Needs

Getting the best pruning shears is a necessity. Your pruning shears are one of your best tools as a gardener. How else do you get rid of excess growth or keep your plants trimmed to an appropriate size?

But choosing the best pruning shears for your task can be a matter of personal preference, or it can be job-specific. Most of us have a few different types available depending on what we’re doing.

Today, I’ll help you break down the various components of a quality pair of pruning shears and decide what, exactly, you’ll need to get your job done. With a quality pair of pruning shears, you’ll have no problem keeping everything properly trimmed!

Listen to this post on the Epic Gardening Podcast

Subscribe to the Epic Gardening Podcast on iTunes

My Picks For The Best Pruning Shears:

How To Choose The Best Pruning Shears

Pruning shears
A pair of pruning shears in use. Source: ali eminov

Choosing the best pruning shears really depends on the type of work you’re going to be doing.

Are you doing delicate and detailed trimming work, or are you trying to break down a dry and woody bush to get rid of it? Is your task a standard pruning job or something more specific?

Let’s go over some of the most common features of pruning shears and what they offer. This should help you to at least determine what type of shears you need for your job.

Blade Styles And Types Of Cuts

Just like a quality pair of loppers, pruning shears have different styles of blades.

For most, bypass pruning shears are the perfect choice. An upper blade slides past the lower blade in a scissor-like motion, creating a clean cut. These are great for most pruning tasks, and are easy to clean and to maintain.

Anvil pruning shears have an upper blade that comes down on top of a flat, anvil-like surface. There’s a notch in the lower anvil side that allows for the blade to cut all the way through the material.

These shears are best used on dry or dead materials to break them into smaller segments. Their cutting style can cause crushing damage to green stems.

Straight blade pruning shears offer a straight, scissor-style blade. While they’re not as popular as bypass or anvil shears, they can be very useful, especially when getting into odd spots.

Finally, there are snip-style pruning shears or pruning snips. These are designed like a pair of narrow, sharp-tipped scissors, and are meant to do delicate pruning work. They’re available in straight or slightly curved blade formats.

If you’re doing delicate trimming, a pair of snips may be your best choice. Just be aware that snips can’t handle anything too thick, and are usually used on green soft materials.

Blade Quality

The majority of pruning shears are constructed of steel, but there are two varieties used.

High-carbon steel blades are extremely tough and can easily cut through a wide variety of materials. These must be kept clean and oiled regularly to prevent rust, but can last for years. These are also quite easy to sharpen as needed.

Stainless or other lower grades of steel are also relatively common, but often, these are coated with a non-stick material.

This nonstick coating can help prevent against sap buildup on the pruning shear blades. However, the lower grades of steel are at risk of developing dings and nicks in the blade surface over time.

Shaping young apple tree
Shaping a young apple tree. Source: London Permaculture

Cutting Mechanism

There are two basic cutting mechanisms for pruning shears: springback or ratcheted.

Springback pruning shears are those which have a heavy spring that will open the jaws of the shears once your hand grip eases.

This is common for both pruning snips and for bypass pruning shears, as those both are used for light to medium-weight pruning duties on softer or green wood.

Ratcheted pruning shears are generally those with an anvil-style blade. A ratchet system just behind the blade’s pivot point helps to provide extra pressure to cut through heavier, denser materials.

This is especially important when trying to break down a lot of deadwood or condensing materials to put them in a compost pile.

Grip Coatings

Many different grip coatings are available, and it’s important to pick the right ones for you.

Soft grips such as the Fiskars “Softouch” series provide a reasonably soft surface which gives under the pressure of your hand.

These are much more comfortable when doing extended trimming than a hard surface, and the slight texturing of the soft grip keeps it from sliding out of your hand.

PVC or rubberized grips are usually created by literally dipping the metal handles of a pair of pruning shears into liquid PVC plastic or rubber/silicone.

They’re usually reasonably comfortable to hold, but if your hand gets sweaty the surface may become slick. Wearing gloves while using this style tends to stop slipperiness.

Rigid grips are those made of metal, occasionally paired with hard plastic, resin, or PVC.

Extremely durable, these are unlikely to break even if you drop them repeatedly. The rigid handle can be uncomfortable with extended use.


Best Pruning Shears
The right handle shape can provide a more ergonomic cutting experience. Source: ali eminov

Handle shapes can be vastly different. Some of the handles angle outward, creating a slight V shape when closed. Others form a straight line when closed, and have a slim profile.

The style you select should be ones which are easy for you to keep a good grip on. It’s really a matter of personal preference, but it’s essential you pick a pair which is comfortable for you.

Ergonomic grips are found on both bypass or anvil-style blades. The lower handle has indentations for your fingers, making them unlikely to slide out of your hand.


Some varieties of pruning shears may have a bumper in place.

This little, raised piece of plastic or rubber is mounted on the inner part of the pruning shear grip. It prevents bypass shears from continuing the arc of their cut well past the lower blade.

Bumpers aren’t on anvil shears because the upper blade is stopped by the anvil itself.

They may or may not be in evidence on your pruning snips. When they’re present, they’ll usually be hidden beneath the spring, or located right next to it.

Safety Locks

Unlike loppers, most pruning shears have a safety lock. This simple mechanism will keep the jaws closed when they’re not in use.

For any of the springback styles, these are essential. Otherwise, your blades remain wide open and are a potential danger in your toolbox.

Look for a safety lock which is rigid and will hold up to multiple openings and closings without breaking. Alternately, get a sheath that will keep your blades closed when your pruning shears aren’t in use.

Caring For Your Pruning Shears

Once you’ve got a quality pair of pruning shears, you need to take care of them. Often, new gardeners don’t think about this, but it’s important for multiple reasons.

It’s important to keep your pruning shears cleaned and sterilized. Many plant diseases are easily transferred from one plant to the next. Cleaning your shears between uses, and disinfecting them while pruning, can reduce the transmission of these plant diseases.

But it also goes a bit further than that. Keeping your pruning shears cleaned and well-oiled can extend their lifespan. Pair that with a good sharpening, and your shears will last for years to come.

What if you’ve already been lax and allowed your pruning shears to get rusty? Consider cleaning them up to see if they can be recovered before you buy a new pair. This video will show you how!

The Best Pruning Shears You Can Buy

Best Pruning Shears – Bypass

Felco F-2 Classic Manual Hand Pruner

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...
  • Rubber cushion and shock absorber

Our video even showed how to de-rust this specific pair of pruning shears… how could I not recommend these?

In all seriousness, the Swiss company Felco makes an amazing pair of pruning shears. The blades are made of high-quality hardened steel. Easily sharpened, they make quick work of whatever you need to cut through.

Lightweight handles are dipped in a slightly-cushiony plastic material which is easy to hang onto. Further, the bumper is cushioned to offer shock absorption and reduce strain when you close the blades. Slightly ergonomic in shaping, the handles provide maximum force with minimal effort.

Made the same way for over 50 years, Felco’s hand pruner is used worldwide by professionals and amateurs alike. They are easy to maintain, can be micro-adjusted to adjust for blade wear over the years, and will last you for a lifetime. These are truly some of the best pruning shears on the market today, and it’s worth the money you’ll spend.

See Prices >

Best Pruning Shears – Anvil

Corona RP 3230 Ratchet Hand Pruner

Corona Hand RP 3230 Ratchet Pruner, 3/4-Inch Cut
  • An ideal tool choice for general-purpose pruning
  • Power multiplying ratchet action for easy cutting
  • Suitable for right and left hand use

I personally own a pair of these Corona anvil pruning shears, and I love them. Let me explain why.

The rigid handle has just enough non-skid material on it to keep a secure grip, but allows me to turn them easily to get into odd-angled places. That can be a major benefit when trying to trim deadwood off of a rose.

Ratcheting action enables me to simply pump the handle a few times to cut through thicker materials. I easily sheared through a thick and woody kale stalk at the end of the season last year to break it down for the compost pile, even when it reached sizes of over an inch.

Blade cleaning is simple with these, although you do need to clear the anvil regularly so the groove doesn’t get built-up materials in it. That’s doubly essential if you’ve cut through something which has rot or other fungal or bacterial disease issues — you don’t want that to spread.

These are not the fanciest model on the market. But they work, and they work extremely well at a low price. I can’t fault these anvil pruning shears in any way.

See Prices >

Best Pruning Shears – Straight Blade

Garden Friends Stainless Steel Straight Pruning Scissors

Garden Friends Stainless Steel Straight Pruning Scissors, Great Multi-Tasking Garden Shears for...
  • LONG REACH. With these shears you will reach stems...
  • STAINLESS STEEL. Stainless-steel design blades...
  • OPEN-CLOSE CLIP. This pruner has sturdy handles...

Do you have a lot of deadheading to do? Planning on contouring the topiary you’ve got in the garden? These straight blade pruning shears are your friend.

Most people tend to prefer a good pair of bypass pruning shears for most tasks. Still, this straight-blade model will be some of the best pruning shears you could use for smoothing and contouring. If you’ve got a hedge you’re trying to even out, you can get a perfectly smooth trim across its surface with these.

A bit more specialized than most of today’s recommendations, you’ll know if you really need this style. But if you discover you do, this is the pair you’ll want to have.

See Prices >

Best Pruning Shears – Straight Blade Snips

Fiskars Softouch Micro-Tip Pruning Snips

Fiskars Softouch Micro-Tip Pruning Snip

I’ve been using Fiskars Softouch Micro-Tip pruning snips for literally years. Not only are these some of the best detail pruners I’ve ever encountered, but they work extremely well as a pair of scissors in their own right. Just be sure to keep your pruning snips separate from any you’d use as scissors!

These are not designed to be used on heavy, hard, or woody material. For green, fresh materials such as flower or leaf stems, these are phenomenal. I use them for harvesting basil, pruning back my massive amounts of catmint, and separating beans from the vine.

These are also great for shearing off wheatgrass cleanly without pulling it out by the root. And if you’re trying to do detail work on your miniaturized plants, these get in tight spaces without crushing damage.

All things considered, I can’t sing the praises of the Fiskars design enough. Given the number of other companies who’re emulating the style, I think everyone else agrees.

See Prices >

Best Pruning Shears – Curved Blade Snips

Hydrofarm HGPP400C Precision Curved Blade Pruner

Hydrofarm HGPP400C Precision Curved Blade Pruner

The curved blade on these pruning snips allows you to effortlessly harvest flowers in quick succession. Get the perfect cut each and every time by simply exerting light pressure on the grip. The pointed tips allow you to get easily between leaves and stems to easily trim out the exact one that you want.

Surgical stainless steel blades are easy to sterilize and to keep clean so that you don’t have to worry about spreading plant diseases. These come with a handy holster, making it a breeze to have them available at a moment’s notice.

Ideal for use with hydroponics grows or in a traditional garden, these snips are the perfect thing for a quick and easy trim, and are a great choice.

See Prices >

Best Pruning Shears – Bonsai

Happy Hydro Titanium Coated 40mm Straight Bonsai Pruning Shears

Happy Hydro Titanium Coated 40mm Straight Trimming Scissors or Bonsai Pruning Shears for Grow Room...
  • DELICATE SNIPS are quick and easy with our 40mm...
  • STAINLESS STEEL trimming scissors are ultra-light,...
  • SHORTER BLADES are excellent for floral...

Traditionalists in the art of bonsai will appreciate something which looks more like an older style of bonsai shears. However, these have an added benefit which stems from a more modern world.

Stainless steel blades provide strength, but the titanium coating over the steel ensures that even sticky stone pine sap can be easily cleaned from their surface. In addition, there’s a soft rubberized padding inside the handle which eases fatigue.

The springless action of these is unlike most other pruning shears which we are featuring today. This is meant to reduce hand strain. And the short blades of the scissors allow you to easily trim delicate leaves or slender branches.

For those who engage in the artform of miniaturization, these are a godsend.

See Prices >

Best Pruning Shears For Small Hands

Felco F-6 Classic Pruner For Smaller Hands

Felco Pruning Shears (F 6) - High Performance Swiss Made One-Hand Garden Pruners - 100052385
  • Ultra durable - the premium pruning clippers are...
  • Ergonomic design - The garden scissors have a...
  • Precise pruning - This bypass pruner offers a...

All the power of the Felco bypass pruning shears, but designed for smaller hands? Sign me up.

As I said above, Felco makes the best pruning shears with bypass blades on the market. How could I not recommend a Felco model for people whose hands are smaller than average?

Solid steel construction, easy to sharpen and to clean, and with a limited lifetime warranty, these are seriously the best pruning shears you could invest your money into. They cost more than you will spend for other makes, but you get what you pay for.

See Prices >

Best Pruning Shears For Professional-Level Work

TGY Professional SK-5 Steel Anvil Pruning Shears

I’ve got friends who work in the winemaking industry, and one thing you learn when maintaining a vineyard is that you need something that will go straight through tough grape vines with ease.

This pair of professional steel anvil pruners has an exceptionally-deep channel in the anvil base. This provides support for the stem on either side as the blade shears through. It does leave a slight mark on the remaining edge of the cut, but a quick smear of horticultural oil over the edge of the vine protects it from further damage.

You can, of course, opt to use bypass shears for pruning, and those leave a slightly cleaner cut. But when you’re going to be cutting hundreds upon hundreds of vines back, you’ll probably want the simplicity of this set of shears. Just remember to clean the channel out regularly to remove any sap buildup.

See Prices >

Let’s face it: nobody wants to get a bad pair of pruning shears. Start out by getting the best pruning shears you can find, and you’ll be happier for it. Plus, you won’t have to replace them season after season. What are your favorites? Let me know down below!

The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:

Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime Gardener

Kevin Espiritu

Did this article help you? Yes No
× How can we improve it?
× Thanks for your feedback!

We're always looking to improve our articles to help you become an even better gardener.

While you're here, why not follow us on Facebook and YouTube? Facebook YouTube

Last update on 2020-04-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API