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Secateur reviews

How to buy the best secateurs

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How to buy the best secateurs

Using a decent pair of secateurs allows you to cleanly cut through woody stems when pruning, but a bad pair struggles to make a cut and leaves damaged stems.

Secateurs are the perfect hand tool for pruning and cutting back plants in your garden. They are well suited to delicate work that would be difficult with loppers or a pruning saw. Use them for stems up to the diameter of a pencil as cutting anything wider could damage their blades.

Keep reading to find out whether you should choose anvil or bypass secateurs, how to get a comfortable pair of secateurs, and how to take care of them.

If you already know what you're looking for, go straight to our Best Buy secateurs.

Bypass or anvil secateurs?

For precision pruning and general use, bypass secateurs are the best choice

  • Bypass secateurs have a blade sharpened on just one side, which cuts past a curved metal surface, similar to a pair of scissors. Check out our Best Buy Secateurs to find a pair for your garden.
  • They are great if you have a lot of precision pruning to do, as the design of the blades makes it easy to get into small gaps and to prune side stems flush with main stems.
  • If you keep the blades sharp, they will give a very clean cut through softer stems as well.
  • Don't use your bypass secateurs to cut through stems thicker than the recommended cutting diameter - this can easily damage them. If you have some thicker branches to chop through, it's better to use loppers or a pruning saw.

Choose anvil secateurs if you cut lots of hard, woody stems:

  • Anvil secateurs cut like a knife on a chopping board. The blade is sharpened on both sides, and when the secateurs are closed, the blade meets a flat metal or plastic block. 
  • Anvil secateurs cut through woody stems quickly, with less effort than bypass secateurs. But they crush as well as cut, so will not leave such a clean cut - particularly on softer stems.
  • The design of anvil secateurs means that their lower flat blocks can get in the way in tight corners. It also makes it very difficult to cut side stems flush with main stems.

What about rachet and geared secateurs?

  • Ratchet secateurs most often have an anvil blade. As the cut is made in a number of stages, less force is used overall to make the cut, but this can take some getting used to.  
  • Power lever or geared secateurs are easier to use, although they don't have quite the same power to get through woody twigs.
  • Unless you have a lot of woody twigs to cut through, stick to normal secateurs.

How do I get secateurs that are the right fit?

When choosing secateurs, it's important to make sure that they not only perform well, but also suit your hand shape and size. It's worth asking the retailer to open the packaging for you to try before you buy.

Many of the secateurs that we've tested come in two or three sizes, but just because you have small hands, don't assume you need the smallest pair of secateurs. 

Some secateurs have rolling lower handles. These are designed to prevent strain on your hand or wrist when you have a lot of pruning to do or use secateurs very regularly.

If you're left-handed, look for secateurs with a central safety catch - small metal safety catches on the left-hand side of the secateurs will be a pain to reach.

Looking after your secateurs

The most common reasons for needing to replace a pair of secateurs are that they've been lost in the garden, and that the spring between the blades has popped out and is lost.