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Manual grass shears or trimmers are for those hard-to-reach places that other tools can’t get to – underneath hedges, around the bases of trees, even at the sides of your raised beds if you’re doing a bit of veg growing (as you should be). All are areas where electric tools will usually do more harm than good.
String trimmers (strimmers), which are now probably more common than manual grass shears, can damage and scar the bases of trees and hedges and wreck the edges of flowerbeds. They also require more maintenance and are laborious to use in smaller spaces (most strimmers I’ve used needed to be plugged in with a chord). Even smaller hand-held electric grass shears limit the amount of control you have.
Manual strimmers, on the other hand, require only light maintenance and allow for a very close “shave” without the risk of hurting your garden’s inhabitants.
Three Types of Manual Grass Shears
Shears are shears, right? Well, as with most gardening tools there’s a little bit more than meets the eye. As far as manual shears are concerned, there are three basic model variations you can choose from, along with a few adaptations.
Let’s have a look at them…
Hand shears: These are the most common type of grass shears. As is evident from the name, they are hand-held and smaller than traditional “garden shears”, used for trimming and shaping hedges and shrubs, and larger than “pruning shears” or secateurs, which are used for cutting individual branches.
They usually include a spring mechanism which automatically opens the blades after they have been closed (unlike garden shears). The blades tend to be slightly curved and relatively thin when compared to garden shears and secateurs.
Long-Handle Shears: Long-handle shears use the same blades as hand shears but the long handle means that they can be used standing up. Most have a slightly slanted handle with the idea being that it makes it easier to get the shears into difficult-to-reach areas under hedges and in flowerbeds.
Edging Shears: Edging shears can have either long or short handles. They usually replicate the design of long-handed grass shears with the key difference that the blade is vertical in order to enable edging. The shears in the picture on the left are edging shears.
Most hand-held shears, and some long-handle models, have rotating blades, so that they can be used either vertically or horizontally.
Other Variations: There are two variations on the models listed above that I’m aware of. The first is essentially a long-handle pair of shears with wheels attached (as shown in the picture above). Personally, I think that the wheels are surplus to requirement and can very often be a hindrance when trying to get to those troublesome spots.
The second type are, again, essentially long-handle shears but with blades that do not bend at the base (similar in design to lopping shears). These are good for getting into very difficult places.
Oh, and don’t forget the electric models!
If you’re after a cordless grass trimmer but still prefer having everything automated, we’ve selected some of the best cordless electric trimmers and reviewed them.
Our Top Five Picks: Best Manual Grass Shears for 2017
***Full Disclosure – Where appropriate, I’ve linked product images to commercial sites. If you buy from these sites, I earn a small affiliate fee, which helps me keep Urban Turnip going.***
Wolf-Garten Comfort Shears
These shears from Wolf-Garten, a company that is almost 100 years old and whose products are distinguishable by their bright red colour, are exceptionally well-priced and have all of the features that you would expect. The non-stick blades can be rotated through 180 degrees (and so used for either edging or straight trimming) and the padded handle provides extra comfort.
At just 6.4 ounces (180 grams) they’re very lightweight. They also have a safety lock. If this is your first time buying a pair of grass shears then you can’t go far wrong with Wolf-Garten…even if they’re not to your taste, at this price there’s no great loss! You can always rely on the Germans!
Gardena Swivelling Grass Shears
Click here for a UK link (photograph links to US).
These are a pair of slightly more expensive handheld shears. If you’re looking for more features (along with a 25-year warranty) then these bad boys may well be the way to go! The blades rotate through a full 360 degrees (so are perfect for both right and left-handed gardeners) and the padded handle adds an extra layer of comfort.
The blades also have an interesting wave-shaped design which prevents grass from sliding out of the cutting area. This means that its possible to effectively cut through tough thickets. At 12 ounces (340 grams) they’re also very light (though not as light as the Wolf-Garten pair). Oh, and did I mention the 25-year (limited) warranty?
Spear & Jackson Long Handle Shears
I’m a big fan of Spear & Jackson. It might be my UK bias coming out (the company was started in Sheffield in 1760) but they do have a reputation for making quality gardening tools. These shears are constructed almost entirely out of steel and the blades, which are made from carbon steel for extra strength and sharpness, are also coated to protect against rust.
The handles are just under one metre (40 in.) long and they weigh in at 50 ounces (1.45KG). If you like the particular design of these shears you can also buy an identical version for edging. All in all a greatproduct!
Spear and Jackson Edging Shears
Ok, I know that I’ve already included a pair of shears from Spear & Jackson already, but they really do make top-notch products. And if you’re looking for long-handle edging shears then it’s well worth giving these a go. As with the long-handle shears above, the blades are made from carbon steel for durability.
Things start to get interesting, however, when you start to look at the unique features not included in typical grass shears. The blades, for instance, are coated in PTFE, the same material used to make non-stick Teflon pans. This results in extra smooth snipping. The handles are also made from aluminium, so are lighter than if they had been made with steel.
Gardena Long Handle Shears With Wheels
Click here for a UK link (photograph links to US).
Ok, so I know I rallied against long handle shears with wheels at the beginning of this article. All of that said, wheels can provide a little extra support and, assuming the ground isn’t too uneven, can also aid with precision. This pair of shears by Gardena is top-quality if you have a preference for mobile garden tools!
What are your thoughts? Drop me an email!
What are your thoughts? Has your experience with grass shears been positive? Have you tried any of the models we’ve listed? Drop me an email via the about us page!