A good pair of garden shears can make garden tasks quick and easy to tackle. They’re essential for proper care of hedges, shrubs, and lawns, helping to keep them in tip-top condition. Unlike secateurs, which are designed for pruning single branches, garden shears can tackle several branches or blades of grass at once.
What are the different types of shears?
Hedge shears – think big garden scissors. For pruning and shaping hedges and trees, or cutting down garden waste for compost.
Telescopic hedge shears – hedge shears with handles that extend, for safely reaching the tops of tall trees, shrubs, and bushes without using ladders.
Edging shears – these specialised lawn tools are long-handled shears with an angled blade, for trimming the edges of lawns next to paving, decking and flowerbeds.
Lawn shears – Similar to edging shears, but with a flat, horizontal blade for trimming awkward areas of grass, such as tufts around trees or next to fences and walls.
What should I look out for?
Blades – These are almost always steel; either carbon steel, which is durable and strong but prone to rust, and stainless steel, which is highly resistant to rust but is a little weaker. Sometimes carbon blades are powder coated to protect the steel from rust. Almost always, shears arrive with a thin coating of oil to both further protect the blades and lubricate the hinge.
Handles – These can be simple and plain, ergonomically designed or include grips for comfort and are usually made from steel, aluminium, wood or composite plastic. Steel is long lasting but heavy, wood helps to absorb shock but needs maintenance and care while composite handles can’t be recycled.
Weight – The lighter the shears, the better. These tools get hours of use, so it’s best to steer clear of heavy types, which will be tiring for your hands, wrists and arms.
Bumpers – Generating the power to cut through tough hedging like leylandii, yew, and hawthorn can put a lot of force on your hands. Good bumpers – shock absorbers – will soften the force and ensure a comfortable cut. This is especially helpful for gardeners with mobility or strength issues with their hands.
Length – The longer the blades, the more efficiently they will perform the job, the shorter the shears, the more nimble. If you need to tackle a lot of hedging, go for long shears; for small, neater work, go for smaller shears.
What are wavy hedge shears?
Some hedge shears have wavy blades rather than straight blades. This is to help them grip the plant stems and stop them slipping when being cut and is useful for more open, larger leaved hedging. However, wavy blades can be tricky to sharpen, and because they’re a little more expensive to manufacture, can be pricier than more traditional straight-blade shears.
How we test
We use each pair of shears in a garden, as a gardener would use them; for hedge shears, on four different common hedges and shrubs and for edging shears, on grass between lawns, paving stones and borders. We assess the materials – what the handles and grips are made from, and the kind of steel used in the blades. We see how well balanced each shear is, and how comfortable it is to hold parallel or angled to the plant it’s cutting. We check that they aren’t too heavy, and that the handles don’t rub and that each shear can handle its maximum cutting width.
For advice on trimming with hedge shears, check out our No-Fuss Guide.
Find out which shears made the cut below.
8 of the best garden shears
Darlac Lightweight Shears
Our rating 4.75 out of 5
- Excellent performance
- Lifetime Warranty
- No blade cover provided
These shears gave an excellent cut, slicing cleanly through the branches of every hedge on test. They’re remarkably light; at just 820kg, they weigh less than a bag of sugar. This weight makes them very nimble for precise trimming, but also a joy to use when cutting large hedges and shrubs. They’re made even more comfortable by their effective shock absorbers. They come with a lifetime warranty.
Bulldog Premier Wavy Blade Hedge Shears
Our rating 4.5 out of 5
- Clean cut through all hedges
- Great value
- Come with blade cover and hook to hang
- Ineffective shock absorbers
- May be small for bigger hands
- Plastic handles feel a little cheap
They might be small, but these hedge shears pack a punch, slicing through every hedge in our test with ease. Their wavy blades are fantastic for gripping branches and leaves without chewing them up and their size makes them great for gardeners who are tight on storage space, plus they have a cover for hanging up and protecting them from rust. However, the shock absorbers don’t work very well, and the plastic handles feel a little cheap. The rubber grips on these handles are just 13cm long, so they may be uncomfortable if you have larger hands.
Kent and Stowe General Purpose Hedge Shears 8”
Our rating: 4 out of 5
- Great price
- Clean cut on both leaves and smaller stems
- Struggles with woody material
- Ineffective shock absorbers
On test, we found this pair great for snipping through leaves and thinner stems. They’re light and well-balanced, and their handles give great grip without rubbing. However, they struggle with woodier material, and the shock absorbers don’t soften the cut as well as they could.
Burgon and Ball RHS Endorsed Hedge Shears
Our rating: 4 out of 5
- Powerful Compound action
- Effective Wavy blade
- Good warranty
- A little clumsy for close work
- No shock absorbers
For cutting a lot of tough hedging, try these shears from Burgon and Ball. The wavy blades are chromed and coated for longevity, and they grip material well but their most important feature is a compound mechanism – a lever that assists with generating extra force, which means they slice easily through branches. However, they shears aren’t ideal for more delicate tasks like trimming conifers and the compound action also means that they don’t have shock absorbers, which is a little uncomfortable. We love the ten-year warranty.
Amazon Basics Telescopic Hedge Shears
Our rating: 4 out of 5
- Telescopic handles
- Great with thick branches
- Telescopic mechanism a little stiff
- Can still see glue
- Uncomfortable handles
We love the telescopic handles on these shears – they make it easy to reach high-up branches, while the extra length means you can generate more force, so they cope well with woodier material. However, the handles rub after prolonged use because the finish isn’t fantastic – there’s a ridge where the rubber of the handle is formed. Parts of the glue that holds the handle together is also visible.
Lawn Edging Shears
Darlac DP812 Lawn Edging Shears
Our rating: 5 out of 5
- Adjustable handles
- Wavy blades for a sharper cut
- Good length blades
- Plastic flip locks on handles
A BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy award winner, these lawn edging shears are extremely lightweight. They have adjustable handles, which adjust from 66cm to 108cm, so you can use them with a straight back whatever your height and soft grips make them comfortable to handle too. These edging shears feature strong, wavy-edged blades that cut well, and, at 29cm in length, are quick and efficient to get the job done. They also come with a lifetime warranty.
Bulldog Edging Shears
4.75 out of 5
- Great performance
- Very well-balanced
- No ergonomics
- Feel a little cheap
These edging shears have high-carbon steel blades with an epoxy coating for extra protection against rusting. The handles have rubber grips, but although they aren’t ergonomic they’re extremely well-balanced and always hang parallel to the edge. They’re also lightweight and comfortable to hold. These shears performed well during the test, cutting through the grass cleanly every time. The full length of the blade is sharp and effective, and they’re thin enough to sit neatly between the lawn and paving stones. However, they feel a little cheap, and no replacement blades are available. The mechanism to open the blades is also a little stiff.
Burgon and Ball RHS Endorsed Edging Shears
4.5 out of 5
- Great performance
- Comfortable handles
- Two kinds of steel blades – best of both kinds
- Doesn’t always hang parallel to grass
- A little long
These are lightweight but sturdy edging shears, with one coated carbon-steel blade and one stainless steel blade, for the best of both kinds of steel – rust resistance and strength. They’re well-balanced, and have ergonomic handles, which are very comfortable and don’t rub. It’s easy to get these shears into position, and they easily slice through grass. They’re a good height, but shorter gardeners might find them a little long. However, they have no hook to hang them up with, and although they’re well-balanced, the blade doesn’t always hang parallel to the edge. Replacement blades aren’t available for these and the shears don’t fully open for sharpening.
Homebase Lawn Edging Shears
Our rating 4 out of 5
- Tough and durable
- Sharp blades
- Soft grip on handles
- Heavy to hold and use
- Handles are long at 97cm
- Blades are short at 24cm
These basic edging shears are made from steel, so they’re heavier than the aluminium ones we tested and as the handles aren’t adjustable and 97cm long, it’s worth checking they will be comfortable to use. They feature heat treated carbon steel blades, which makes them tough and durable, however, at 24cm, their cutting blade is relatively short so it will take longer to edge lawns with these than with the others. They come with a two-year warranty.
This Product Guide was last updated in September 2021. We apologise if anything has changed in price or availability but please get in touch to let us know at email@example.com.