A CT Landscapers Review of Hand Pruners

From left to right: Costco pruners, ARS, Okatsune and the Felco #8.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve been testing hand pruners in our landscape company.  I decided to do the review of pruners one day when I had a safety clip on a pair of pruners continue to slip into the closed position and lock the pruners shut during use.  I began to wonder if the prized Felco #2, the landscape and nursery industry standard, were the best pruners for us and whether there were any other pruner styles or companies worth considering.

But first, a little about me.  I’ve been self employed in the landscape industry my whole life.  I’m 46 and started my business when I was 12.  Along the way I received degrees in Horticulture and Landscape Architecture as well as becoming a Nationally Certified Landscape Designer.  For years, I’ve always purchased #2 Felco’s because they have always been the most popular style among landscape and nursery professionals and they were the pruner that was recommended by my professors when entering the Horticultural program at S.U.N.Y Farmingdale 27 years ago.

To begin my review, my first purchase was the ARS HP-VS8.  I was at a trade show in Kentucky and started talking to the representatives at the ARS booth.  They talked me into giving their pruners a try because as they said, “I wouldn’t be disappointed”.  To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the ARS right out of the box.  Besides not having the feel of the Felco’s, my biggest complaint was when using the pruners.  The ARS tend to jamb often while pruning branches. When they jambed, I would have to use two hands and pull the handles in the opposite direction until they unjambed.

After ARS, I went back to Felco but instead of the #2, I purchased the #8 model. The style of these Felco’s are great.  I definitely prefer the #8 over the #2. Same high quality pruner but the handle shape is much more user friendly. As with most Felco pruners, the blade is replaceable which continues to be a nice feature for anyone in the landscape industry who use pruners often. Two areas of the Felco’s I would change, the location of the lock mechanism and maybe change the spring design as it does fall off the pruners occasionally.  Does anyone else have a finger or a branch lock a pair of pruners while pruning ?

Last spring, Costco had a box of pruners.  Curious, I bought two pairs because they looked just like the Felco #8’s.  These pruners were cheap to purchase and were also cheap in quality.  The metal that makes up the blade is extremely soft.  After the first day of pruning, it looked like I was trying to prune small rocks. There were multiple divots in the blade. I guess they would be fine for a homeowner who uses a pair of pruners once or twice a year but professionally, they won’t last long.

The last pair of pruners integrated into the company were the 8.25″ Okatsune.  We haven’t had much field use with these pruners since they were purchased towards the end of the season but I have a couple days of use with them and I have been pleasantly surprised.  I’ve never had a brand new pair of pruners cut so smoothly out of the box.  Truly amazing!  I also have been impressed with the location and quality of the locking mechanism and how they feel in my hand.  Having the lock at the end of the handle should eliminate the accidental locking that sometimes occurs with a lot of pruner styles.  I’m anxious to get some more experience with them.  The cutting edge seems high quality but only time will tell.  Time will also tell if the spring between the handles pops out which tends to happen a lot, even with the the highest quality pruners.  The one downfall I see with the Okatsune pruners is the blade is not replaceable although that might not be too much of a problem if the metal is durable.

If you’re looking for a new pair of high quality pruners, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with either the Felco #8 or the Okatsune’s.

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Richard Schipul
Richard Schipul

For the last 30 years, I have owned the landscape company Designing Eden LLC based in New Milford, CT. We offer landscape designs, landscape installations and garden maintenance services in Fairfield and Litchfield County Connecticut. I am currently the only Nationally Certified Landscape Designer in Litchfield County and sit on the board of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and Mad Gardeners.


2 thoughts on “A CT Landscapers Review of Hand Pruners”

  1. I have small hands and find working against a spring exhausting. The handles always spring too far apart and I have to really stretch to get my hand around them. I love Japan Woodworkers’ 210 mm Bonsai Shears (http://www.japanwoodworker.com/Product/156432/210mm-Bonsai-Shears—Shirogiku.aspx) . They are fine for all my perennial work and will prune small branches on woody plants as well. They take a bit of getting used to – at first one tends to pinch the tip of the little finger – but once you get used to them, you won’t want to go back to spring-loaded pruners.

    1. Richard Schipul

      Hi Kathleen,

      For larger branches, you might want to try the Felco 160S. I believe they’re designed for smaller hands.

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