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Buying Guide to Solar Waterproof Step Lights for Your Deck, Porch, or Steps

solar step lights - a set of stairs illuminated

THERE IS NOTHING QUITE LIKE sitting out on your deck with a nice glass of wine at the end of the day. Unless, that is, of course, it is walking down the steps, down the steps into your garden. The only problem is the steps are so dark at night, you can't see them well enough to risk it. So, instead of being able to walk down your garden paths, you are stuck to the deck.

Why live like this, when the only safe time to go wandering in your yard, is when the sun is shining, you are missing out on half the fun. Why not invest in solar step lights to make that trip down into your garden safe without having to go to the expense of hiring a contractor to install all the electrical wiring need for standard lights.

Solar Power Is the Answer

Let's take a look at the many benefits of solar powered step lights and then we'll take a look at what to look for when buying a set for the steps on your deck.

solar step lights - a man standing in front of switchboard looking confused

1. No Wiring to Run

One of the biggest reasons why many people don't go to the trouble of adding step lighting to the steps on the deck, on the porch, or in the garden, is quite simply they don't want to go the expense of wiring them in. While some of us can handle our wiring, not every city allows you to do so. Some require your work to be inspected once complete before signing off on your permit, some simply require all electrical work to be done by a certified electrician. Be sure you check with your local codes if you plan to wire in the lights. Or you could save time, money and effort by installing solar step lights.

2. Simple to Install

Installing solar powered step lights is very simple. First, you need to determine which side of your steps gets the most sunlight during the day. Then, using the screws or mounting kit provided, you install the light. It just doesn't get any easier than this. No holes to drill (except maybe pilot holes, no wires to run, just a light to install.

3. Last for Many Hours

When used in conjunction with LED bulbs that consume very little energy, you can expect your solar step lights to burn for several hours. Be sure to check the specs for any lights you are considering buying. Each manufacturer has their own length of illumination time based on the type of batteries and solar panels used. Many can now last all night long providing there is plenty of sunlight during the day.

4. No Running Up Your Power Bill

If there is one thing you can count on today, it's that everything you add to the electrical circuits in your home will increase your bill. Yep, even those “low voltage” step lights that run on a transformer. It might not seem like they would add that much to your power bill, if they get left on all night long, every night of the week, the costs are going to add up. With solar powered step lights, the only energy you need is some good old-fashioned sunlight. This is still free and provides more energy than you could use in a life time.

5. Plenty to Choose From

When it comes to finding the right style and color, you may just find that solar step lights offer more styles and colors than standard 110V type lights. There are single lights, each of which has their own solar cell panel, strings of lights connected to a central solar panel, even individual dot lights that can be wired to a central solar panel.

They come with metal housings, plastic housings, clear lenses, colored lenses, antique styles, art Deco, art nouveau, and so many more. The color list is long enough to satisfy just about any tastes an outdoor décor.

What Should You Look for In Solar Step Lights?

Like most things for your backyard, you should never just jump at the first set of solar step lights you come across in the store or online. This is the worst possible way to buy anything and the best possible way to end up with solar step lights that don’t work as well as they are advertised to or simply don't work at all.

When you go out looking for solar step lights consider these things very carefully.


This is how long the batteries are going to keep the lights burning if they are left on all night long. Each manufacturer lists this in their advertising or on the package. If you come across any that don't pass them by.  With lithium ion batteries, they are typically rated in milliamp hours, for example, 600Mah, the higher the number the bigger the battery and the longer they will last.

Charge Time

Next up, how long it will take the batteries in the light to recharge on an average day. Charging times vary with the size and type of solar panel used as well as the batteries themselves. 4 to 6 hours is common, but try to avoid those that say they take over 8 hours to charge. Keep in mind most do have an initial charging time and then a day to day charging time.


This is the standard measureofr light output, in many ways it is similar to the way we have rated household bulbs for years in wattage. Lumens, however, is a measurement of light output, while wattage is actually a measurement of power consumption. Most solar step lights tend to have the equivalent output of a 40W light bulb. Just enough to light your way up and down the steps without blinding you. Look for lumen ratings of 10-80 Lumens.

Auto On/Off

You might think this would be obvious, but there are still a few models out there that have to be turned on and off manually. Unless you feel like getting up every evening to turn them on and in the morning to turn them off, this is a very important feature.


Outdoor lights are all supposed to be waterproof to keep out the rain and snow, aren't they? Such is not the case as many are listed as being water resistant. Which in turn means if you live in an area where you have a lot of snow or rain, those that are listed as being water resistant are just about useless as they are bound to leak. Be sure the lights you are considering are listed as being WATERPROOF if you want them to last.

Motion Sensor

This one is optional, but you might find having step lights that come on only when someone is by or on the step can come in pretty handy. Better yet, they won't keep your backyard lit up all night long. But, on the other hand, each time they come on, they should be at full illumination. If you do decide to go with motion sensor lights, look for those that allow you to adjust their range. This gives you far more flexibility with how you place them and how well they work for your needs.
Image courtesy Amazon


My Top Five Choices for Solar Step Lights

After looking at the many different solar step lights on the market, I found five that are worthy of your deck, porch, or garden path.

Mpow Solar Lights Motion Sensor Security Lights

These Mpow lights feature an updated solar panel. After only a few hours of daylight, they will keep these lights working throughout the night. In steady mode, they will last between 8 and 10 hours. They feature 20 LED for super white lighting, with three distinct settings, Strong Long Light Mode, Strong Sensor Light Mode, and Dim Light Sensor Mode. The dual-layer tightly -sealed loop makes these lights exceptionally water and heat resistant.

Pros Cons
Watertight Occasional quality issues
Long life batteries Switches are on back of light hard to reach when mounted
Three modes of operation Limited lifespan


Litom Solar Lights Outdoor 30 LED

These lights feature 30 LEDs and ultra-high 2200Mah battery that will keep these lights running for 24 hours on the dim setting with only 13 of the LEDs turned on. When the motion sensor detects movement, the lights will come on in full bright mode for 20/40/60/ seconds. Fully waterproof, with 120-degree lighting, and a maximum 39 foot sensor range, they will cover a wide area as you go down the steps and out into the garden.

Pros Cons
Extra-long sensor range No motion sensor adjustment
Multiple settings Light range is shorter than advertised
Low to instant max with motion sensor Battery Life short in full brightness mode



Solar Lights Outdoor, xtf2015 Copper Outdoor Step Light

Give your solar lights the day off with these copper lights. Not only are they auto charging, but they are auto on/off. Designed to look like a smile each light 4 x 0.2W brightness SMD beads with spotlight reflector. Maximum brightness is 100 Lumens per light. They come complete with double-sided stickers, screws, and stopples to help you mount them virtually anywhere.

Pros Cons
Nice copper appearance Timer is too short
100 Lumens max output Batteries have a short lifespan
Auto on/off Bright LED illuminates the sensor

Solar Deck Lights, iThird 3 LED Solar Powered Step Lights

These solar step lights are made from a mixture of stainless steel and ABS plastic. They take 4 to 6 hours to charge and will run for approximately 8 to 12 hours. They produce 24 Lumens at 6500 to 7000K daylight. Each of the lights 3 ultra-bright LED chips. Power is supplied via a 200 mAh, 3.2V Li-FePO4 battery. Easy to install, simply screw them to the steps. These lights are IP44 waterproof rated.

Pros Cons
Short charge time Some quality control issues
Long battery life Low light range
Upgraded monocrystalline solar panels

Kinna Waterproof Solar Step Deck Lights

Each light in this four-pack provides a full 6Lumenss of light. They are 100% weatherproof, making them perfect for outdoor use. Easy installation with a pair of screws (included). Uses the latest in monocrystalline solar panels and a 1.2V 500 mAh Ni-mh battery. Offers 300k warm white light.

Pros Cons
8 hours of working time Ni-mh battery instead of life
Compact size and shape Need a template to mount
Come as a four pack Battery longevity questionable, but can be replaced

Other Options

Here I look at your best option if solar step lights are not going to get the job done for you. In this particular instance, I picked a very popular 110V LED step/wall light.

Sunco Lighting, LED Mini Outdoor and Indoor Step/Stair Light

Rated as one of the top LED step lights on the market. Comes with both vertical and horizontal. Easy to install using a single gang box. Safe for both commercial and residential use. These lights are UL listed and approved for use in wet locations.

Pros Cons
UL Listed waterproof Use electricity, running up your power bill
Come with both horizontal and vertical louvres Metal top covers more than it should
Bright enough to light most sets of steps Leads come out of the side making harder to install


Finally, the Light Comes On

At the end of the day, finding the right solar step lights for your deck or garden is more about personal choice as far size, color, design, etc. But what you should be looking for is maximum Lumens, long lasting lithium-ion batteries, fast charge time and a certain level of waterproofing.

Me I have a set of the Litom Solar Lights Outdoor 30 LED keeping the steps on my deck lit at night. I hope the information I have put together here helps you find the perfect solar step lights for your deck, porch, or walkway.

If you can think of anything you would like to see added here, please contact me here.

Buying Guide to Ceramic Grills and Review of My Top Five for 2019

Best Ceramic Grill Reviews and Buyers Guide

So, your neighbor just came home with one of those weird egg-shaped ceramic grills...

Sure, they do look odd, yet he says it is the next best thing since Betty White (yup, she's older than sliced bread). But, what is it that's making this type of grill so special and has led to a huge surge in the market? Let's take a look at the Kamado or ceramic grill along with what you need to know before you invest in one for your deck or patio.

The Basics

Kamado or ceramic grills are traditionally egg-shaped and feature an outer shell crafted from high-fire ceramic. This design helps to lock in smoke and heat, cooking the foods inside more quickly and evenly than most other forms of grilling currently on the market. This type of cooking has been in use for hundreds, if not thousands of years in Japan and around the world.

The concept was brought from Japan by U.S. Servicemen after W.W. 2 who watched the Japanese using a device called a “mushikamado” to cook rice. This simple egg-shaped clay pot led the G.I.s to convert it into a grilling machine and in time caught on here in the U.S. By the 1960s the Big Green Egg Company began manufacturing their own version of the mushikamado and marketing under the “Kamado” name.

How Does a Ceramic Grille Work?

Today's ceramic grill is only slightly different in design to those used hundreds of years ago in Japan. The top and bottom shells are crafted from ceramic. In the bottom is a bowl or firebox designed to hold the hot coals. Metal grates are mounted in such a way that they are suspended above the source of heat. As you can see in this image, there is an intake vent at the bottom of the grill and a heat vent at the top. The ceramic top should have some form of gasket to help seal in smoke and heat.

The vent in the bottom allows fresh air to come in the bottom, keeping the fire burning. The top vent is used to help regulate the amount of heat, moisture, and smoke retained inside the dome. The more airflow you have coming into the bottom of the grill, the hotter the inside temperature will become. Conversely, the less airflow you allow, the lower the temperature will be, effectively turning your grill into a very effective slow smoker.

By regulating the temperature, you can quickly sear the perfectsteake while “roasting” a few vegetables. Or you can dial the temperature down and slow cook the most amazing roasts. The only limit to what you can cook on a ceramic grill is your own imagination.

What Are the Advantages of a Ceramic Grille?

As you might expect, there are a number of advantages to ceramic grills in comparison to standard charcoal or propane gas grills. Chief among these are durability, versatility, fast warm up times, and most of their ease of use.  Let's take a little closer look at each of these.


Given the fact the best ceramic grills are cast from a thick layer of ceramic and are quite heavy, they tend to last a very long time. Ceramic is not prone to rust or virtually any other form of degradation. When constructed properly, a good ceramic grill can be heated up to 1800°F without sustaining any type of damage. They can also be used in virtually any weather as these grills hold in the heat so well.



A good quality ceramic grill should be able to reach temperatures ranging from 225°F to approximately 750°F. This makes this type of grill perfect for cooking an incredibly wide range of foods using a several different cooking formats such as roasting, baking, searing, and more. Some ceramic grills come with the accessories needed to cook with including a rotisserie, heat deflectors, and ceramic baking plates.                                                                             Image courtesy Amazing Ribs


Faster Warm Up Times

One of the biggest complaints with charcoal grills is the amount of time it can take for them to reach cooking temperature. Often this ranges from 20 to 45 minutes or longer depending on the size of the grill, the type of charcoal, size of briquettes, and prevailing weather. The average warm up time for a ceramic grill is as short as 15 minutes. Making them a much better choice for those who want to get cooking in a hurry.


Easy to Use


No one wants a highly complicated grill that takes more time to figure out how to use than it does to cook the meal. With a Kamado or ceramic grill, once the fire is lit and the vents are set, you can virtually leave your foods to cook until they are done. When set to cook at the lowest temperatures, a ceramic grill can cook for up to 12 hours when the vents are set right, without the need to refuel. It just doesn't any easier.


Things You Should Be Looking for When Buying a Ceramic Grill

Now that you have an idea of how amazing and versatile Kamado or ceramic grills are, let's take a look at what it takes to make a good grill. While of course, overall quality should always play a large part in your final decision, there are three major factors most buyers agree you should pay particular attention to. These are design, thickness and overall size, and of course, what accessories come with it.


When it comes to design, the only real differences are color, decorations, the use of different styles of stand. Some come with side tables, some don't. Some have labeled vents to help make choosing the right settings possible, this makes them a lot easier to use. Only you get to choose what your ceramic grill looks like and how well it will fit into the rest of your patio or deck décor.


Thickness and Overall Size

Like any other grill you might buy, the amount of grilling space available converts directly to how much food you can cook at a time. One way to look at this is to say that a 12-inch diameter cooking surface should be good for a small family, but a 24-inch surface is big enough to smoke/roast a turkey.  The best thing you can do is think about how many people you are likely to cook for on a regular basis and buy a ceramic grill that matches your needs.



Like most different types of grill, there is no shortage of accessories available for use with ceramic grills. Start out with a rolling cart designed not only to hold your grill but to make it more portable and give you a place to keep your accessories, perhaps even a side tray or two. A built-in thermometer isn't a bad idea either. There is also a range of accessories such as pizza stones, rib racks, and so forth. Choose the ones you need to suit your style of cooking and away you go.


Five of My Favorite Top-Rated Ceramic Grills

As with just about anything you buy there are good ceramic grills and there are bad ones, the hard part is as always trying to figure them all out. So, to help you get cooking just a little bit faster, I have combed the web to find five of the top-rated grills on the market, along with one non-ceramic grill that is still worth taking a look at.

Char-Griller E06614 Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill

This ceramic grill is perfect for the beginner with its lightweight iron and ceramic construction. While it doesn't come on wheels, it is light enough to move around quite easily. The 153 sq. in. of cooking space is ideal for a small family. Cooking temperatures of up to 700°F can easily be achieved and the built-in thermometer makes it easy for you to maintain \the right cooking temperature.


Pros Cons
Affordably priced Poor quality control
Lightweight and easy to move Small cooking surface
Easy to assemble Cast iron parts tend to rust


Kamado Joe KJ23RH Classic Joe Grill, 18″, Red

This medium-sized grill from industry leader Kamado Joe offers 254 sq. in. of cooking surface. Kamado Joe makes use of their patented “Divide and Conquer Flexible Cooking System” that lets you take advantage of varying cooking temperatures. The thicker ceramic shell offers more stable heat control, requiring lower temperatures to achieve spectacular results.

Pit Boss 71220 Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker, 22″

One of the more expensive ceramic grills, this beauty from Pitt Boss is a nice larger size grill sporting 380 sq. in. of cooking surface for you to work with. Everything from the cast iron top to the super thick ceramic and bamboo speaks of the quality the Pit Boss brand has long been known for. These handy shelves fold out of the way for easy storage. It features dual-tier cooking grates allow you to cook multiple types of food at the same time.

Pros Cons
Large cooking area Expensive
The ceramic material is thick and insulates well Screws for trays, strip easily
Folding bamboo shelves come in handy Thermostat inaccurate


Grill Dome Infinity Series Ceramic Kamado Charcoal Smoker Grill, Silver, Extra-Large

This super-large ceramic grill from Grill Dome offers ceramic walls that are a massive 1.25 inches thick. This provides superior heat retention, allowing you to more accurately temperature control ranging from 225° to 750°F for more even cooking. On top of all this, Grill Dome offers a lifetime warranty on the ceramics. A simple push of the button gets things started and you will soon be off and cooking.

Pros Cons
Large cooking area High price
20 yr. warranty on most parts Poor customer service
Lifetime warranty on ceramic The finish does not hold up well

Vision Grills CF1F1 Pro Kamado BBQ Bundle

This handy ceramic grill features a low coal burning, echo friendly design. The design allows you to cook at temperatures of up to 700° without the fear of contact burns. Inside you will find 596 sq. in. of cooking space which is exceptionally large for this type of grill one of the largest on the market. Rapid heat buildup makes this a great choice as does the lifetime warranty on ceramic parts.
Image courtesy Amazon

Pros Cons
Extra-large cooking surface Very expensive
Lifetime ceramic warranty Five-year warranty on metal parts
All hardware is stainless steel Must use hardwoods


Alternative Option

While a ceramic grill or Kamado might be perfect for your needs, there are of course many alternatives. One of the most popular alternatives is of course gas, but there are literally thousands of models to choose from. But, since we are looking at grills, I found this one from Weber to be one of the most popular.

Weber Genesis II SE-410 Special Edition Freestanding Propane Gas Grill – Smoke

This amazing gas grill from leading manufacturer Weber offers 4 burners rated at 48,000 BTU. It features push-button Infinity ignition for easy lighting, twin stainless-steel shelves, and an open cart design.

Pros Cons
Stainless steel construction Low heat output
Large cooking area Does not sear well
Design reduces grease flare-ups Burners too far from grill surface



When used properly, a good ceramic grill can give your food a nice smoky flavor all based on a cooking technique that has been used for centuries. Be sure you consider size, quality, and accessories as you decide which one to buy. I hope the information I have put together here helps you find the perfect Kamado grill. If you like this, tell your friends. If there is anything else you would like to see added here, please contact me here.

Best Solar Powered Motion Security Light

Best Solar Powered Motion Security Light

SOLAR POWERED MOTION SENSOR LIGHTS are available in a range of sizes, shapes, lumen ratings, and more. In order to know which of them are right for your needs, there are a number of things you need to take into consideration. Such as how large the area you are trying to light, how long you need the lights to stay on once they have been activated, how long you need the batteries to last.

So, let's take a good look at what you need to know if you want to avoid the mistakes I made and get the right lights the first time around.

What Advantages Are There to Using Solar Powered Motion Lights

There are several very important benefits to switching over to using solar powered motion lights, including:

  • They are very affordable
  • Readily available
  • Solar lights are very eco-friendly
  • They use LED lights for added light and low battery usage
  • They do not use any electricity
  • They are easier to install (and don't require a professional in some cases)

Man fitting wired security light to homeIn many cases, you don't require a professional to install a solar motion security light, unlike the security lights than run off of mains power.

What Should You Look for In Solar Motion Lights?

Image courtesy MAXSA Motion-Activated Security Flood Lights

As with most products you plan to buy for your yard, there are several things you should look for when shopping for solar powered outdoor motion sensor lights.

Their Placement

garden_lightImage courtesy of Ebay

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solar power motion sensor light, you need to be very aware of the location you plan to put each light. The location you choose is very important to how well the light you choose is going to work. If the solar panels can't get enough sunlight, the batteries will never reach full charge and your light won't function properly.

The Weather

solar_power_lightImage courtesy of Expidix.Com

While you are looking for locations, you also need to keep your local weather conditions in mind. If you live in an area where it tends to rain or snow a lot, there are a number of different solar powered lights designed to meet these challenges.


solar_motion_lightImage courtesy of AliExpress

Next up is deciding how bright you need for the lights to be. While you might need low-level lights for along the sidewalks or on the deck. While brighter lights may be needed at the front and back doors and outside of your shed to help scare away would be thieves, along with a large selection of stray animals.


solar_adjustable_lightImage courtesy of Amazon

Depending on location, you may need to buy lights that are adjustable as this will let you aim the lights to where the work to your best advantage. Be sure you buy lights that will let you lock them in place and stay there once you secure them.

Which Are Better LEDs or Incandescent Bulbs?

For years, there has been a myth going around that LED lights are far too expensive in consideration with their counterpart the incandescent bulb. Of course, if you are only looking at this from a short-term investment, then they might seem more expensive.

There are two very good reasons why LED lights make more sense in the long run. First, they use far less electricity than any other type of bulb currently on the market.  The saddest thing of all is that an incandescent bulb only uses 10% of the electricity it consumes to produce light, the rest is wasted as heat.

The other reason is that the typical LED bulb is expected to have a lifespan of somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000 hours. The average lifespan of an incandescent bulb is only between 4,000 and 10,0000 hours. When you look at numbers like this, the average LED bulb lasts five times longer than an incandescent bulb.

Comparing Wattage to Lumens

how-many-lumens-for-a-bedroom-wattage-lumens-for-bedroom-lightImage courtesy of Organica Garden Supply

While both terms are used to rate alight bulb, they have completely different meaning. Wattage is the amount of electricity or power used to illuminate the bulb. The term Lumens is used to measure the amount of light the bulb actually produces. An easy way to look at this is the more wattage, the more electricity is used, the more Lumens, the more light the bulb produces.

The Motion Sensor

The next thing on your list to consider is the range of the motion sensor. Some are variable, some have set coverage. The sensor itself is responsible for turning your light on when it senses motion. If the sensitivity is too low, the light may not turn on when needed. If you buy one with a sensor that is overly sensitive, everything that moves in your backyard is going to turn the light on at the risk of driving you and your neighbors nuts.

5 of Our Picks for the Best Solar Powered Motion Sensor Light

I know how hard it can be to buy the right solar powered motion sensor light. There are so many of them to choose from, finding the right one can be a bit overwhelming and (like me) you could end up spending a lot of money just to end up with lights that don't really get the job done. So, what I have done, is to put together a list of five of the best lights I found along with their good and bad points.

URPOWER Solar Lights 8 LED Wireless, Waterproof Motion Sensor Outdoor Light

URPOWER Solar Lights 8 Led Wireless Waterproof Motion Sensor Light

These simple to install and use solar powered lights that will last for up to 12 hours on a full charge. They are perfect for pathways, driveways, patio, your shed, even covering your vegetable garden. The sensor covers an arc of 120 degrees and a distance of up to 12 feet (3 meters). The lights are set to turn back off 30 seconds after the motion stops.

Pros Cons
Uses 8 LED for max light/max battery life Some units delivered with defects
Weatherproof Lens will yellow over time
Virtually instantaneous response to movement No documentation included

Litom Solar Lights Outdoor, Wireless 24 LED Motion Sensor Solar Lights with Wide Lighting Area

Litom Solar Lights Outdoor, Wireless 24 LED Motion Sensor Solar Lights

This solar light features 24 LED spread out to provide you with up to 270 degrees of light. The sensors have a range of between 10 and 26 feet depending on where it is located. For best results, be sure to mount the light where it will receive direct sunlight. Unlike many motion sensor lights, you can also set this one to come on in medium light or dim light sensor mode as well. Offering you more adjustability to suit your needs.

Pros Cons
Wide range of coverage – up to 270 degrees Takes a long time to fully charge
Offers three different modes of operation Has reliability issues
Has a long warranty Mode switch hard to use

Magictec 45 LED Wireless Solar Motion Security Light

Magictec 45 LED Wireless Solar Motion Security Light

For those wanting a lot of light, the 45 LEDs in this solar powered light might be just what you are looking for. It is one of the brightest lights in this category. It is IP65 weatherproof rating. It features a full-on mode, low light mode, and motion detector only model. Detection range is up to 30 feet. It will run in the full light mode for up to 8 to 10 hours. In motion sensor mode, it will stay on full brightness for 15 seconds and then turn off.

Pros Cons
IP65 double sealed, weatherproof Expensive in comparison to others
Bright No installation or operation instructions
Offers three different modes Motion sensors have problems

MicroSolar SL1 Solar Security Light


MicroSolar – 80 LED – Waterproof Adjustable Light Fixture

This solar security light features a massive 126 LEDs producing 1000 Lumens. The light can be adjusted in two directions toprovide better coverage. The sensor is fully adjustable allowing you to choose between 3 and 600 seconds of delay time before the light comes on. The solar cell comes with a 16-foot cable that lets you install the panel virtually anywhere to catch the full sun. There is also an optional 16- extension cable for those hard to reach areas.

Pros Cons
Adjustable on two axes Some quality issues
Motion Sensor range 7 to 12 meters Water gets into the sensor
Long-life lithium battery Less than stellar customer service

Solar Lights Motion Sensor Outdoor Solar Spotlight

Hallomall Outdoor Solar Lights Motion Sensor

It just doesn't seem possible that a solar-powered light could be this bright when only rated at 800Lumenss. But thanks to special optics the light is far brighter, making it even more eco-friendly. The light can be swiveled through a full 360-degrees as can the solar panel to help you catch maximum sunlight. The light housing is IP65 weatherproof rated. The kit comes with ground stakes and wall mounts for maximum usability.

Other Options

The only other viable option is to go with a wired light that is connected to your household wiring. So with this in mind, here is a security light you might want to consider if you have 110V power out to your shed.

Hyperikon LED Security Light, Black, 30W (125W Equivalent) Outdoor Motion Sensor

Hyperikon LED Security Light

This LED floodlight offers long-life, high-performance, and low-cost operation in a very simple no-frills fixture. Manufacture Hyperikon makes use of Helios, their latest LED technology to provide true light for any circumstance. While perfect for home use, this unit meets commercial and industrial quality standards.

Pros Cons
No batteries to die in the middle of the night Will add to your electric bill
Exceptionally bright Subject to damage from water leaks
Three lights in one unit for better coverage Wall mount only


As you can see there are many different lights to choose from. Be sure you take into consideration your needs, the amount of space you need to light, and whether or not you need to have solar lights that cost nothing to operate or electric lights that may be brighter but cost money to keep running.

I hope that the above information helps you find the right lights for your yard and garden.

If you have enjoyed learning about solar powered motion sensor lights. If so, please let me know. If there is any other information you would like to see here, please contact me here.

Thank you for reading this guide to solar powered motion sensor lights, I hope you found it useful.

10 Great Ideas for Secure Garbage Can Storage

10 Great Ideas for Secure Garbage Can Storage That’s Also Neat & Tidy

Raven feeding on rubbish from a rubbish bin in a city

ARE YOU SICK AND TIRED or looking at your smelly trash cans sitting beside or behind your house?

Do they seem to constantly attract all kinds of birds, bugs, rodents, and other pests?

Are you looking for some type of secure garbage can storage, but not really up to building what you need from scratch?

I know the feeling as I needed something for my trash cans and being pushed for time, did a little looking around to see what's out there. The good news is that there are a number of great models on the market at reasonable prices for you to choose from.

Things You Should be Looking for in Secure Garbage Can Storage Units

There are of course several things you need to consider before you start shopping for your garbage can storage shed. I recommend you keep all of these in mind while doing your homework to make sure you have the highest possible chance of getting the right one the first time.

  • Cost –  Start out by deciding how much you can afford to spend. Personally, I set two different amounts, the first is the amount I really want to spend, if I can find what I am looking for at this amount, then I consider it a win. Secondly, I set a maximum amount or how much more I am willing to spend if I find exactly what I am looking for and the price is more than I originally wanted to spend. (This gives me just a little bit of flexibility)
  • Size –  Like so many things in life, when it comes to secure garbage can storage, size does count. You need a storage unit that is big enough to fit all of your outdoor garbage cans and recycling bins. Anything smaller will still leave you with a smelly mess you and your neighbors will be able to see and smell.
  • Materials – Today, the most common materials used in the construction of garbage can storage sheds are either plastic or wood. Plastic typically costs significantly less (depending on brand), but wood may be better suited to climates where there is a lot of snow.
  • Appearance – While you might not think about the appearance of the structure you are buying to hide your garbage cans, your neighbors certainly will. Your best option is to buy a storage shed that blends into your yard rather than one that stands out like a sore thumb or for that matter an overflowing stinky garbage can.
  • Number of Doors –  This varies based on size and design, from those with a single front door to two doors and/or an openable roof. Make your choice based on the number of bins you plan to put in it and whether or not you want easy through the roof access. Bear in mind that the more doors your garbage can storage unit has, the more it is likely to cost.

One more thing to consider when shopping for a garbage can storage unit is whether you plan to use it for any other type of storage. For example, do you plan to store the family's bikes in there or a few garden tools? If so, you need to make sure that the final storage unit you buy is big enough to fit everything comfortably.

10 Great Secure Garbage Can Storage Units Worth Taking a Look At

1. Leisure Season Large Horizontal Refuse Storage Shed   

Three doors down or up as needed with this shed built to hold two full-size wheelie bins

LEISURE SEASON Large Horizontal Refuse Storage Shed

This large 3-door secure garbage can storage unit is made from tongue and groove planks and outdoor quality hardware for extra durability. The lid is curved to help eliminate snow, ice, and water build up and there is plenty of room for two large wheelie bins. With the doors open, rolling the bins in and out is a breeze. This shed is easy to assemble and comes with hydraulic lifts for the lid so you can open it easily with one hand.

Pros Cons
Solid wood construction Materials seem a bit flimsy
Easy to assemble Needs to be clear coated for better protection
Acrylic protective coating for longevity Lid can be hard to close for taller people


2. Suncast BMS4700 The Stow-Away Horizontal Storage Shed  

Reinforced floor with ramp makes rolling your trash cans in and out easier

Suncast_BMS4700_Garbage_ShedSUNCAST BMS4700 The Stow-Away Horizontal Storage

Made from blow-molded plastic, this garbage can storage shed is big enough to hold two 96-gallon wheelie bins. The sloping lid is mounted on a pair of pneumatic lifts to make opening it easier. The poly material used is UV and weather resistance and will hold up to the hottest days of summer and the coldest days of winter without rusting, corroding, or rotting. The two-tone gray finish fits in with most exterior decors and keeps the entire shed quite low-key.

Pros Cons
Blow Molded Plastic is strong and durable Must be placed on level ground or a foundation
Lots of interior space Takes a while to assemble
Moderately priced Poor quality manufacturing


3. Keter Store-It-Out MAX Outdoor Resin Storage Shed    

Wood grain good looks, polypropylene resin and steel construction for durability

Keter_Store_It_Out_MAX_Outdoor_Garbage_ShedKETER Store-It-Out Max Outdoor Resin Horizontal Storage

This stylish garbage can storage shed offers a lovely wood grain texture in neutral colors that will blend nicely into your yard. Made from polypropylene resin with steel reinforcement this shed will provide your trash bins with many years of protection. Like most good outdoor storage units, this one features two doors and an easy open roof. The roof features a “linking system” that lifts the tops of your trash bins when you raise the roof, making it easier than ever to throw your trash in the bin.

4. RubbishWrap Outdoor Garbage Enclosure – Trash Bin Shed Storage Double Unit     

Snap-together assembly lets you put this storage unit together in 5 minutes

RubbishWrap_Outdoor_Garbage_shedRubbishWrap_Outdoor_Garbage_shedRUBBISHWRAP Outdoor Garbage Enclosure

This garbage can storage unit may not have a roof, but what it lacks in a roof, it more than makes up for this lack in style. Made from a material that is wind, UV, and weather resistant, you can paint it to suit your exterior décor. The doors lift up out of the way for loading and unloading trash bins up to 96 gallons in size, the largest bins currently in use in the U.S. The best part is that the whole thing can be snapped together in five minutes without tools.

Pros Cons
Material is capable of being painted High cost
Very aesthetically pleasing appearance Not strong enough to keep larger animals out
Rapid Assemble Material easily damaged by weedeater string


5. Suncast BMS3400 34 cu. ft. Horizontal Shed    

Reinforced floor holds more weight than many sheds

Suncast_BMS3400_garbage_shedSUNCAST HorizonTal Shed

One of the best things about this storage shed from Suncast, is that it has a heavy-duty floor.  While most of us really don't need this for our trash cans, it can come in handy if you ever plan to use it for something else. The wood grain texture and neutral finish let this garbage can storage shed blend smoothly into your yard. Doors even have a built-in hasp so you can secure your bins with a padlock.

Pros Cons
Reasonably priced Only fits up to 43-gallon trash cans
Easy to assemble Hinges break off
Heavy-duty floor Needs to be placed on a solid foundation


6. Rubbermaid Outdoor Horizontal Storage Shed, Large

Features double walls for added strength and durabilityRUBBER

Rubbermaid_Outdoor_Horizontal_Storage_ShedRUBBERMAID Outdoor Horizontal Storage

This is not just meant to be a garbage can storage unit, it can be used for a  wide range of storage needs. Coming from Rubbermaid, it is (as you might expect) made from heavy-duty plastic that is dent, leak, and weather resistant.  Comes with notches for shelving molded into the sides to add more storage options. Total storage capacity is 32 cubic feet, giving it room for up to three standard size trash cans.

Pros Cons
Double wall construction for added strength Instructions are not correct or easy to follow
Room for 2 to 3 trash cans Doors do not stay in place wind blows open
Needs to be on a flat solid base Animals can get into your trash cans


7. Suncast FS4423 Outdoor Screen Enclosure

Elegant enclosure with no roof for your bins

61uruCfAnyL._SL1500_SUNCAST Outdoor Screen Enclosure

Not everyone needs or wants a garbage can storage enclosure that has a roof on it. This one can be used to screen your bins from the public eye and thanks to the lack of a roof, is very easy to get in and out of. The set comes with four panels and five posts that you can use to form an “L”, a “U”, or even a zigzag as needed. The resin material used to manufacture this screen is very durable and will resist the sun's UV rays as well as freezing temperatures. Each panel measures 23 inches wide.

Pros Cons
Very easy to assemble No roof to keep out weather and pests
No roof makes getting in and out easy Steel posts may eventually rust
Can be used for more than hiding your trash cans Blows over easily in the wind


8. Outdoor Living Today – Oscar Waste Management Shed  

Room for your garbage, compost, and recyclables

outdoor_living_waste_storage_shedOutdoor Living Today Oscar Waste Management Shed

The garbage can storage shed has room for a pair of 58-gallon trash cans or three smaller ones. Made from Western Red Cedar, this shed should provide you with many years of reliable service in virtually any type of weather. The arched lid makes it much easier for you to access the tops of your bins easily and has a pair of gas-charged cylinders to hold it up. The double front doors and lid fit together snugly to help keep critters on the outside.

Pros Cons
Western Red Cedar offers excellent durability Some of the pre-drilled holes don't line up
Excellent quality materials used throughout Gas shocks can be challenging to install
Easily to follow assembly instructions Online instructions better than those that come with it

9. Bosmere Rowlinson A042 Garbage Bin Storage Shed,   

Why settle for three doors when you can have four?

Bosmere_Rowlinson_Garbage_ShedBOSMERE  Rowlinson A042 Garbage Bin Storage Shed

When you are looking for an attractive garbage can storage shed, then this all wood beauty might be just what you are looking for. Instead of a single heavy lid, this model has the lid split into two halves that can be attached to the lids of your trash cans, lifting them up so you can easily throw your trash bags away. This shipboard style cladding is 12 millimeters thick for added durability.

Pros Cons
12 mm thick cladding for added durability No hydraulic cylinder to lift lids
Four doors for ease of access Wood lid props can fall out dropping lids
Chains lift trash can lids for convenience Thin roof may not hold heavy snow loads


10. Suncast BMS2500 Horizontal Storage Shed

Double wall resin construction with reinforced floor

Suncast_BMS2500_Horizontal_Storage_ShedSUNCAST BMS2500 Horizontal Storage Shed

The curved roof and double resin wall construction make this a very strong choice for your garbage can storage shed.  The three-door locking system ensures the doors stay firmly locked in place and help to keep animals out. The bolt-together assembly makes putting this shed together relatively easy. Curved lid features a prop rod to keep it up and the double doors make getting your wheelie bins in and out simple and stress-free.

Pros Cons
Durable double-wall construction Top may rip off in high winds
Easy bolt-together assembly Top warps in the hot summer sun
Holds up to two 96-gallon trash cans Made from flimsy materials


Time to Take Out the Trash

While only some of these are listed as being made specifically for garbage can storage, they can all be used for just about anything you want to put in them. It is very hard to decide which is the best, but for my money, I prefer the Leisure Season Large Horizontal Refuse Storage Shed. It might be a bit more expensive than some of the plastic/resin models but looks good beside my garage and keeps my garbage out of sight. I hope this information helps you find the right outdoor garbage can storage for you home.

I hope you have learned something about choosing a garbage can storage shed.  Got a question, query or comment, then please contact me here. If you liked this article there is more ZacsGarden on Facebook and Pinterest.

[Guide] – Finding the Best Patio Heater for Your Outdoor Living Space

[Guide] - Finding the Best Patio Heater for Your Outdoor Living Space

Finding the best patio heater can mean using outdoor space when you otherwise wouldnt

Finding a good patio heater can mean using outdoor living spaces at times when you otherwise wouldn't

ALTHOUGH THE MOST ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY heater is a nice thick sweater, it isn’t always the most practical and comfortable.

Finding the best patio heater can really transform the way you use your outdoor space during the colder months. Not only does it let you host friends and family outdoors, can also do your favorite activities and still be nice and toasty on those chilly fall and winter evenings.

The Differences Between Patio Heaters

There are 3 main differences in patio heaters. Understanding these and answering deciding what you do and don’t want will help you find a good patio heater. The differences are:

  1. Fuel types

  2. Style types

  3. Size types

1. The Different Fuel Types

When it comes to finding the right patio heaters, there are three different fuel types to choose from, propane, electric, and solid fuel (charcoal, wood etc.). Each has their advantages and disadvantages, based on your particular needs.


Image courtesy of Ebay

Electric Heaters

Electricity might seem like a low-cost form of heat that has the advantage of providing virtually instant heat. These heaters also tend to cool down relatively quickly. Electric heaters are further broken down into two sub-categories:

Long-Wave Infrared

These heaters tend to be quite expensive to operate, but are capable of covering a large area and heating it up quickly.


Halogen heaters are significantly less expensive to use, but due to their limited range are not good for larger spaces, let alone the great outdoors of your patio.

A Propane patio heater with a dome cover in action

Propane Heaters

Gas powered patio heaters tend to be very effective and can produce significant amounts of heat that cover a large area. But of course, you have to have a ready supply of gas on hand. They are more expensive to operate than electric heaters but have the advantage of providing a steady supply of heat and covering larger areas.

A fire pit is an example of a solid fuel patio heater

Solid Fuels

This includes chimeneas, fire pits, and wood stoves. These patio heaters look great sitting out on your patio. They are relatively effective at proving plenty of steady heat that can cover a large area. But, you will need to have plenty of fuel on hand as they tend to go through it quite fast. Chimeneas stay hot for hours and can be hard to keep clean. They also produce smoke and may not be the best choice if you have smaller children.

2. Different Styles of Patio Heater

Freestanding Patio Heaters

Freestanding heaters are ideal for those who need to warm up larger areas as they considered to be the most powerful heaters on the market. Most measure between 7 and 8 feet tall and are offered in either a tapered or pyramid style.

  • Tapered heaters start with a heavy base that holds the tall shaft in place. At the top are a heating element and a metal umbrella cover.

  • Pyramid heaters are triangular in shape, much lighter and have a flame burning inside a cylindrical tube to produce heat.

Freestanding patio heaters can generally warm an area with a 9-foot diameter. These are the heaviest and can be hard to move around. Some require two people to move and they can be challenging to assemble, even for the experienced builder.

Mounted Patio Heaters

These are great if your patio is right next to your home as they must be attached to a convenient wall or to the ceiling. They are not designed to be portable. The good news is that these heaters are inherently space saving and put out a lot of effective heat.

Getting power to them is easy as they can be wired directly into your home's wiring. Top of the line models come with remote controls that make turning them on and off as well as controlling the temperature easier.

Be sure to check local ordinances to see if you must hire a professional electrician to wire your patio heaters in. Even if there are no laws to prevent you from doing the installation, you should be comfortable with all aspects of the installation for your own safety and that of your family.

Table Top Patio Heaters

These are made to heat smaller areas and are basically a smaller version of the freestanding models. They are lightweight and can easily be moved around your patio. Tabletop heaters are ideal for outdoor meals and family gatherings where you don't need to heat large areas of your patio. You can even take one of these heaters camping with you.

Hanging Patio Heaters

Designed to be hung from the ceiling these heaters are made for use in covered areas such as a gazebo, covered porch or patio, and any other covered area. They are ideal for use in sheds, garages, and other outdoor buildings. Since they hang above the ground, these heaters don't waste any floor space and provide even coverage for the surrounding area.


Image courtesy of Amazon

Fire Pit Patio Heaters

Fire pit heaters look just like a wood burning fire pit but may be powered by wood pellets, propane, even electricity. You never have to worry about searching for firewood or the smoke that burning wood puts off. They tend to be quite expensive, are very heavy, and can be difficult to move around your patio.

3. The Different Sizes

As you look at patio heaters, one of the first things you should notice is that they come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and styles. Bear in mind that the size of your new patio heater is definitely going to have a major impact on its price. But at the same time, you don't want to waste money buying one that is too small to get the job done.

Here is an idea of basic heat output:

  • Freestanding – 40,000 BTU – needed due to large areas they heat

  • Tabletop – 12,000 BTU – because they only have to heat a small area

  • Mounted – 3,000 BTU – for even smaller areas

But this is just a basic idea of their average maximum output, you should shop for a patio heater based on the size of the area you plan to heat.

How Do I Calculate How Many BTUs I Need?

If you are going to invest in a patio heater for the next cool night, you need to buy one that is going to get the job done. The best way to figure out which one is right for your needs is to do a little (ugh) math. Calculate the size of your patio – measure the length and width of your patio – multiply the two numbers together, this is the area of your patio.

Example: 25 feet x 13 feet = 325 sq. ft.

Now determine how many degrees above the ambient temperature you want the heater to increase the temperature. For the sake of argument, let's say you want to raise is by 10 degrees:

325 x 10 = 3,250 BTUs minimum.

Of course, you may want to buy one a little bigger than your calculations show just in case it gets colder outside than you planned for.

If you are using an electric heater you can calculate the number of watts by taking the radius of the area you wish to heat and multiplying it by 100.

Example: 15 feet x 100 = 1,000 watts

Here again, you may want to go slightly larger than the calculation shows to ensure you have plenty of heat on those chilly evenings.

A Quick Note About Those Domes


Image courtesy of Amazon

You may have noticed that some of the freestanding and tabletop patio heaters have a single dome (the curved metal plate on top) and others have three of them stacked on top of each other. Those with a single dome are generally cheaper than those with three.

  • A single dome heater is designed to radiate heat downwards, heating a much smaller area, typically directly under the heater.

  • A triple dome heater is designed to radiate heat in three different directions to provide heat over a much larger area.

  • Triple dome heaters tend to cost more than single dome units.

The Top 5 Picks for the Top Patio Heater

Fire Sense Hammer Tone Bronze Commercial Patio Heater

Lovely to look at and puts out plenty of heat


Fire Sense Patio Heater

Rated at 46,000 BTUs, this freestanding patio heater from Fire Sense is available in a range of colors to suit your outdoor décor. It features piezo electronic ignition with stainless steel burners and a double mantle heating grid. There is a built-in shut off valve in case the heater gets tipped over. It comes with wheels to make it easier to move. Runs on propane with the tank hidden in the pedestal out of sight.

Choice of colorsSingle dome design keeps heat close by
46,000 BTU outputMade from flimsy metal
Easy to maneuver thanks to included wheelsSome manufacturing issues

Thermo Tiki Deluxe Propane Outdoor Patio Heater - Pyramid Style 

Fun to watch the flames while you stay warm

Thermo Tiki Patio Heater

Thermo Tiki Deluxe Propane Outdoor Patio Heater

This patio heater offers a tower of flame that is as much fun to watch as it is to enjoy the heat radiation from it. Made from high-grade steel and aluminum, this heater features a black power-coat finish that will keep it looking good for years. The 50-inch tall ceramic glass flame tube puts on a spectacular show while the pagoda style reflector reflects plenty of heat and firelight. A 20-lb. tank fits in the bottom where it is out of sight.

Glass tower puts out plenty of heat and firelightMost of the heat rises instead of being reflected
Powder coated to prevent rustPoor customer service
Push button ignitionIgnition system and burners have issues

KingMys 1500W Remote Controlled Carbon Infrared Indoor/Outdoor Patio Heater

Interesting design throws directional heat


KingMys 1500W Remote Controlled Indoor/Outdoor Patio Heater

Silent directional heat that uses no fossil fuels, instead this patio heater provides 1,500 watts of heat using electric reflective heat technology. No gas lines or tanks to worry about, no running out of fuel in the middle of the evening. Comes with a convenient remote control and plugs into any standard 110/120V outlet. There are three heat setting modes that allow you to set the amount of heat to match the outside temperature.

No gas lines or tanksElectricity can be spendy
6-foot cord is a bit short for patio useFan is noisy
Can be used indoorsNot recommended for larger areas

ProCom PCTT15 Tank-Top Propane Heater, Single Burner, 15,000 BTU

Outdoor heat doesn't get much more basic than this

ProCom_PCTT15_Propane Heater

ProCom PCTT15 Tank-Top Propane Heater

All you need is a 20-lb propane tank and room to sit it on the ground. This heater mounts directly on the top of the tank and puts out up to 15,000 BTU of heat in any direction you point it. It has three temperature settings and comes with a regulator. Unfortunately, you need matches or a stick lighter to light it as it does not have a built-in ignitor.

InexpensiveVery directional heat
Space savingMax output is only 15,000 BTU
Runs up to 43 hours on a single tankOnly good for very small areas

AZ Patio Heaters Electric Patio Heater, Parasol

Perfect for use under that table umbrella


AZ Patio Heaters

This patio heater is designed to be used under an umbrella and can be used indoors or outside on the patio. It offers up to 1,500 BTU of directional heat. Made of stainless steel with a powder coated finish for long life. Comes with a variable temperature control and is IP certified waterproof. Designed to heat an area up to 15 feet in diameter.

Perfect for heating your table under the umbrellaMade just for use under an umbrella
Can be left in place all year longSmall heating area
Variable temperature controlsNot effective in very cold weather

One Last Choice

Outland Fire Table, Aluminum Frame Propane Fire Pit Table 

Stylish heating for your patio


Outland Fire Table, Aluminum Frame Propane Fire Pit Table

If you are interested in a stylish patio heater that is going to get people talking while keeping them nice and toasty, this might be the perfect one for you. Propane powered with a 35,000 BTU output, this table was a Silver Medal Winner in the 2017 International Design Awards for Best Design in Outdoor Patio Furniture! Safe to use during most fire bans and offers easy lighting and adjustable flame height.

Beautiful to look atHeat is localized
Flames are fun to watchGlass top may not fit in frame
Provides plenty of heatCannot be used as a table

Down to the Last BTU

When it comes to choosing the best patio heaters, you need to first think about what you are trying to accomplish and where you plan to use the heater. Each different style is intended for a specific heating need. For myself, I have a Fire Sense freestanding unit on one end and the Outland Fire Table in the middle, together they keep our patio nice and warm on a chilly evening. I hope this information helps you find the heat your patio and family needs.

  • Thank you for reading this guide on finding the best patio heater for your outdoor living space. If you have any comments of questions, please contact me here

Related Articles:

The 7 Top Options for the Best Trenching Shovel

My 7 Top Picks for Best Trenching Shovel

& Why You Won't Go Back to Not Having One

Best Trenching Shovel - A trench dug along lawn

When you have a small trench to dig, the last thing you need is the expense of renting a backhoe or mechanical trencher

YOU COULD USE ANY TYPE OF spade or digging shovel for the first foot or so of a trench. But in time, all you end up with is a backache. The right tool for the job will let you continue to work at ground level, get the job done right, and save you from a lot of unneeded soreness.

And it's that soreness that leads us to this article. Finding the best trenching shovel will save you a whole bunch of it. Because even professionals will break out the hand trenching shovel for short runs.

So lets get started and learn what a trenching shovel will do for you, what to look for and a few top picks to help you find the best one.

Man digging trench for sewerage/storm water with a wide spade

Using a wider shovel typically means moving excess dirt which is more work and stress on your back/knees digging it out, and filling it in

What is a Trenching Shovel?

This type of shovel is often referred to as a "clean out" shovel as well as a trench shovel. This is because they are designed to help you scoop up any loose soil in your trench after it has been cut. The cut can be completed by hand or by using a powered trencher.

The most important thing to remember is that the trench shovel is not designed to cut down into the soil. If you look at the design of this type of shovel, you can see that the blade is not really wide enough for you to get your foot on it.

This, in turn, means you will not be able to put enough downward pressure on the shovel for it to cut through anything but loose soil. However, the narrow design makes it the perfect shovel for cleaning out trenches that are both narrow and deep.

With this in mind, you may want to consider using a tile or drain spade to cut the sides of the trench and loosen the soil before using a trenching shovel to remove the soil and to finish shaping the trench.

What Makes a Good, Durable Trench Shovel?

A trench shovel should be narrow in design and feature perfectly straight sides and a pointed end. The straight sides are used to help keep the edges of your trench nice and straight, while the point makes it easier to scoop out any remaining soil.

Like any other piece of gardening equipment, the last thing you want to have to do is go out and spend more money replacing it because you bought the wrong one. So, what should you be looking for when buying this type of shovel?

There are 5 main parts. Here we go over them in detail

The collar of a Razorback Trench Shovel in action

A Razorback trenching shovel in action. Image courtesy of Home Depot

#1 - The Blade

This is perhaps the most important part of any shovel, whether you are buying one for trenching or digging holes in your backyard. There are three types of shovel blades, those with pointed tips, those with rounded ends, and those with square ends. All three will do the job, but each has its own advantages:

  • Pointed end – goes into the ground more easily

  • Rounded end – goes into the ground easily and does a better job of scooping up loose soil

  • Square end – makes scooping larger amounts of soil easier

They also have their disadvantages:

  • Pointed end – not very efficient at scooping soil

  • Rounded end – less efficient at scooping

  • Square end – not made to cut into soil

Always choose a blade that is made from steel as they tend to be stronger and are more likely to give you many years of service for your money (my personal preference as I hate wasting money). Look for tempered or forged steel for maximum value.

Also look for one that has a lip at the top of the blade that gives you somewhere to apply pressure with your foot. (Nothing hurts worse than trying to press down on the sharp edge of a blade that doesn't have this lip.

#2 - The Handle

Handles are typically either fiberglass or wood, both of which are truly fine for this type of work as they should never be subjected to heavy twisting as you might expect when digging a hole.

If you are going to look for one with a wood handle, Ash and hickory are the most commonly used materials as these hardwoods can stand up to a lot of abuse. One tip though, be sure the grain runs along the length of the handle as this ensures maximum strength.

#3 - The Grip

Any fiberglass handled shovel you buy is going to have some form of grip that covers the area where you might commonly put your hands. This is done to protect your hands in the event the fiberglass should splinter.

Depending on the length of the handle, a "D" style handle may be used (especially on shorter handles) to give you more control. Some wood handles are nothing more than a long length of wood without any form of handle. Again, you have to decide which style is likely to work best for you.

The collar of a bully tools trenching shovel

A close up of a collar. Image courtesy of Bully Tools

#4 - The Collar

The collar is the point at which the handle and the blade come together. Less expensive shovels are built with the handle being trimmed to fit tightly into the collar where they might be secured in place using a screw or a nail.

This could eventually become a problem as the wood ages and the screw or nail becomes loose in the handle and falls out. The best trenching shovels feature at least one, if not more, rivet that runs completely through from one side to the other to ensure maximum durability.

#5 - The Step

This is where the top of the blade has been folded over to give you somewhere to put your foot to help force the shovel into the ground. While the step doesn't need to be excessively wide, it needs to be wide enough for your foot to fit and allow you to apply the required pressure without hurting the bottom of your foot.

While some come without a step, look for those that do, you will find them much easier to work with.

Best Trenching Shovel - Man digging large trench by hand

Caring for Your Shovel

No matter what type of shovel or shovels you finally decide to add to your collection, if you don't take good care of them, you will be replacing them on a frequent basis.

The best way to store a steel-bladed shovel is to place it head down into a 5-gallon bucket that has been filled with sand that has oil mixed into it. This mixture will keep out moisture and stop your shovel from rusting.

If you buy a shovel that has a wooden handle, it should last for decades. But, if you want to ensure it does, you should wipe it down to remove any dirt. Then take a rag that has been lightly soaked in linseed oil and wipe every inch of the handle. The oil will help keep the wood protected and prevent it from decaying over the years.

The Top 7 Trenching Shovels

There are so many different types and brands of trench shovel on the market, finding the right one can be challenging. However, armed with the information above, you should have a better than average chance of finding exactly what you need.

Bear in mind (if the wife says it o.k., you can always have more than one shovel in your garden tool inventory). Here then are my top 7 picks for best trenching shovel:

Seymour S702 48-inch Fiberglass Handle Trenching Shovel

Five-inch-wide blade and a 48-inch handle make clearing trenches easy


SEYMOUR S702 48-Inch Fiberglass Handle Trenching Shovel

This trenching shovel from Seymour comes with a 48-inch long fiberglass handle and features a rounded tip blade that makes digging and clearing trenches much easier.

The blade features rear-rolled steps designed to make digging and cleaning out much easier. The PermaGrip® collar ensures you never have to worry about the blade coming loose from the handle. It also features a cushioned grip handle for more comfort while you work.

48 – inch long handleFiberglass handle has a lot of flex
Cushion grip handleMay receive a Structron brand, not Seymour (same company)
Round tip for easier diggingSome are shipped with a front roll instead of rear roll step

Razor Back 4705 Wood Handle Trenching Shovel

Natural hardwood handle for added durability


UNION TOOLS Razorback Clean Out Ditch/Trench Shovel Ash 48 " Industrial Gauge 3 " X 11 "

This trench shovel offers a uniquely shaped blade that has been designed specifically for digging and cleaning out trenches. It features a 4-inch wide blade that is perfect for use in narrow trenches such as those you might dig to install a sprinkler system in your yard or garden.

The blade is made from heavy gauge tempered steel for added durability and features a front rolled step for added foot comfort. The blade and handle are riveted together to ensure they remain tightly connected.

47.5 – inch long hardwood handleNot for initial digging of trench
Forward turned step for secure foot placementHead to handle angle is a bit much for some
Riveted for extra-strong head to handle connectionStep needs to be a little wider for comfort

Kobalt Long-Handle Fiberglass Trenching Spade

Pointed tip makes sinking this one in the ground simple


KOBALT Long-Handle Fiberglass Trenching Spade

This trenching spade features a heavy-duty 5-inch wide blade made from tempered steel that is more than strong enough to get the job done. The blade has a pointed end that lets you break tough ground and work in rocky soil.

The fiberglass handle has a 9-inch cushioned grip to help give you more control and reduce hand fatigue. The extra-wide rear-turned step gives your foot a more stable platform to work with and more stability.

Heavy-duty tempered steel bladeFiberglass handle flexes
Wide rear-turned step for more stabilityBlade may fold if used in high-clay soil
Sharp point makes sinking blade into ground easyHandle breaks where it enters the blade

Corona-SS 64104 General Purpose Trench Shovel – 4-inch

V-angled head for better penetration


CORONA SS 64104 General Purpose Trench Shovel, 4-Inch

The V-angled head of this trenching shovel makes it easy to use for penetrating a wide range of soil types. The 1-inch sides make it much easier to retain the soil you have scooped instead of watching it slide off the sides.

Features a 48-inch long ash hardwood handle for maximum durability. The extra-deep sides also give the blade more structural rigidity for those harder tasks such as working in clay-heavy soil.

48-inch ash handle for strength and durability35-degree handle makes digging challenging
13-guage steel bladeNot the best choice for heavy soils
Pointed end great for digging into soilHard to keep foot on top of blade

Ames 14-inch True American Drain Spade

D-handle gives you more control


AMES 14-Inch True American Drain Spade - 1564700

The D-handle on this drain spade makes it much easier for you to maintain control while you are digging or scooping the soil out of your trench. Features a 14-inch long tempered steel blade and a round tip that makes it much easier for you to cut in the sides of your trench.

The hardwood handle is designed to provide you with years of flawless service. The blade features forward-turned steps for more secure foot placement while digging.

D-handle for more controlPlastic handle may break
Hardwood handle for maximum durabilityShort handle can be hard on your back
Strong blade doesn't bendBlade needs to be sharpened before use

Nupla SS14L-E Ergo Power Sharp Shooters Drain Spade

Ergo-grip for added comfort while digging


NUPLA SS14L-E Ergo Power Sharp Shooters Drain Spade

This "sharp shooter" shovel features a 16-guage super heavy-duty steel blade. This blade has forward-turned steps for better foot placement and a hollow back design.

The handle is 48-inches long and has an oversized ergonomically designed end that improves your grip and gives you more control., The fiberglass handle has a polystyrene core that is surrounded by a polypropylene sleeve that adds strength, chemical and weather resistance, and durability to the assembly.

Multi-layer handle for durabilityHandle has a lot of flex
16-guage steel blade is very strongToe step is too narrow
Ergonomic handle takes some of the pain awayBlade needs to be longer

The Bully Tools 72530 Commercial Grade Long Handle Drain Spade

Great for narrower trenches


BULLY TOOLS 72530 Commercial Grade Long Handle Drain Spade

This drain spade is ideal for smaller trenches as it features an extra-thick steel blade that measures 3-inches wide and 12-inches long. The closed-back design helps to reduce debris build up.

The handle is made from wood reinforced fiberglass for superior strength. In fact, you are more likely to bend the blade before you can break the handle. The extra length ferrules and welded I-beam supports work together to create an extra-strong shovel.

Wood reinforced fiberglass handle is extra toughPoint is blunt and must be sharpened
Extra-long ferrules and welded I-beamsBlade is only 3-inches wide instead of 4
Heavy-gauge blade does not bendWood/fiberglass handle not covered under warranty

If a Trench Shovel Is Not What You Want

While the trenching shovel may be your best option, it may not be the most efficient tool for the job. Another very popular option is the Trenching Hoe or Grub Hoe. This very easy to use tool can make digging smaller trenches go smoothly and quickly. In fact, all you have to do is use the hoe to chop into the ground and then drag the soil up and out of the way.

Bully Tools 92354 12-Gauge Warren Hoe

A new approach to digging trenches


BULLY TOOLS 92354 12-Gauge Warren Hoe with Fiberglass Handle

The Warren Hoe from Bully tools features a fiberglass handle that is weather and chemical resistant and features a cushioned grip. The blade is made from extra-thick 12-gauge commercial grade steel. The head measures 5" x 6.5" allowing you to cut the size of trench you need with ease.

The handle is made from wood reinforced fiberglass for maximum rigidity and durability. The handle measures 6 feet long.

6-foot-long wood reinforced handleHeavy
Handle is securely attachedLong handle can be hard to use
Very sturdily builtBlade has no edge needs to be filed

Rounding It All Up

When you have a trench to dig, you need the right tools to get the job done with the least amount of work, stress, strain, and pain. You can use either a trench shovel or a trenching hoe to get the job done, personally, I have both to make sure I can get the job done in a hurry. I like the two from Bully Tools as not only are they made in the U.S.A. but they offer great value for my money.

  • If you have any information you would like to see here, please contact us here.

  • Thank you for reading this guide on finding the best trenching shovel. I hope it has helped.

Related Articles:

Best Weeding Tool for the Most Common Garden Weeds

The Best Weeding Tools for the 6 Most Common Garden Weed Problems... Found in the Yard and Garden

Best Weeding Tools - Pulling out weeds in the garden

Weeds can be quite a nuisance in the garden, here are some tools to get you rid of it...

PERSONALLY THE ONLY THING I DON'T LOVE about gardening is having to deal with the weeds. To me, there is nothing less enjoyable than bending over or kneeling in the garden to pull those pesky weeds by hand.

There are so many different tools on the market that claim to make this job easier. The big question is, which of them is the best weeding tool, not only for your money but to get the job done right.

Before We Get Started

Thing is, there is no such thing as a single weeding tool that will work for all of your weeding tasks. Unless, of course, your garden is a perfectly flat piece of super soft ground that has been planted with just the right amount of space between each plant.

We all know that the chances of having the perfect garden are pretty slim. There are varying distances between rows and plants to deal with, differences in soil, raised beds, and of course how you plan to weed to consider.

Here are four very important questions you need to be able to answer truthfully before you look for the best weeding tool for each condition.

Pulling out dandelions weeds with just a glove

The soil under your lawn can be quite hard and packed together

1. Where Are You Going to Be Weeding?

The obvious answer to this is, of course, in your gardens. But are your gardens in-ground or in raised beds? Are you weeding between the pavers that make up your garden path, around trees and under shrubs, between your rows of plants? Will you be going all of the above and more?

2. What Type of Soil Do You Have?

Is this a new area of your garden? Is the soil hard and packed or is it nice and soft and lose?

3. How Big Are the Weeds You Need to Deal With?

Are you the kind of person who likes to stay on top of your weed problem or do you wait until they are three feet tall and threatening to take over?

getting rid of unwanted growth, the old fashioned way, with a weeder and bucket

4. How Do You Weed?

Do you prefer to most of your weeding standing up or on your knees? Do you have a medical condition such as back problems that make it difficult to take care of the weeds as they grow?

All of these situations call for a different type of weeding tool and only by carefully considering and answering them to the best of your ability can you truly choose the best tool for each task. The good news is that there are weeding tools designed for just about any situation you are ever likely to find yourself in.

Short vs. Long Handled Weeders

Now that you have a much better idea of where you plan to weed and the types of obstacles you are going to be dealing with, including any disabilities such as back problems, let's take a quick look at the two basic types of weeding tools, short-handled and long-handled as most weeding tools will fall into one of these two categories.

Short-Handled Tools

Many short-handled weeding tools are very similar in design to their longer-handled counterparts. However, the bulk of these tools have their own unique shapes and designs as they are intended to be used for very specific types of weeding.

The concept behind shorter handled weeding tools is to give you a tool that will give your more control to help you avoid uprooting valuable plants, while at the same time giving you enough leverage to make the job as easy as possible.

Depending on the styles and locations of your gardens and the types of weeding (i.e. around plants, between pavers, etc.), you may find you need several different types of weeding tool to get the job done.

Finding the best weeding tool will help save you from manually Pulling out weeds when you are ready to sow some more crops

Most long handled weeding tools will require bending over at some stage

Long-Handled Tools

While the standard hoe is the most common member of the long-handled weeding tool category, there are more gimmicky tools in this category than you can imagine (I know, I tried a few).

Picture if you will those infomercials touting tools that make weeding so easy ever your kids will love I and you understand what I mean. These tools are made for you to use in a standing position, which might be the better choice for those with back problems.

The 6 Most Common Types of Weeding Situations

As stated, different types of weeding call for different weeding tools. So let's take a closer look at the differences and what type of tools might make the best weeding tool for each task.

#1 - All-Round Weeding

While you may find that you prefer separate weeding tools for each task, there are a few tools out there that can be used for just about any type of weeding in your gardens. Most of these tools are going to fall into the short-handle category.

While this does mean you will spend your weeding time on your knees, these smaller tools let you get closer to each individual weed so that you can remove them without causing any damage to your plants. This category includes tools such as these:


RADIUS GARDEN 102 Ergonomic Aluminum Hand Weeder

Both of these tools feature ergonomically shaped handles and blades that are designed to help you get around and under the roots of the weeds in your garden so that you can remove them easily.

#2 - Bulk Weeding

When you have large areas of unbroken ground, need to remove weeds in a garden area that has been left to its own resources for too long, or need to clean up the garden plants at the end of the season, you need a tool that is going to make the job as easy as possible.

A propane powered garden torch is considered to be the best choice for this type of weeding.


RED DRAGON VT 2-23 Weed Dragon 100,000 BTU Propane Vapor Torch Kit

At 100,000 BTU, this propane torch will turn any plant, living or dead, weed or not, into ashes in seconds.

#3 - When Accessibility is an Issue

When you have a bad back, weeding the garden can seem like a painful and often insurmountable task. Bending over or working on your knees for long periods of time can be virtually impossible.

Fortunately, there are a number of long-handled weeding tools designed to make pulling the weeds out of your garden something you can do by yourself rather than having to pay your kids, or someone else's to do the work for you.


Image courtesy of Yard Butler

Typically, these tools (see image) feature a foot pedal that closes the jaws around the weed so that you can easily pull it out of the ground. An ejector button at the top releases the jaws and lets the weed fall out. Not only do you get to pull the weeds out of your garden, your hands stay nice and clean.

#4 - Paved Pathways and Other Hard to Get to Areas

The cracks between the pavers you used to build your patio and pathways can be really hard to keep the weeds out of. Many crops are grown so close together, trying to weed between them tends to be so challenging, it almost never gets done.

What you need is a tool that has a long thin blade, one that sits at 90 degrees to the handle. This way once you reach the spot where the weeds live, you have the leverage to remove them easily.


Image courtesy of Gardena - The Hand PAtio Weeder Combi System

While this tool comes with a short handle, the company that makes it also sells an extension handle that makes this tool far more versatile and can help ease back pain while you clean up those cracks.

#5 - Garden Bed Weeding

If you are like me and like to get up close and personal with your plants and weeds, you probably spend a lot of time on your knees. Also, if you are like me, your soil is probably nice and soft, which should make it easy to pull those annoying weeds.

This is the perfect place for a finger weeder. Essentially these are a tool that is designed to slip over one of your fingers (usually the index finger) and has a forked tip that can be used to dig around the weeds so you can remove them easily.


Image Courtesy of The Ring Weeder

Simple and oh so easy to use, I have one of these and absolutely love it for those times when I am practicing my own form of "zen" gardening.

#6 - Bigger Weeds

While a ring weeder is perfect for smaller weeds it may not be the best weeding tool for tackling those bigger ones. One of my favorite tools for this job is the Japanese Hori Hori knife. This tool is perfect for digging deeper into the ground to remove bigger weeds with ease.

The best ones have a sharp knife edge on one side and a serrated edge that can be used to cut through roots on the other. The blade is usually concave and often has a ruler engraved into it for measure spaces between plants and rows or planting depths.


The riveted wood handle and extra sharp dual purpose blade make this an excellent choice for weeding your garden. The stainless-steel blade features a full tang for added strength and durability.

Our Top Manual Weeder Picks in Each Category

Now that you have a better idea of what you should look for in weeding tools for your garden adventure, let's look at one of the best weeding tools in each category.

The All-Rounder


FISKARS Weeder (7060)

Fiskars Softouch Weeder

Extra-large ergonomically shaped handle for added comfort and controllability

This weeder has a curved head with twin tines designed to give you plenty of leverage for uprooting even the toughest weeds. It is perfect for removing thistles and dandelions.

The head is made from long-lasting aluminum that will never rust or corrode. The Softgrip handle helps reduce wrist and hand fatigue when you spend hours out in the garden.

Softgrip handle is comfortable and durableYou have to work while on your knees
Aluminum head will not rustMetal head is not strong enough to use in clay soil
Head design make removing weeds easierTines are short and close together

Bulk Weeding

Red_Dragon_VT 2-23


Red Dragon 100,000-BTU Propane Vapor Torch Kit

Burns everything in its path with ease

All you need to get started is a 20-lb. tank of propane and a way to light the fire. This weed burner has been given the National Home Gardening Club Member Tested Seal-of-Approval.

When turned all the way up, flame temperature can reach up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which will burn virtually anything, especially weeds, that gets in its way. The best part is you can use this torch for more than burning weeds, you can use it to thaw frozen water lines, melt ice and snow, burn stumps and heavy brush, and more.

Easy to useWorking with live fire
Burns everything to ashDefinite fire risk
Comes with 10 feet of hoseMay not kill the roots

Accessibility Weeder



Yard Butler RKT-1000 Rocket Weeder Steel Weed Remover

Stand up, use your foot, and remove weeds with ease

When you can't get down on your knees to pull weeds or you simply prefer not to, the Yard Butler may be just what you are looking for. It makes pulling weeds from a standing position fast and easily. 

All you have to do is open the jaws, dig down around the roots and push down on the foot operated lever. The jaws will seize the weed tightly so that you can pull it out. The quick-release button lets you drop the weed in your wheelbarrow or bucket.

Easy to useNot for use on tough weeds
Sturdily builtLeaves holes that must be filled in
Ergonomic handle designPoor handle design

Paved Pathways and Other Hard to Get to Areas


GARDENA 8928 Weeder

GARDENA 8928 Hand Patio Weeder Combi System

Perfect for those difficult spots like cracks between paving stones

We all know how hard it can be to clean out weeds growing between paving stones, in the cracks between the sidewalk and your walls. This simple tool is thin enough to slip into these cracks with ease and sharp enough to get under the weeds and rip them out of the ground.

Best of all the kit contains an extension handle that lets you use it when standing up as well as when you are kneeling.

Simple DesignLong handle can slip out
Comes with long handle extensionHas few other uses
Blade is sharp

Garden Bed Weeding


The Ring Weeder - The Best Way to Weed with Your Hand!

The Ring Weeder

One hand or rather one finger weeding

When you have raised garden beds, the last thing you need is to be trying to use large garden tools to remove any weeds that grow.

This simple weeding tool slips on a finger so that you can weed your garden beds by hand. The twin prongs let you dig under the roots so that you can easily pluck the weeds from your garden.

Easy to usePlastic may break
Twin prongs let you dig under weedsSmall and easy to lose
You get 3 per packageMay be too big for small hands

Bigger Weeds


Hori Hori Garden Knife

Hori Hori Garden Knife with Free Diamond Sharpening Rod and Leather Sheath

The Ultimate garden weeding tool

The Japanese Hori Hori knife may truly be the ultimate gardening tool. This one has a 7-inch blade made from 420 stainless steel that will provide you with many years of flawless performance.

The blade features a razor-sharp edge on one side and a sharp serrated edge on the other. The tang extends all the way into the handle which is held together with 3 rivets for added strength. You also get a thick leather sheath and a diamond sharpening rod.

Top quality 420 stainless steel bladeMetal tang protrudes from handle
Heavy-duty leather sheathRivets not set flush in handle
Extremely sharp bladeSharp edges of tang can cut handle

Down to the Last Weed

There are so many different types of weeding tools on the market it can be very hard to know which of them is the best weeding tool for your needs.

While I wish I could tell which of these is my favorite, I have, to be honest, I have at least one of each that gets used for specific purposes. But, if I had to choose one, it would be the Hori Hori knife because it has so many uses.

If you buy one of these, you are sure to fall in love with it, I guarantee it!

If you have any information you would like to see here, please contact us here. Thanks for reading this guide on finding the best weeding tool for the most common garden weeding problems.

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Best Loppers

Finding the Best Loppers for Homeowners & Gardeners

Everything You Need to Know Before You Trim Those Tree Limbs

A man cutting the branches off of a tree with a pair of good loppers

When cutting down trees,a pair of loppers will save you time and effort

IF THE TIME HAS COME for you to prune a few branches in your trees that yard that measure more than an inch in diameter...

Do you run out to the shed and grab the pruning shears? Probably not as they are not made to take on such thick limbs. What about one of those gas or electric powered pruning saws? Unless you have dozens of trees to trim every year, buying one of these could be overkill.

A much better choice would be a pair of good loppers, as they can cut limbs up to 2-inches in diameter with ease. Let's take a look at the best loppers for your money.

While we are at it, let's also take a look at what you should be looking for in a pair of loppers so that you don't do what I did and buy the wrong ones the first time.

Choosing the Best Loppers to Fit Your Needs

First, you need to realize that loppers come in a range of sizes, styles, and prices. To a certain extent, they are little more than a pair of pruning shears with longer handles. However, deciding which are the best loppers for you should be based on:

  • What type of pruning you plan to do
  • How tall, big and strong you are
  • How much money you can afford to spend

*Note that I put the cost of the loppers at the bottom of the list.

While cost may play an important role in your final decision, it should never be your first thought, nor should it be your final deciding factor. The reality is that if you try and "cheap out", you are only going to end up being disappointed in the loppers you end up with.

The Different Types Available

To start with, there are two basic types of lopper on the market. These are the anvils style and the bypass style. These terms refer to the cutting blades themselves and how they cut. Both blade types are made for different types of cutting, so be sure to buy the type that best fits your overall needs.

tabor tools Anvil lopper - with compound action

A close up of an anvil lopper action thanks to Tabor Tools. This one also has a compound action you can see on the left

1. Anvil Style Loppers

Anvil style loppers are not as commonly used as they tend to make a rougher cut

  • They have a single blade that makes contact with an "anvil", which is a flat steel or nylon plate attached to the other handle.
  • They can, by virtue of their design cut thicker branches. However, this type of cutting action tends to crush as it cuts.
  • These loppers are better suited to cutting dead limbs or living limbs that you plan to use a saw or bypass loppers to clean up the cut when you are done.
A close up of an anvil style lopper cutting blades

A close up of the bypass action thanks to Tabor Tools

2. Bypass Style Loppers

Bypass style loppers are probably the most commonly used style as they make far cleaner cuts

  • They have a pair of blades that cut as they slide past each other.
  • They provide a very clean cut.
  • Dead or dry branches can bend the blades.
  • They do tend to jam, especially when cutting dead wood.

While anvil loppers can cut thicker branches up to 2 inches in diameter, if you plan to cut anything thicker, you may want to invest in a pruning saw.

Pay Close Attention to the Blades

Like most things you buy today, with loppers, you tend to get what you pay for. For the most part, you will find that loppers have steel blades. However, the best loppers have blades that are made from either carbon steel or stainless steel.

  • Both stainless steel and high carbon steel blades are less likely to bend or break than cheap steel blades.
  • Poor quality steel blades will not hold an edge and will require more frequent sharpening.
  • Some blades feature a non-stick coating that can come in handy when dealing with trees that have a lot of sticky sap.
  • If you are buying bypass loppers, pay close attention to how close the blades are to each other as they pass. The closer the better.
  • Good quality loppers should have an adjuster that lets you set how close the blades are to each other.
A Pair of Top Loppers in a wheelbarrow with branches

The Different Mechanisms

While some of the less expensive loppers may have a simple pivot, these tend to make the job much harder than it needs to be. The best loppers feature one of three different types of pivoting mechanisms. These mechanisms are designed to reduce the amount of effort needed to cut through the branches.

Fiskars Gear Action Style Lopper in Action

A gear action lopper in action. Image courtesy of Fiskars

1. Gear Action

This style of lopper features a gear mechanism at the fulcrum. The gears are designed to magnify the amount of force you are applying at the handles, making it much easier to cut through thicker branches.

A compound action anvil lopper demonstration

A compound action lopper thanks to Tabor Tools

2. Compound Action

These loppers feature multiple pivot points and a number of moving levers and parts that help to amplify your efforts. With these, the handles do have to be opened wider in order for the blades to reach around the branches you are cutting.

Gardenite Ratcheting Lopper - Close up of Ratchet Mechanism

A close up of a ratchet mechanism on a pair of loppers. Thanks to Gardenite

3. Ratcheting Loppers

These are great for those who lack the physical strength to complete a cut in a single shot. Each time you move the handles closer together, the ratcheting mechanism locks them in place. You can then release the handles and squeeze them back together again. This way you get to make the cut in as many easy steps as needed.


Loppers are available with a variety of handle lengths. These can range from as short as 15 inches to as long as 32 inches or more. Longer handles can give you more leverage, which in turn will make it easier for you to cut through those tougher branches.

However, longer handles are heavier and can be harder to work with. Pick a handle length that you are comfortable working with and will still let you get the job done.

A Word or Two about Telescoping Handles

They can be a great way to compromise as you can slide them in for shorter handles when you need them and then pull them out when you need longer handles. These can be ideal for many pruning situations. But they do tend to be heavier and you need to make sure the locking mechanism works properly as some of the cheaper models don't hold very well.

A pair of telescopic loppers with standard style grips, thanks to MLTOOLS

A pair of telescopic loppers with standard style grips, thanks to MLTOOLS

Get a Grip

Most loppers come with some form of grip on the handles. The grips come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Many of the newer models feature "ergonomically" designed grips that are made to fit your hands and reduce fatigue and stress.

There are soft foam grips (my favorites), contoured grips and more, but the best way to decide which style is right for you is to try a few different styles and brands out for yourself.

How Much Weight Can You Handle?

Most of the weight in a lopper comes from the handles. There are several different types of material in use today:

  • Fiberglass - the lightest weight, may flex more than you would like
  • Aluminum - almost as light as fiberglass and won't flex
  • Wood - middle of the road weight
  • Steel - the heaviest handles typically found in professional loppers and those made for cutting thicker limbs

Keep in mind that while heavier duty handles may seem like a better idea, you are likely to find them to be tiring to use if you have a lot of pruning to do.

Other Issues to Consider

There are a couple of other issues worth mentioning if this is your first time buying a decent pair of loppers:

  • Do they have some form of stopper or bumper that ensures the closed handles stay far enough apart that your fingers don't end up getting smashed when they cut through the limb?
  • Is the cutting capacity going to be big enough to handle the tasks you are buying them for? Most will cut up to 2 inches, but if they are too heavy or the handles are too short to give you the leverage you need, being able to cut up to 2 inches may not do you any good at all.

No matter how you look at it, cost is eventually going to play a role in your final decision. Center pivot loppers are going to be the least expensive but can be the hardest to use.

Geared loppers are going to be more expensive as will compound action loppers, but both can make the job much easier. Fixed length handles will be less expensive than those with telescopic handles, but may be less versatile.

The Top Picks for Best Loppers

So now that you know what you need to consider in your search for the best loppers to meet your needs, let's take a look at my top picks in each category.

Bypass Loppers

These are the ones with two blades that pass by each other making the cut.

MLTOOLS Easy Cut Ratcheting Extendable Bypass Lopper

Handles that extend up to 39 1/2 inches for added power


MLTOOLS Easy Cut Ratcheting Extendable bypass Lopper up to 39-1/2 inch Long - Ratchet Lopper L8230

These ratcheting loppers feature a pair of SK-5 High Carbon Steel blades and a tough ratcheting mechanism. The handles extend up to 39 1/2 inches long and lock firmly into place.

The handles are made from lightweight aluminum and feature non-slip grips for added comfort and safety. They are designed to cut branches up to 1 3/4 inches thick. The ratcheting mechanism offers a 5:1 cutting advantage over standard center pivot loppers.

Lightweight aluminum handlesThe blades flex at the pivot point
SK-5 high carbon steel bladesMay not cut branches over 1 1/2 inches without difficulty
Ratcheting mechanism offers easier cutting and more powerA little heavy despite the aluminum handles

Fiskars 25 Inch Extendable Power-Lever Lopper

Compound power lever action gives you double the power


FISKARS 25 Inch Extendable Power-Lever Lopper

If you have thicker branches to prune these compound lever-action loppers may be just the ticket. The Fiskars Power-Lever design doubles your power input in comparison to single pivot loppers. This allows you to easily cut branches up to 1 3/4 inches thick.

The handles extend from 25 to 37 inches to help you reach those high branches and to give you plenty of leverage. The fully hardened steel blade features a low-friction coating that also helps to protect the blades from rust. The steel handles come with Softgrip handles for added safety and comfort.

Compound lever action adds plenty of powerHandle locking mechanisms may not lock handles in place
Extendable handles help you reach higher and add more leverageHardened steel blades are brittle and may break under heavy usage
Steel construction won't breakAll-steel construction is very heavy

Anvil Loppers

These feature a single blade that connects with an anvil once the cut is made

Tabor Tools GG12 Compound Action Anvil Lopper

Cuts branches up to 2 inches in diameter with ease


Tabor Tools GG12 Compound Action Anvil Lopper, Chops Thick Branches With Ease

The compound action of these anvil style loppers makes cutting through branches up to 2 inches in diameter a breeze. The blades are made from high-carbon steel and are covered with a non-stick coating.

The handles are a fixed 30-inches long to give you all the power you need to make a wide variety of cuts and have rubberized comfort grips that provide you with a firm grip for added safety.

The compound action of these loppers multiplies your efforts by a factor of three over single pivot loppers.

High carbon steel blades have a non-stick coatingCarbon steel blades will rust
Anvil style lets you cut thicker branchesPoor balance adds extra strain to hands and arms
Rugged design built to lastFixed handle length may not work for every job

Corona FL 3450 Compound Action Anvil Lopper with Extendable Handles

Heat treated cutting head for added durability


Corona FL 3450 Compound Action Anvil Lopper with Extendable Handles

The handles of this compound style anvil lopper extend from 21 to 33 inches, making them more adaptable than most on the market. The fully heat-treated head features a PTFE (Teflon) coated blades for fast, easy, and clean cuts every time.

To help keep the weight down, the handles are made from fiberglass. This lopper is designed to cut branches up to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

Lightweight fiberglass handlesMay not cut certain woods at 1 1/2 inches in diameter
Handles extend from 21 to 33 inchesLip on the end makes it hard to see if lopper is positioned properly when cutting
Compound action makes cutting easierExtendable arms hard to keep locked in place

Gear Style Lopper

Gear technology adds tons of power when cutting through branches

Fiskars 32 Inch PowerGear2® Lopper

Gear action gives you triple the cutting power


Fiskars 32 Inch PowerGear2 Lopper

The patented PowerGear2® technology used in these loppers from Fiskars gives you 3 times the cutting power of a conventional lopper. You can use this power to cut through branches up to a full 2 inches in diameter.

The gear and cam mechanisms are designed to give you maximum power when you are in the middle of your cut where the branch is the thickest. The blades are made from premium quality steel with a low-friction coating an improved geometry to help make cutting in tight spots easier.

Gear and cam mechanism makes cutting easierFixed length handles
Up to a full 2-inch capacityBlades may break on larger branches
Low-friction coating helps make cutting easierHandles must be opened to almost 180 degrees to fit over larger branches

The Final Cut

Finding the best loppers to fit your needs is not an easy task as there are so many to choose from. You may find you need to have more than one pair on hand to take care of all your needs.

I personally love the Fiskars 25 Inch Extendable Power-Lever Lopper because they offer plenty of power and I personally prefer bypass style loppers as they let me get in closer to the end of the limbs.

  • If you have enjoyed reading about the different types of loppers, please let me know.

  • If you have any information you would like to see here, please contact us here.

  • Let everyone know you enjoyed reading this on Facebook and Pinterest.

  • Thank you for reading this.

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The Truth About Landscaping Fabric and 6 Other Easy Ways to Prevent Weeds

The Truth About Landscaping Fabric & 5 Other Simple Ways to Prevent Weeds

Landscaping Fabric Placed on Ground to Stop Weeds

Does laying a physical barrier really prevent weeds? 

GROWING TIRED OF WATCHING the weeds in your garden grow faster than your veggies? It's a common garden dilemma. And it's common for proactive  gardeners (like yourself) to look for a way to put an end to this cycle. Looking for a way to keep the weeds at bay without resorting to spending a lot of time on your knees or working with a hoe. But do any of them actually work?

If you have ever looked at a professional garden installation, you may have noticed they don't have much of a weed problem. One method used to make this happen is the use of landscaping fabric, but there are others such as landscaping plastic, mulch, cardboard and more.

The Jury is Still Out

Okay, so let's start this off by saying the jury is still out on the use of landscaping fabric or plastic sheets.

While many gardeners, both professional and amateur alike swear by these products (yes, they will keep out the weeds), many others say they are not good for your garden and should not be used (they kill off valuable microorganisms and earthworms).

In the end, you have to decide who is right and which of the different weed control methods is going to work best for you.

The 6 Most Common Ways to Prevent Weeds...

1. Landscaping Fabric

Landscaping fabric is a porous material designed specifically to help keep the weed population in your garden under control. It is intended to be placed on top of your garden's soil and then pinned in place and held down by using more soil or mulch.

The fabric is designed to allow water and air to pass through but to ensure no sunlight reaches the soil below it. In doing this, it prevents weeds from being able to germinate and grow. It can be used when planting your garden or added after your plants have come up.

Advantages of Landscaping Fabric

Controls Erosion

Landscaping fabric can be very helpful if your garden suffers from soil erosion problems such as those caused by heavy rains or high winds. It is also very useful if your garden is on a hill to help keep your soil where it belongs.

The fabric will also help to protect your plants' roots from exposure due to erosion that might cause them to succumb to disease, root rot, or many other forms of damage.


Landscaping fabric done properly will prevent weeds in at least the medium and short term

Controls Weeds

We all know that weeds are great at stealing the nutrition your veggies need to flourish from the soil. By keeping the weed population under control, your plants will have a much better chance to grow big and strong, providing you with an exceptionally good harvest.

It is perfect for smaller plants that will in time grow large enough to provide more shade that will also help to keep weeds out of your garden.

Disadvantages of Landscaping Fabric

Adverse Effect on Soil Nutrient Levels

One of the biggest disadvantages of using landscaping fabric is that over time it will have an adverse effect on nutrient levels in your soil. These nutrient levels are dependent on the decomposition of mulch and other materials over time. The fabric will reduce or stop this from happening, leading to "dead" soil that will require significant amendment on a regular basis.

Landscaping Fabric Placed on Ground and Cut Out for Plants

A typical set up of a garden bed covered with landscaping fabric

Loss of Versatility

Many gardeners like to move their plants around or add more as and when needed or wanted. Landscaping fabric was never designed to be versatile and must have holes cut in it every time you want to add more plants. At the same time, if you remove plants, you must patch the fabric or you will soon have weeds growing through the holes.

Scotts 25-Year Pro Landscaping Fabric

Keep weeds at bay without using chemicals


SCOTTS 25-Year Pro Fabric, 3 by 150-Feet

If you are going to use a landscaping fabric to control weeds in your garden, this one by Scotts may be your best choice. It is designed to provide you with up to 25-years' service without breaking down. It also offers excellent erosion control. Thanks to the woven design, water flows through easily, but nothing can grow underneath it.

The fabric is rated at 1.5 ounces and is strong enough to be used under gravel for paths and driveways without suffering any damage. It is easy to work with and comes in a 3-foot wide roll that measures 150-feet long. One thing you should note is that in heavier rains water will pool on the fabric until it has time to drain through.

Easy to cut and work withSome complaints it rips easily
Blocks the growth of most weedsSlow water soak through
Has a long lifespanGrasses may grow through weave

Landscaping Plastics

Some gardeners find that using landscaping plastic can be a good way to keep weeds under control. As with landscaping fabric, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages to using plastic sheeting in your garden. The most common forms of landscaping plastic are clear and black. Depending on what brand you buy it can vary significantly in thickness and overall quality.

2. Clear Landscaping Plastic

While black sheeting is more commonly used, there are some very distinct advantages to using clear plastic instead. The most obvious advantage to using any kind of plastic sheeting is that it will prevent the growth of weeds. But clear plastic will still let the sunshine reach your soil.

This helps to warm the soil and in many cases will allow you to start planting a little earlier. The heat will also help to kill off any soil borne pathogens. This process is called "solarization" and can help to rid your soil of disease-causing organisms, insects, and of course pathogens.

Covalence Plastics 4-Millimeter Clear Tyco Polyethylene Plastic Sheeting

Listed as a vapor barrier but thick enough to use in the garden


COVELANCE PLASTICSTyco Polyethylene Plastic Sheeting

At 4 millimeters thick, this clear plastic sheeting is more than strong enough to keep the weeds in your garden under control. Each roll is 10 feet wide by 100 feet long, giving you plenty of coverage.

While it is not listed as being for use in landscaping, but it is definitely up to the task. Unlike many other so-called "clear" plastics that end up being milky, this one is crystal clear and will let plenty of sunlight reach the ground under it. It is easy to handle and easy to cut.

One word of caution, however, be sure you are cutting in the right place as repairing erroneous holes can be challenging as most tapes (including duct tape) will not stick to it very well. If you are covering a large area, be prepared to overlap pieces for best results.

Rolls are 10 x 50 FeetDoes not allow water to pass through
Crystal ClearRips easily
Easy to work withHard to repair rips and tears

3. Black Landscaping Plastic

Black plastic landscaping fabrics come in many guises, but those that are at least 4 feet wide and at least 1-1.5 millimeters thick are the most commonly used. Bear in mind that if you plan to use the plastic for several years or bury it under mulch, gravel, or a layer of soil, thicker plastic will last longer. Be sure that any sheeting you buy is listed as being UV resistant to help keep it from breaking down.

Black plastic will help hold in any warmth your soil happens to have and may allow a certain amount of heat to build up during the day. However, it will block out the sun's UV rays and in doing so prevents them from killing pathogens, disease-causing microorganisms, and pesky insects. If you live in a colder climate, you may find the heat generated will not even be enough to help kill weeds.

No matter whether you use clear or black landscaping plastic both will not allow water to reach your plants and will also stop any water in your soil from evaporating. This can lead to problems such as root rot that can kill your garden rather than helping it to grow.

Covalence Plastics Black Tyco Polyethylene Plastic Sheeting

Extra-wide rolls make covering larger areas a breeze

COVALENCE PLASTICS Black Tyco Polyethylene Plastic Sheeting

COVALENCE PLASTICS Black Tyco Polyethylene Plastic Sheeting

This roll of black sheeting can easily be adapted for use as landscaping plastic and at 12 feet wide is sure to cover a large area of your garden in a hurry. Each roll is 100 feet long each roll provides a lot of coverage. At 6 millimeters, the plastic is thick enough to take significant abuse without falling apart.

Although listed as a construction material, it is perfectly suited to being used out in your garden to help get rid of the weeds. You should be aware, however, that black plastic can trap in excessive amounts of heat that can "cook" your soil and everything in it (including the good bacteria and microorganisms).

12-foot-wide rolls offer plenty of coverageCan overheat your soil
Durable enough to walk onRips easily
Keeps weeds at bayHard to repair rips

4. Mulch

Mulch is one of the oldest forms of weed prevention short of getting down on your hands and knees so you can pull each weed complete with its roots out of the ground. Depending on the type of mulch you intend to buy, it can be a great way to control the weeds in your garden naturally.

This being said, you can buy mulch made from wood chips or bark, locally at very reasonable prices. This type of mulch will break down over time and help to add nutrients to your garden.

But at the same time as it breaks down, you will need to replace it on a fairly regular basis. You may find that unless you put landscaping fabric or plastic under it, you will still see a small quantity of very brave weeds poking through any holes.

There are a number of rubber mulch alternatives that do not break down or blow away. These have the added advantage of lasting for many years without losing their looks or effectiveness. But, at the same time, you are putting another unnatural layer in your garden.

Scotts® Nature Scapes® Color Enhanced Mulch

Made from natural recovered forest products


SCOTTS Nature Scapes Color Enhanced Mulch

Unlike some "wood" mulch, Scotts never uses wood pallets or old construction debris to make this mulch. It is made from natural recovered forest products that do not contain harmful chemical or nails.

It is available in a range of colors that are guaranteed to stay vibrant all year long. Each bag measure 2 cubic feet for maximum coverage. It should be spread 3 inches thick for maximum weed prevention while still allowing moisture to reach your plants.

Color lasts a long timeA bit expensive
Made from natural recovered forest materialsColor will come off on your hands when putting down
Reduces amount of water needed for your plantsMixed texture may include twigs and sticks

5. Cardboard and/or Newspaper

Cardboard placed on ground to kill weeds

Photo: ‘Cardboard base for raised bed’ CC BY 2.0 JoePhoto

Using cardboard, newspaper or a combination of both has become a popular way to mulch gardens and prevent the growth of weeds at the same time. Along with this, it is a great way to recycle these materials rather than seeing them end up in your local landfill.

Many gardeners will place a layer of cardboard or newspaper in their garden at the beginning of the season and then cover them with mulch. The idea behind this is the same as using landscaping fabrics, plastic sheets, or for that matter mulch by itself.

This idea is to block sunlight from reaching the soil, which in turn will help to prevent the growth of those annoying weeds. Both materials will help to insulate the soil and keep a certain amount of warmth in.

Over time they will also allow water to slowly soak through and add moisture to the soil. Both will eventually decompose and add a number of nutrients back into your soil. The best part is you can find plenty of cardboard at most local businesses and they won't charge you a dime to haul it away.

Both decompose adding nutrientsBoth are messy
Both are freeNewspaper can blow away
Both are being recycledYou still need mulch or rocks to hold in place

6. Chemical Weed Prevention

As with many other facets of our lives, weeds can be controlled through the use of chemicals. Weed preventers and weed killers have become a major factor in both home gardens and industrial farms where growers are more worried about producing large quantities of their crops than they are about what ends up in the end product.

Does this mean you should not use chemical weed killers in your garden? Not necessarily, what it does mean is that you need to decide for yourself if you are comfortable with using products such as Preen to prevent the growth of weeds or if you would be better off taking a more natural approach.


Preen is not a weed killer


Preen Garden Weed Preventer 

One thing you need to know up front is that Preen is not a weed killer and should not be used to take care of an existing weed problem. It is designed to stop most weeds from being able to germinate.

It can be used after your plants have germinated and reached a height of 2 to 3 inches. It will not harm most plants and can be incorporated into the soil before you plant, while you plant, or applied after you have mulched your garden beds.

For best results, it should be reapplied every 9 to 12 weeks.

Keeps weeds at bay for up to 9 weeks or longerMust be reapplied every 9 - 12 weeks
You are adding unnatural chemicals to your gardenDoes not kill existing weeds
Will not harm most garden plants and flowersNot always very effective

Down to the Last Weed

There are so many different ways to prevent weeds from growing in your gardens. Some like landscaping fabric offer a long-term solution but may affect the overall quality of your soil. Others like Preen add toxic chemicals to your soil that can have a range of adverse effects.

For my money, I use plenty of cardboard along with a healthy layer of cardboard. This lets me enjoy watching my garden grow without the back-breaking work of pulling weeds all summer long. I also use natural mulch so that over time my garden gets plenty of natural nutrition.

  • If you have enjoyed reading about landscaping fabrics and other forms of weed control please let me know.

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The Best Secateurs for Gardeners

The Best Secateurs/Pruning Shears For Gardeners


A good pair of secateurs make spending time in the garden more enjoyable & rewarding

For the sake of simplicity, this article will use the term secateurs instead of changing between pruning shears and hand pruners.

ONE OF THE MOST important jobs in your garden is trimming and pruning. Regular pruning helps ensure your plants, shrubs, and trees grow properly and maintain a healthy size and shape. Pruning can be a very relaxing task, but you do need to have the right tools.

A good pair of secateurs is the perfect tool to make cutting back your plants and pruning trees or hedges a simple task. The problem is with so many different types to choose from, how do you know which are the best secateurs for you?

Secateurs Basics

The first and most important thing is that whether you buy the cheapest or the best secateurs on the market, they are made for a specific task. This is for pruning and trimming back plants. They are not made for cutting larger branches. This type of work is best left for a pruning saw or a lopper.

Typically, a good pair of pruning shears is designed to work on branches or stems that are no thicker than a standard pencil. Anything larger than this is likely to eventually break your secateurs or at the very least dull or damage the blades.

Best Secateurs - pruning a large tree

Secateurs are perfect for when you need to trim by hand, no matter how large the job

The 9 Factors of Good Secateurs

For what may look like nothing more than a pair of fancy oversized plant-cutting scissors, there are many things to consider before you spend a dime. Here are some of the most important things to consider before you buy one or two pairs to hang in your garden shed.

1. Maximum Cutting Diameter

The maximum cutting diameter is best described as the largest diameter of branch the secateurs can safely. One thing you should be aware of is that this number is usually used to describe the maximum diameter of soft or green woods, not hard or dry wood. If you buy a pair of secateurs based on this number for cutting harder woods, be sure to buy ones rated for larger diameters than you plan to cut.

2 .Left or Right-Hand Design

Let's face it, most tools like secateurs are designed for right-handed people, seems as though manufacturers have no idea just how many left-handers there are in the world. The good news is that there are a number of ambidextrous models available. These are the only ones we buy in our house as I am right-handed and my wife is a lefty.

Spring pruning roses in the garden with secateurs

Finding the right fit and feel is important when searching for secateurs 

3. The Right Fit

One thing you will find is that pruning shears come with varying sized handles. You may need to try several different pairs out to find a pair that fits your hands comfortably. This is especially important if you have a lot of pruning to do. If they do not fit your hands properly, they will be very tiring to use and could leave you with blisters.

4. A Safety Catch

Any secateurs you buy should have some form of safety lock such as a sliding catch or a thumb lever that is easy to operate. The goal of the safety lock is to keep the blades locked in the closed position when the shears are not in use.

5. An Adjustable Pivot

The best secateurs have a bolt holding the two halves together not a rivet. This makes it possible for you to adjust the blades with either a screwdriver or a wrench should they become loose.

Best Secateurs - stand out color handles

Finding your secateurs is important 

6. Brightly Colored Handles

Okay, so this might seem to be a bit on the silly side, that is until you drop them in the garden. Brightly colored handles will make them much easier to spot and save you from buying a new pair each time you drop them.

7. Replacement Parts

Any pair of secateurs you buy should have replacement blades and springs readily available. This will help to make your secateurs last much longer.

Pruning of  trees with secateurs in the garden

These much loved secateurs are starting to show their age

8. Coated Blades

Top quality secateurs come with a coating that is designed to prevent the blades from rusting. While this coating may wear off over time, it will help make the blade last longer. Some models come with stainless steel blades that should remain rust-free as long as you take good care of them.

9. Avoid Sharp Points

Some models come with sharp points, in most cases, this is completely unnecessary and should be avoided as the points are more likely to cause injury than anything else. (Trust me, you don't want to poke your hand with a sharp point)

The Three Distinct Types of Secateurs or Pruning Shears

Starting to get an idea of what you need from a pair of secateurs? To help get the job done best there are 3 distinct types of secateurs.

1. Bypass Secateurs

Bypass secateurs work a lot like a pair of scissors in that there is a single sharp blade that cuts as it passes the other blade.

These are the best secateurs if you plan to do a lot of precision pruning of smaller twigs and plants.

Because the blades pass by each other, this design allows you to get up close the to stem of the plant. This allows you to cut side stems flush with the main stem of the trunk.

As long as you keep the cutting blade sharp, these pruning shears will always give you a clean cut, even with softer stems.

One of the biggest problems with bypass secateurs is that if you attempt to cut through branches thicker than the listed specs, the cutting blade can become damaged and may not be repairable.



Precise cuts

For smaller stems and branches only

Design allows you to cut close to stems

Can break if used on larger, harder branches

2. Anvil Secateurs

If you need to trim back hardwood branches, chances are good they are going to destroy a pair of bypass pruning shears. The best secateurs for this type of work is a pair of anvil secateurs.

They work in much the same way as a knife on a cutting board. The blade itself is sharpened on both sides and is designed to contact either a metal or plastic plate when closed.

This type of pruning shear can cut quickly through hardwood stems quickly and with far less effort than a pair of bypass secateurs. But, you should know that this design crushes as it cuts and does not leave a clean cut like the bypass shears. This makes them particularly unsuitable for use on softer stems.

At the same time, the size and design of the anvil mean that it is likely to get in the way when you are trying to cut in tight spaces.

Because the anvil tends to get in the way, you will not be able to cut side stems close up against the main stem. If you need to cut in close quarters or cut flush up against the stem, you should buy a pair of bypass secateurs (personally, I recommend you have a pair of both of these style on hand).



Stronger than other secateurs

Cuts aren’t as ‘clean’ as other secateurs

Typically easy to disassemble for maintenance

Design leaves room for less precision

3. Ratchet Secateurs

In recent years a number of manufacturers have begun to sell ratchet secateurs. In most cases, these feature an anvil type blade. They have all of the same advantages and disadvantages of this style of pruning shear.

However, they also offer one very distinct advantage. As you squeeze the handles together, the ratcheting mechanism will lock the handles in place. This allows you to make the cut in several stages, meaning you will need to use less force to make the cut. However, using these secateurs can take a bit of getting used to.

As a side note, there are several models of geared secateurs on the market. These use a gear or power lever mechanism that makes them easier to use. Unfortunately, most of them do not have the power as standard pruning shears and are not well-suited to being used on woody twigs.



Less pressure needed from your hand

Don’t cut hard branches as easy

Easier to use

Different feel means they can take some getting used to

Here Are Three of My Favorite Secateurs, One from Each Category

Shine Hai

Professional Hand Pruner Bypass Pruning Shears with Safety Lock  

Heavy-duty secateurs with a high-carbon steel blade that can cut branches up to 0.48 inch (12 mm) in diameter. The blade is made from SK-5 Japanese steel and can be used for a number of pruning tasks.

Both sides of the blade are coated in low-friction ILAFLON Resist R coating and feature sap groove to make cutting easier. The cushion-shock absorber system helps to reduce discomfort when using them and there is a wire cutting groove for smaller gauge wires.



Heavy Gauge SK-5 Japanese steel blade

Bolt holding blade in place may come loose

Shock-absorbing system to reduce fatigue

Tension spring is not strong enough

Precision ground razor sharp blade

Will not work on larger branches

Spear & Jackson 6758GS Razorsharp Geared Anvil Secateurs

The Geared Action Makes Pruning A Breeze

This pair of anvil secateurs features a geared action that makes cutting much easier. They also feature an SK-5 Japanese steel blade that holds its edge far longer than many others.

The body is made from lightweight aluminum to help reduce the strain of using them over long periods of time. The blade is coated with PTFE (Teflon) for smoother cutting and rust resistance. The grip has a comfortable ambidextrous shape not found in many pruning shears.



SK-5 Japanese Steel Blade

Safety catch does not always work

Ambidextrous handle shape

Blade dulls easily

PTFE coated blade

Hard to use by those with larger hands 

Power Drive Ratchet Anvil Hand Pruning Shears

The Ratchet System Adds Plenty of Trimming Power

These secateurs offer a ratcheting mechanism that makes cutting effortless. The more you squeeze them, the more they lock onto the branch you are pruning.

Every time the ratchet clicks into place, more pressure is applied. The design increases the amount of power in your hand by up to 5 times letting the secateurs do the work instead of your hand.

The ergonomic design helps to reduce fatigue when you have plenty of pruning to do. The blades are made from hardened carbon steel that has been heat-treated to help it remain sharp longer and coated with PTFE to reduce friction.



Hardened carbon steel blade with PTFE coating

Ratchet pin may break

Ratcheting mechanism reduces effort

Spring comes detached

Ergonomic design for added comfort

Lock mechanism fails

Electric Pruning Shears

Like most garden tools, you can now buy power pruning shears that come with a rechargeable battery and work almost as well as manual shears. They take almost all of the strain out of trimming small trees and plants. Here is my favorite, I bought one last year and have fallen in love with it.

RYOBI Rechargeable Pruning Shears BSH-120

Rechargeable Power that Makes Pruning a Simple Task

Not everyone has the hand power to prune everything in their garden, this cordless tool makes the job simple for just about everyone. It can cut branches up to .48 inch (12 mm) in diameter and will last approximately 120 minutes on a full charge.

Comes with a blade, a blade cover, and a wall charger. Takes about 60 minutes to fully recharge the battery.



Makes pruning easy for those with carpal tunnel

Owner's manual not in English

Long life battery

Cutting blades break

Perfect for smaller branches

Not good for larger branches

Taking Care of Your Secateurs

If you want your secateurs to provide you with many years of faithful service, you will need to take good care of them. Fortunately, there isn't much to caring for them.

Keep Them Sharp and Clean

  • A dull blade will not cut anything, instead, it will crush anything you are trying to cut. You can easily keep the blade sharp with a small sharpening stone.
  • Every time you finish using your secateurs, rub the blades down with an oily rag to remove sap and dirt.
  • Never use your secateurs to cut branches bigger than they are designed for, this could quickly damage or ruin them.
  • You should also disassemble them from time to time so that you can clean and oil all of the moving parts.
  • This is really all it takes to keep even the best pruning shears ready to use and ensure they will provide you with many years of reliable service.

The Final Cut

There are so many different types of pruning shears on the market, it can be hard to know which one will be the best secateurs for your needs. If your yard has a range of trees, shrubs, and plants that need to be trimmed, you may want to do like I have and purchase both bypass and anvil style shears. This way you will always have the right ones on hand when you need them. Of course, a set of rechargeable secateurs is not a bad idea either, I love my RYOBI pruning shears.

If you have enjoyed reading about the best secateurs please let me know.

If you have any information you would like to see here, please contact us here.

Let everyone know you enjoyed reading this on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Thank you for reading this.


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