For best performance over a wide selection of plants there is the “Snap-cut,” where the straight cutting blade comes down on a soft metal anvil, or the curved-blade type, the selection of oldtime gardeners, with a ratchet lock nut.
Either will effectively cut 1-inch stems of gardening plants – not hard, dead wood. One or two of the lighter curved-blade models will cut lighter growth at the tip of the blade. When cutting, catch the stem well back on the blade and cut without twisting the tool or you will tear the bark. Use heavier shears for stems over 1 inch in diameter.
Older branches are best cut with long-handled lopping shears or with a pruning saw, which can also be used for dead wood, tree branches and the like. For this purpose the simple Duplex model with two edges is one of the best for most gardens.
If you have a hedge or expect to trim plants you will need hedge shears – manual, electric or gas powered. They are available in either American or English patterns and in weights and lengths from the 6 1/2-inch featherweight to the 10-inch professional, weighing over 3 pounds.
Some have one serrated (saw-tooth) blade which gives an easy cut but must be kept in shape. Other features to look for in hedge shears are a notch in the upper blade for cutting heavy stems that cannot be sheared and a properly set oversize bolt with a lock nut.
Nothing is so vexing when shearing a hedge as having to continually adjust a loose nut. Obtain a tool that will shear grass as well as hedges. To keep shears in condition, clean it after each operation and keep the edges oiled when not in use. Sap from stems collects on the blades, becomes hard and after a time will throw the “set” off.
When buying garden tools, take the time to do your research. Purchase quality tools like the Felco pruners and you will enjoy them for years.