Of all the thousands of pieces of gardening kit you can buy, only one item is truly indispensable. Every gardener needs a decent pair of secateurs, whether it’s for a couple of pots on the balcony or a landscaped stately home.
While they might seem like a simple tool, there is still plenty to think about when choosing a pair of secateurs.
There are three main types to choose from: anvil, bypass and ratchet. Anvil secateurs are best for more heavy-duty work, such as cutting thicker branches or wood. They work by pressing the cutting blade onto a flat surface, like a hammer and anvil.
Bypass blades are like a pair of household scissors, with a cutting blade that passes over another surface. These must be sharpened and are best for light work. Finally, ratchet scissors are spring-loaded, to help get through tougher material.
Beyond that, it’s important to consider how strong you need your tool to be, your hand size and whether you are right- or left-handed. A large, strong right-handed person will need something different from a diminutive lefty.
How we tested
Below is our selection based on a survey of newcomers and trusty old favourites, which we tested over the course of giving our small inner-city garden its annual spring refresh.
We trimmed back a sprawling apple, a few errant roses and obstinate rosemary, among other shrubs and flowers. We were mostly looking for cutting ease and hand comfort, but we have a soft spot for stylish design, too. Happy chopping.
The best secateurs and shears for 2021 are:
Best overall – Niwaki mainichi secateurs: £42, Niwaki.com
Best blade – Felco model 8 classic secateurs: £43.56, Worldoffelco.co.uk
Best for luxurious chopping – Niwaki GR pro secateurs: £72, Niwaki.com
Best no-nonsense design – Stihl PG 25 anvil secateurs: £27.85, Stihl.co.uk
Best anvil model – Felco model 32 anvil: £59.99, Amazon.co.uk
Best for smaller town gardens – Darlac compound action pruner: £16.64, Amazon.co.uk
Best for left-handed gardeners – Burgon & Ball left-handed bypass secateurs: £20.99, Burgonandball.com
Best for looking stylish – Opinel le secateur: £45, Farrar-tanner.co.uk
Best budget buy – Fiskars solid pruner bypass M P321: £10.64, Littlefieldsfarm.com
Niwaki mainichi secateurs
Niwaki’s mainichi secateurs have become standard issue for millions of gardeners in Japan, and it’s easy to see why. They have a classic design, a lovely clean action and an eye-catching simplicity. Between form and function, these were our all-round favourites – every gardener should have a pair.
Buy now £42.00, Niwaki.com
Felco model 8 classic secateurs
Another premium pair of secateurs from a prestigious international firm. The Swiss know their way around a blade, as anyone who has one of their army knives will attest. These bypass scissors are tough, comfortable to use and come with a lifetime guarantee, so you can cut with confidence. Currently, they are on sale with a free pair of gloves.
Buy now £43.56, Worldoffelco.co.uk
Niwaki GR pro secateurs
The Rolls-Royce of secateurs, Niwaki’s GR pros have plenty of features that make them worthy of a recommendation. These bypass secateurs are drop-forged in Sanjo, northern Japan. They are strong, beautifully designed and well balanced, and will handle most garden tasks with ease. The drawback – as with a Roller – is the price. But if money’s no obstacle, or it’s a gift for that green-thumbed associate, you can’t go wrong here.
Buy now £72.00, Niwaki.com
Stihl PG 25 anvil secateurs
The Germans love their gardening almost as much as the Brits, to go with their reputation for great engineering. These Stihl anvil snippers are at the higher end of things price-wise, but they are strong, with a no-nonsense design that should stand you in good stead for many years. The bright orange handle is easy to spot in a pile of detritus, too.
Buy now £27.85, Stihl.co.uk
Felco model 32 anvil
Our pick of the anvil models, Felco’s model 32 shears aren’t the cheapest, but they are big, strong and reliable, although perhaps best suited to slightly larger hands. With Felco’s lifetime warranty and replaceable parts, should there be any wear and tear over the years, these are a great investment for any gardener.
Buy now £59.99, Amazon.co.uk
Darlac compound action pruner
Lighter and smaller than some competitors’ models, these pruners are perfect for a smaller town garden or a terrace, where they won’t be needed for so much heavy-duty chopping. Their lever helps with cutting, and at around £16, they’re also significantly cheaper than some of the other options listed here.
Buy now £16.64, Amazon.co.uk
Burgon & Ball left-handed bypass secateurs
Designed specially for left-handed gardeners, but otherwise made to the same spec as Burgon & Ball’s other products, these have a carbon steel blade, come approved by the Royal Horticultural Society and can cut up to 2.5cm width. Ned Flanders would approve.
Buy now £20.99, Burgonandball.com
Opinel le secateur
The only French entrant on our list, these are an elegant, timeless pair of bypass secateurs for the gardener who wants to look stylish as they rein in the roses. Farrer & Tanner also offers an engraving service, should you want to personalise a pair as a gift.
Buy now £45.00, Farrar-tanner.co.uk
Fiskars solid pruner bypass M P321
Fiskars “solid” range comes exactly as promised. These are no-nonsense, affordable bypass secateurs that will handle most small pruning jobs with ease, with an eye-catching orange handle. Perfect for the less intensive gardener.
Buy now £10.64, Littefieldsfarm.com
The verdict: Secateurs
For those who love Japanese simplicity, the Niwaki mainichis have a smooth action, clean lines and a bright yellow grip so they won’t get lost in the woodpile.
At the higher end of the market, Felco secateurs – the model 8 classic secateurs and model 32 anvils – are great all-rounders that are smart, sharp and reliable. We especially liked their anvil design pruning shears, which made quick work of a few troublesome branches in the tester’s garden.
At a lower price point, we recommend the Darlac compound action pruners.
For discounts and offers on gardening equipment, try the links below:
For more gardening gear, check out our roundup of the essential garden tools, from lawnmowers to watering cans