what are secateurs used for

What Are Secateurs Used For: Pruning Plants to Perfection

Last Updated on January 10, 2023

Secateurs are a common tool for completing chores in the garden because they come with a large cutting blade. What are secateurs used for? In a nutshell, secateurs can be used for habitat management (such as trimming branches), cutting, and cleaning a garden area.

In particular, you can use secateurs to trim and shape plants, cut thorny parts, remove damaged foliage, control overgrowing plants, encourage plant growth, trim vegetables, and even harvest vegetables.

Types of Secateurs

There are two types of secateurs that you’ll need to consider: anvil and bypass secateurs.


Gardeners typically use this type of secateurs to get rid of any unwanted shrubs or branches. These feature a straight edge on the blade when you squeeze these secateurs, which breaks up parts of a plant around it. As a result, it’s straightforward to remove branches. Additionally, you can use this type of secateurs on wood, although you should be aware of using them on growing plants because it can be a long process to heal the plant.


Bypass secateurs are equipped with two blades, with one blade being bevelled. The edge of bypass pruners provides a smooth, clean-cut, which will only crush the plant on one side. When using this type of pruner, you’ll only be crushing the plant part that you want to be removed. Therefore, the plant can heal while allowing you to make a precise cut.

How to Use Secateurs in 4 Easy Steps

Safety should be your priority, so here are some safe ways to use your gardening pruners.

Step 1: Make a Precise Cut

First, line up the blade with the item you’re cutting. All the while, remember that the blade comes through shifts of around 1/4″ when you flip it. When you’re cutting a garden plant close to the steam, ensure that the pruner is upside down.

Step 2: Choose the Angle

The next step is to select the correct angle for your secateurs. For example, cut directly across the plant’s stem if it’s opposite-branding. However, if it’s alternate-branching, cut straight across. Ideally, cut away from the bud at an angle to protect the plant. This angle also allows water to move away from the plant, so nothing gets trapped inside that could cause rotting.

Step 3: Open the Secateurs All the Way

Completely open the secateurs as far as they’ll go and insert the branch inside. Before you trim, bear in mind that you can’t use them like scissors—as tempting as this might be. Instead, this weaker cutting method can dull the blade and hurt your hands.

Step 4: Start Cutting

Now that you have the pruners in place, it’s time to start cutting. Ensure that the wood is aligned correctly, and then close the loopers in one action. Press down a little firmer each time, ensuring that you keep the blade in one position rather than moving it around until you’ve cut.

Tips for Using Secateurs Safely

Safety is more important than effectiveness, so here are some safe ways to use this gardening tool.

Listen to Your Body

man with pruning shearsIt can be tempting to want to continue gardening until the job is completely done. But it’s more important to look after your body and listen to its needs. Pruning shears require a lot more effort than people anticipate, and using them can lead to soreness and stiffness due to repetitive stress. You can eradicate these effects by always using the deepest part of the blade for maximum leverage.

Ensure that you’re using the balls of your hand rather than your fingertips, which has smaller muscles and can become injured easier. Never force your pruners to cut a piece of wood, either, and switch to another garden tool for thicker stems or branches.

Keep Your Pruners in a Gardener’s Bolster

When using your pruning shears, you’ll likely need them more than once in one gardening session. Therefore, carry them in a gardener’s bolster for easy access, rather than placing them on the floor and having to reach down and get them. Gardeners use a bolster to make their lives much easier, and it accommodates sharp blades, so you’ll get peace of mind that they’re safe to use.

Watch What You’re Cutting

While you have anvil or bypass pruners in your hand, it can be tempting to cut anything and everything that needs trimming in the garden. However, ensure that you’re cautious and look out for branches that are tucked away. Cutting through sharp, thick branches could damage your secateurs.

As a general rule of thumb, if you experience extreme stiffness when trying to cut through a branch or stem, this is a clear indication that you shouldn’t be cutting with pruners. Put down the secateurs and use another piece of equipment that’s better suited for the job.

Keep Your Secateurs Well-Maintained

Dull blades can be more dangerous than sharp ones, not to mention that they’re also not as effective. Here’s how to keep the blades of your secateurs sharp and ready to go, so they’re always waiting for you when it’s time to maintain your garden:

  • Remove any visible dirt build-up on the inside blade of your pruners by using an oily rag. Make this motion slowly and ensure you use a gentle action to avoid cutting yourself.
  • Once the secateurs are cleaned, it is time to sharpen them. Open the pruner in your left hand and run your sharpening tool over the edge at around a 23-degree angle. Then, turn them over onto the opposite side and remove any burrs from the inside edge. Once you’re happy with the blade’s sharpness, apply some saddle oil to keep them supple and rust-resistant.

Get Started with Pruning

Secateurs, also called hand pruners, are common tools used in the garden and come with many advantages. It can help you maintain your garden and even encourage plants to grow. As it has sharp blades, always remember to practice safety whenever you use it.

Now that you know the answer to ‘What are secateurs used for?’, you can start pruning your plants. Tell us about your experience in the comments.

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