Choose the right pruning knife for the job
Every gardener knows that plants will grow, so they need to be cut back and pruned periodically to keep them healthy and growing in the right direction. High-quality pruning knives or pruning shears are excellent tools to accomplish this task.
Types of Pruning Tools
Traditionally, a gardener or groundskeeper would use a pruning knife to cut branches and stems, but in more recent years, pruning shears have become the tool of choice for these tasks. A well-made pair of pruning shears will provide many years of service in maintaining your garden.
When choosing the right pair of pruning shears, there are several factors to consider:
- Make sure to pick pruning shears with a comfortable grip. Hold them in your hand and squeeze them several times.
- Buy pruning shears that are made for your primary hand, as shears come in right-handed and left-handed versions.
- Check the cutting capacity. Think of the thickness of the branches on your property and choose a pair of shears that will handle the job; a 3/4-inch cutting capacity is probably the minimum.
- Look for rust-proof blades, as pruning shears are often damp or wet, and a cheaper pair that isn't rust-proof will wear out quickly.
- For cutting extra-thick branches, consider buying pruning shears with ratcheting action. They'll make getting through thick branches much easier.
- Many gardeners have more than one type of pruning shears in their arsenal: a general pair of shears for most jobs, and a pair of specialty pruning shears like anvil pruning shears or bypass pruners for extra-tough jobs.
Good resources for pruning shears are garden stores, hardware stores and home improvement stores. While there are many retailers of pruning shears on the Internet, check the return policy before buying online, as you will want the option to return them if the fit is not right in your hand; blisters while working in the garden are not fun.
Caring for Pruning Tools
If you take proper care of your pruning shears, they will serve you well for many years. After each use, follow these steps:
- Disinfect the shears in a solution of 10 parts water to 1 part bleach. In fact, it's a good idea to disinfect the shears when moving from one plant to the next so as not to spread disease.
- Wipe the blades with a clean, soft cloth after disinfecting.
- Coat the surface of the blades with WD-40 or knife oil before storing the shears.
- Sharpen the shears as needed.