Everything You Need to Know About Pruning Shears

  1. Tree trimming
  2. Equipment and tools
  3. Pruning shears

Pruning shears are an essential tool for any gardener or landscaper, providing the precision needed to maintain healthy plants and trees. Whether you are a professional arborist or a home gardener, understanding the different types of pruning shears, their uses, and maintenance requirements is crucial for achieving the best results in your gardening endeavors. This guide will cover everything you need to know about pruning shears, from selecting the right type to proper maintenance techniques, ensuring your plants and trees thrive under your care.

Types of Pruning Shears

Pruning shears come in various styles, each designed for specific tasks and plant types. The most common types are bypass, anvil, and ratchet shears.

Bypass Pruning Shears

Bypass pruning shears are the most popular type and are ideal for making clean cuts on live, green wood. They feature two curved blades that pass by each other like scissors, allowing for precise cuts without crushing the plant tissue. These shears are perfect for pruning flowers, shrubs, and young trees. For best results, use bypass shears on branches with a diameter of up to 1 inch.

Anvil Pruning Shears

Anvil pruning shears have a straight blade that cuts against a flat, anvil-like surface. They are suitable for cutting dead or dry wood, as the design can crush live plant tissue. Anvil shears are best used for removing dead branches and trimming woody stems. They can handle thicker branches than bypass shears, making them a versatile addition to your gardening toolkit.

Ratchet Pruning Shears

Ratchet pruning shears are designed to reduce the effort required to cut through tough or thick branches. They feature a ratcheting mechanism that allows you to make the cut in stages, rather than in a single motion. This design is especially beneficial for gardeners with limited hand strength or arthritis. Ratchet shears are suitable for both live and dead wood, providing versatility and ease of use.

Choosing the Right Pruning Shears

When selecting pruning shears, consider the specific needs of your garden and the types of plants you will be working with. Look for shears with ergonomic handles to reduce hand fatigue, and choose a size that fits comfortably in your hand. High-quality materials, such as stainless steel or carbon steel blades, ensure durability and longevity. Some shears come with additional features like non-stick coatings on the blades, which can prevent sap buildup and make cleaning easier.

Maintenance and Care

Proper maintenance of your pruning shears is essential for their longevity and effectiveness. Regular cleaning and sharpening will keep the blades in top condition, ensuring clean cuts and reducing the risk of disease transmission between plants.


After each use, wipe down the blades with a clean cloth to remove any sap or debris. For a more thorough cleaning, use a solution of warm water and mild detergent to wash the blades. Rinse them thoroughly and dry them with a cloth to prevent rusting. Periodically, disinfect the blades with rubbing alcohol or a bleach solution to kill any pathogens that may have been transferred from diseased plants.


Sharp blades are crucial for making clean cuts and reducing plant damage. Use a sharpening stone or a specialized sharpening tool to maintain the edge of the blades. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the correct angle and technique. Regularly check the sharpness of your blades and sharpen them as needed to keep them in optimal condition.


To ensure smooth operation, apply a few drops of oil to the pivot point of the shears. This will prevent rust and keep the blades moving freely. Use a lightweight machine oil or a specialized tool lubricant for best results.

Safety Tips

Using pruning shears safely is important to prevent injuries. Always wear gloves to protect your hands from sharp blades and thorny plants. Use shears only for their intended purpose and avoid cutting materials that are too thick for your specific tool. When not in use, store your shears in a safe place, preferably with a blade cover or in a locked toolbox, to prevent accidental cuts.

Professional Tree Care

For more extensive pruning or tree maintenance, consider hiring a professional service like Matthews Tree Service. Professionals have the expertise and equipment to handle larger trees and more complex pruning tasks safely and effectively. They can assess the health of your trees, provide necessary treatments, and ensure proper pruning techniques are used to promote healthy growth and longevity.


Pruning shears are a vital tool for maintaining the health and aesthetics of your garden. By understanding the different types of shears, selecting the right tool for your needs, and practicing proper maintenance and safety techniques, you can achieve excellent results in your gardening efforts. Whether you're a novice gardener or an experienced landscaper, having the right pruning shears and knowing how to use them effectively will make a significant difference in the care of your plants and trees.