Garden Secateurs: The Best Pruners For Every Budget
Welcome to DIY Gardening’s guide to essential products.
My name is Daniel Woodley, and here I’ll tell you everything you need to know about pruners or secateurs, as they’re usually called.
Secateurs are an essential tool, and gardeners use them for pruning, deadheading, harvesting crops and general tidying up around the garden.
On this page, I’ll look at the different types of secateurs you can choose from. I’ll explain the key points, things to look out for, the specifications and I’ll show you some tips on how to clean and maintain your secateurs, so they last for years.
Daniel Woodley – owner of DIY Gardening
Choose From Bypass, Anvil and Geared/Ratcheted
If you’ve never used secateurs before, you have five options:
- Manual bypass – the most popular.
- Manual anvil – better at cutting old or dry wood.
- Geared bypass – options for cutting strength.
- Ratcheted anvil – cuts in stages.
- Battery-powered secateurs.
Bypass secateurs work in a similar way to scissors, the blade is bevelled on only one side and passes the thick blade at the bottom. This type of secateurs creates a very sharp, precision cut and is perfect for softwood stems, deadheading and general pruning of soft and semi-soft stems. However, they don’t work so well on thicker, harder stems.
Anvil secateurs are different in that a blade that’s bevelled on both sides presses down into the centre of the lower section and doesn’t pass it. This action creates a crushing motion ideal for cutting through old or hard stems but may damage, crush or tear softwood stems.
Anvil and bypass secateurs have different options:
Manual – ideal for those with good hand grip and squeezing strength or those cutting weaker, softwood or thinner hardwood stems.
Ratcheted – usually found on anvil secateurs, these are perfect for those with arthritis or other medical conditions that affect grip strength. Also, ratcheted secateurs allow the user to cut through thicker and firmer stems in stages, each time the grip is released and squeezed again, the blade goes deeper into the stem.
Geared – found on bypass secateurs, these provide the user with several options regarding cutting strength but unlike the ratcheted system, the cut is made with one squeeze. These are the least popular type of secateurs.
Powered – usually battery-powered and suited to those with medical conditions that prevent them from squeezing the handles on normal secateurs.
Budget Choice Manual Bypass Secateurs: Gruntek
I’m currently using a pair of Gruntek secateurs (pictured above) that I purchased from Amazon two years ago.
Even after considerable usage, including trimming hardwood branches off hedges, they’re still going strong.
After two years:
- The handle isn’t showing any signs of wear and tear.
- There are no signs of rust anywhere.
- None of the screws has come loose.
- I haven’t needed to adjust the angle of the blade or replace the blade.
Considering these Gruntek secateurs were at the lower end of the price range, I couldn’t be more impressed and would be comfortable recommending them to anyone who wants a cheap and effective pair of hand pruners.
Cheap – I paid £13 for these – an absolute bargain.
Solid handle – I dislike foam handles as they often fall apart, this one is solid and coated in hardened plastic.
Teflon coated steel blade – The only wear here is from sharpening. Teflon protects the blade and is really tough.
High-quality steel – After two years of use, the blade is showing no signs of bending or warping. The manufacturer claims the product is made from SK5 steel, more about that can be found here.
Some secateurs have a small notch on the blade for cutting garden wire and plastic ties; this doesn’t have one.
It’s right hand only (i.e. the blade and safety catch aren’t centred)
The handle might not be to everyone’s taste, I like hard handles, and this one is solid plastic, with no foam or soft areas.
Best Budget Manual Anvil Secateurs: Wolf-Garten
These non-ratcheting, manual anvil secateurs are perfect for domestic use and are suitable for cutting harder wood up to about 12mm.
Softwood can be cut up to 18mm, and like the Gruntek secateurs, these are well placed in the budget range at under £15.
Use these secateurs for brambles, rose bush stems, small hedge stems other firm stems.
Wolf-Garten, a well-known manufacturer in Germany, offers a 10-year guarantee on this product but realistically, I doubt many would make a claim given the low cost.
Cheap – this is a bargain at less than £15.
For both right and left-hand use.
Non-stick, coated blades for ease of cleaning.
Rust-proof metal construction.
Ideal for small but woody stems.
The handle isn’t ergonomic, which is often the case with universal, left/right-hand tools. This won’t be an issue for light, domestic use, but they could feel uncomfortable after prolonged use. This is a common compromise with budget tools, but these are still great for users with small gardens but if you’re planning on pruning 500 woody plants, go for a premium-range anvil secateurs.
The manufacturer claims this will cut up 19mm but in my opinion, that’s likely to damage the secateurs if the stems are woody.
Best Premium Bypass Secateurs: Felco 6 or 12
If you want quality, look no further than Felco, but it will certainly cost you.
Their cheapest secateurs cost over £50. However, they have many options for you to choose from; specialist left-hand versions, various sizes, standard or ergonomic, rotating handles for comfort, short or long blades, the list goes on.
I know several professional gardeners, and they all use Felco secateurs and loppers for pruning.
Felco model 6 or 12 is our recommendation; both are identical apart from the handle which on #12 is cushioned and rotates to protect the wrist.
Lots of choice.
Spare parts are always available.
Lifetime defects warranty.
Best Premium Anvil Secateurs: Felco 32
Felco model 32 is, in our opinion, the best anvil secateurs you can buy and is perfect for cutting stems and branches up to 25mm thick.
Anvil secateurs are best used on harder stems and old wood, as they usually crush the material being cut, but Felco 32’s blade is near razor sharp at the tip and so solid it can withstand hundreds of cuts before it needs sharpening.
As with all Felco products, individual parts can be replaced and are readily available. There is also a servicing option at extra cost.
Need secateurs to trim off old hardwood up to 25mm? Try Felco 32.
Solid, tough, long-lasting materials and top-tier workmanship.
Lifetime defects warranty.
Wide cutting width.
Easy to maintain and service by DIY or their dedicated service.
The general sturdiness of the secateurs.
Right hand only.
Best Ratchet Secateurs: Gardena
I know Gardena produces good quality garden products. I’ve previously tested their classic cylinder lawnmower and was very impressed with the cut, the mowers weight, its ease of use, and overall build quality.
Gardena also produces very good quality ratcheted secateurs, allowing the user to exert more pressure on the stem by releasing and then reapplying grip.
This type of secateurs is ideal for cutting tougher, thick stems or for use by those with a weaker grip.
This tool comes with ergonomic handle grips, a coated and hardened blade and lightweight aluminium handles.
Choose from anvil or bypass, these secateurs are well priced for the quality, and they come with a 25-year warranty from Gardena.
Made in Germany and Gardena is a well-known brand.
Made from rust-resistant material and the blade is coated for protection.
The ratchet system allows for cutting of stems that wouldn’t be possible with manual secateurs.
Ratchet systems have more moving parts, which are points of failure and wear-and-tear.
The initial setting switch is designed for right-hand users but once set, both right and left-hand users can use the secateurs.
The build quality is good for the price bracket but not on the same level as Felco or other top-tier manufacturers.
Best Powered Secateurs: Bosch
Battery-powered secateurs are ideal for users with very weak grips or other medical conditions as they allow the user to complete the task while only applying a fraction of the pressure.
There are some key points the buyer should look out for:
- The weight of the product as batteries can be heavy.
- How many cuts can be achieved before the battery dies.
- How long it takes to charge the battery.
- The size of the product and whether it fits comfortably in the hand.
- The assistance levels – some do all the cutting while others provide some levels of assistance.
These secateurs by Bosch tick many the right boxes for us but it does have its issues too.
3 levels of power assistance – 75% (slight), 85% (medium), 95% (high).
Up to 450 cuts per battery charge.
USB charger – 3.5 hours charge time.
Only 490 grams.
25mm cutting width, wider than most manual secateurs.
The chunky handles aren’t comfortable.
The overall size of the secateurs – you need a wide hand grip to get a good hold of these.
They are slow to cut, so if you want to prune lots of stems quickly, you may find them too slow as there is a noticeable lag between squeezing the handles and the device applying powered pressure.
How to Make Pruning Easy – Regardless of Quality of Your Secateurs
Whether you have chosen a cheap budget pair of secateurs or have opted for a top of the range Felco product, the best way to make pruning easy and even effortless is to keep the blade as sharp as possible.
I use a Sharpal pocket knife sharpener because:
- It’s ideal for sharpening small blades.
- It’s a compact device, so it doesn’t take up much space.
- It can be used 10,000 times.
- I find it easier to use than whetstones that work better on longer blades such as knives.
I sharpen my secateurs weekly, and all it takes is a few strokes of Sharpal, and the blade is ready for another week’s pruning.
I’ll be writing a review of Sharpal soon, so watch this space.
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