Washington State University

Gardening in Washington State

Selecting Pruning Tools

Selecting and using the correct equipment to prune trees and shrubs makes the pruning job quicker, easier, and safer for home gardeners, and results in less damage to plants.  Before beginning a pruning task, determine the goal (such as improving structure, removing dead branches, and the like) and select  the right tool for the job.

There are many types and sizes of pruning tools available to home gardeners. Manufacturers produce such specialty pruning tools as left-handed models, pruners made for smaller hands, and tools with ergonomic handles. Before purchasing any tool, make sure it feels comfortable to operate, and invest in one that fits, rather than settling for something that may cause blisters and muscle strain. Gardeners with limited strength should look for tools made of lightweight material for easier use.

Basic hand pruners come in two types: bypass shears (left, center) and anvil-pruners (right).  (Photo courtesy of Therese Harris.)

Hand pruners are designed and sized to be held and operated in one hand. They can typically cut twigs and branches up to a half-inch in diameter. The two main types of hand pruners are bypass pruners, which have a scissors action; and anvil pruners, which pinch material between a cutting blade and a backstop. Bypass pruners are usually more expensive, and cut more cleanly than most anvil pruners; which often crush or tear branches on woody plants.

For more information on pruning tools, go to Pruning Equipment for Home Gardeners.


Submitted by: Tim Kohlhauff, October 13, 2014


One comment on “Selecting Pruning Tools”

  1. Linda Walz said on November 19, 2014:

    Just thought I would share my favorite pruning tool – a cordless reciprocating saw equipped with a pruning blade. My 18 volt deWalt works like a charm and is small enough for me to handle safely. Thanks for the article.
    Linda Walz
    Skagit County MG

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Gardening in Washington State, Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Contact Us

All publications linked to this website have been peer-reviewed
© 2019 Washington State University | Accessibility | Policies | Copyright | Log in