Here’s a crucial gardening tool that every homeowner can’t do without. Whether you want to prune some plants in your garden or enjoy your hobby of shaping Bonsai trees, you’ll need the right tool for the right job. Of course, you could always use loppers, pruning saws and hedge shears. However, there tools are often larger and lack the accuracy and delicate touch of secateurs.
Secateurs are small, solid, scisscor/plier-like garden tools used for cutting back and pruning plants both in your garden and house. They are more than well suited for strong yet delicate tasks that would be difficult if not impossible with larger pruning saws and loppers. Experts do however advise that secateurs are built for cutting stems up to the diameter of a big pencil because anything wider could damage both the blades and other moving parts.
With a decent pair of secateurs, you’ll be able to keep bushes, shrubs, and small trees tidy, trim dead wood, promote fruiting and flowering with some of the cleanest cuts a tool can deliver. However, a bad pair will always struggle to make cuts and leaves your stems damaged.
I’ve scoured the markets for some of the best secateurs in the UK just for you. But first, a look at some of the features you might want to consider when buying secateurs.
- Cutting diameter – this is the measurement of the thickest branch your secateurs can cut. Typically, it’s usually for green branches or soft wood, not dry wood.
- Handle fit – Just like scissors, secateurs also come in different sizes to suit smaller and larger hands.
- Ambidextrous design – If you are left handed, then you’ll need ambidextrous secateurs. These feature a handy safety catch centrally positioned so you can easily access it.
- Gear or Ratchet mechanism – These allow for more powerful cutting if you have a weak grip or are pruning hard wood.
When it comes to making the most widely known and globally respected pruning tools, no one can hold a candle to Swiss company Felco. I don’t know what it is; must be the Swiss and their love of sharp objects. The classic, original Felco 2 boasts of aluminium construction that gives users a life-time guarantee.
Felco also featured a sap groove on the unit to overcome sticking and messy pruning; but that’s no excuse to skip the cleaning. I also loved the luminous red handles that allow it to be easily spotted even in a field of green. For the finishing touches, the manufacturer included a soft wire cutter at the bottom of the blades and a safety lock that is within easy reach.
What I like about it:
- Incredibly solid and precise construction
- Luminous, red handles for easy spotting
- Easily replaceable parts
Here’s another widely renowned, big outfit manufacturer of hand and garden tools in the UK. In addition to their massive selection of cutting tools, they take pride in their stand out piece; the Spear & Jackson 6758GS Geared Anvil Secateurs. The first thing you notice about these bad boys is their incredibly lightweight and snug design. This makes them a good option if you have arthritis, carpel tunnel or weak wrists.
At the same time, this snug design combines with the geared mechanism to make these secateurs more suitable for thicker and woodier stems. The blades come with a PTFE coating to give them resistance to rust as well as keep the blades sharp. You’ll also notice the gear which allows users to determine extent at which the blades open to make for less strenuous pruning.
What I like about it:
- Lightweight and snug design
- PTFE coating to prevent rust and stickiness
- Geared mechanism allows for less strenuous operation
The Draper Bypass-Pattern Secateurs mae it to this list because of their high quality relative to price. Sure, you won’t be getting a top tier tool for the price, but it’s functional and more than fit for the job. The secateurs from Draper are traditional units designed to fit comfortably in your hand and give you seamless operation.
You can immediately notice the tool by its attractive redwood handles that stand out in greenery. But that’s not the best part; the handles are spring loaded to make single handed operation a breeze. Comprised of stainless steel, the blades are guaranteed to last longer and maintain their sharpness. The bypass design of the blades means that they cut cleanly through stems and plants with minimal crush.
What I like about it:
- Sleek and attractive redwood handles
- Spring loaded for easy single handed operation
- Bypass pattern allows for cleaner, smoother cut
As a regular gardener, you’ll find that you may need smaller secateurs for smaller plants and branches. So if you’re looking for pocket sized assistance for your light trimming tasks, then look no further than the Fiskars P68 Smart Fit Bypass Pruner. These babies are not only well crafted, they also have unique features to recommend them.
These include a new opening aperture that enables faster snipping of thinner branches as well as thicker branches of up to 24mm in diameter. The p68 also features a locking mechanism that can be accessed with one hand for safety when not in use. With soft grip handles and an ergonomic design, what more could we ask for?
What I like about it:
- Smaller stature for light pruning
- New opening aperture makes work easier
- Convenient locking mechanism
Introducing what are perhaps the best secateurs in the UK, the Gardenite Power Drive Ratchet Anvil Hand Pruning Shears tick a lot of boxes for a lot of people. For starters, they are rachet secateurs which makes them ideal for cutting through thicker and stronger branches. The rachet mechanism works by locking the blade mid-cut so you can reapply pressure and slice a wider diameter. These tools are practically juts one step down from loppers.
This is what allows the Gardenite Power Drive Ratchet Anvil Hand Pruning Shears to multiply your hand power up to 5 times more so you don’t have to do all the work. To handle all the extra burden, the manufacturer incorporated hardened and heat treated carbon steel blades that will last longer, are ultra strong, won’t need frequent sharpening and are less likely to nick users. They are also coated with Teflon that resists sap and other sticky garden debris.
What I like about it:
- Effortless, rachet assisted cutting
- Ergonomic, comfortable design
- Resistant Teflon coated blades
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do secateurs work / how to use secateurs?
Secateurs are like scissors for gardeners. They are strong enough to snip through branches up to half an inch thick, and they are also excellent for cutting non-woody perennial stems. There are two basic types – the bypass shears are like curved bladed scissors, while anvil shears are like using a knife on a chopping board – they have a sharp upper and a flat lower blade.
- You should open your secateurs as wide as they will go to cut things, rather than using them like snipping scissors, as this will allow a better cut and prevent your hands from getting sore.
- Try to make just one cut rather than having to open and close the blades – if you are having to do this then chances are you need to sharpen the blades or find some bigger secateurs.
- You should use the secateurs with the balls of your hands and fingers, not your fingertips – using them this way will lead to soreness.
2. How to clean secateurs?
Secateurs can get gummed up with plant sap which will dry on and make cutting difficult, and can even cause the blades to rust. Making sure you clean off any plant residue after each use is easy – simply fill a bucket with hot water and 1 tablespoon of dish washing liquid.
Soak the blades for a couple of minutes, then scrub them to remove any plant matter. Scour the blades with an abrasive pad to make sure you have got everything off, then rinse them thoroughly. Air dry for 5-10 minutes, then rub the blades with an oily rag to prevent any rusting.
3. How to sharpen secateurs at home?
Start by cleaning the secateurs with soapy water then dry them well. Place the secateurs in a bench vice with the blades wide open, and draw a medium to coarse diamond hand file across the cutting blade.
Follow the angle of the bevel of the blade, to ensure that you sharpen it rather than blunting it further.
After a few minutes of filing like this you should see a sharp edge start to appear on the blade, so turn the shears around and file off any burrs that have appeared. Finally, wipe the blades with a soft cloth dipped in linseed oil to prevent any rust forming.
4. How to sterilise secateurs?
If you have used your secateurs to cut a diseased plant then you will need to sterilise them well to prevent disease spreading.
Dipping the blades into a diluted solution of bleach for about 15 minutes should be enough to kill any germs on the blades – but this can cause rust and corrosion if you do not wash the bleach off well.
Once this is done, you should oil the blades extra carefully to make sure they don’t succumb to rust. If you’d rather avoid bleach you can dip your secateurs in boiling water for 10-15 minutes; just make sure you dry them well and oil them afterwards.