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How to choose edging shears

Shop for Edging Shears

Workman looking puzzled Many different edging shears are on the market. When making your choice, there are three main things you should bear in mind:

  • Handle length
  • Blade type and quality
  • Weight

Handle length

Tall gardener stooping while edging lawn The right handle length is vital, so try out the shears beforehand, where possible. If you’re buying online, take a note of the handle size given and use a rigid tape measure against your body to work out how far up the shears will reach from the ground.

Tall people frequently find they have to stoop when using edging shears, which can be uncomfortable.

Shear handle sizes Sizes vary considerably. Fixed handles can range from 810mm (32″ approx) up to 990m (39″ approx).

Tall gardeners (those over around 5’10”) would be well advised to choose handles over 900mm (35.5″ approx) to avoid back problems.

Telescopic edging shears in use Many people opt for telescopic handles, which are often longer than fixed handled edging shears when fully extended.

They can range from 610mm (24″ approx) with their handles retracted, up to 1.17m (46″ approx).

Tall man and short boy Telescopic handles let you alter the length to suit your height. This is an especially useful feature if you’re particularly tall or short, or share the gardening with other family members.
Telescopic edging shears showing different handle lengths Each handle can be adjusted individually, which may benefit people with arm or shoulder problems. They can also be retracted to a short length for easy storage, or to carry around the garden in a wheelbarrow.
Handle adjustment mechanism halfway down shaft For anyone with a bad back, it’s worth noting that not all telescopic edging shears have the adjustment mechanism at the top of the handles – on some models it’s positioned further down the shaft, so you may have to bend over to alter the length.
Close-up of telescopic edging shear handles with arrows showing twist adjustment There are different ways of adjusting telescopic handles. Some have a switch at the top of each handle that you twist one way to loosen the handles, then the other way to tighten them again in their new position.
Flip-lock type telescopic edging shears Other edging shears have a flip-type switch instead – you pull the switch outwards, adjust the handle height, then push the switch back in to lock the handle into place.
Button type telescopic edging shear handles Another popular design features a button that you push in to free each handle in turn, move to one of several possible positions, then release to lock the handle in position.
Donkee says twist and lock handles sometimes collapse

Blade type and quality

Trimming lawn edge with good quality edging shears Sharp, well balanced blades should cut cleanly through the grass and make edging your lawn a pleasure instead of a chore.

Poorly made blades are more likely to chew or bend the grass, and will probably fall out of alignment more often, needing frequent adjustment and sharpening.

Heating and cooling metal in forging process Edging shear blades described as hardened and tempered are generally of superior quality. The process involves heating the steel to an extremely high temperature, then cooling it rapidly in oil. This hardens and strengthens the structure of the metal, but also makes it more brittle.

To counter this, the steel is then tempered – reheated at a low temperature – to make it more supple so it won’t break under stress.

Precision grinding a blade on a wheel Blades made in this way should last a long time and give a sharp cutting edge, particularly if they have also been precision ground (individually sharpened on a grinding wheel).
Drop forging showing ram and hammer The blades of edging shears at the top end of the market are often drop forged, which involves compressing the steel into the shape of a mould using a hammer-like tool. The process fortifies the internal structure of the metal and makes harder, more durable blades.
Self-sharpening edging shear blades with arrows Some edging shear blades are described as self-sharpening. Their blades are angled so that they brush lightly against each other as they are opened and closed. The resulting friction grinds away imperfections and keeps the edges in good condition.
Close-up of curved blades on edging shears Most blades are straight, but you can also get ones with curved edges. The undulations help stop the grass slipping down the blade, so it can be gripped more firmly before cutting. This helps to reduce clogging.
Edging shears with long and short blades Blades can vary in length as well as shape. Short blades are lighter, and make it easier to trim curved lawns or intricately shaped borders.

Long blades can obviously cut more grass in one snip than shorter ones, so are quicker to work with and may be preferable if you have a large lawn or are a professional gardener.

Weight

Feather denoting lightweight Look for aluminium handles and short blades if you want lightweight edging shears that won’t tire you out – they can weigh as little as 1.2kg.
Heavy duty Shears with steel or wooden handles are less prone to damage but tend to be heavier, with the largest weighing in at 2.4kg.

Some gardeners prefer heavy edging shears as they give more stability when cutting, and are regarded as sturdier.