Gardening Shears: How To Clean & Sharpen Pruners

Do you love to prune? I sure do and always have. Fall and spring are the busiest times for pruning. Spring is here and I want to share how to sharpen gardening shears and other pruning tools, plus how to clean them too.

Pruning shears can be larger and heavier, or smaller and lighter. Which one you choose depends on what you’re pruning, how much you prune, the size of your hands, and what feels most comfortable to you. If you’re left-handed or need an ergonomic handle design, there’s a pruner for you.

You’ll find an assortment of pruners plus floral snips, loppers, and sharpeners for light or heavy-duty pruning to buy online further on down in this post.

Gardening Shears & Pruning

It’s simple but sometimes we need reminding: make sure to clean and sharpen your pruning tools. Before you start any kind of pruning job, it’s important to make sure your pruning tools are ready for the job. It’s the same advice professional chefs give: keep your knives sharp and cutting will be so much easier.

If your tools aren’t sharp, you’ll make jagged cuts. Pruning will be hard on the plant and more difficult for you. Sharp blades made clean cuts which are important for the health and aesthetics of the plant.

I’m not going to get into pruning techniques here. Those would be worthy of separate posts and videos as there are many methods of pruning and reasons to prune as well as many different garden zones and times to prune.

On that subject, the most important thing to know is how the plant grows, what kind of pruning it needs, and how it’ll respond so you can prune successfully.

Here are some things to research: when’s the best time to prune the plant, does it flower on new or old wood (or both), how much do you need to prune it (tip-pruned, thinned out, cut all the way back, cut halfway back, etc), and how it’s going to grow back as a result of the pruning.

Houseplant pruning is much simpler and needs to be done less often. I cover it in the houseplant care posts I do.

How To Sharpen Garden Shears & Pruning Tools In 3 Simple Steps

Whether you call them gardening shears, garden shears, pruning shears, trimming shears, plant clippers, pruners, or secateurs, you can use to method below. This also works for hedge shears, grass shears, and lopping shears.

1. Get Your Gardening Shears Clean.

Get all the gunk and residue off your tools before sharpening them. Take a soft cloth and sprinkle cleansing powder (I use Mrs. Meyers or Bon Ami) on it and your tools. Start cleaning and scour away!

Be sure to thoroughly clean the mechanisms and handles as well as the cutting and anvil blades. If they’re really dirty, then you’ll have to use steel wool or a scouring pad.

I didn’t have a scouring pad in the video below so I used a flathead screwdriver to scrape the gunk off which works just fine also.

Thoroughly rinse off and dry with a clean cloth or let dry in the sun before moving on to the next step.

2. Sharpen Your Gardening Shears.

There are many sharpening tools on the market. You’ll see a few down below. Which one you use is a personal thing, and you want it to feel good and comfortable in your hand and to get the job done efficiently.

I use this tool because it’s small, light, and super easy to use. Simply make 3-5 swipes with the sharpening side and then 3-5 swipes with the polishing side.

Do both sides of the blade and that’s all there is to it.

A pair of felco pruners & a pruning sharpeners lay on a towel.
My very favorite pruners: the tried & true Felco #2’s. As you can see, 1 of the handle covers is missing & the other is on the way out. I’ve used these A LOT. I could order new handle covers, but they feel comfortable to me without them.

3. Lubricate Your Gardening Shears.

Wipe the blades and gear mechanisms with a generous amount of oil to lubricate, prevent rust, and do a little extra cleaning.

I use coconut, avocado, or olive oils because I always have them on hand. I have used WD-40 in the past but I’m not a fan of the smell.

I let the oil sit on the tool(s) for at least 10 -30 minutes and then wipe the excess off. This is where you’ll see any leftover residue and grime come off.

Enough with how to sharpen garden shears, now get to pruning!

Cleaning & Sharpening Garden Shears Video Guide

How Often I Clean My Pruning Shears

I clean and sharpen my pruning tools every month. I live in Tucson where gardening is a year-round pleasure. I have an acre of land so there’s always something to clip, inside or out.

If I’ve been pruning plants that emit sap like Pencil Cactus or Star Jasmine, I’ll clean my tools right after. That sticky sap forms a residue on the shears and I like to get it off pronto.

Whether you’re pruning roses, fruit trees, or taking cuttings, then you really want to keep those tools nice and clean so you don’t spread any disease.

Gardening Shears To Buy Online

Of course, you’ll need good tools that are easy for you to use and also ones you’re comfortable with. The 3 pruning tools I use on a regular basis are my hand pruners, floral snippers, and loppers. And, you’ll need a sharpener too.

A pair of garden loppers, felco hand pruners, fiskar floral snips, & a garden sharpening tool lay on a towel.
The pruning tools that I use on a regular basis. I’ve had all of them for ages & they’re always close at hand!

Hand Pruners

I use these for general garden pruning. I rarely use them for my indoor plants except to prune a dracaena cane, kentia palm frond, or any other large plant.

I’m true and faithful to my Felco # 2 bypass pruners. I bought them in 1999 when I worked at Berkeley Horticultural Nursery. It’s 2023 and after many years of use, they’re still going strong!

I’ve only replaced one part of it (one of the hardened stainless steel blades) in my 22 years as a professional gardener. They’re the standard for most professional gardeners but very well-suited for home gardeners too.

They’re my top pick because of the comfortable handle, the precise cuts they make with less effort, the number of replacement parts, blade quality, and their overall ease of use.

I can HIGHLY recommend this premium quality product, especially if you do a good amount of pruning. They get 16,000 – 5 star reviews on Amazon by the way.

There are different types and different models of hand pruners so I’m sure you can find the right pair for you. They include anvil pruners, ratchet pruners, bypass shears, pruners for smaller hands, pruners with ergonomic handles that reduce hand fatigue, and pruners for thicker branches.

I’ve included other pruner brands in case you don’t need one this heavy or want something less expensive. The best pruning shears are the ones that feel comfortable to you and that you’re going to use.

All have a locking mechanism which is one of the safety features I look for.


Buy At: Amazon

Felco f2 pruners with rd handle from Amazon.

Felco F-2 Classic Pruner $65.97


Black and orange pruning shears buy at amazon.

Fiskars Bypass Pruning Shears $13.98

Buy At Amazon

Black and red pruning shears buy at amazon.

Tabor Tools Pruning Shears $17.99

Buy At Amazon

Red handle pruning shears buy at amazon.

Corona BP 3180D Forged Classic Pruner $23.68

Buy At Amazon

Two white handled pruning shears buy at amazon.

BUGUI Garden Pruning Shears Set – 2 Pack $13.99

Buy At Amazon

Black handle titanium pruners from home depot.

Fiskars Titanium Coated Steel Blade $29.98

Buy At Home Depot

Red handle titanium pruners from amazon.

Haus & Garten Titanium Shears $38.90

Buy At Amazon

Silver and black pruners from amazon.

The Gardener’s Friend Pruners $29.95

Buy At Amazon

Red handle pruners from amazon.

Felco Pruning Shears Left-Handed $60.58

Buy At Amazon

Felco f8 pruners with red handle from Amazon.

FELCO F-8 Ergonomic Design Pruner $60.87

Buy At Amazon

Ratchet Anvil pruning shears with red handle from Amazon.

Professional Ratchet Anvil Pruning Shears $16.95

Buy At Amazon

By the way, here are our 5 Favorite Pruning Shears

Floral Snips

Floral snips are for making more delicate cuts. I use them for deadheading, cutting flowers, and picking fine-stemmed plants like herbs. I also use them for trimming my houseplants.

Like my Felcos, I’ve also had my Fiskar Snips for years now. They have long, narrow blades with a needle-nose tip that makes them perfect for cutting those finer stems. My model isn’t made anymore but they’ve been replaced with the ones below.

I highly recommend these too.


Buy At Amazon

Fiskars snips with grey handle from amazon.

Fiskars Pruning Softouch Micro-Tip Snip $12.95


Pair of two green handle floral snip and pruners from home depot.

Martha Stewart Stainless Steel Snips & Pruners $11.99

Buy At Amazon

Orange and black handle floral snips from amazon.

Fiskars Micro-Tip Pruning Shear $13.88

Buy At Amazon

Red handle floral snips from home depot.

Corona Comfortgel Snips $13.98

Buy At Home Depot

Purple handle floral snips from amazon.

Dramm Stainless Steel Compact Snip $22.32

Buy At Amazon

White handle ergonomic floral snips from amazon.

Ergonomic Snips $18.99

Buy At Amazon

We have many pruning guides for you. Here are a few You might find helpful:


You want the right tool for the job. These are for pruning branches over 1/2″.

I use loppers for branches that are too big in diameter for my Felco hand pruners. They don’t get nearly as much regular use as the other two garden tools do, but they make an appearance every three weeks or so.

I can’t find my brand anymore because I’ve had them forever. I like them because they extend making long handles (called telescopic). I can reach places without getting the ladder out. Here are a few choices for you.

Black and orange loppers from amazon.

Fiskars Bypass Lopper $28.59

Buy At Amazon

Black and orange loppers from amazon.

Fiskars Extendable Handle Lopper $21.99

Buy At Amazon

Black and red bypass lopper from amazon.

Tabor Tools Bypass Lopper $34.99

Buy At Amazon

Black and red anvil lopper from amazon.

Tabor Tools Anvil Lopper $53.99

Buy At Amazon

Blade Sharpeners

I’ve had this sharpener for a very long time too. I like it because I have small hands and it’s easy to hold and use.

My Favorite Pruning Tool Sharpener

Buy At Amazon

Red tungsten sharpener for pruners from amazon.

Zenport Tungsten Sharpener for Pruners $21.22

Other Pruning Tool Sharpeners You Might Consider

White and green tool sharpener from amazon.

AccuSharp Garden Tool Sharpener $10.99

Buy At Amazon

Orange handle sharpener with leather sleeve from amazon.

Sharpal Diamond Sharpening Stone File $29.65

Buy At Amazon

Interested in more garden tools? Here’s a list of Gardening Tools To Buy On Amazon that I use.

If I can help a plant look better and enhance its health in any way, it makes me happy. I think of pruning as a form of art and that’s why I want my pruners to be in tip-top shape. I feel like I’m being a bit naughty, with a sharp blade in hand, but I’m really doing a plant well.

Garden shears are a personal preference. I hope you’ve found this post on how to sharpen garden shears to be helpful. Oh, how your plants will love you!

Note: This post was originally published on 9/22/2017. It was updated on 2/4/2022 & again on 3/29/2023.

Happy gardening … happy pruning,

Signed by Nell Foster

This post may contain affiliate links, you can read our policies here.

Similar Posts