If you could have just one tool for the garden, make it a pair of secateurs – aka pruning shears or hand pruner or simply pruner. Take your pick on what you want to call it/them but I’m going to stick to secateurs (in the plural) because it’s a nice sounding French word (mid 19th century: plural of French sécateur ‘cutter’, formed irregularly from Latin secare ‘to cut’) and it sounds more professional. But I digress.
Secateurs are brilliant for trimming unruly plants, tidying up vine, cutting back bushes, and deadheading flowers. In fact, they’re ideal for snipping anything up to around 25mm in diameter – any thicker and you’ll likely require a lopper, but that’s for another time and place.
There are two types of secateurs: bypass and anvil. Bypass secateurs have blades that are designed to pass each other smoothly as they cut, like scissors. They are perfect for green wood and delicate stems, as they give precise, clean cuts and avoid damaging or bruising the branch.
Anvil secateurs, on the other hand, have one sharpened blade that cuts down on a flat plastic or rubber block, rather like a chopping board. Anvil secateurs are great for dead wood and dry, hard, old growth that needs cutting back. Mind, most amateur gardeners (this one included) will happily make do with either mechanism since they both essentially perform the same task.
For the purposes of this comparison, we’ve taken two sterling bypass models from our current guide to the best manual garden tools and put them to test to see which pair performs best. Is it the Gardena Garden Secateurs B/S-M or the Fiskars Pruner Bypass P57? Better read on to find out.
GARDENA GARDEN SECATEURS B/S-M vs FISKARS PRUNER BYPASS P57: design
Gardena is one of the most trusted manufacturers of all things garden related and, truth be told, we’ve never received a duff product from them. Designed but not necessarily made in Germany, the cheap-to-buy B/S-Ms come in Gardena’s striking aqua blue livery and are perfect for small-to-medium sized hands, though they could just as easily be used by someone with much larger mitts.
The Gardenas not only feel exceedingly comfortable in the hand but the one-hand locking latch also includes the wherewithal to lock the jaws in two different opening apertures – wide for larger stalks and narrow for light duties like deadheading and gentle topiary. These are among the grippiest secateurs on the market and they are effortless to use in most conditions. That bright aqua blue livery also makes them highly visible and therefore easy to find if ill-advisedly left in the garden.
The Gardena’s precision-ground, non-stick coated upper blade and stainless steel bottom blade provide effortless scissor action that requires little effort even when snipping branches up to their 20mm maximum rating. That said, I’ve often used them to cut much thicker branches and, while they required a lot more pressure, they still did the job remarkably well.
The Fiskars P57 are also of the bypass variety and designed for small to medium hands though the aperture of the jaws is much wider than that of the Gardena’s. Combined with the smooth, bevelled white ‘FiberComp’ handle material, the larger jaw width encourages the forefingers to slide over the grip as you open and close the fingers. Some users actually like this type of action because it feels natural in the hand. However, the slippery coating and bulkier design does make them move around a lot in the hand – something that doesn’t happen with the Gardenas. Like the Gardenas, these secateurs are designed for stalks up 20mm in diameter though they will tackle most larger branches and stems.
Unlike the standard scissor action of the Gardena’s, the Fiskars P57’s uses a patented PowerLever mechanism that is said to ‘reduce the cutting effort while supporting the use of all fingers simultaneously when cutting’, but I’ll tell you more about that below.
GARDENA GARDEN SECATEURS B/S-M vs FISKARS PRUNER BYPASS P57: performance
After numerous tests on all types of foliage, I genuinely could not tell the difference between the results. They both cut everything with zero fuss. However, when it came to comfort and grip, the Gardena B/S-M proved to be much more secure in the hand and ultimately more comfortable – if you have really dry hands you may find that the Fiskars move around in the hand too much.
To be honest, I couldn’t really see the benefit of the Fiskars’ PowerLever mechanism since it didn’t appear to require less effort to use than the Gardena’s straightforward scissor action. What I did notice is that the tougher spring action and wider jaws on the Fiskars made them feel less comfortable to use after long stints in the garden. They seemed more suitable for larger hands.
GARDENA GARDEN SECATEURS B/S-M vs FISKARS PRUNER BYPASS P57: verdict
Cutting straight to the point, the Gardena Gardena Secateurs win this contest by some margin. They simply feel smaller in the hand and therefore easier to use on a day-to-day basis. I also rate the adjustable jaw width which makes them suitable for larger hands. And, boy, are they rugged. On the other hand, the Fiskars P57 perform the action of cutting just as well and are consequently still worth a gander if you like your secateurs to feel slippery when performing a gripping action with your fingers.
Looking for a decent pair of hedge shears? Check out our comparison between the Niwaki Shears vs Burgon & Ball Sophie Conran Hedge Shear