Gardening is made much easier when you’re working with quality tools that are right for the job. Attempt to prune with a blunt pair of secateurs and you’ll be working for longer and those delicate stems will end up frayed and stressed.

A good pair of hand pruners can last for years, helping your garden thrive. Use them to trim your shrubs back, tidy dead wood or cut flowers and produce. Make a clean, sharp snip and you’ll promote new growth and clean up your garden without causing lasting damage to your plants.

With so many models of secateurs out on the market ranging from a few dollars to hundreds, how do you choose the right ones and get the most out of them? Here’s a handy guide on how to choose the right secateurs for your gardening needs and extend their lifespan.

Picking the right secateurs for the job

When choosing a pair of secateurs, you want to make sure they’re the right weight and size so that they’re comfortable to hold. You also want to ensure they’re up for the task at hand by finding the right type for your needs.

There are two main types of secateurs:

Bypass: these are the most common and work in a similar fashion to scissors with a top blade passing a bottom blade. They’re a good tool for cutting branches and green, living stems. Bypass secateurs are also suitable for cutting delicate stems and hard to reach spots. They are typically available in right and left-handed models.

Anvil: these have a flat blade that cuts down like a knife and are more suited to dead wood and thicker stems. Avoid using anvil secateurs on new growth as they’re likely to squish the stem rather than cut it.  Arthritis sufferers and those with weak hands may find anvil secateurs easier to use thanks to their geared form.

General tips when choosing secateurs:

  • Make sure the secateurs have a safety hatch
  • Choose a pair with plastic covered handles instead of exposed metal for additional comfort
  • Ensure your hand fits the grip correctly

Cleaning your secateurs

Cleaning your secateurs regularly is one of the best ways to make them last.

After you’ve finished pruning, remove any debris from your secateurs and wipe them down with warm, soapy water. Lightly rub the blades with an oily cloth to remove any sticky sap and prevent rusting.

Some gardeners also recommend spraying the blades with methylated spirits and water to sterilise them.  This will help remove any possible diseases picked up from the damaged plant and avoid spreading it to healthy plants.

Sharpening your secateurs

If you work with blunt secateurs, you’re likely to tear the plants causing stress and inhibiting new growth. The rough cuts will also make the plants more vulnerable to disease.

When your cuts aren’t as clean and your blade appears blunt, sharpen the tool with a stone.  If your blades are bent, take your secateurs apart to replace it as per the manufacturer’s instructions. While they’re dismantled, give them a thorough clean with soapy water before oiling the blades and moving parts. Put your secateurs back together again and you’re good to go.

Tip: to keep your secateurs sharper for longer,  use the tool only to cut smaller stems. Avoid cutting any stems thicker than your thumb if you want to retain their sharpness long term.

If they’re maintained well, kept clean and the blade’s shape, a quality pair of secateurs will last you a lifetime.

Image source: Felco pruners No.4