How to Choose the Best Ratchet Secateurs
Secateurs are an indispensable gardening tool when it comes to pruning and tidying.
Whilst petrol and electric machines are great for tougher jobs, for smaller areas that just need a little touching up, you can’t go wrong with a pair of secateurs.
They’re a simple, affordable, lightweight tool that can assist with anything from dead-heading roses to trimming small, low-hanging tree branches.
However, these jobs can still be hard on the hands, which is where ratchet secateurs come in. They make pruning less demanding and can be particularly beneficial for those who struggle with hand strength. Take a look at the following information to help choose the best ratchet secateurs for you and your garden!
What Are Ratchet Secateurs?
First off, let’s clear up exactly what ratchet secateurs are, and how they can help.
Ratchet secateurs have a mechanism that helps with cutting.
Instead of trying to cut the branch/twig/etc. in one go (which can require a lot of hand strength), the ratchet mechanism allows the secateurs to cut in several different stages. You squeeze the secateurs and they cut down slightly into the branch. Then you release, and the blade stays embedded in the branch. When you squeeze again, the blade cuts in further, without requiring anywhere near as much strength as non-ratchet secateurs.
Cutting with a ratchet mechanism can make it so much easier and less strenuous to cut through thicker stems and branches.
Sometimes, you may find that you don’t need to use the ratchet mechanism (because you’re cutting something that is sufficiently small enough to manage). This can highlight one of the main disadvantages of standard ratchet secateurs. You will still have to use the ratchet mechanism, which means that some jobs take longer than necessary.
However, there are some 2-in-1 secateurs on the market. These give the option of either using a ratchet mechanism, or using a ‘single cut’ mechanism. You can change between the two, and use the mode that is most appropriate for each branch.
The Benefits of Using Ratchet Secateurs
As already mentioned, using ratchet secateurs can help to reduce fatigue on your forearms and fingers. They’re a really useful option for anyone who struggles with hand strength or has arthritis. Many gardeners find they are able to get a lot more joy out of gardening again when they switch to ratchet secateurs.
You might wonder if it’s worth bothering with secateurs, especially if you already own loppers. But there are plenty of useful benefits to owning a pair:
- They’re small, compact and easy to carry – secateurs often fit in a pocket, and can be carried around in the garden on the off-chance that you spot something that needs pruning. This is much easier than getting out a larger tool each time.
- They produce sharp, clean cuts – although you may be used to using scissors for pruning, scissors aren’t always sharp enough and can introduce bacteria and disease into plants if the cut isn’t clean enough.
- They’re easy and lightweight to use – secateurs are a great tool for any gardener regardless of their skill, experience or strength.
- They require very little maintenance – although secateurs will require cleaning after use, that’s the only maintenance they regularly need. Occasionally, the blade will need sharpening.
Bypass vs Anvil Secateurs
When it comes to secateurs there are two cutting styles: ‘bypass’ and ‘anvil’ (this is also the case for plenty of other garden cutting tools as well, such as loppers).
‘Bypass’ and ‘anvil’ refer to the cutting action of the tool. To make pruning easier and more effective, it’s important to choose secateurs that use the best cutting action for the job you’re trying to do.
Bypass secateurs work in the same way as a pair of scissors. The two sharp blades bypass each other, producing a clean and accurate cut.
Bypass secateurs are also useful because they can be used to cut near to the bud with no risk of damaging the stem. This is because the cut is automatically very clean, so damage is minimal.
Bypass secateurs are particularly recommended for pruning softer, green stems. The blades will cleanly slice through, without crushing or damaging the plant.
Anvil secateurs work differently. The cutting mechanism with these secateurs is more like a knife on a chopping board. The blade is pushed down to meet a flat base.
The benefit of these secateurs is that they tend to have more power than bypass secateurs. They also require less force, so are suitable for thicker branches and dead wood.
The downside of anvil secateurs is that the cut isn’t always as clean as it is with bypass models. They’re best for cutting woodier branches – live tissues and stems can end up getting crushed and damaged.
Ratchet Secateurs FAQs
Do secateurs come in different sizes?
Secateurs are available in a range of sizes. If you have smaller hands than average, you can find small secateurs on the market (for example, models measuring around 18 cm in total). The length of the handles is more important than the size of the blades when it comes to comfort. If you’ve got large hands, opt for secateurs with longer handles (handles measuring around 21 cm, for example).
What is the difference between pruners and secateurs?
There is no major difference between pruners and secateurs. In the UK, pruners and secateurs are the same tool.
How should I maintain my secateurs?
It’s important to clean your secateurs regularly, otherwise dirt, debris and sap can build up. This will blunt the blades and make the cut less clean. Clean your secateurs regularly with soapy water, making sure they are properly dry. Once clean, oil the blade before putting it away.
When the blade goes dull and stops cutting as cleanly, you will need to sharpen it. Some secateurs also allow you to replace the entire blade.