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Best secateurs 2024: Take the effort out of your pruning from just £10

Grab a pair of the best secateurs to get your shrubs in shape, prune your perennials and deadhead your roses

Keeping your garden in tip-top condition involves a lot of pruning, and nothing makes this harder than a dull or clunky pair of secateurs. Switch them out for a new pair with sharp blades and some decent engineering and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes. With the best secateurs, you can chop through tough stems, trim your shrubs or deadhead your roses in a snap.

There’s a wide range of secateurs out there, though, and they’re not all designed to tackle the same jobs. What’s more, there are big differences in style and comfort, which might sway your decision one way or the other. Read on to find out what makes the best secateurs, and which ones are the right choice for you.

How to choose the best secateurs for you

What types of secateurs are there?

There are two main types of secateurs: the anvil type that brings a blade straight down onto a blunter cutting platform, and the bypass type that passes two blades past each other, like a pair of scissors.

Anvil types need to be kept sharp as if the blade starts to dull their cutting ability can suffer, especially if attacking small, soft stems that might get squashed or torn.

Bypass secateurs benefit from their scissoring action, cutting cleanly, but aren’t always suitable for left-handers as most are made with a right-handed action. Conversely, anvil-bladed tools are often blunter at the tip, and lack the sharp point of a bypass pair that can be inserted into smaller places.

Some secateurs have a ratchet mechanism that gradually closes the blades over the course of a couple of squeezes of the handles, which is useful if you have small hands or don’t have the strength to squeeze them closed in one push.

Watch out for your tool’s recommended maximum cutting diameter. The blades may open wider, but loppers or a small saw may be a better choice for thicker stems or small branches.

Secateurs are available in many different sizes, just like the hands of gardeners, and it’s always a good idea to handle them in-store to get a feel for how they’ll be in use. If you’ve got big hands, don’t assume you’ll need the largest pair you can find – the length of handles may be a greater concern than the sheer size of the blades.

How should I care for the secateurs?

You should sharpen your secateurs with a steel or whetstone as soon as you notice a change in their cutting ability, as blunt blades will cause more harm to your plants by not cutting cleanly, possibly allowing in fungal infection or leading to insect damage.

Sap is deposited on the blades at almost every pruning session and should be wiped off after every use, otherwise it can clog your blades, lead to corrosion and cause them to be unpleasant to use.

Clean them with soapy water, make sure they’re properly dry, and give the mechanism a spray with lubricant before putting them away. If you’ve been cutting back diseased foliage, consider a quick bath in disinfectant to avoid transferring the malady.

How much should I spend?

You can get a pair of secateurs relatively cheaply, from around £10. On cheaper pairs, watch out for the central spring mechanism, as this may break easily, rendering the tool useless.

Cheaper blades may also require more frequent sharpening as they can be made of inferior metals that lose their edge more quickly. Expensive Japanese secateurs use quality steel that’s purported to keep its sharpness for longer, but their price means they’re out of reach for most gardeners.

What features should I look out for?

The main choice in secateurs is between the anvil or bypass actions, and whether you want a ratchet or not. Once you’ve made your mind up on these, everything else is relatively minor. Look out for things such as safety catches, which will keep the secateurs closed when they’re not in use; ideally you should be able to open or close the catch while holding the secateurs one-handed, and a small or fiddly catch can soon become annoying. Replaceable parts are also a bonus. Nobody wants to bin a pair of secateurs just because the spring has failed.

Bright colours can make the tool easier to see if you drop them in the grass, which can save buying a replacement pair, while a simple loop on the handle, to which a wristband can be attached, will also save you from dropping them. A holster that clips onto your waistband is a useful accessory that can help prevent losing your tools as well.

Watch the weight when you buy. Lightweight plastics or aluminium can make a pair of secateurs more comfortable to use over a long day in the garden, while non-slip or soft-feel grips can also help. Some gardeners also prefer a closed-loop lower handle, which makes it easier to open the secateurs if they get stuck in a woody branch and the spring needs some help. We’re also seeing secateurs and pruners with extra gears or levers in the lower handle, to amplify the strength of your grip. These features can be gimmicks, but they can also make a real difference if you find pruning tiring or your hands don’t have as much grip as they used to.

How we test secateurs

We give every pair of secateurs a thorough workout, using them for various jobs around the garden depending on their size and type. With bypass secateurs, we focus on pruning light shrubs or young green shoots, as well as deadheading roses. With anvil secateurs, we concentrate on woody shrubs and bushes, or even fruit trees, though we’ll also use them on some lighter, greener stems to see how well they can handle different tasks. We test both types of secateurs on thicker twigs or branches, up to their maximum cutting size. Finally, we evaluate the secateurs for comfort and build quality, with particular attention given to the catches used to lock the blades or adjust the cutting size.

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The best secateurs you can buy in 2024

1. Fiskars X-Series Bypass Pruner P291: Best heavy-duty bypass pruners

Price when reviewed: £34 | Check price at AmazonFiskars’ chunky bypass pruners use a clever mechanism concealed in the handle to give you added cutting power. As you squeeze, the whole lower handle rotates, moving a gear that helps close the blades. As a result, the X-Series pruners can bite through surprisingly heavy stems and branches, although we’d still recommend a set of ratchet secateurs – or even a good pair of loppers – if you need to prune anything really thick or woody.

Not everyone will like the design, with one tester complaining that the way the handle rotates makes it feel like it’s wriggling out of your grasp. Others, however, found this pair felt more balanced and comfortable than rival heavy-duty secateurs, and liked the easy-release sliding catch on the top and non-slip grip on the upper handle.

Key specs – Weight: 220g; Length: 20.1cm; Max cutting width: 26mm

2. Gardena 8857 Garden Secateurs: Best secateurs for easy pruning

Price when reviewed: £15 | Check price at AmazonThese lightweight Gardena secateurs are perfect for most pruning jobs. They’ve got enough welly to handle the odd thick stem, without losing that nice, easy action that can keep you deadheading roses or tidying up unruly shrubs for hours. What’s more, the adjustable design gives you a choice of two handle widths, making them better for gardeners with small hands.

The safety lock on the top has an interim setting for cutting smaller stems. This means you don’t have to relax your grip so much when you’re snipping away, which can make a big difference when you’ve got a lot of smaller shrubs and perennials to prune. In fact, comfort is a real theme here, thanks to light but robust plastics, precision-ground stainless steel blades and a soft-touch grip on the top handle.

For your average day-to-day pruning jobs, it’s hard to find a better pair of secateurs.

Key specs – Weight: 155g; Length: 19.7cm; Max cutting width: 22mm

3. Okatsune 103 Bypass Secateurs: Best secateurs for tackling thick wood

Price when reviewed: £41 | Check price at Amazonbest seacateurs Okatsune 103 Bypass Secateurs on a white background

They say you get what you pay for, and these Japanese secateurs aren’t cheap. But their tough, razor-sharp blades can slice their way through garden materials up to 25mm in diameter and, with a Rockwell Hardness rating of 60, they’re the perfect blend of strength and sharpness.

In a clever design touch, their red and white handles make them easier to spot when you drop them. They also fit neatly into the palm of the hand and are easy to hold and grip, especially when wearing gloves, while the central spring helps distribute any pressure evenly. A simple and effective lock sits on the end of the top handle.

However, there are a few negatives – the spring can pinch your skin on occasions, there’s no thumb lock and it’s difficult to get replacement parts in the UK. Still, if you have thick wood to hack through, look no further.

Key specs – Weight: 202g; Length: 20cm; Max cutting width: 25mm

4. Grüntek Professional Garden Pruning Shears: Best secateurs for everyday pruning

Price when reviewed: £12 | Check price at Amazonbest secateurs GRÜNTEKSecateursProfessional on a white background

If you want a quality pair of secateurs that can tackle most pruning jobs and won’t break the bank, then this sturdy option from Grüntek is definitely worth considering.

Their basic design gives you a maximum cutting width of 20mm, which is more than adequate for everyday pruning. The upper blade is made of SK5 Japanese steel and is Teflon-coated, which helps keep its edge sharp for longer, meaning you won’t need to sharpen them too often. When you do, they’re super easy to take apart and put back together – all you need is a Phillips screwdriver. The lower blade is made of chrome-plated high-strength carbon steel and, like similar designs, works well with the upper blade for a powerful pruning combo.

These secateurs may lack a little finesse in the finishing stakes, but the ergonomic handles are comfortable to hold and a sturdy thumb lock ensures your safety.

Key specs – Weight: 256g; Length: 21.5cm; Max cutting width: 20mm

5. Gardena Ecoline Garden Secateurs: Best eco secateurs

Price when reviewed: £24 | Check price at AmazonWhile all unpowered manual secateurs are pretty eco-friendly in their usage, the Gardena Ecoline models manage to be eco-friendly in their manufacture, too. The plastics in these secateurs’ handles are made from more than 80% recycled material, while the same goes for more than 75% of the metal used in the blades and mechanism.

You won’t be sending them off to landfill soon, either, as these bypass secateurs are well made and lightweight, with a comfortable grip, sharp blades and an easy-going action. They’re perfect for tackling shrubs and ornamental grasses or deadheading roses. They can cut through branches up to 18mm in width, but you’ll probably want something with a bit more grunt for anything that big. They will, however, cut wire or garden twine. And at this price, they’re a bargain.

Key specs – Weight: 145g; Length: 25.5cm; Max cutting width: 18mm

6. Fiskars Solid Bypass Pruner P321: Best secateurs for green shoots and lighter shrubs

Price when reviewed: £17 | Check price at AmazonFiskars’ lightweight bypass pruners are perfect for tackling thin green shoots. The chunky safety catch is easy to open with your thumb with the pruners held one-handed, and the spring seems tuned for repetitive, light snips, with just enough resistance to push the blades apart, but then easing off as you squeeze the handles together. Thanks to the ergonomic shaping and rubberised orange grip, you can prune away hassle-free for hours.

They’re not designed to tackle thick or woody stems, but trimming lighter shrubs, grasses and even overgrown rose bushes won’t be a challenge. The design actually stops the blades shifting sideways as they close. The hardened steel blades themselves are sharp and can be sharpened with a diamond file when needed, while the build quality feels impressively robust.

Key specs – Weight: 167g; Length: 20.1cm; Max cutting width: 20mm

7. Wolf-Garten RR5000 Professional Bypass Aluminium Secateurs: The most comfortable secateurs

Price when reviewed: £40 | Check price at AmazonWith a cutting width of 25mm, these can accommodate some larger branches, but lack the ratchet or gearing mechanisms to really make short work of them.

They’re a brightly coloured pair, with a double-sided safety catch that can be opened easily by right- or left-handers. The aluminium handles are softened on top and bottom by plastic panels, and there’s a rubber pad to stop a sudden closure from hurting your hand.

A hex nut on the left-hand side of the blade mounting allows a degree of disassembly to replace the blades, and there’s a wrist loop built into the top handle to make them harder to lose.

They fit well in the hand, springing open with a flick of the thumb and not taking much pressure to close, but are weightier than other pairs, and front-heavy.

Key specs – Weight: 399g; Length: 15.2cm; Max cutting width: 25mm

8. Spear & Jackson Razorsharp Advantage Small: Best secateurs for smaller hands

Price when reviewed: £10 | Check price at AmazonMany secateurs come in a range of sizes, but these Spear & Jackson bypass pruners are particularly good for gardeners with small hands. They’re lightweight and easy to grip, with a sliding catch you can easily work with the thumb while holding them one-handed. They’re also as sharp as the name suggests, with a great, light action that can help you deal with a lot of lightweight growth in record time. We also like the hole at the end of the upper handle – it’s perfect for threading through a wrist strap, even if you don’t get one bundled.

You’re going to need something with a bit more heft for thicker branches – the maximum cutting width is just 10mm – but otherwise this is a solid pair of secateurs with rust-resistant blades and effective shock absorption as you snip. If you find larger pairs hard to work with, give them a whirl.

Key specs – Weight: 149g; Length: 18cm; Max cutting width: 10mm

9. Bulldog Bypass Secateurs: Best secateurs for live wood pruning

Price when reviewed: £16 | Check price at Toolstationbest secateurs Bulldog Bypass Secateurs in a white background

If you like a pair of sturdy secateurs that have a wider than average handle with some of its key components neatly hidden away, then these Bulldog secateurs are definitely for you. The metal handles fill the palm of your hand and, coupled with soft grips on the top and bottom, give you a sense of security – you feel like you can get plenty of power through to the blade, which has a 20mm cutting width. A spring sits inside the two handles so it won’t fall out and provides good resistance.

The bypass blades are made from strong, long-lasting Japanese SK5 steel, which retains its sharpness well and should prevent it from rusting, especially if the secateurs are well maintained.

Key specs – Weight: 200g; Length: 20cm; Max cutting width: 20mm

Check price at Toolstation

10. Vonhaus 7.2V Cordless Garden Pruner: Best electric secateurs for weak hands

Price when reviewed: £65 | Check price at Amazonbest secateur Vonhaus 7.2V Cordless Garden Pruner on a white backgroundThose with hand strength issues or a weak grip will love these Vonhaus cordless pruners, which are ergonomically designed to alleviate hand and wrist strain. At 920g they might feel pretty weighty at first, but your hand soon sits naturally in the intended position. That said, the natural hand position also means your fingers are primed over the double safety switches, both of which need pressing for the pruners to operate. There’s no clear place to hold the tool that doesn’t leave your hand in this position either, so you need to have your wits about you.

In terms of power, the Vonhaus pruners cut smoothly through soft wood up to 25mm thick with incredible ease, and they’re much more intuitive to use than a saw. Each cut takes a few seconds to complete the cycle and the mechanism is pretty loud, so while they might be overkill for smaller tasks such as pruning roses, they’re excellent for thick stems and branches.

Charging takes around three hours, and Vonhaus approximates a usage of 800 cuts on a single charge. We pruned for several hours over three consecutive days before a red warning light began to flash on the pruner’s base.

As these pruners remain open when switched off, a blade cover made from heavy-duty plastic is included, but we found the safest method was to remove the battery pack entirely when not in use.

Key specsWeight: 920g; Length: 34cm; Max cutting width: 25mm; Battery: 7.2V li-ion battery pack

11. Opinel Le Secateur Hand Pruner: Best elegant stainless steel secateurs

Price when reviewed: £51 | Check price at AmazonThese beautifully elegant pruners from French knife experts Opinel pack a powerful punch. With a protected spring that stops dirt from clogging the mechanism, these stainless steel blades provide an extremely sharp and precise cut, particularly on softer and younger branches less than 20mm wide.

The varnished beech wood handle is sturdy, feels light in the hand and is comfortable to hold, while the thumb-controlled blade lock allows you to choose from three positions to accommodate different hand sizes and the width of the branches you’re cutting. We did find the blade lock a little fiddly and stiff, though, as your hand has to be in a specific position to get enough leverage.

Key specsWeight: 65g; Length: 19cm; Max cutting width: 20mm

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