These tools are used for clipping shrubs, hedges and topiary or for other trimming tasks around the garden, such as lawn edging. They are also useful for cutting back small shrubs and climbers or cutting down spent perennials in the autumn.
Although powered hedge trimmers are often preferred these days, you may find that cutting a small hedge can be done just as quickly and efficiently, with a pair of hand shears. Hand shears will often provide a better finish, especially on finer growth.
Safety Note: Always use shears and other cutting tools in accordance with manufacturer's instructions. Never leave them lying around the garden. Store them away safely and use a cover/guard to cover and protect the blades when not in use.
These tools consist of two cutting blades with a bypass action. Small hedges and shrubs can be trimmed easily with shears but a powered trimmer will save a lot of time on larger hedges. Both lightweight and heavy-duty shears are available for different uses and types of plants. Notched shears have a cutting notch near the pivot for tackling thicker stems. Gear action shears (shown here) have a gear mechanism that reduces the effort needed for cutting.
Straight-edged models are easy to sharpen and maintain, while shears with wavy cutting edges are better at cutting thicker stems, but will need a special sharpening technique.
Image Credit: Spear & Jackson Razorsharp Geared Hedge Shears
Shears can be purchased with long or extended handles for greater reach. Telescopic shears can be extended and locked in position, which can increase or decrease the reach as required.
When purchasing a pair, check that they are not too heavy to use and are comfortable to handle. Also ensure that they have a stopper or buffer built into the handles, so they won't close together too far, trapping your hands or fingers.
These are long handled sheers, where the cutting head is set at 90 degrees to the handles. This allows you to trim areas of the lawn and other low growing plants whilst standing up. Particularly usefully for areas of lawn that are difficult to reach with a lawnmower, such as under plants, against walls or along narrow pathways. While lawn shears are useful for clipping small areas, they have now largely been superseded by powered line trimmers.
Image Credit: Flip Lock Telescopic Lawn Shear
A very versatile and handy tool for tidying up and neatening the edges of the lawn, which can improve the look of a lawn dramatically. They have long handles set at right angles to the cutting blades and are used from a standing position to trim grass growing over the edge of a lawn. To achieve the best look you will need to trim lawn edges regularly, such as every time you mow. Powered lawn edgers and line trimmers that can be adjusted through 90 degrees are now more popularly used for this task.
These are small enough to fit into one hand and incorporate a spring that reopens the blades after each cut. They are useful for light trimming, deadheading and for cutting back low growing perennials, herbs, alpines and small areas of grass. Some also have swiveling blades to adjust the angle of cut for both surface and edging work.
Image Credit: Spear & Jackson Single Hand Grass Shears
Scissors can be very useful in the garden as they give a quick crisp cut that is ideal for cutting chives or harvesting cut-and-come-again salad vegetables. They are also ideal for dead heading thin stemmed plants. Specialised garden scissors are available but in reality they are very similar to household scissors. It is best to choose a stainless steel pair as carbon steel scissors will easily rust outdoors. Keep them clean and sharp.
Image Credit: Fiskars Universal Garden Scissors