I have just spent my birthday money on secateurs because as you can see, I needed a new pair! No, really, I did but there is a wide choice available and range of prices so I thought that I would look at what you get for your money and how I chose.
The first pair are my Felco 2s, bought with my first proper wages. A well known top end brand, they have been my daily work pair for the last five years and worth every penny. They cut through all stems, some probably bigger than recommended, I find them comfortable in my (small) hands and they don’t make my wrists ache. The only downside is that they have worn out. I have bought replacement springs and the blades are easy enough to change but now the closing catch won’t tighten and consequently closes whenever I am using them pointing downwards and the handles need new grips. You can send them away to be refurbished but it’s not cheap and last year I started to think about replacing them. The real crunch came when I lost them for about 2 months, once found I decided the sentimental value was too great to risk losing them again.
The second pair, cheap and unbranded, were my spares for the many times I left the proper secateurs in someone’s garden. They are good for delicate, ladylike, deadheading and that is all.
The third in line are by Wilkinson Sword, by-pass pruners £9.99 from The Range. When it came to replacing the Felco I wondered if I really needed to spend as much money again so I bought these to see. I really like this pair, small, which obviously suits me, comfortable grips and a closing clip which is easy to operate even with gloves on. Not quite as strong as the Felco but that just meant I used my loppers slightly more. Perfectly adequate for cutting back herbaceous perennials and minor pruning. Again no aching hands after prolonged used. The big problem that I had was that about after a week of using them, the spring stiffened up and when the secateurs were fully open fell out, a lot, and I lost it. Hence the next pair. Anyway two weeks later, I found the spring! With a good oil I have managed to keep it going since then so that could have been costly just because I don’t look after my tools properly.
The next pair, £5 Verve by B&Q. Not really wanting to waste more money I bought this very cheap pair with an adjustable handle setting for different sized hands. They do cut things but make my thumb joints ache quite quickly and are stiff to operate.
Last and newest, £46 Okatsune 103 bypass secateurs bought from Darsham Nurseries because it’s very important to get the feel of them in your hands which you can’t do online. They come in different sizes but these suited me although there is a smaller size too. Very light, nice and sharp, they cut through smaller stems with minimum effort. They came with a spare spring but there’s no cushioning on the handles. I don’t think that I’ve had them long enough for a proper trial but at the moment the Felco still have it for me.
If money was no object, I would love to try out the more expensive Japanese Niwaki secateurs recommend by professional gardeners but for now these will have to do.
In conclusion then, when choosing secateurs it is very important to get the size right for your hand and to feel how they operate to make sure they are comfortable. You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a decent pair but please look after them better than I do.