What Is A Hand Pruner: Different Types Of Hand Pruners For Gardening

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By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

What is a hand pruner? Hand pruners for gardening run the gamut from pruners manufactured for left-handed gardeners to those created for large, small or weak hands. Different kinds of hand pruners also include tools for trimming delicate flowers, cutting thicker branches or getting rid of old, dead wood. It’s not surprising that sorting through the many different types of hand pruners on the market can be mind-boggling, but it’s important to choose the best tool for the job. Also, keep in mind that knowing when to use hand pruners, and using the appropriate hand pruners for gardening, makes the job easier and prevents unnecessary strain on your hands and wrists.

Understanding Different Types of Hand Pruners

When to use hand pruners depends on the type of pruner and what is in need of being pruned. Here is a quick rundown of common pruners for gardening.

Bypass pruners make a precise, clean cut that when held properly, prevents damage to live wood. They are best for smaller branches measuring less than ½ inch in diameter.

Anvil pruners are great for cutting old, tough or brittle deadwood, but not so ideal for live wood because the scissor-like action may damage live tissue on each side of the blade. Anvil pruners are also good for cutting branches into smaller chunks for disposal, and also for cutting back or deadheading tough perennials.

Ratchet pruners
are much like anvil pruners, but they have a mechanism that cuts the wood in stages. This makes them a good choice for gardeners with a lot of pruning, or those with arthritic or small hands. They are also easier on the wrists.

Double-cut pruners have two blades that meet in the middle, but a slight offset prevents them from grinding into one another. Double cut pruners are versatile tools suitable for trimming delicate stems or making clean cuts in living, green branches or dead wood.

Loppers, or long handled pruners, are used primarily for removing woody stems measuring an inch or less in diameter. The long handles offer good leverage and allow you to reach higher branches.

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