Using Secateurs – How and When to Use Scissors in the Garden


When using secateurs, choosing the right pair is essential. Unfortunately, choosing from the many different types of scissors on the market today can be overwhelming, especially if you are unsure of what type you need. What are secateurs and how do you choose a pair to get the job done? Read on for some helpful tips.

What are secateurs?

Basically, secateurs are used to cut branches and stems with a diameter of up to 2 cm. Do not try to use your secateurs on larger branches or you could damage the blades. (You will need another tool for this job.)

There are two basic types of secateurs, but they come in different models and sizes. Knowing when to use scissors depends on your type and the job at hand.

Bypass scissors Work in a similar way to scissors with curved blades. The top blade of the scissors is sharp and cuts the branch, while the bottom blade acts like a hook, holding the branch in place to keep it from slipping.

Anvil scissors have a sharp upper blade and a flat lower blade. Anvil shears cut branches much like a knife on a cutting board.

Select and use secateurs

Although the type of shear depends largely on personal preference; Most gardeners choose to use bypass shears. Here’s why:

  • Bypass shears make clean cuts, while anvil shears tend to crush stems and branches.
  • Bypass scissors are better for tight spaces and allow for tighter cuts than anvil scissors.
  • Bypass scissors are great for cutting flowers or softer, delicate twigs without damaging the delicate tissue.

On the other hand, anvil shears may be better for dead or dried out branches. Some gardening experts use bypass shears for living growth and anvil shears for dead growth. Others say they would not use anvil cutters under any circumstances.

When you have made your decision, buy the best secateurs you can afford. They’re not cheap, but if properly cared for, they will last for years.

Hold the scissors in your hand and try them out to make sure they are comfortable. Ergonomic scissors and scissors for smaller hands are available. Some companies make left-handed or ambidextrous secateurs.

Make sure the scissors can be disassembled for easy cleaning. Look for a pair with a padlock or latch to keep the blades securely closed when not in use, especially if you have young children.