Importance of Using the Right Type of Hand Pruner

One of the most interesting things we often see from gardeners and landscapers is the confusion about which tool to use for the job. There seems to be a misconception, from beginners to advanced, that one tool is good enough for all jobs. This post sets the record straight on when to use bypass pruners and when to use anvil pruners. At the most basic level, bypass pruners are ideal for pruning and cutting fresh, live-green stems. This will make the cleanest cuts, allowing the plant to properly heal and promote new growth. For hard deadwood, an anvil pruner cuts through this dense material easily without risking the plant, tree, or hand pruner. Read on to find out the whys and why-nots of using these tools interchangeably. It will help protect your plants, your tools and yourself.

Corona bypass hand pruner blog post

Bypass Pruners - Cutting Live Stems and Branches

A bypass pruner has a cutting blade that passes the non-cutting hook, much like a pair of scissors. The blade is beveled and sharp on one side, with the other flat and unsharpened to pass the hook. When properly sharpened, they make the cleanest cuts on live branches and stems without any damage to the remaining stem. This is important as it helps the plant heal from the cut and encourages new growth. 

Corona FlexDIal bypass hand pruner

Anvil Pruners - Cutting Hard, Dead Wood

Unlike the bypass pruner, an anvil pruner has a blade that is sharpened on both sides. This closes down on a flat anvil, which typically has a narrow channel for the cutting blade so as not to damage its sharpened edge. What makes this great for cutting hard deadwood is that there is no risk of crushing any stems. In fact, removing the old dead wood helps the plant direct energy towards new growth.

Corona Anvil hand pruner

The Why-Nots for Using the Wrong Tools

Confusion and misconception arise when many gardeners believe that one pruner can handle all their small pruning tasks. However, using an anvil hand pruner on a live stem or branch will likely crush it. In most cases, it will make the cut; however, the remaining branch will get crushed and damaged. The plant must recover from this and will be more susceptible to diseases and pests, which could ultimately kill the plant.

Using a bypass pruner on hard deadwood can be disastrous. Since the wood is harder to cut, a gardener is likely to twist and torque their hand, causing the blade to cross over the opposite side of the hook. Not only will this kill your hand, but once the cut is made, the blade will come down on the hook rather than bypass it. This will cause the blade to become damaged or chipped. In the worst case, it could cause the blade to snap and potentially become a sharp projectile. Not only are you out of a good hand pruner, but since this is effectively misusing the tool, it may void the warranty and risk serious bodily injury to yourself.

Do You REALLY Need Both?

It's best to assess the job and bring the correct tool for the task. You wouldn't use a screwdriver to drive in a nail. So, if your job is mostly cutting live stems and branches, a bypass pruner is the way to go. Invest in a decent anvil pruner if you are cutting out deadwood or even harder, denser plants and trees like mesquite. Spending a little extra budget will ultimately save you from replacing your good bypass pruners and or replacing a plant that didn't survive due to a poor cut. Most importantly, visit the emergency room when a blade snaps and injures you.

Need more advice on pruning and proper tool care? Corona's free Principles of Pruning guide is packed with helpful tips and information.


About Corona:

Corona Tools was born in the orange groves of Southern California in 1928. Our roots began with an invention that revolutionized the citrus industry. Since then, we’ve been designing superior garden and landscape tools for hard working professionals and gardeners, who take pride in a job well done. For generations, our customers have relied on Corona’s strength and durability. For over 90 years, Corona has established itself as a leading professional tool brand, primarily within North America. Part of the global Venanpri Tools family of hand tool brands, our tools are carried in retail stores, local garden centers, and landscape, agriculture and arborist suppliers.  

About Venanpri Tools:

Venanpri Tools is a global collective of the finest hand tool brands for agriculturists, horticulturists, gardeners, landscape and construction professionals. The cumulative experience of the BellotaBurgon & Ball and Corona brands represents nearly 500 years of advancement in developing superior hand tools. With a global footprint spanning more than 125 countries across 6 continents, our brands have been the leading choice for generations of professionals who rely on quality and lasting performance.