After neglecting my small side yard for an entire summer, I was faced with fence-high weeds and a tangle of vines. I enjoy gardening and don’t mind this kind of work but I don’t have a weed-whacker (or the space to store one) and the thought of uprooting it all by hand was too overwhelming. Fortunately I have a pair of ergonomic pruning shears. They are made by Fiskars, designed to fit any hand comfortably, and maximize force.
The handles on typical pruning shears pivot open like a pair of scissors. This design puts most of the pressure on your thumb and your cutting power is only as strong as your grip. Even a sharp pair of shears with this design will lead to soreness and fatigue. The Fiskars shears have a gear mechanism which rotates the bottom handle as it opens following the natural motion of your hand. If you have small hands, or limited dexterity, this allows you to maintain a comfortable and secure grip when they are fully open. The curved design also protects the back of your hand from thorns or rough leaves. When you close the shears the gears multiply your strength using the power of leverage and the slightly overlapping blades give you a clean cut. This design works so well that it’s earned the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease of Use Commendation.
Fiskars says these pruners can cut branches up to ¾” thick and I’ve found that to be mostly true. The opening between the blades is about an 1” so you’re limited by what you can fit in between them. Large green stems over ¾”, like those on sunflowers, required a few extra cuts but not much force, to chop down. However, I was unable to prune the lower branches on an overgrown Juniper no matter how hard I squeezed —the blades kept getting stuck. So, if you’re trying to trim a tree or anything else with woody stems, choose a pair of pruning shears, or loppers, with longer blades and handles that require both hands for extra leverage and cutting power.
My side yard was cleared before lunch but that’s not all these shears can do. The curved blades come to a point which makes them great for delicate tasks like pruning indoor plants or trimming flower arrangements. If you compost your food waste, these make it easy to cut scraps, like carrot tops, into small chunks that break down quickly. I don’t worry about bringing dirt indoors because the blades are easy to clean thanks to a non-stick and rust resistant coating. If the blades do rust, or any of the parts break, Fiskars offers a lifetime warranty.