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As we start planning for our spring landscaping projects, the first thing we want to do is make sure that we have the proper tools in our woodsheds and toolboxes. As the environment around us starts greening up, we may notice branches that need to be removed and plants that need to be trimmed. Depending on the size of plants in your landscape, you may need a variety of tools to successfully prune.

Hand Pruners

As some of the smallest pruning tools, hand pruners are used to cut small twigs that are less than .5 inches in diameter. They can be used to cut fresh flowers and vegetables, as well as removing dead, diseased, or damaged branches. Due to their size, they fit into pant and apron pockets and can be easily transported around your garden for on demand use.

There are two different types of hand pruners: scissor action or draw cut pruners, and anvil action or snapcut pruners. The scissor action pruners have a sharp blade that glides against a thicker sharp blade and they make a closer smoother cut. The anvil action pruners have a sharp blade that cuts against a broader grooved blade, and can easily handle larger cuts but they tend to be less precise.

Lopping Shears

A larger version of the hand pruners, lopping shears are used to cut branches that are between .5-1.5 inches. The longer handle lets you reach farther into trees to cut those larger branches, while exerting a minimal amount of force. Lopping shears come in the same types as the hand pruners: scissor and anvil action. Ideally, you want to choose they type that best works for your space.

Hedge Shears

Hedge shears look like large scissors, and shouldn’t be used to make large cuts. They are perfect for making straighter cuts, and are commonly used to trim large hedges to maintain uniform shapes.

Pruning Saw

Depending on the size of trees in your yard, you may also consider adding a pruning saw to your list of tools. Best used to trim branches 1.5 inches or larger, this saw is a great option for jobs that are smaller and don’t necessitate a chain saw. Pruning saws can come with a straight or curved blade, and some can be folded while others are kept straight in a protective sheath.

Maintaining Tools

One of the keys to successful tool use is to make sure that you are taking good care of them- tools that are well taken care of can be used for many years.  After each use, make sure that you are wiping them down to get rid of any sap that may be present as well as disinfecting them to make sure you aren’t spreading any diseases. Wiping them down also prevents any rust from forming after use. After a few uses, check to make sure that your tools are sharp. Cutting with sharp tools ensures that you are cleanly cutting through branches instead of tearing them. At the end of the season, make sure your tools are sharp, apply a final layer of oil, store in a cool dry place.

To learn more about pruning plants, please see UGA Extension Bulletin 961: Pruning Ornamental Plants in the Landscape

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