From loppers to edgers, your pruning kit explained
Keep your garden well-maintained and healthy with regular cutting and pruning.
Whether it's cutting back dead and diseased plants and trees, preventing bushes and shrubs from encroaching on other plants, or deadheading old flowers to ensure regrowth next year - your garden relies on these maintenance tasks to maintain the balance. You can also create new plants by taking cuttings from more established trees or bushes – either keeping them for another area of your garden or gifting them to green-fingered friends and family.
And to safely do any of these jobs, you need the right gardening hand tools. Let's talk through your options...
Before you begin
What type of plants are you cutting?
Before you start looking for the right tools, think about the tasks that you want to undertake with them. Are you going to be taking cuttings from young plants that have green, easy-to-cut shoots or stems? Do you need to remove branches from established trees or hardier shrubs? Or are you looking for something that will just allow you to shape the edges of your lawn or bushes?
The work you need to do determines which tool is most appropriate, and helps you narrow down the best one for you from our selection.
What height are you cutting at?
The height at which you cut doesn't have to be the height of the plant being cut. We offer tools with long handles to help you comfortably take on tall tasks (such as cutting high tree branches) or ones closer to the ground (such as trimming the edges of your lawn). These long handles are also useful for areas that are trickier for you to reach.
For plants that are more easily accessible, or if you’re looking to prune, trim or shape pot plants, look for hand-held options. Whichever type of tool you require, they’ve been designed with your comfort in mind, as well as features that will help you get the job done safely.
And whether reaching up high or getting down low, it's always worth thinking about what your preferred height will be during your cutting job.
Types of tool
Pruners and secateurs
For thin woody stems and soft shoots
An indispensable gardening companion, pruners and secateurs are ideal for deadheading old flowers, removing dead or diseased twigs and branches, and shaping trees and shrubs. There are two types for you to choose from:
- Bypass secateurs. These have two cutting blades, like scissors, and are better suited to lighter tasks like flower cuttings. They cause minimal damage to the stem, and the thin tip helps to get the blades into tight spots.
- Anvil secateurs. These have one sharp blade that cuts against a blunt anvil, and are best for thicker stems as the action gives you more leverage.
Our pruners and secateurs are:
- Designed with blades made from steel, stainless steel, carbon steel or cast aluminium
- Cushioned in the grip for your comfort
- Durable, yet lightweight for prolonged use
- Available with a geared mechanism to provide extra power when pruning
- Available with spring-action handles for ease of use
For woodier stems or branches
Loppers or long-handled pruners are designed to cut through tougher branches higher up the plant or tree. The long handles mean that you don’t need to stretch too far, and you‘re less likely to need a ladder (depending on the height of what you’re cutting), with telescopic loppers extending your range even further. Like pruners and secateurs, there are both bypass and anvil loppers, and they work in the exact same way.
Our loppers are:
- Designed with steel, stainless steel or carbon steel blades
- Available with adjustable fittings, allowing you to increase the length to reach higher branches
- Available with non-slip, cushioned grips
- Available with a geared mechanism to provide extra power when cutting
For hedges, long grass and flowers
Mainly used for trimming and shaping hedges, hedge shears have many other uses that make them an essential tool for gardeners. They are ideal for cutting long grass, deadheading annuals and trimming herbaceous perennials.
Hedge shears are:
- Designed with blades made from steel. Choose from corrosion resistant steel blades, carbon steel blades and Teflon-coated carbon steel blades
- Designed with non-slip handles and some are ergonomically designed for comfort
- Available with a geared mechanism that helps make cutting easier
- Available with an adjustable blade opening
For larger jobs, invest in a powered hedge trimmer. Head to our buyer's guide to run through the options available.
For woody branches or stems
When a branch or stem is too thick to cut with secateurs or a lopper, a pruning saw is what you need. The blade has large, sharp teeth for cutting coarsely through green wood for cuttings, as well as other garden tasks like opening compost bags, and cutting plant ties and twine.
Pruning saws are:
- Designed with chrome-plated steel or carbon steel blades and teeth
- Designed with a variable-toothed blade - this allows for cutting on the pull and push stroke for faster sawing
- Compact for easy storage – choose foldable for even safer storage
- Designed with a non-slip grip
For thick hardwood branches
For branches that are too big for a pruning saw, the larger bow saw is a more effective cutting tool. More of a versatile home saw than just one for gardening, bow saws are used where heavy pruning work is necessary in less confined areas.
Bow saws are:
- Designed with replaceable blades made from steel or carbon steel
- Available up to 24 inches long with up to four teeth per inch
- Available with anti-rust coated blades
- Designed with soft handles with non-slip grip
For bigger tasks, consider a chainsaw, read our buyer's guide to find out more.
For the thickest branches, logs and small trees
If you’re looking for something that will cut through thick branches, logs or small trees, an axe is the ideal tool. Use it to make kindling and firewood that can be used in fires or outdoor heating.
- Designed with a strong steel blade
- Robust and built to last
For reaching higher branches on taller trees
Used for pruning high, difficult to reach branches without you needing to balance on a ladder, tree pruner blades are operated from the handle and are connected by a length of rope running along the length of the tool – this is what you use to control the blades.
Tree pruners are:
- Available with a non-stick carbon steel saw blade with anti-rust coating
- Available with a telescopic handle
Also referred to as grass shears, our lawn shears can either have long handles and blades that are horizontal to the ground – letting you cut grass which is difficult to mow without having to bend down – or are handheld. Use them around tree stumps or on tricky, undulating areas of lawn.
Lawn shears are:
- Designed with carbon steel blades
- Designed with cushioned, non-slip grips
- Available in either handheld or long-handled options depending on your needs
- Available with a system that prevents blades from jamming
Similar to lawn shears, edging shears have blades at a right angle to the ground. This is the ideal shape for trimming lawn edges, especially against garden borders and pathways, to create a really neat finish.
Edging shears are:
- Designed with carbon steel blades
- Designed with with cushioned, non-slip grips
You might need
Once you’ve chosen which cutting and pruning tools you need for your garden, you’ll need a couple of other items to get the job done.
As with all tasks that require sharp tools, cutting and pruning plants in your garden carries some risk. Wearing gloves will ensure that you keep a good grip on your tools as well as protecting them from anything that could cut them. Choose those with leather as they are thicker and offer more protection.
You should also protect your eyes from any splinters or debris by wearing goggles. And depending on the height of what you’re cutting, as well as how heavy the branches are, you may want to invest in a safety helmet to get protection for your face and head as well as your eyes.
Equipment for clearing up
Once you’ve completed your pruning, you’ll need to get rid of all the debris. A lot of the leaf litter can be put straight into a composter, but bigger branches with woodier stems may need to cut into smaller pieces first. To help cut them down to size for composting, consider a shredder. They can also create mulch to be used on your beds and borders. For more on shredders, check out our buyer's guide.
Wheelbarrows can come in handy for transporting the cuttings for disposal - especially for larger gardens. If you have a smaller space, opt for garden sacks instead. And don’t forget the broom or brush to clear it all up.