We have all struggled with the wrong tools – here are some handy tips on which tool is the right one.
Available in different lengths, loppers (super-sized versions of pruners) are designed to require minimal energy to cut thick, dead or live branches with two hands. An anvil lopper is able to handle thick branches and has a single straight blade. It allows you to cut back dead wood or trim live wood before using the bypass version to make a final clean cut. Ratchet pruners are ideal for those branches needing more leverage, enabling you to latch onto the branch, cut and squeeze again. Bypass loppers are the most common and have two blades to give a final, clean cut which is good for the plant.
Hand saws are obviously a handy tool to have, as long as you choose the right one for the task. Some fold and lock into different positions so you can reach and cut at different angles, others are available for single or two-handed operation, and tree saws often have a hook for extracting cut branches. Fresh and dry wood can be cut easily with light bow saws, whilst general gardening saws can be used to tackle shrubs and finer branches.
Ideal for pruning thinner branches of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, secateurs are designed to fit snuggly in the palm of your hand. As the shorter bladed version of pruners or shears, they are designed for single handed operation using anvil, ratchet or bypass type blades. Some feature a built in catch for different cutting widths, others have a safety lock to prevent unintentional opening. As these are probably the smaller of the tools, they also come in bright colours making them easier to find when dropped in a shrub or flower bed.
Don't forget to keep blades sharp, and clean them after use
First published in the January/February 2019 issue of The Local Buzz