Monday, December 15, 2014

Hand Pruners

Hand pruners are a gardener’s best friend. They are not only used for pruning fruit trees, they are a great tool for harvesting cut flowers, dead heading spent blooms, and cutting back perennials in the fall. They are used to remove tags, cut open pots, and even cut bamboo stakes for your flopping Peonies. Sometimes they are even used to cut hose, pipe, twine or even wire, although I highly recommend not cutting wire with them. Also, make sure you keep your shears out of the dirt. Dirt and rocks are an enemy to pruning shears, slowly grinding away the moving parts and dulling the blade with nicks.

Dull Blade with Nicks

As you already know, hand pruners are a very useful and versatile tool, so it’s important that you purchase a quality pair and maintain them well so they last. To learn more about maintaining and sharpening your pruning shears follow this link:

How to Sharpen Pruning Shears

There are two types of hand pruners on the market. First, are anvil pruners. These shears have an upper cutting blade that pinches down on the lower jaws. This type of pruning shear is not recommended for pruning fruit trees, because they will often crush or bruise the branches that are cut by them, especially if the blade is at all dull. They are best used to cut down twigs and debris so that it will better fit in the trash. They can also be used to cut back perennials in the fall.
Anvil Pruners Verses Bypass Pruners

The second type of hand pruners are bypass pruners. These shears have an upper cutting blade that bypasses the lower jaws. These shears are what I use to professionally prune fruit trees in Utah. They make a nice, clean cut with little effort

It is important to understand your tool’s limitations. Hand pruners are only designed to cut branches up to 1 inch in diameter. Cutting branches larger than 1 inch may cause the blade to bend away from the lower jaws making them unusable. Also, cutting larger branches with your hand pruners will often damage the surrounding bark and cambium layer leaving it susceptible to disease. I might also mention the added effort and strain that is required to cut branches larger than 1 inch in diameter. Loppers and pruning saws are great tools that can be utilized for larger cuts. Make sure you use the right tool for each cut.

When choosing a pair of hand pruners comfort is probably one of the most important factors. Find a pair that is comfortable and not too big for your hands. If you have small hands, you might need smaller shears. If you need to remove larger branches than your small shears can cut, just use a different tool for the job.

Remember, your pruning shears are like your best friend, clean, sharp and extremely useful, so pick a good pair and take care of them. You’ll be glad this coming season to have them by your side.

If you have any questions about fruit tree pruning or pruning tools, please join our Backyard Fruit Pruning Group or take our free Fruit Tree Pruning Course.

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