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Pruning using one hand

Pruning is cutting back shoots and branches on a shrub or tree to remove any dead or diseased growth, to shape the plant and to limit its size, to remove dead flowers (deadheading) and to cut back herbaceous plants. Pruning encourages the production of buds to make flowers and fruit.   

Top tips to make pruning easier

  • Cut and grip secateurs
    When pruning with one hand, use secateurs for general pruning. For larger stems, up to 20mm, thick you may also need a large pruner with either bypass or anvil blades which can be used one handed.
  • If you garden with one hand it makes sense to choose shrubs and trees that don’t need pruning or those that don’t need a lot of pruning. Look at the plant label or ask for advice before you buy. Thrive’s plant guide has a list of plants that are easy to maintain. Find out more about Thrive's plant guide 
  • You can buy fruit trees and some soft fruit bushes in semi-trained forms such as espalier or cordons that are easier to reach and to prune.
  • When choosing secateurs, check they are the right size for your hand and that they have a comfortable grip. It’s also worth checking the size is right for you when the handles are open. Make sure that you can release the safety catch easily. 

Taking care when pruning

  • The repetitive action needed when using secateurs can strain your hand. Always 'warm up’ with a few gentle stretches, tackle a bit at a time and take regular breaks.
  • Don’t try to cut material that is too thick for your secateurs. Good quality bypass or anvil secateurs will cut stems up to 20mm thick. 
  • Reaching up to prune can put a strain on your legs, back, neck and arms. Don’t over stretch and do a little at a time. 
  • Be careful when reaching in to a shrub to prune it as the branches or thorns may scratch you. Wear protective clothing and good gardening gloves. 


Equipment and tools

  • Cut and hold secateurs
    Ratchet action and power lever secateurs require less strength and can ease some of the strain on your hands. 
  • Cut and hold secateurs grip the cut material to save you bending.
  • Longer, lightweight gear action plastic pruners have good cutting power but you will need a reasonable level of strength to use them.
  • Long-reach pruners are designed for hard to reach areas. The shorter
    length models can be used with one hand. 
  • Snapper
    The Snapper is a long handled pruner you can use with one hand. It has short cut-and-hold blades and is suitable for light pruning.
  • Telescopic tools for cutting higher branches can be used if you have good upper body strength.
  • Keep all pruning tools sharp and well oiled and you’ll find that it will take less effort to make a cut.


Cut and hold secateurs  

Cut and hold secateurs

These top quality steel secateurs with anvil blades have plastic handles and a mechanism that holds on to the stem that has been cut off.

Find out more about Cut and hold secateurs


Long reach pruners  

Long reach pruners

Ideal for cutting hard-to-reach branches, this group of tools includes models with telescopic handles, lightweight products and tree pruner systems and saws.

Find out more about Long reach pruners


Snapper  

Snapper

These useful pruners have a cut and hold mechanism which is ideal for pruning and deadheading. All the models have long handles and the telescopic version offers extra reach.

Find out more about Snapper


Comfort secateurs  

Comfort secateurs

This range is particularly good as it offers both anvil and bypass blades in three different sizes of secateur, so you can choose a model to exactly suit your hand.

Find out more about Comfort secateurs


Battery powered pruners  

Battery powered pruners

Although the handle of these pruners holds a battery and a motor, they are still reasonably light and very easy to use. Great for deadheading and if you use one hand or have a weak grip.

Find out more about battery powered pruners