In this guide we’ll take a look at the best secateurs for maintaining your garden.
I’ve compared build quality, performance, size and cost
to give you my top recommendations.
What are the Best Secateurs?
In a rush? Here’s my top choice…
Tough and durable secateurs to make pruning easy!
These Felco 2 Original Secateurs are extremely comfortable and easy to use. The hardened steel cutting blade is sharp and cuts easily. The blades are also replaceable, so no need for sharpening. With straight handles, suitable for all grip types, and adjustable resistance, these secateurs are easy on the hands (and your wallet!).
Everything I Recommend
More Detailed Secateurs Reviews
Felco 2 Original Secateurs Review
This pair of Felco 2 secateurs is the original and best-selling pair – but are they the best secateurs?
I’d say they’re definitely up there – the quality is second to none.
Felco 2 secateurs are strong, no nonsense tools that cut with ease.
The top ‘cutting’ blade, bottom ‘anvil’ blade, and adjustable centre bolt are made from hardened steel. The handles are made from forged metal alloy so they are strong but also light.
This particular pair has straight handles. Some people prefer these to ergonomically shaped handles because the latter don’t always suit everyone well. Struggling with ‘ergonomic’ handles that don’t fit your palms and fingers can be a real pain.
The blade has a ‘bypass’ mechanism, which is my favourite for pruning; the blades slice alongside each other rather than crushing down onto the anvil.
Another great factor is that the blades are replaceable so you don’t have to worry about sharpening – a great bonus for people tackling tough plants like bamboo.
These secateurs also have a handy wire-cutting notch and a sap groove that allows sticky sap to freely run away from the blades.
You can even change the cutting pressure by adjusting the centre steel bolt and nut, this can make jobs much easier on your hands!
Overall these are by far some of the best secateurs available. They perform brilliantly and are very comfortable to use.
Felco 12 Secateurs Review
The ‘model 12’ is an upgrade on Felco’s ‘model 6’ – both specifically designed for smaller hands, but the 12s have a rotating handle that makes cutting and pruning a breeze. A really cool breeze at that – it’s such a doddle! You barely have to squeeze and the job is done
The Felco 12s have all the standard Felco gubbins – they are adjustable, ergonomically designed, have sturdy steel blades and lightweight aluminium handles. The classic sap groove, wire cutting notch and safety button are all present and correct.
These secateurs have a smaller head than other Felcos, allowing for greater precision. You can get up close to the tree trunk when pruning standard, or easily cut off foliage for flower displays.
If you fancy splashing out, or want a great present for someone with smaller hands, these are the best secateurs that money can buy.
Felco 6 Secateurs Review
The handles on the Felco 6 are comfortable and light. They are made from forged aluminium with a covering that’s non-slip and spongy. Its ergonomic handles provide hand and wrist protection even if you’re pruning for hours.
The blades are hardened steel, so no worries about clumsily chewing off a prized rose – these will make a clean cut! They are replaceable and you can sharpen them too if you prefer.
The blades are well made and the cutting action is very smooth.
This particular model suits smaller hands; they measure 19.5 cm making them very popular with women and people who have arthritis. That’s not to say men shouldn’t use them – I do and I find them great!
They leave a fresh clean cut that heals up quickly.
There’s a safety log of course, though this does sometimes take two hands to unlock – just something to be aware of so that you don’t get caught out trying to open them in a precarious position!
Felco 8 Secateurs Review
These Felco 8 secateurs are an ergonomic version of the original Felco 2 secateurs reviewed above.
The only real difference is they’ve been ergonomically shaped to the reduce pressure on your hands and make them easier to use.
Again, they have hardened steel blades that cut through stalks as if slicing butter. And the aluminium handles to keep the weight down.
They feature Felco’s classic ‘wire cutting notch’ and ‘sap groove’ – all handy features you didn’t even know you needed until you bought Felco!
They measure 21 cm in length and are a good choice if you don’t like the straight handles of Felco 2, but like the classic style and quality.
Ergonomic secateurs are very popular, especially if you get the size right. They can help make the job much more comfortable.
This is a great buy if you’re in the market for tough ergonomic bypass secateurs. They are also very affordable and therefore make the best secateurs to buy on a budget.
Felco 7 Secateurs Review
Felco 7s have an amazing rotating handle to protect against RSI and hand cramps. I’m currently using these and I think they’re great.
These are large 21 cm bypass secateurs with an ergonomic handle, perfect for tougher garden jobs.
Featuring hardened steel blades that cut through pencil-sized stems with ease, plus lightweight aluminium handles, these secateurs have all the good things you’ve come to expect from Felco.
The wire cutting notch, sap groove and adjustable blades are all present as expected. But there’s one major extra that makes a huge difference – its rotating handle.
It’s really hard to describe exactly what a rotating handle does, but I’ll give it a go…! Basically, when you squeeze the blades together the bottom handle twists meaning your fingers don’t have to.
And because you don’t have to curl your fingers and wrists, all you actually have to do is make a soft fist, and voila! The stem is chopped with no fuss.
If you reduced mobility in your hands, these secateurs can make gardening easier because less force is required. In general they help make pruning a breeze and are endlessly fascinating to use.
They might actually even make hours of pruning fun – yes, you heard that correctly.
You’ll even be offering to prune back the neighbour’s ancient dogwood with these beauties, they’re a treat to garden with!
Felco 4 Secateurs Review
The blades on these Felco 4 secateurs are easily adjustable, made from the expected high-quality hardened steel typical of Felco.
The handles are made from aluminium making them light and easy to use for extended periods.
In fact, they are the second lightest in the Felco range, beaten only by ‘model 6’ which are specifically designed to be lightweight.
They don’t have the rubber cushioning of the other models but they do have a non-slip coating.
They are 21 cm in length, designed for domestic use – landscape gardeners would be better off with a more sturdy version.
Despite being a lighter, toned down pair of secateurs, these model 4s still have the wire cutting notch and sap groove too.
In fact, they aren’t missing much and are a cracking good buy!
Things to Know Before Buying Secateurs
Secateurs are a useful, if not essential, piece of gardening kit.
A tough pair of scissors will prune and cut back some unruly plants, and if you’re just snipping the tips off old lavender then yes, scissors will do the job – but they won’t be much help when it comes to tackling shrubs, and eventually your hands are going to be screaming!
The best secateurs will allow you to quickly and efficiently make clean cuts whilst being comfortable to use.
I’ve gone through plenty of secateurs over the years, but Felco are the only brand that have lasted longer than a season – apart from the pair I lost somewhere, which I’m still expecting to find at some point.
So, with that in mind, let’s see if we can’t help you find the best secateurs to use in your garden – and make sure you only have to purchase them once!
Choosing the right secateurs means you’ll have a much easier time in the garden.
Pruning isn’t everyone’s favourite task, and when it’s painful, awkward or annoying it’s tempting to leave it – but more often than not, that just makes the problem worse.
You can stay in control of your garden with a well chosen pair of secateurs, I really think they are the most important piece of equipment alongside a garden fork (and a cup of tea!).
To help you choose the best secateurs for your needs, consider the following:
- Think about your hand size – are you small, medium or large? What size gardening glove do you wear? Match that up with the right size of secateurs and you’ll have a much easier time managing the blades.
- Are you cutting live plants or dead wood? Bypass are the best sort for live plants. Nearly all of Felco secateurs are bypass.
- How’s your grip? There’s no shame in buying the easiest-to-use pair of secateurs – after an hour of pruning even the most experienced green fingers get sore when using hard, inflexible tools. Look for padding, ergonomic designs and shock proof fittings. An adjustable nut is good too, so you can loosen up tight mechanisms.
- Tough Work? If you have an overgrown garden you need a tough pair of secateurs but if you’re deadheading the roses then a lighter pair is just the job.
Generally speaking secateurs can cut the size of a pencil width – if you’re looking to cut any more than that you’ll need shears or loppers.
Now, here’s what else to look out for…
Ergonomic designs lessen pressure on your fingers, palms and wrists. If you’re pruning and deadheading frequently its worth looking for an ergonomic pair of secateurs.
Make sure they fit your hands well, because fighting against an ‘ill fitting’ ergonomic design is worse than using straight-handled secateurs. If you’re not sure, you might prefer to opt for straight handles.
Some Felco secateurs have a rotating handle – it’s such a great invention and really takes the pressure off the wrists. That said, not everyone likes the feeling. There may be one or two people out there that don’t like the rotating handle.
What’s the difference between ‘anvil’ and ‘bypass’ secateurs?
There are two types of cutting mechanism for secateurs – bypass and anvil.
Bypass blades move past each other. One blade is sharp, whilst the other is blunter and immobile. Bypass blades cut foliage as they merrily slice past like ships in the night.
Bypass secateurs are the best type for living plants because they are more delicate and don’t crush stems.
Anvil blades chop together – cutting like a knife on a chopping board. The bottom blade is flat and the top blade sharp. They tend to be bulkier, with less precision, and less able to fit smaller areas.
They do have their place though – they are best used on dead wood because it doesn’t matter if the cutting mechanism crushes stems.
Tip: Don’t get confused with anvil secateurs and the anvil blade. On both secateurs types the bottom fixed blade is called an anvil blade. A bypass blade will skim past it, whereas an anvil blade will cut onto it.
Look for hardened steel blades as they last longer and aren’t inclined to leave pieces of metal behind in the shrubbery. Weaker secateurs, which end up with a missing piece of blade, will mangle your plants and let infections in. A good clean cut is essential for quick healing.
Check out how closely your bypass blades move past each other. If there’s a gap, your stems are in for a shock. Look for adjustable secateurs that help you manage the gap and prevent chewed stems.
A locking mechanism is important to keep those blades together when they are stored in the shed.
If you’re prone to committing the crime of keeping secateurs in your pocket, please don’t! If you fall and land on them, it’s a trip to A&E for you.
Locking the blades together also protects them in storage.
How to Sharpen and Care For Secateurs
If you’ve invested in some decent secateurs, and I recommend you do, then looking after them is important.
Felco secateurs will last a lifetime with some TLC, so give them some attention. Loved tools produce cleaner cuts which in turn make gardening jobs less effort and reduce cross infections.
- Every time your secateurs are used, wipe the blades and handles down to remove sticky sap before drying them thoroughly.
- After drying them, apply a decent coating of WD40 or lubricating oil to fight off rust on the blades, springs and mechanisms. That’s it – simple stuff – there’s no excuse!
However, if rust has built up, remove it with a stiff brush and get oiling.
Every so often it’s worth sharpening the blades. Even the best secateurs with their hardened steel blades can become dull with use.
How to Sharpen the Blades
You can do this with a small whetstone or sharpening blade so you don’t have to dismantle the secateurs.
You only need to sharpen the moveable blade.
- Clean the secateurs.
- Oil your whetstone.
- Open the blades by letting off the safety catch, or take them apart if you want to
- Go slowly! Chopped fingers is not the aim.
- Place the cutting blade on the whetstone and slide it across.
- Keep your secateurs at the same angle as the current blade edge.
- Turn them over and repeat on the other side.
- Follow the current line 5-6 times.
- Wipe the secateurs down.
Don’t try to file down a brand new cutting edge, simply follow the existing line.
Tip: Mark the line with a felt tip if you’re not sure. When the ink is removed, you have sharpened the blade correctly.
If any chips or breaks don’t polish out, the blades should be replaced.
Plenty of garden centres offer tool servicing. It’s worth having your secateurs properly cared for by a professional. Especially if you don’t want the hassle, or don’t feel confident, taking them apart by yourself.
Strictly speaking there is no difference between secateurs and pruners as they mean the same thing – handheld garden scissors. However, pruners can also refer to long-handled tools that are used to reach trees or across a border to stop you getting scratched.
Long handled pruners are usually able to cut thicker diameters than secateurs can. If you have mobility difficulties a pair of long-handled pruners can be a very useful piece of kit.
The difference between these two types of secateurs comes from their cutting mechanisms. Bypass secateurs work more like a pair of scissors, the blades so not connect with each other. Instead, they cut by sweeping past one another. On the other hand, anvil secateurs have a ‘cutting surface’ – the cutting blade comes down onto the anvil surface to trap and cut the branch.