On test: secateurs
Find the right ones for you
Secateurs tend to be the first thing you pick up when you’re off to do some work in the garden. They’re useful for deadheading and snipping off untidy shoots, for harvesting flowers and vegetables, and for the precision pruning that keeps your shrubs and climbers performing perfectly year after year. There are so many variations of this versatile hand tool that you may be left wondering how to make the right choice. The priority in terms of plant health is to make clean, neat cuts. When choosing which pair to buy, this cutting efficiency must be balanced against your own comfort, their ease of maintenance and overall value for money. We set about testing a selection of secateurs that would suit most gardeners. Tools were selected under three categories: bypass secateurs, anvil secateurs, and secateurs specifically designed for gardeners with a weaker grip (see p81 to find out more about these different types). The last category mostly comprised secateurs with a squeezeaction ratchet mechanism. We didn’t test secateurs with roll handles because, even though they can be excellent tools and worth a try, they are designed to reduce strain on the hand caused by repetitive pruning, and we felt that most home gardeners would prune for only relatively small amounts of time.
How we tested
The horticultural staff and students at Sparsholt College put the secateurs through their paces on a range of plant material. Each tool passed through several hands to get a balanced review of performance. We used medium-sized secateurs suitable for most hand sizes. Testers were amateur and prefessional gardeners on courses this year. They were asked to comment on and score the operational efficacy of the secateurs. After that the price was factored into the scores. Testers’ scores were checked against their comments for consistency. Turn to p82 for a summary of our Best Buys.