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.
In this guide we’ll take a look at the best secateurs for maintaining your garden.
What Are The Best Secateurs?
More Detailed Secateurs Reviews
This pair of Felco secatuers is the original and best selling pair – but are they the best?
I’d say they are up there with the best secateurs around because the quality is second to none. Felco 2 secateurs are strong, no nonsense tools that cut with ease.
The cutting top blade, bottom anvil blade, and adjustable centre bolt are made from hardened steel, and the handles are forged metal alloy so they are strong but also light.
Its handles are straight, which some prefer to ergonomically shaped handles because they don’t fit everyone well. Struggling with handles that don’t fit your palms and fingers is a real pain.
The blade mechanism is bypass, which is my favourite for pruning as the blades slice alongside each other rather than the crushing anvil cut. The blades are replaceable too, so you don’t have to worry about sharpening – a great bonus for people tackling bamboo.
There’s a handy wire cutting notch and a sap groove that allows sticky sap to freely run away from the blades.
A real top bonus here is the hardened centre steel bolt and nut set up that means you can adjust the cutting pressure and save your hands.
You need a safety lock on secateurs and of course Felco have them – it’s a bit fierce and needs some persuading but loosens up eventually.
These measure 21.5cms which suits medium to large hands.
Model 12 is an upgrade on model 6 which is specifically designed for smaller hands, but it has a rotating handle that makes cutting and pruning a breeze. A breeze on a tropical island in fact, it’s such a doddle. You barely have to squeeze and the job is done
Felco 12s have all the standard Felco gubbins – they are adjustable, ergonomically designed, have the sturdy steel blades and lightweight aluminium handles. The sap groove, wire cutting notch and safety button are all present and correct.
They have a smaller head that other Felcos which allows for greater precision, such as getting up close to a trunk when you are trimming a standard, or cutting off foliage for flower displays.
If you fancy splashing out, or want a great present for someone with smaller hands who finds it hard to use secateurs, you won’t find better than these.
Handles on the Felco 6 are comfortable and light. They are made from forged aluminium with a covering that’s non-slip and nice and spongy. Ergonomic handles provide hand and wrist protection even if you’re pruning for hours.
The blades are hardened steel, so no worries about chewing off a prized rose. They are replaceable and you can sharpen them too if you prefer. They are well made with a smooth action.
There’s a wire notch so you don’t throw them out of alignment (oh the horror of inferior blades pushing out at right angles when you try to cut a wire holding back the clematis), and a sap groove too to stop them getting overly sticky.
These suit smaller hands as they measure 19.5cms, and are very popular with women and people who have arthritis. That’s not to say men shouldn’t use them because I do. They leave a fresh clean cut that heals up quickly.
There’s a safety notch of course, though this does sometimes take two hands to unlock, which might be a bit tricky if you’re if a precarious position – just something to be aware of.
This is 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 slice through stalks like cheese and aluminium handles to keep the weight down. They feature Felco’s wire cutting notch and sap groove touches – all features you didn’t know you needed until you bought Felco.
They measure 21cms in length and are a good choice if you don’t like the straight handles of Felco 2 but like the pure quality. Ergonomic secateurs are very popular, particularly if you spend a long time pruning and like to feel your hands afterwards.
This is a great buy if you’re in the market for tough ergonomic bypass secateurs.
Felco 7’s have an amazing rotating handle to protect again RSI and hand cramps. I’m currently using these.
These are large 21cms ergonomic bypass secateurs for tougher garden jobs.
Featuring hardened steel blades that cut through pencil sized stems with ease and lightweight aluminium handles these have all the good things you’ve come to expect from Felco.
The wire cutting notch, sap groove and adjustable blades are here but there’s one major extra that is extremely helpful – it has a rotating handle.
It’s really hard to describe a rotating handle! Basically when you squeeze the blades together the bottom handle twists so your fingers don’t have too.
And because you don’t have to curl your fingers and wrists, you’re just making a soft fist and voila – the stem is chopped with no fuss.
If you have any mobility difficulties with your hands these make gardening a breeze. If you don’t have any mobility difficulties still buy them because they are endlessly fascinating to use and make hours of pruning fun – yes, you heard that correctly.
You’ll be offering to prune back the neighbour’s ancient dogwood with these beauties.
The blades are easily adjustable and made from the usual high quality hardened steel with the handles made from aluminium meaning they are light. In fact without the extras they are the second lightest in the range, beaten only by model 6 which is specifically designed to be lightweight.
They don’t have the rubber cushioning of the other models but they have a non-slip coating.
They are 21cms in length and designed for domestic use, so landscape gardeners would be better off with a more study version reviewed above.
And yes, model 4 has the wire cutting notch and the sap groove too. In fact they aren’t missing much and a cracking good buy.They are 21cms in length and designed for domestic use, so landscape gardeners would be better off with a more study version reviewed above.
Secateurs Buying Guide
Secateurs are a useful, if not essential, piece of gardening kit. You might think that a tough pair of scissors will prune and cut back your unruly plants, and if you’re just snipping the tips off old lavender then yes, scissors will do the job – but they won’t tackle shrubs well and eventually your hands are going to ache.
Using a decent pair of secateurs allows you to quickly and efficiently make clean cuts that heal. Mangling through a stem with sub-par secateurs will just damage the plant.
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.
Before we begin, let’s talk cash.
I’ve found gardeners are by nature a bit on the careful side. Good value is top priority and Felco secateurs may be off-putting because they cost more than others, but here’s the difference – they last forever and they are guaranteed for life.
When granny said ‘when you buy cheap you buy twice’ she was probably talking about secateurs.
So, with the thought in mind that buying top quality actually saves you money in the long run, here are my top Felco secateurs recommendations.
They are quite a few models of Felco secateurs but they are numbered so you can easily remember which suits you.
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, and that just makes the problem worse.
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.
Before you choose, think about what you need from a pair of secateurs.
- 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 Felco’s because after an hour of pruning even the most experienced green fingers get sore with 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 – anymore and you’ll need shears or loppers.
So you know why you need them, 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.
Make sure they fit your hands well, because fighting against an ergonomic design is worse than using a straight handles.
The rotating handle is a real boon for Felco – it’s such a great invention and takes the pressure off my wrists. That said, not everyone likes the feeling. There may be one or two people out there that don’t like the rotating handle.
Look for hardened steel blades as they last longer and aren’t inclined to leave pieces of metal behind in the shrubbery. Secateurs with a missing piece of blade mangle your plants and let infections in. A good clean cut is essential for quick healing.
A sap groove, non-stick surfaces and wire notches are great inventions that show Felco know what they are doing. Real gardeners know sap is sticky stuff and wires can wreck your mechanism.
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 away, or if you commit the crime of putting them in a pocket. Don’t do that! If you fall and land on them, it’s a trip to A&E for you.
Locking blades together also protects them in storage or as you lug them around in a smelly old wheel barrow.
Make sure sap is washed off and the blades are oiled before putting secateurs away as the locking mechanism will make sure the sap glues the blades so tightly together you’ll be using white spirit and all kinds to loosen them.
The all important question of cash. Felco is pricier than others but they last a lifetime if you clean and oil them up, plus they are guaranteed for life and have replacement parts.
If you’re spending a tenner on poor quality secateurs each year its better value to buy the top notch ones. So long as you don’t lose them in the compost heap.
What Are Secateurs Used For?
Secateurs are used for cutting jobs, in fact the name comes from the French sécateur which means ‘to cut’.
They are small, compact hand tools to thin, trim and shape your shrubs or cut up old, dead wood. A pair of sturdy garden scissors is a way to describe them. Gardening without secateurs is tricky job indeed, there’s always something that needs trimming back.
What’s The Difference Between Pruners and Secateurs?
Strictly speaking there is no difference between secateurs and pruners as they mean the same thing – handheld garden scissors, but pruners can also refer to long-handled versions which 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.
Just in case you were wondering, the short-handled tools used to cut grass from border edges are called garden shears.
What’s The Difference Between Bypass and Anvil Secateurs?
There are two types of cutting mechanism for secateurs – they are 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 secateurs are a bit different.
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 have their place though -they are best used on dead wood because it doesn’t matter if the cutting mechanism crushes stems.
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.
How Do You 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 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. Then apply a decent coating of WD40 or lubricating oil to fight off rust on the blades, springs and mechanisms. That’s it – simple stuff, so 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 Felco secateurs with their hardened steel blades can become dull with use.
You can do this with a small whetstone or sharpening blade so you don’t have to dismantle the secateurs.
- 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 or wrists 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
- You only need to sharpen the moveable blade
Don’t try to file down a brand new cutting edge, simply follow the existing line. Mark the line with a felt tip if you’re not sure. When the ink is removed you have sharpened the blade correctly.
Felco sell a diamond sharpener which is small and easy to use. It looks like a nail file and gets a razor sharp edge on the blade, but a standard sharpening stone or block works just as well.
If any chips or breaks don’t polish out then the blades should be replaced. Felco secateurs have a lifetime guarantee, so it’s worth holding onto the receipt. They also have a postal sharpening service too, if you don’t fancy it yourself.
Plenty of garden centres offer tool servicing. It’s worth having your investment secateurs properly cared for if you don’t want the hassle or don’t feel confident taking them apart by yourself.
So there we have my reasons why you ought to try Felco, in this case their reputation is deserved they really are the best buy.
I love how they understand one size does not fit all, and how important secateurs are to the gardener. The range is superb – there’s something for everyone.
There’s no point wasting time with inferior secateurs that take forever to prune and hurt your hands, especially when one pair of Felco will last a lifetime.
If Felco are good enough for professional landscapers they’re good enough for all of us.