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.

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The Sacred Ceremony Of Laying Out The Garden Hoses

I have (and need) a lot of garden hoses. So first thing in the spring, I pull the hoses out from underneath the porch and lay them out in the backyard to begin the sorting.

The big black ones are the main hoses to take water the first 150 feet or so on their journey. They’re 1-inch hoses I kept when I shut down the nursery. When I join them, they carry water out to the numerous trees on our property. (Our soil is very shallow so during droughts of the last few years, getting water to wilting trees was a high priority for us.)

The other garden hoses were to take water to various sprinkler systems in the gardens.

Note this was all controlled by a series of hose Y-shut-off valves (plastic ones normally used for laundry hoses) at the outdoor tap and along the different hoses

But I’ve Begun A Massive Change In Irrigation Systems

I’m moving away from garden hoses to drip irrigation for two reasons. The first is the garden design is now set and mostly constructed so setting up a semi-permanent irrigation system makes sense.

I also know that drip irrigation gets the water to the plants with a minimum of fuss and water loss through evaporation. (Yeah, we live on Lake Ontario and there isn’t a shortage of water to our shore-well but still, there’s a certain satisfaction in doing things in an environmentally sound way.)

Also, the stone walls I’m building have been designed to hold plants and this means I need to get water to them directly. The easiest way to do this is to run a drip irrigation system right on top of the wall.

Lastly, it’s really easy to pick up these hoses, drain them as I coil them to store for the winter and lug them to our garden shed. Compare this to inflexible plastic pipe with lots of fittings and valves, and coiling them up …. (frankly, it just never went well.)

drip garden hoses
Soaker hoses on top of the front wall

I’m using Gilmour flat soaker hoses for this project for several reasons. The first is because I bought one a few years ago to water one section of the wall just after I built it and it’s lasted nicely for several years now. I’d discovered the overhead sprinklers just didn’t get enough water to the wall without turning the rest of the garden into a swamp.

The second is they’re readily available through big box stores (or online). (Note Gilmour did not pay for this endorsement or provide me with any product. Their hoses simply work really well for me.) And they’ve lasted really well without degrading or ripping.

I Need A Lot Of Garden Hoses

And given I have several hundred petunias in the growing area in our basement (mid-April) I’m going to need a lot of water to keep them growing in this wall. An extra three-hundred feet of drip hoses will be a good start this summer.

These hoses come with regular hose end fittings so they can be joined together which makes things really easy to set up.

The only difficulty I had last year was making them turn 90-degrees on the wall without kinking. I had to use cut up clothes hanger wire to pin them into a gradual turn to prevent kinking. This year I intend to experiment with cutting them and using elbow joints and clamps to get them to turn and hold their shape. I’ll have to get back to you about this.

Check out the other garden solutions on my Amazon ebook list here.

Bottom Line On Garden Hoses

The regular hoses will still keep our trees healthy and growing so I’ll have to continue the tradition of laying out the hoses for many more years to come (at least I hope I have many more years.) 🙂

But drip irrigation is now my preferred choice for in-garden watering.

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