How to buy the best secateurs Choosing and buying secateurs
Secateurs (or hand pruners) are a type of pruner used for tackling stems that are less than 23mm in diameter but too thick for scissors or shears.
Secateurs are the garden hand tool that gets the most use when pruning shrubs, cutting down herbaceous borders, deadheading and even cutting flowers for the house or harvesting some fruiting crops.
When buying secateurs, it is well-worth handling a pair before you buy to check they are comfortable for your hand size. Also make sure that the weight feels right and that you can operate the safety catch easily with one hand.
Most large garden centres will stock a reasonable selection of secateurs; you can also buy online, although you will not be able to try them for size in your hand.
The original Swiss made Felco No2 is the model that is most well-known, but there are lots of different Felco models (expect to pay £30-£50). You may also come across Wolf Garten and Burgon & Ball secateurs in a wide range of sizes and models, both brands cost about £20. Fiskars secateurs, again available in various models, cost £22-£30.
Cheap secateurs that are less than £12 are a growing trend; Yeoman is a brand you might come across in garden centres. Cheap models can perform in the short term, but some of the more expensive models are designed for the blades to be sharpened or replaced. Find out more about Which? Gardening Best Buys and how other models performed.
Types of secateurs
Bypass secateurs have two blades that pass each other, with a cutting action similar to scissor blades. The blades can get into tighter spaces, to cut near a bud or to cut side-shoots back to the main stem. Bypass secateurs are the type you are most likely to come across, but if you have a lot of woody, hard stems to cut then it is worth considering anvil secateurs as a second pair.
Anvil secateurs have one blade sharpened on both sides and a flat metal or plastic block to make the cut against. Anvil secateurs will cut through woody stems with less effort than bypass secateurs, but the cutting block can get in the way of cutting in tight corners.
Some models have a ratchet cutting action, where a cut is made in several small steps. This is a useful feature if you have a weak grip, as each cut takes less effort, but it is slower.
Handle design varies most notably with those models that ‘roll’ across the palm in use. If you normally use gloves when pruning, wear these gloves when trying out secateurs.