How to Choose the Right Garden Shears

Basically, garden shears serve to cut up stems and branches up to about 2 inches (5cm.) in width. If you’re new to gardening, it’s wise to practice cutting smaller branches first before proceeding to the larger ones. It’s important that you keep your pruning shears sharp as the pruning blades for large branches are typically more difficult to sharpen than those for small branches. (You should also be aware that sharp blades allow for more power with your gardening shears.)

For pruning shears with smaller tips, hold the stem upright with your palm facing upward. With a horizontal cut, use your pruning snips to trim the branch upward. When it becomes blunt, insert the tip of the pruning snips into the wound to cut off excess growth. Hold the stem in place and gently pull the pruning snips straight up. Always make sure that the cut you make is clean and even.

For larger-than-groomed branches, such as those that you find in thickets or dense shrubbery, use smaller shears. To do this, you’ll probably need a pair of thinning shears. These blades, often referred to as sabers, have a thin blade on each edge. When inserted into the wound, simply push the blades down into the desired position and make sure they are flush with the edges of the wound.

When you’re done, simply reattach the stems with fresh cut branches by using a pair of matching pairs of shears. Keep in mind that you want the tips of your garden shears to be blunt, so don’t go too sharp. Also, because garden shears have long, tapered blades, they can’t be used to cut soft flesh like gloves.

It’s best to always take these shears with you when you plan to trim hedges, since they’re so much easier to carry around. Some types of garden shears have double blades, and while they won’t do as much cutting in one session, if you find that one blade isn’t enough for the job, simply switch to another. They are also very good at trimming hedges when you’re out in the field, so if you find that you need to get rid of some brush, this is the tool to use. Just be sure to wear protective gear when you do this. If you live in an area where there are poisonous snakes, keep in mind that all garden shears are not created equal.

The best shears to have are those with curved, ergonomic handles that are comfortable to hold. You may also choose from a spade with a shovel or a digging fork, and a pair of these should allow you to do the most digging. A spade with a digging fork is especially helpful for digging up potatoes and other vegetable crops. While these tools are more ergonomic than the handles of a traditional shovel, they can still be hard to hold. If you decide that you just want to buy a pair of garden shears to make digging into the soil easier, then be sure that you purchase ones with rubber handles, as well as rounded handles that won’t cause your hand to become sore after hours of handling these tools.


Ivy Skye Marshall: Ivy, a social justice reporter, covers human rights issues, social movements, and stories of community resilience.