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Pruning when you have a weak grip

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. Pruning encourages the production of buds to make flowers and fruit.   

Top tips to make pruning easier

  • Lightweight loppers
    Secateurs are used for general pruning and for larger stems you use a large pruner with either bypass or anvil blades. Some gardeners with weak grip prefer to use small loppers as they are operated with two hands.  
  • 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. Find out more about easy-care plants in  Thrive's plant guide 
  • Finger loop pruners
    You can buy fruit trees and some soft fruit bushes in semi-trained in 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. Finger loop pruners might be easier to grip and easier to hold on to.

Taking care when pruning

  • The repetitive action needed when using any pruning tools 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 into a shrub to prune it as the branches or thorns may scratch you. Wear protective clothing and good gardening gloves. 


Equipment and tools

  • Long reach pruner
    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 which saves you bending to pick up the cuttings.
  • If you garden sitting down, 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. 
  • The Snapper is a long handled pruner you can use easily. It has short cut-and-hold blades and is suitable for light pruning.
  • Keep all pruning tools sharp and well oiled and you’ll find that it will take less effort to make a cut.


Small lightweight ratchet action loppers  

Small lightweight ratchet action loppers

If you lack strength in your arms there is nothing better for easier cutting than a ratchet lopper. This model is one of the lightest and generally sells at a very reasonably price.

Find out more about Small lightweight ratchet action loppers


Lightweight plastic power lever secateurs  

Lightweight plastic power lever secateurs

This small high-tech and good quality tool offers a simple alternative to a ratchet secateur. It is easier to use and is more robust, but gives a similar mechanical advantage on smaller stems.

Find out more about Lightweight plastic power lever secateurs


Secateurs with finger loop  

Secateurs with finger loop

If you have problems gripping hand tools then these sturdy little secateurs may be the answer. They are made from strong plastic and have a soft grip on the top handle and a finger loop on the bottom.

Find out more about Secateurs with finger loop


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