How To Pick Hand Pruning Shears

I’ve used two brands of hand pruning shears in my professional horticultural work. While I’ll review them below – there are several things you want to think about when buying this tool.

Anvil versus Bypass.

  • A bypass blade works like a pair of scissors – the blades pass each other to do the cutting.
  • Anvil cutting drives the blade against a hard “anvil” surface to pinch off the cutting.

Bypass shears are better.
They’re easier on the hands and stay sharper longer. Don’t even consider anvil types of shears unless you want to make your pruning efforts a pain in the hand.

Replaceable Parts

The better garden tools allow you to buy replacement parts. This isn’t overly important until your blades go really dull and you can’t sharpen them or replace them. If the blade nicks, you have to replace it – or buy a new set of pruning shears.

Hand Health

Good pruning shears cut easily and quickly. High quality steel in the blades means they stay sharper – longer and a sharp blade is very much easier on your hands than a dull blade.

It is difficult to tell people the difference a good tool makes to the way you’ll feel after a half hour of garden cleanup. They have to experience the feel of a good tool and then they’ll never use a poor one again.


Frankly, cheap tools break. Good tools last.
My Felco pruning shears are now over 30 years old and still work quite nicely. They’re not all that much more expensive now than they were back then.


In my opinion, when it comes to pruning shears, there are two choices for hand pruners.

Felco pruning shears.

These are the Rolls-Royce of pruning systems but when you compare the pricing, you’ll see that they’re more than worth a few extra dollars (they last 10 times as long and have replaceable parts)

Used by almost every nursery professional in the world, this cast aluminum hand pruner will last for generations. They are very easy on the hands and are totally replaceable. In 30 years of nursery worik, I’ve never had to fix mine other than replacing blades every now and then. This is a serious tool for any level of gardener.

If you’re going to buy this premium tool, let me suggest you also purchase the holsterThe reason I haven’t lost my Felco’s is that they go into the holster when I’m finished with them and it is attached to my belt. Get it!

Fiskars Hand Pruning Shears

This is the best of the lower cost hand pruning shears and is easily obtained in local garden shops or big box stores (they sell everywhere unlike Felco).

Made of one of those jet-age plastics, these have stood up in my garden trials.
They are easy on the hands although I find them a bit small for my sized hands. I’ve pinched my fingers between the handles on occasion if my fingers revolve around the handle a bit too much. If you had slightly smaller hands, this wouldn’t be a problem.

The parts are easily replaced and this is a well-designed tool for the home gardener.

Anything Else?

I haven’t worked with anything else I’d recommend.

Want to know when I post another practical tip? Click here

I’m More Inclined To Garden

2022 marks a milestone year for me and it brings with it some interesting personal challenges.

I started my first website on October 15, 1997, and this one in August 2005.

I’ve worked on the cutting edge of electronic garden publishing (I sold my first ebook on Amazon on February 3, 2009) for a while now and I won’t bore you with all the online adventures I’ve been involved with.

The important garden how-to information is mostly in my ebooks now – you can find them all here.

I’m in my 70’s and it’s time for another mid-life crisis (I have them regularly – this will be my 12th or 13th or ?).

This Website

Has been morphing more and more into a garden diary and this coming year, I’ll complete this transition. I’ll be posting far more pictures and commentary of my garden (along with images) as I work out there. (not sure about video yet)

I’m still fixing links and images from a poorly moved website adventure and that’s an ongoing process you’ll seldom notice.

Publishing Schedule

I’m supposed to have a publishing schedule according to the experts but nope, haven’t gone there.

I’ll post pictures and commentary of my gardens as the spirit and garden dictates.

Don’t forget (I do regularly) that I’m technically retired according to my much-better half.

So stick around for garden posts, garden reflections, pictures of the stone walls, flowers and dragons (nope, haven’t told you about the dragons yet.)

My Focus

Beside my own garden, I’ll keep writing on my other website at Research on aging, lifestyle questions and stories that spring from my non-garden mind will fill up that site soon enough.


p.s. I have surrendered to the inevitability of Facebook and many of the pictures (but not all) will be posted there as well. And note you have to keep liking them if you want Facebook to keep showing them to you.

The Latest Trend In Gardening

The latest trend in gardening is…

I’m still shaking my head at all the “rather interesting” ways people find to garden and sell stuff online.  Raised gardening, sunken gardening, container gardening…  The list goes on and on ad nauseum.

My garden is simple. 

  • Soil – what passes for soil in our island – some form of clay.
  • Compost or organic matter.  As much as I can add or afford on a yearly basis.
  • Water.  
  • Fish emulsion for plants that require higher nitrogen levels.
  • Mulch of some kind.
  • Hand weeding to keep the worst offenders at bay.

But online there’s somebody selling raised gardens and sunken gardens. Container gardens and beer barrel gardens were the rage last year. X or Y and… (Insert your latest gardening advice or new and improved system here.)

And I’ve seen these fads come and go over the years (damn but that sounds like I’ve entered my old-guy routine again) and there’s always somebody trying to make a buck selling a wonder system that guarantees to revolutionize gardening.

My way is so old-fashioned, so out of date in our computerized world and all it does is generate enough food and flowers for the both of us.  We can’t show it off to our neighbours as the latest or best, we can’t publicize it and make a ton of money, nor does it fit into any form of new and improved garden book.

  • Water.
  • Organic matter.
  • Weeding.
  • Great plants.
  • Appropriate light levels.
  • Love.

It’s the oldest trend in gardening and it still works.

Tired of trends that never seem to work for you? Check out my tried and true advice in my ebooks here.

What To Do With Leaves In The Fall Garden

What To Do With Leaves In The Fall Garden

Here’s how to deal with your leaves in your fall garden this year and not be blinded by what you did last year.

Is it better to rake leaves or chop them up and so end them?
Or is it better to end their stuggles and by so doing…
(with apologies to the bard)

A conversation got started by some friends and they turned to me for the answer. (Never get into this kind of conversation if you can help it.) 🙂

It turns out that the “wife” wanted their leaves raked and the “guy” wanted them chopped/blown.

My answer was that it was his “wife” and not mine.

Chop ‘Em Up Easily

I have said in the past that I’m a great fan of chopping them up with a lawn mower and leaving them on the lawn if there are not too many of them. The worms will get them next spring and use them to enrich the lawn and recycle nutrients back to the trees.

The problem obviously comes if there are too many of them. This then requires raking and removal of this layer.

Otherwise, the grass under the leaves may be smothered.

Why Buy A Noisy Leaf Blower?

If you want to remove leaves from the lawn, I also believe quite seriously in using the lawn mower to blow the leaves into windrows. Not only does this move them easily but it also chops them up nicely so they break down quite quickly in the compost pile.

Having spent a few pleasant hours with a leaf rake has never changed my mind about this but I will say the leaf rake is far neater and leaves far less rubble on the lawn. You’ll get a neater, cleaner “look” to your lawn with a rake than with a mower. So if neatness now is important to you, by all means take those rakes to work.

In my garden? I don’t rake leaves at all. The lawn mower may chop them up but they all stay where they land/lie. Some get blown away by our island winds but any that remain are perfectly welcome to lie there. The’ll be gone by spring anyway (and yes, we have maples, willows, locust and mulberry trees shedding) Too much work for this head gardener. The worms get them by late spring anyway so why should I do all that work?

And if you need a good leaf rake – Fiskars makes some really solid ones.

Do You Remember Being a Kid With A Leaf Pile?

Do you remember being a kid in the fall garden with a leaf pile? Do you remember the response from the adults to your leaf pile? Let me assure you the effect some fifty years later is still the same when I see a huge pile of leaves. I want to jump into it. I want to scatter those leaves around and have leaf fights.

Do you remember the leaf fights? If there were anybody who was slower than I was, they might even have wound up with a few leaves stuffed down the back of their shirts. Or I’d wind up with some down mine. It was amazing how fast on their feet we all became. A leaf pile is indeed a thing of beauty and fun.

If You Do Rake Your Leaves

If you do rake your leaves, put them on the flower garden now (or bag them, keep them dry over the winter and spread them next spring.)

Next spring’s garden will also be a thing of beauty when those composted leaves start doing their thing. You won’t believe the effect they will have on garden soil and the growth of your plants. Use the half-composted leaves as mulch and watch the worms make great soil from it. If the leaves last past the end of July, your worms are lazy or you don’t have enough of them.

I’ve seen a well-establish worm population take three to four inches of leaf compost and make it disappear into the soil by the end of July. If you haven’t been feeding your worms, it may take a year or two to get the population up to the numbers to eat all your leaves but give them a few years and they’ll do wonders for your soil.

Only Non-gardeners Bag Their Leaves In The Fall Garden

But never, ever, bag your leaves up and send them to the landfill. When I see those bags at the end of driveways, I know real gardeners don’t live there. I know they’ll be spending money next year to feed their garden instead of letting the trees do it for them.

What a waste.

The one thing to have a better garden and save money? Use those leaves – leave them lie or compost them but don’t get rid of them.

And Burning?

Should never, ever be done.

And if you’d like to get a note whenever I publish something new, click here

I’m Rediscovering The Joy Of Gardening

Just over a year ago, my amazing better half told me I was now retired. (Note she didn’t ask me – she told me. Which is just one reason I love her.)  🙂


I have struggled with the idea of a writer retiring for the past fifteen months and have come to understand it’s about choice. It’s about me having the ability to decide each morning what I want to do.

To decide on the spot what I want to create or even if I want to create something in the three genres I write in.

I’m Rediscovering The Joy of Gardening

I’m rediscovering the joy of gardening without having to document every step with words, pictures and/or video. I find I like gardening for myself when I don’t have to focus on camera angles to get the best shot or whether the light is right or plant has been chewed a bit too much

Speaking of ” chewed” – you should see the damn rose in our front garden – it was decimated overnight a few nights ago and I think I’m finally going to get rid of this last hybrid rose in the garden.

More Stone Walls

I’m building more stone walls and working hard makes me feel good. It makes me feel as if I’m really creating something of value that may last a few years.  Unlike the vagaries of the Internet and its existence in electrons that can disappear overnight – that stone wall will be there until somebody in the future decides to take it apart. 

My back may disagree with this assessment at the moment but it will come around.

I’m A Storyteller

I like writing. I like telling stories.

But I confess the website gardening side of things has become skewed towards search engines and rankings, content-farms and social media ….  Well, all the things that I don’t find a lot of fun.

And don’t even get me going on Facebook social media crapshoots. Or any number of big corporations like Google who control the Net. That promise of a new world of information and sharing a few short decades ago has been compromised and overwritten by the financial demands of large corporate spreadsheets. 

Even making videos has morphed from a sharing kind of activity to something more resembling Hollywood. I spent time over the last month looking at the instruction side of Youtube and I’m certain I’m not ready for that level of involvement to generate a few dollars for every 1000 views of each video.

All I want to do at the moment is create a productive and creatively attractive garden.  So that’s what I’m doing.

And I’m having a lot of fun with it.

That stone wall and the flowers feed my gardener’s soul more than any writing will ever do. 

Having Said All That

I do want to find a way to pass what I’ve learned forward to help others. 

But at the moment I find I’m a bit burned out from dealing with the Net. I’ve pretty much abandoned social media (the site software automatically posts new notes to Facebook but I don’t go there) and I’m hoping  that spending lots of time outdoors in my garden this summer will refresh the batteries and give me a new outlook on the Net.

But for now I’m retired, building stone walls, gardening, making lists of things I might want to do, places I might want to visit and letting the rest of this crazy world find its own way.

Spending time in my garden is the single best form of creative therapy I know.

I’m taking the time to smell the roses, not just grow them.


Click here to receive notices when I post something new

Front Garden Pictures And Lessons Mid June 2021

Dear Reader

It’s mid-June and the garden is just starting to find its legs for this year as these garden pictures will show. Mayo and I now have both Covid shots and a sense of relaxation for the first time in a year and a half and we sharing the newness and experiments in finding our own pace for this new world we’re all facing.

Here are some of the things we’re celebrating (or not) in our front garden.

It’s not exactly celebrating but you can see the deer-eaten branches of this maple tree in this late spring picture. This and the eaten perennials in the garden convinced me to get the electric fence installed.

The dark line in the wall is the drip irrigation system for the plants. The plants in the picture above are ornamental strawberry plants of Mayo’s that require a light shade spot.

I put this old Yogurt container by the entrance to the garden where the electric fence is quite visible because many folks ask, “Is it on?” In my mind, it’s a silly question – if it’s there it’s on. But… city versus country folk….

For city folk. The electric fence is like getting a static electricity shock after you’ve walked over a wool carpet and then touched somebody. It’s not harmful to the animal or humans in any way but it is unpleasant. Anybody – human or animal – avoids doing it twice. I’ve accidentally backed into more than one of these while working with cattle on the farm and survived to tell the tale of my own carelessness.

Find this information useful? Click here to subscribe for updates when I post new hints and tips.

But this isn’t deer damage.

This is rabbit damage. (There are no deer tracks in the soft ground) A good number of the hosta and even a Hellebore were sampled by this dad-watted-wabbit.

Sigh. If nothing else and looking on the bright side, it allowed me to see the weeds hiding under the “former” leaves.

Most of the time, a mature Hosta such as the above will survive being a gourmet treat. They will not regrow their leaves in the year of snacking but will resprout anew the following year.

As an aside, the native orchid the rabbits got last year survived and it’s enclosed in a prison of rabbit proof wire. It’s not very scenic but until the fencing and rabbit-proof gates are finished, I’m determined to protect the garden treasures.

I wrote about raccoons in the garden and yeah, this is a cute picture and while I admire their cleverness, I’m no garden fan of them. This is the now-moved compost bin. Damn animal easily fit through the wires I thought “might” stop them.

A brand new, shiny pile of gravel for the foundations for the next dry stone walls in the garden. All the trenches were hand-dug and at this writing have now been filled.

23.5 tons of stone that I get to move and stack this year to (hopefully) complete the walls around the front and back of our garden. The weight of these stones ranges from a few pounds right up to several hundred. I use my tractor loader to move everything to the working area but then it’s all me to get them all into position.

Two Thoughts Right Now

Two thoughts: 1) it’s my summer exercise and it’s much more enjoyable than shoving winter weights around and 2) it’s really a creative chance to spend time outside building something that’s going to be there for long after I’m done with this garden.

Transplanting Perennials In Mid-Summer

The above pic is a hellebore covered in Wilt-Pruf that I just sprayed. This is an antidessicant that when it dries, it is clear and it prevents the leaves from losing moisture. It is a critical tool if you’re moving plants out of season or even if you’re doing some propagation by cuttings in less than perfect conditions.

At the same time, it allows sunlight to hit the leaf. I had to move this rather large mature plant because I was about to build a stone wall right through it.

If you have to move a plant – this product is one way to give yourself more than an even chance of success.

How I Move Perennial Flowers In Mid-Summer (Reluctantly)

  • I water the plant very heavily. Let it sit for several hours or overnight to suck up any moisture it needs.
  • I spray it with an antidessicant to stop it losing moisture.
  • Then I dig a hole to receive the plant – slightly larger than I think I’ll need.
  • Then I dig the hellebore and carefully lift the enormous rootball to its new home. Note I make the rootball as large as I can lift.
  • The final step is to soak the new home thoroughly .

The transplant was a success (so far anyway) except for one small bit that broke off and has now been planted for a new plant.

Note: Hellebore are not usually too happy to be moved at the best of times so the antidessicant is a good trick any time you move one.

Last two year’s wall around the front garden. This year I’ll finish the ends to install gates. More pictures coming.

Garden Lessons I’m Learning

The one thing I’d emphasize with this project. Well, actually several things….

  • The garden is the smallest I’ve ever had and I think it’s a size I can maintain as I age. More on aging and gardening later btw.
  • It’s a lot more fun to have a small garden that’s easily maintained than a large one that’s too much work.
  • Mayo and I are truly enjoying the annual petunias in the top of the wall (it was designed as a growing space) and I’d forgotten how fast and easy annuals really are compared to perennial flowers. And the darn things are so shamelessly showy!

Let me suggest you can solve your garden problems with one of my ebooks here.

error: Content is protected !!