Welcome to our guide to the best garden shears for trimming hedges, bushes, shrubs and the edge of your lawn.
The humble garden shear has many practical uses and is the tool to reach for when trimming hedges, cutting several stalks or thin branches at once. Like the Best Secateurs, shears are among the most useful Manual Garden Tools you can have in your horticultural armoury.
We've sourced a fine selection of the best garden shears on the market and snipped hither and thither to see which models perform best. All you have to do is follow our guidance at the end of this feature and choose the most suitable pair of shears for you and your garden.
Let’s get shearing…
The best garden shears you can buy in 2023
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Fiskars produces a number of top-quality cutting implements including secateurs, shears and household and fabric scissors. Some of the company’s garden products also feature unique mechanisms that reduce cutting effort while maximising leverage – like this excellent pair of hedge shears.
Aside from being remarkably light – much lighter than they look – the PowerGear X Hedge Shear utilises a patented mechanism that provides three times the force of normal shears. I gave them a whirl on a mutinous hedge and the blades snipped through its larger stems astonishingly well and with very little effort. Of course, it helped that the stainless steel blades themselves are as sharp as sharp can be but I was equally impressed with the quality of the SoftGrip handles and how comfortable and grippy they were. If you can stretch your budget to a snip under £60, this model is a top buy.
There are shears and then there are Japanese shears. Produced in Sanjo, the Niwaki’s blades are cast from hard-wearing SK steel and they are so sharp and efficient that they snip through hedging, shrubs and ivy like scissors cut through hair.
The white oak handles feel fantastic in the hand and they even have an almost indiscernible taper in the middle that you find your hands gravitating towards. The blades on this model are a substantial 185mm in length making them perfect for intensive topiary sessions, but never leave them outdoors because, well, why would you?
We compare these top-rated sheers to a fierce rival in our Niwaki Shears vs Burgon & Ball Sophie Conran Hedge Shear comparison feature, so check it out for more information.
The mechanism used for the Gardena 2in1 EnergyCut is quite similar in concept to the Fiskars at number. However, the German brand has taken its gearing method to an even greater level that allows the left handle to articulate outward, far beyond the range of any other shears. In essence, when you’re up against a branch that’s beyond the normal quarter-to-half an inch in diameter, you simply push the orange selector and the left handle unlocks to swing further outwards. According to Gardena ‘the resulting increase in travel translates into up to two and a half times more force.’
Granted, it is an odd feeling having a left handle that feels like it’s broken but the extra leverage definitely works when applied to thicker branches. The slight curve in the blades also helps keep any slippery branches in position when cutting.
The Gardena 2in1 feels slightly heavier in the hand than the winning Fiskars so bear that in mind if you do a lot of hedge cutting or are weak of limb. Otherwise, this is a fine set of cutters for all your shearing duties.
If the ivy or hedge top is a reach too far, invest in this classic extended shear designed by Sophie Conran. This model has a high-carbon steel blade length of 22cm and an overall length of 81cm so it's much more suitable for areas that are much higher than your normal arms’ reach.
The quality of build is exemplary (you’ll love the shaped grips on the ash handles), which is what we’ve come to expect from most Burgon & Ball products. Just be sure to avoid trying to snip thicker branches that require a lot of pressure if using the full length of the handles because excessive force could cause them to snap. But then simple physics should tell you that.
See how these shears compare to the competition in our Niwaki Shears vs Burgon & Ball Sophie Conran Hedge Shear comparison feature.
If you find that some shears are too heavy and large to wield about for long periods of time, try this pair of ultra lightweight Japanese-made shears from Niwaki. The Mini Shears are equipped with razor-sharp blades that are just the right length (14cm) for regular use while the white oak handles are relatively short and are sheathed in knobbly rubber that feels reassuringly grippy in the hands.
The blades themselves are made from SK steel (a hardened alloy comprised of carbon and manganese), the preferred material of kitchen knife manufacturers. For smaller shearing tasks, this diminutive model comes highly recommended.
Wavy blades like those fitted to this sterling pair from Stihl are a boon for snipping branches up to one inch in diameter. The PH 10s stainless steel blades are 22cm in length and equipped with a wavy design that makes short work of gripping thicker branches that may otherwise slip outwards when under pressure. The classic tapered wooden handles add a touch of traditional comfort though they will be easily soiled if left outside.
These high-quality Germanic shears are about the same price as the lighter Fiskars above but they’re not as technically advanced or as weatherproof. Nevertheless, they come from a pro-spec brand that is renowned for the quality and reliability of all its products, so step this way if that is your wont.
These Germanic grass scissors are a boon for trimming the edges of a small suburban lawn without having to reach for one of the Best Grass Strimmers. Mind, even if you have a lawn the size of a tennis court, they’re just as handy for tidying up those inevitable bits of stray grass you forgot to trim in the first place. But above all, these hand shears are especially useful for trimming grass that borders the edges of ponds, flower borders and anywhere that requires careful manual maintenance.
The Gardena Comfort Grass Shears have a comfortable, smooth action and come equipped with blades that can be swivelled 360˚ so you can also use them to trim the edges of a lawn from absolutely any angle. They can also be used as standard shears to perform delicate topiary on a hedge or an unruly bush. Well handy.
How to choose the best garden shears
There are two main types of garden shears: hedge and edging. Hedge shears are basically like a giant pair of scissors with two long blades of around 20cm in length and two equally long handles. Unlike secateurs which are designed for singular snipping and general plant maintenance, shears can cut through a swathe of foliage in one go and branches up to about half an inch in diameter in some cases. They are ideal for trimming and styling hedges and shaping bushes.
Edging shears usually have two extra long handles attached to a heavily angled blade so you can trim lawn edges while stooping instead of crouching. That said, you can also buy lawn edging shears for hand use. Normally these shears have a mechanism that allows you to turn the blade 360˚ so you can trim lawn edges from the top or the side.
When choosing a pair of shears, consider the weight of the product because you’ll be using them at arms’ length and after ten minutes or so of snipping you really will start to feel the weight.
Most shears are equipped with straight blades but some more expensive models come with wavy blades that are designed for holding wider branches and stems in position while they’re cut. That said, wavy bladed shears are a bit harder to sharpen. And speaking of sharpening, you’d do well to invest in a blade sharpener like the excellent Stihl Sharpening Tool. This little gizmo is perfect for keeping shears, secateurs and household scissors in tip-top condition.
The majority of larger shears are also equipped with a bumper system. This is usually in the form of two rubber stoppers that help absorb the impact when the two blades meet after cutting thicker branches. It’s a small and seemingly insignificant feature to have but one that makes long hedge-trimming sessions more comfortable on the wrists.
Now you've found yourself the best shears, compliment them with some other essential gardening items like the Best Garden Sprinkler, the Best Garden Watering System, the Best Cordless Lawn Mower and, for those with larger gardens, the Best Petrol Lawn Mower.