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All About Garden Hand Pruners

To keep your garden healthy and looking it's best you will need to prune your plants. Sometimes this is to remove dead or diseased parts of a plant, and sometimes this is to trim stems and foliage to give a better shape. When cutting stems up to one half inch in diameter I like to use a hand pruner. A hand pruner is a small cutting tool that is about 8 inches long. For anything from one half to two inches in diameter I will use a lopper. For anything bigger than two inches in diameter I will use a saw.

ABOVE: Felco Pruners

With any hand tool I would recommend purchasing a high quality tool that will last you for years. I have had my Felco Number 2 hand pruners for at least fifteen years. When my blade finally wears down to nothing I can get a replacement. Felcos come in a variety of sizes for different hands, and are even made for southpaws. I have also heard good things about Bahco and Corona pruners, although I have never used one. Buy a good quality pruner, a poorly made one is never worth the money no matter how inexpensive.

The most common hand pruner is called a bypass pruner. The word bypass refers to the fact that the two blades on a bypass style cutter slide past (or bypass) each other making a very clean cut. A clean cut is crucial to damaging the stem you are cutting as little as possible which will help to allow for disease free healing. No matter how enticing, never cut anything larger than one half inch with bypass pruners. OK, perhaps a little bigger if the stem is very very very soft. If you get the blades out of their precise alignment you will never get them back as they should be. And never cut anything but plants with your pruner. A dull blade is not good for your plants.

An anvil style pruner has one moving bade that comes down on non moving piece of metal. This is ideal for trimming dead wood. I would never advise trimming a live stem with this, as it simply does not give a clean enough cut, and would invite disease. However, if you do have an anvil pruner it is a nice option to save your bypass pruner from possible danger by cutting very dry and hard stems or small branches.

Finally, floral scissors are a heavy duty scissor designed to cut flowers for bouquets. I would only use floral scissors for that purpose, as they are not designed to cut through heavy stems. Only use these when you are cutting flowers for a bouquet, or perhaps to remove spent bloom.

More about: Tools

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