For gardeners who can't wait to get outdoors and begin working, late winter and early spring are great times to prune, before trees and shrubs begin to put on new growth. Besides pruning for safety and to enhance the health of the tree, pruning can also improve flower and fruit production. Use our guide below to help select the right pruner for the job, to learn how to sharpen and maintain your pruner, and for general pruning techniques.
Bypass: Designed for cutting live wood. The cutting blade ‘passes by’ the counterblade in a scissor-like action. The hook shape of the counterblade helps to hold the branch steady during cutting. As a side note, the counterblade is going to crush the bottom of the branch a little bit, so whenever possible cut from the side of the branch that positions the counterblade under the wood you are removing. Shorter blades make precision cuts easer, but longer blades give you a little more reach, and longer handles increase your leverage.
Anvil: Designed for cutting old, hard, brittle and dead wood. The cutting blade drops into the middle of the anvil, sometimes into a small slot that is cut to receive the blade. The anvil supports the branch underneath to reduce the chance of it splintering. The anvil is going to crush the bottom of the branch a little bit on either side of the cutting blade, so it is best to use an anvil style pruner on dead wood.
There are many handle styles and shapes available including those for left-handed users, or for someone with smaller hands. Ratcheting action can multiply cutting power, but can take several squeezes to make a cut. Latches are positioned in different places along the handle; it’s nice to have a latch you can open with just one hand. Rotating and ergonomic handles offer added comfort and reduced blistering while pruning all day.
Cutting capacity doesn’t mean you can actually cut that size branch, it is the distance between the blades of a pruner. True cutting capacity depends on the hardness of the wood, and the strength of the user. If a cutting capacity is .75 inch, you will be able to cut that size linden without any problem, but unless you are unusually strong you aren’t going to get through .75 inch dead white pine. If you have to strain to make cuts, it can result in ragged cuts and cause damage to the pruner by twisting it. In this case, consider moving to a lopper or a saw to prevent unnecessary damage.
PRUNER SHARPENING & MAINTENANCE