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Secateurs and scissors: our guide to cutting tools

Our range of RHS-endorsed cutting tools contains a slightly bewildering variety of implements. We thought it might be helpful to present a quick guide to our key RHS-endorsed cutting tools, highlighting their relevant points of difference, to help you choose the right tool for the job in the autumn tidy-up.
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Secateurs and scissors: our guide to cutting tools
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Secateurs and scissors: our guide to cutting tools

With the days getting shorter, the mornings getting decidedly fresher, and the smell of woodsmoke in the air, it’s starting to feel like autumn is just around the corner. And with things looking a little tired in the garden, our minds are turning to tidying up a little – clearing the decks, if you like, ready for the change of season.

Of course, cutting tools are a must-have for the autumn tidy-up. But which one to choose, for which job? Our range of RHS-endorsed cutting tools contains a slightly bewildering variety of implements. We displayed them on our stand at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year, and we had many visitors who confessed to finding it all a bit much to take in. There are so many that we find it a bit confusing too, sometimes!

So we thought it might be helpful to present a quick guide to our key RHS-endorsed cutting tools, highlighting their relevant points, to save you having to look at each one individually.


Bypass Secateur

Bypass Secateur

An excellent all-round secateur, recommended for making clean, healthy cuts on live green growth. The sharp blade slices down on the plant stem, which is supported by the anvil, or cutting block. The blade then bypasses the anvil, a similar action to a guillotine or cheese wire, cutting through the stem without crushing the living tissue of the plant. A high-carbon steel blade holds a sharp edge for a long time, but do clean it before putting it away, as carbon steel can’t offer the rust resistance of stainless steel.

Pocket Pruner

A more compact version of the bypass secateur, again with a bypass action. Smaller, lighter and  easier to use in tight spaces, it cuts stems up to 1.5cm diameter – despite weighing less than 150g.

Micro Secateur

Our smallest bypass action pruner, the small-but-mighty Micro Secateur will comfortably cut stems up to 1.3cm in diameter. At just 16cm in length, this pruner is ideal to pop in a pocket as you garden. Again, it has the same spec as the full-size Bypass Secateur, with high-carbon steel blade and lightweight alloy handles.

Fruit and Flower SnipFlower & Fruit Snip

This snip has fine pointed blades for precision cutting. It’s a scissor-action tool, with two sharp moving blades rather than the moving blade and static anvil of the Bypass Secateur. It’s ideal for cutting flower stems and the stems of produce such as tomatoes, beans, strawberries and even grapes. Leaving the stem attached to the fruit or veg keeps the natural seal, allowing the food to stay fresh for longer.

Rose Pruner

This ‘cut and hold’ pruner is a favourite with the Chelsea crowds. It’s a bypass pruner with an ingenious action which keeps hold of the cut stem of the plant after the blade has made the cut. The gardener can then remove the cut stem and transport it to barrow or trug, without having to touch it. It’s ideal for cutting back roses, or working with irritant plants like euphorbia or yarrow.

Florist’s Shear

Another scissor-action tool with two sharp moving blades. The finely-pointed blades are ideal for targeting specific stems. This shear is extremely comfortable to use, and actually outperforms scissors in terms of power and comfort. Ideal for florists, but also ideal for anyone with reduced strength or mobility in their hands.

Ergo Deadheader

Ergo Deadheader

This is a clever scissor-action pruner. In fact, it won numerous industry awards when we launched it a few years ago. The ergonomically shaped handle nestles in the palm, and there’s a finger loop which slides over the index finger to keep it securely in place. It’s ideal if you have a lot of deadheading to do, as it really takes the strain out of making repetitive cuts. It also makes cutting a lot easier for gardeners with reduced strength in their hands or wrists. Unfortunately, it’s not really suitable for left-handed gardeners. If you’d like to see a left-handed version, let us know, and we’ll see what we can do!

Professional Bypass Secateur

This is the highest-specification RHS-endorsed bypass secateur, and will keep you cutting day after day, year after year. The tension of the closing action can be adjusted to suit the gardener’s grip. Rubber cushion stops prevent jarring. The single-piece anvil gives superior cutting action on thicker material. This is a high-performance secateur, easily cutting up to 2.5cm in diameter. Again, as it’s bypass action, it’s recommended for use on live green growth.

Professional Compact Bypass Secateur

A smaller version of the Professional Bypass Secateur, with shorter handles and a smaller blade. The shape of the blade features a more ergonomic profile, designed to give maximum cutting power to smaller hands. It’s ideal for working among dense stems.

Rotating Handle Bypass Secateur

Professional Rotating Handle Bypass Secateur

A useful addition to the Professional Bypass design is a freely-rotating grip on the left handle. This allows it to follow the grip of your palm as you squeeze the handles together. This small movement makes a big difference, significantly reducing friction and muscle strain from prolonged use. This bypass secateur will easily cut through growth up to 2.5cm in thickness; we’ve found it ideal, for example, for cutting back hazel whips.

Anvil Secateur

This secateur has a different cutting action from the bypass secateurs. Here the blade chops down onto the anvil or cutting block, landing on it rather than bypassing it. It’s a powerful cutting action, and it's ideal for cutting old, hard or dead wood. However, it’s less suitable for live growth, as the cutting action can crush stems on soft green growth, causing injury to the plant and allowing bacteria a point of entry.

Ratchet Pruner

This heavy-duty pruner also has an anvil action. This version is especially powerful as it features a three-stage geared cutting action which amplifies the user’s cutting power by 2.5 times. It’s ideal for dealing with extremely hard wood, and it allows gardeners with limited reserves of strength to make cuts they wouldn’t think possible – and repeat them time after time.


We hope you find this ready reference useful when it comes to choosing the right RHS-endorsed cutting tool for the job at hand.

Happy tidying!


Pocket pruner


1 comment
  • Wow! Love the Ergo Deadheader! Never knew I needed one ….until now

    Jackie on
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