My Favorite Flower Pruning Shears & Why They're Indispensable
Lee Valley Pruning Shears
Small enough to fit in my pocket, my favorite trusty all-weather stainless steel pair of flower pruning shears are a 6" pair from Lee Valley. Although they also now offer an 8" size, that extra 2" makes the larger size a bit more awkward and they seem a tad more pointy whereas the 6" size seems to be a little more blunt so I can just slip them into my pocket so they are always close at hand. Most of the time, I just need a pair of garden scissors or snips to deadhead flowers or small stems. For larger shrub and tree branches, I haul out a pair of Felco pruners and for especially heavy-duty jobs, a pruning saw.
Whether I'm working at the garden center or working in my own garden, I find this is the one tool I can't live without. I was introduced to these handy garden scissors a couple of years ago by my Dad who lives in Canada. He got these handy flower pruning shears from mail order & retailer Lee Valley who produce high quality gardening and woodworking tools.
If you don't have a Lee Valley store close to you, you can order directly as they ship to the U.S. as well. Otherwise, I've found tsimilar tools that are handy for all your flower and shrub pruning needs. Also, if you find flower pruning snips or shears that seem just so cheap to be true, read the customer reviews. Just because it has a German sounding name doesn't mean it's made in Germany. It could be shipped to cheap mass produced factories overseas who don't necessarily invest in the same quality that some of the better known manufacturers have staked their reputation.
The other reason it's good to invest in a quality tool? It saves you muscle fatigue and gets the job done faster and done right. But most of all it keeps you safe. I've heard horror stories of springs coming loose, parts falling off and handles causing unnecessary injury because of unexpected tension that the tool was not able to absorb. So be careful and invest in the right tool for the right job, you deserve the best.
One other word of caution. It can be tempting to use your pruner for everything but don't try to use pruning scissors or snips when you really should use a bypass pruner. Same goes for when you're using a set of pruners, check to see the maximum dimension of branches you should be cutting. Is it 1/4" or 1/2"? Anything bigger, don't force it. Get a pruning saw. There's some nice folding ones that are inexpensive and easily tuck into your garden tote bag for small jobs that don't need a chainsaw or hand saw.
Image Source: leevalley.com
Updated 6/17 & 6/19/2013
Classic Felco 2 Pruners - A Must-Have Pruner For Your Garden Bag
I used to tell people when I was a buyer at a local garden center. Get these, they are so totally worth it. It's the only pair of garden pruners you'll buy for the rest of your life.
Just ask any hard core gardener and they'll tell you so. Depending on where you get 'em, they'll be anywhere from $50-$75. But if you buy a cheap pair of pruners, you'll only end up having to replace it every few years. You'll also find your hand might get sore with a cheap pair. This is a well designed pruner that helps get the job done. Trust me. This is one of the best investments you'll make when it comes to buying a good quality garden tool.
My Lee Valley Pruning Shears are always in my pocket. But when I have larger stems to cut, I dig into my gardening bag for my set of Felco pruners. Felco #2s are the pruning shear of choice for most professional gardeners and landscapers. They're a little bit pricey but so worth the expense. Put them on your birthday or Christmas wish list as they are pruners that will last a lifetime. If you buy a pair, get the convenient belt holster as well.
Here's a Helpful Video on Finding the Right Fit
Garden Scissors, Kitchen Snips or Bonsai Scissors - An Alternative to Flower Pruning Shears
Before my Lee Valley Pruning Shears, I faithfully carried around garden scissors which are easy to use because the motion is the same as regular scissors. What I like about these type of shears are the wide handles which minimize your hands getting blistered like they would rubbing against regular scissor handles.
Since I was prone to frequently losing my garden scissors, I'd often buy several inexpensive pairs at Asian grocery stores. However, test them out before you buy them because I found with cheap pairs, the plastic handles will not be sturdy enough to bear the weight to cut anything substantial.
These Joyce Chen scissors also come in white and red. I found that the price has dropped to less than twenty bucks when I checked today. I love the red color because they're easy to find when you set them down in the garden There's over 90 reviews on Amazon.com and the majority of them have rated this product five stars. Read the reviews . here
If you can trust yourself not to lose them, pick up a pair of these good quality garden scissors from Joyce Chen which are wonderful when snipping herbs and to get in tight places to clip perennials. They come in eye catching colors: white, red, yellow and blue so they can easily be found if you drop them or like me accidentally leave them in the garden.
The only reason my Lee Valley Pruning Shears have replaced these type of garden scissors in my gardening bag is that these snips tend to have sharp blade points so they unfortunately nick holes in the pockets of my shorts and are kind of dangerous when bending or kneeling in my shorts. In comparison, the Lee Valley Pruning Shears have rounded blunted scissor blades which are important if you haul your garden scissors or pruners in your pocket. But try both to see if you prefer the cutting momentum of garden scissors vs. the mini pruning shears.
Best Flower Snips - Top 5 Picks
My tool bag always have three items to basically prune three different things. I use my flower snips when I'm working on non-woody perennials and annuals, thin stems. I get out my Felco 2 pruners when the stems are thicker. For anything over 1/2"-1", I get out my folding pruning saw. As soon as I feel I have to apply a lot of pressure to get a stem to cut, I then get out the pruning saw. It's not worth getting a blister on the palm of your hand. Plus it could end up damaging your pruners to force it to cut something too big.
I used to swear by scissor type snips but now that I've gotten used to the design of these flower snips, I actually find them easier to use, they fit easily in to my pocket and require less work on my part when making cuts to flower and slightly thicker perennial stems which means less potential for arthritic-like muscle soreness in my fingers. Occasionally, I'll bring out the scissor kind when I'm cutting flowers for a bouquet that only require cutting thin stems.
The most important thing about buying a good set of flower shears is to test the spring action to see how easily your hand gets fatigued. If after gripping it multiple times, your fingers or palm feel sore, it might not be the right tool for you. So compared the two kinds and see what works best for you.
I didn't know Felco make a pair of snips and of all these mini palm sized pruners, this seems like it has the bluntest tip. You know you can always count on Felco for a high quality tool. If you're still unsure, you can always purchase multiple pruners and feel them in your hand before returning the ones that just don't feel right.
Japanese Ikebana Scissors - If Your Prefer Traditional Japanese Gardening Tools
These type of scissors come in different iterations where the blades come in different lengths but their signature feel is the large looped handles. This type of pointy scissor is excellent for precision cuts and getting specific pruning done in tight places.
When I first started gardening, I was quite old school about the whole thing. These are the kind of gardening scissors my Grandma used to use so I thought they were the definitive way to do fine pruning. I have a pair, but I find they tend to get a bit rusty because I'm a bit lazy when it comes to properly cleaning my gardening tools.
It must sound like I'm hyping my favorite pair of flower pruning shears but I don't get paid a commission to recommend Lee Valley's 6" Pruning Shears, it's just that I love them so much.
I'm always on the look out for tools and gadgets which make gardening easier. What do you recommend? Feel free to include links to lenses about your favorite gardening tools and gadgets.