You don’t need many tools for normal garden pruning but selecting quality ones that last longer and make clean cuts, is a solid investment and will make pruning more pleasurable.
Besides a strong pair of gardening gloves and a sturdy ladder, you need pruning tools that are right for the pruning needs of your garden.
All gardeners will have a personal preference when it comes to selecting pruning tools, but it is advised to look out for carbon steel blades and replaceable parts.
Here are a few basic pruning tools that will take care of pretty much all your garden pruning tasks:
1. Hand pruners | Secateurs
Pruning shears are essential and can handle most pruning tasks like cutting off smaller twigs, pruning roses, taking soft- or hardwood cuttings, and cut flowers.
There are two main types of hand pruners including:
Shears with a straight upper blade that cuts against a flat lower blade. Anvil pruners tend to crush the plant as they cut and are best used for woody or semi-woody branches.
Pruners with sharpened, curved, scissorlike blades that overlap and are ideal for cutting younger, smaller and softer branches like twigs and shoots. These pruners are best for making stem cuttings for propagation.
2. Lopping pruners | Branch cutter
These shears are similar to hand pruners but have long handles that allow a little more reach than hand shears. These are best suited to heavy-duty pruning, especially pruning away tree and shrub side-branches. It can also be used effectively for pruning thicker side-branches of roses allowing you to keep a safe distance.
3. Hedge pruners
These pruners have long, straight blades and are used for the rapid trimming of thin-stemmed hedges. It is perfect for soft hedging and often used for making topiaries.
4. Pole pruner
Pole pruners consist of blades attached to stationary hooks mounted on long aluminium poles. A cord is used to control the cutting action of the spring-loaded blade. These pruners are used to cut out-of-reach branches of 5 centimetres in diameter and are especially valuable where ladders would be inconvenient.
5. Pruning saw
There are three basic shapes namely, straight, curved and bow. Saws are ideal for smaller tree branches that are usually too large for hand pruners and lopping shears to remove. However, if you want to saw off heavy branches, it is better to consult with a trained tree surgeon.
- Keep your tools clean - a disease can very easily be spread from one plant to another when pruning an infected plant.
- Always clean your tools before putting them away.
- Do not use household bleach to disinfect your tools as tests have shown that they are highly corrosive. Rather use rubbing alcohol of 70%, 91% or 99% concentration.
- Sharpen blades regularly and dry and oil them for maximum effectiveness.
- Don't forget your pruning tools outside!