The Best Garden Shears
ARS-KR-1000 Ultra Light Professional Multi-Purpose Shears
Spear & Jackson Razorsharp Active Soft-Grip Hand Shears
Wilkinson Sword Telescopic Garden Shears
Bosch Isio Cordless Shrub and Grass Shear Set
Spear & Jackson Razorsharp Steel Lawn Shears
Garden Shears Reviews
- Can cut through stalks of up to 10 mm
- Easy to use for prolonged periods of time as they are lightweight at under 900 g
- The long 47.3 cm handle gives good leverage and allows comfortable angles to be found when cutting different hedges
- Sharp enough to be used to cut back bigger hedges without taking too long
- The pivot screws occasionally need re-tightening in the middle of a job
- They require regular maintenance including oiling and cleaning
- Extremely sharp so a lot of care needs to be taken when using and cleaning them
There are times when garden shears can be easier to use than electric or even petrol strimmers, and the lightweight nature of the ARS-KR-1000 Ultra Light Professional Multi-Purpose Shears makes them a great tool to have around for a variety of jobs – even cutting back larger hedges.
Whereas power tools often weigh several kilograms, these hedge shears are very light at under 900 g, making them a lot easier to use for an extended period of time. They’re also extremely sharp (so much so that you need to be really careful when cleaning them), so cutting branches manually can be done very efficiently.
These shears can cut up to a diameter of 10 mm with their 18 cm blades, meaning that the majority of hedges, be they horn beam, laurel or conifer, can be approached without needing any other tools. Of course, the job that will take a little while longer than if you were using a power hedge trimmer, but seeing as you’ll have to take less breaks, it’s likely the timing will even out.
They’re a good all-round tool, efficiently cutting bigger hedges as mentioned, whilst being sharp and precise enough to be used for some types of topiary as well. The long 47.3 cm handles make it possible to access different angles, whilst being comfortable to hold in different cutting positions.
The main thing to watch out for, which can’t really be put down as a fault of the shears, is their sharpness. The blades are made from chrome-plated high carbon steel, which doesn’t wear down easily. When cleaning, the blades are sharp enough to easily slice through cleaning cloths, so wearing gloves is essential (as is having your guard about you at all times).
Fortunately, they do come with a blade guard for storage which makes them a little safer to have around.
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- Relatively long reach offered by the 23 cm blade - can reach into dense bushes and shrubbery
- Comfortable and ergonomic handle grip makes them quite suitable for gardeners who struggle with hand discomfort
- The notch on the blade helps with trapping and cutting larger branches
- Slightly heavier than others on the market at 1.1 kg which may cause fatigue faster than using lighter shears
- The handles may be a little short for some jobs at 30.5 cm
If you’re trying to tackle a variety of different hedges, shrubs and plants in your garden, the Spear & Jackson Razorsharp Active Soft-Grip Hand Shears cope well with both softer and slightly thicker materials.
Whilst they are still garden hedge shears, and not intended as secateurs, they do have a branch ‘notch’ feature at the top of the blade which means they can clamp down on some bigger stalks without slipping. Therefore, if you occasionally come across some tougher branches when trimming the hedges, you’ll be able to crack on with getting rid of them uninterrupted.
When I say ‘branches’, we’re still not talking about anything huge, but they can tackle the odd woody shrub!
This cutting power comes from the chrome-plated carbon steel blades which are 23 cm long, aided by the leverage of 30.5 cm handles. This length overall offers a reasonably long reach, although overall they’re about 9 cm shorter than the ARS-KR-1000 shears that are also featured on this page.
In terms of weight, at 1.11 kg, these hedge shears are neither the lightest nor the heaviest – this sort of weight is reasonable to manage for a fair amount of time, but it’s true that some gardeners might prefer something lighter.
One thing that does help in terms of comfort is the non-slip grips on the handles. These pad-out the tubular steel, making these garden hedge shears easier to hold and control, no matter what length you are holding them at. Plus, they have the Spear & Jackson logo cut into them, so, as shears go, they also look quite attractive too.
Overall, these hedge shears offer the quality you would expect from such a well-established company; they’re sharp and strong, with a blade that won’t dull quickly, and offer reasonable value for money.
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- Ultra-sharp blades can cut through thicker branches when required
- Make it easier to trim tall hedges as the handles extend to 56 cm
- The telescopic handles are also suitable for those with limited mobility as they offer a lot more reach
- Weigh 1.24 kg so may become tiring to use during longer jobs
- They may occasionally be a little stiff to extend to their telescopic position
- The plastic nut on the tensioner is a little flimsy and needs to be handled with care - if it breaks off, the cutting tension becomes compromised
- Due to the longer handles, it may be difficult to shear shrubs at chest height
I imagine many of us will have experienced the difficulty of trying to trim a hedge that has some branches lying frustratingly just out of reach. If this happens a lot in your garden, these Wilkinson Sword Telescopic Garden Shears will certainly come in handy. Thanks to their telescopic handle, these hedge shears offer a lot of flexibility in their length, making it easier to reach awkward spots when hedge trimming.
Instead of getting the ladder out, these garden hedge shears can be extended from 68 cm to 87.5 cm, giving an extra 19.5 cm of reach to an already reasonably-long pair of shears. Even in their non-extended state, these are the longest hedge shears featured on this page, making them the best garden shears for tackling taller, more difficult-to-reach hedges.
Of course, performance needs to be taken into account as well, as there’s no point having long shears if they are going to cut well, but fortunately these get pretty glowing reviews.
The sharp blades measure 23 cm and are a wavy shape. Wavy blades help with gripping branches which is especially useful when using shears from a distance. The wavy blades are covered with a non-stick coating to stop sappy branches and cuttings clogging them up. They’re very sharp, and the shears overall are sturdy and versatile – they can be adjusted to several different lengths in order to facilitate jobs at different ranges.
Due to the fact they’re reasonably long, regardless of whether they’re extended or not, these hedge shears are better for bigger jobs than smaller ones. For more close-range topiary they’re likely to be a little large and unwieldy.
Weighing 1.24 kg they also might be a little heavy for some gardeners, and this is not particularly helped by the way the weight is distributed across these telescopic shears. This is pretty common with telescopic tools, but the uneven distribution can often mean that they’re a little uncomfortable to use for extended periods.
Apart from that, these hedge shears have soft grips on the lightweight aluminium handles so will be pleasant enough comfort-wise on the hands themselves, it may just be a case of taking regular breaks or only using them to cut the awkward branches and not the whole hedge.
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- Lightweight at 550 g meaning they're easy to control
- Reliable 50 minute battery life
- Suitable for edging, shearing and reshaping shrubs
- A grass edger attachment also comes included, so you can two tools in one
- The two heads are easy to attach, detach and clean
- Can take up to four hours for the first initial charge
- The charging port is located at the bottom end of the handle and may be a little awkward to reach
- You will need a more powerful tool for thicker branches and bigger hedges
- Blade length is just 120 mm so using it to cut anything other than small shrubs will take a long time
Whilst these aren’t strictly ‘shears’ in the traditional sense, this Bosch Isio Cordless Shrub and Grass Shear Set features an edging shear and a shrub shear that are battery powered and take the manual work out of hedge cutting.
For this reason, they’re a particularly good choice for anyone that struggles to use manual shears, although there are several other ways that they can come in handy.
It works as you would expect; allowing you to approach much of the soft growth of hedges and ivy as if you were wielding a pair of large hair clippers. They shear through leaves and the lighter stalks of smaller shrubs, giving you approximately 50 minutes of run time from one charge.
As you may have gathered, they’re not going to be the right tool for approaching a large hedge or thick growth, but they’re some of the best garden shears available for quickly doing a bit of topiary/shrub neatening.
The two attachments that come included are an 8 cm grass-shearing blade and a 12 cm shrub-shearing blade. You can use the grass blade for edging the lawn, and it’s easy to ‘click’ out one blade to exchange it for the other – it’s therefore nice to get a bit of extra value from one machine, given that it has two functions.
When the battery starts to run low, the LED lights will indicate how much battery is left and when to plug it in.
Overall, this is a good tool for gardens who have several smaller shrubs/bushes as it really helps quickly neaten them up and keep them in shape. If you have larger hedges as well, you’ll want an additional bigger set of shears to tackle them.
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- The 90 cm handle is long enough to mean that most gardeners don't have to bend whilst using the shears
- Blades are sharp and cut easily even when the grass is wet
- Strong and robust construction, capable of carrying out heavy duty tasks
- Suitable for both left and right handed users
- You may find that you have to adjust your grip in order to hold them so they close fully
- They weigh 1.55 kg and need to be held elevated, so may get tiring to use after an extended period of time
If you like to use shears to trim the grass in your garden, the Spear & Jackson Razorsharp Steel Lawn Shears are a good option for keeping the lawn looking tidy without having to do a lot of bending down.
These shears have 90 cm long handles that connect to angled carbon-steel blades measuring 23 cm. Therefore, if you have a couple of ‘features’ in your garden, perhaps a bird bath or a fountain which you can’t get close to with the mower, these shears will help get all the grass to the same level.
The main benefit that these shears offer is a comfortable working height, making it possible for most gardeners to trim the lawn without having to bend over. They cut horizontally across the grass to catch anything that couldn’t be reached by larger machines in the garden.
Grippy ends on the handles also improve comfort, stopping hands slipping when cutting the grass. However, you do need to work out the best hand-hold to use, as sometimes when you bring your hands together to cut the grass they knock together. This can interfere with how easy it is to completely close these shears.
Their overall weight is 1.5 kg which might also need to be a consideration for some people – whilst they work well thanks to being incredibly sharp, the downside of their design is that you have to hold them elevated the whole time you’re cutting.
This could get pretty wearing after a while, depending on physical capability. Whilst they’re worth using for small jobs, if you have a lot of grass to cut you might need a lighter pair of shears to work comfortably.
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How to Choose The Best Garden Shears
Different Styles of Garden Shears
There are several different types of shears out there, and they don’t all work in the same way, nor are they designed for the same tasks. Here are a few of the main types of shears and their different uses:
Garden Hedge Shears
Garden hedge shears come in both manual and electric varieties.
- Manual hedge shears can be used for snipping leaves and small branches. Some manual hedge shears have notches on the blades which can be used for trimming larger branches as well.
- Electric hedge shears are used mostly for trimming and shaping hedges. They’re usually pretty small units (anything bigger would be a hedge trimmer) and therefore should not be used for cutting through thick branches. They’re useful for continuous maintenance, offering a quick solution to keeping those hedges looking good all year long.
Telescopic Hedge Shears
- Telescopic shears are particularly useful for trimming high hedges.
- They make it a lot quicker to complete jobs that might otherwise require a stepladder.
- Using telescopic shears can be safer than using a ladder, particularly if there is no-one around to support the ladder.
- One downside to telescopic hedge shears is they can feel a little unwieldy – you’ll generally need good upper body strength to control them properly.
READ NEXT: The Best Telescopic Pole Hedge Trimmer
- Pruning shears are larger than traditional hedge shears, with longer blades and thicker handles.
- Pruning shears allow you to manually snip off leaves and twigs, but also tackle thicker branches.
- They can be used on hedges, shrubs around the base of a home or deck, and even on smaller trees.
While these look a bit like pruning shears, they’re for grass instead of branches.
- Lawn shears are designed for handling unruly grass in areas where even the best lawn mowers can’t go, and where you don’t want to use a strimmer.
- The blades are usually thinner and shorter than pruning shears. The handles are much longer and angled in orientation to the cutting head.
- They can be used for trimming lawn, ornamental grasses and other plants.
- The heads can be orientated differently depending on whether they are intended for grass cutting or edging. Shears for grass cutting will have a ‘scissor’ head that is positioned parallel to the ground. Shears for edging will have a head that cuts more like a standard pair of scissors.
You’ll find a couple of combination units out there that work as both hedge and lawn shears.
- These are often electric models that come with detachable heads to suit the task at hand.
- They may come with a head that can trim your shrubs and hedges, and another that can edge lawn grass.
- They are useful to use on grass where a garden strimmer might cause damage and a lawn mower is too large to fit.
Choosing the Right Style of Garden Shears
You should choose your garden shears based on what you’ll be cutting. It’s not uncommon for gardeners to have several pairs for doing different jobs. Below is the information about what type of shears you’ll need for tackling all different types of plants:
These are the shears you should choose if you have:
Long Grass Growing in Tricky Places
For this scenario, you’ll be wanting some grass shears. These are especially useful in medium to large gardens, but can also come in handy in small gardens too.
Due to the long handles of these shears, using them is a lot easier than bending down to use shorter hand shears to cut the grass.
Grass shears will:
- Allow you to cut grass in areas of the garden where the lawnmower can’t reach.
- Let you trim grass that grows up against obstacles, be this fences, fountains, pathways or bird baths.
- Make it possible to cut any spots the mower missed, without having to get the machine back out of the shed.
- Save your back by allowing you to trim the grass in an upright position.
A Lot of Small Shrubs and Bushes
You’ve got a couple of options if you’re looking to keep the shape of small shrubs and bushes in check.
Small hedge shears are an option. As long as the handle and blade aren’t too long, these are great for getting close to smaller shrubs.
If the overall length of the shears exceeds 60 cm, they may be too long to comfortably cut around smaller bushes.
Handheld electric shears would be another choice in this scenario. You’ll be looking to trim small bushes regularly to keep them in shape, and handheld electric shears make this a quick job that can literally be done at the touch of a button.
Short-handled manual shears are one choice for topiary. As long as they are relatively compact, again not exceeding 60 cm, they’ll give sufficient control for basic shapes on medium/large bushes. They tend to be able to cut stalks up to approximately 5 mm in diameter.
If you’re looking for something a bit more delicate, one-handed topiary shears can be used for small plants. They’ll only cut soft, green shoots, so are only used for delicate tidying up/shaping jobs. Due to their small size, they give a lot of control when approaching smaller shrubs.
An Extensive Hedge Row
Here you’re going to want either standard hedge shears or telescopic hedge shears.
Telescopic hedge shears will help you reach the tops of the hedge without needing a ladder; however, they can be a little harder to use as their telescopic nature can make them slightly unbalanced.
Hedge shears with a longer blade will make it quicker to cut through a larger hedge row. If they have a notch on the blades then you will be able to use them to cut through slightly woodier branches which are likely to crop up.
It’s possible to cut back a fair amount of hedge using hedging shears alone, without involving any power tools. Manual tools are often lighter and can be used for longer without causing fatigue.
Care and Maintenance of Garden Shears
Caring for and maintaining your garden shears is important. That includes everything from knowing how to sharpen your garden shears to ensuring that you remove plant matter and dirt before storing them away.
Most fixed-blade hedge shears can be sharpened easily with a standard sharpener (see ‘Sharpening Your Shears’ below). However, for electric models, you’ll need a rotary tool with a sharpening head, or to take it to a professional shop.
In terms of cleaning, there’s not a lot of work to do.
You’ll need some hot, soapy water and a good brush (plastic bristles are preferred). Soak the blades to loosen stuck-on grime, then scrub it all way. Be careful not to cut yourself while cleaning them, though. Some blades can be extremely sharp, sharp enough to cut through cleaning cloths, and you should wear gloves when you clean shears just in case.
I’d recommend a good clean after every use, and then a deeper clean at the end of the season.
Always make sure to leave time for the blades to dry (in a wide-open position). Lightly oiling them periodically will help prevent rust from building up. Many styles of hedge shears have lacquered or coated blades, but this coating can wear off through use so it’s good to keep protecting them.
Regular oiling will help extend the lifespan of these tools.
Sharpening Your Shears
Sharp tools are safer to use than blunt ones. They are less likely to slip, and they’ll work better.
Firstly, if I may be so bold, I’m going to mention the Multi-Sharp 1401 Shear & Scissor Sharpener which I have found to be one of the easiest ways to sharpen manual hedge shears (plus, extra tip: you can also use it to sharpen household scissors!).
It’s designed to sharpen both blades of the shears at the same time, whilst maintaining the correct angle on them to ensure proper cutting.
Note: it shouldn’t be used with electric systems.
When sharpening manual shears (not electric ones) you can also use sharpening steels or whetstones. These will usually require you to manually sharpen one blade at a time.
Here are a few general tips for sharpening blades in this way:
- When sharpening anything you should always make sure you wear safety gloves.
- Sharpen in one smooth motion, all the way from the blade near the handle to the tip of the blade.
- Oil the blades after sharpening them.
- Bear in mind that whetstones need some sort of lubrication to glide across the blade. This will either be water or oil and you should check which one is appropriate first. If you use the wrong lubrication with the wrong whetstone, you will ruin the whetstone.
When it comes to electric shears, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to sharpen them. You may be able to use a rotary tool with a sharpening head; alternatively, a lot of people choose to get electric shears sharpened professionally.