In order to keep the plants in the garden under control, plus for basic propagation tasks such as taking hardwood cuttings, it is essential to have a good quality pair of hand pruners. They are the kinds of tools that are carried everywhere with the serious gardener in case there is a need to trim or clean up a broken stem.

Once you've gotten yourself a quality, reliable pair of hand pruners it will be important to ensure that they are kept in good working order.

After every use, your hand pruners should be washed down with some warm soapy water. This is not only necessary to preserve the blades but to ensure that disease is not transferred from one plant to another. Washing the blades of the hand pruners will make sure that they do not get marked or ruined by plant sap.

After washing the blades, rub them down with vegetable oil to prevent them from rusting. The sap from plants with high sap content can be very corrosive making it even more important to remember this task.

When the blades of the hand pruner become blunt it is very important to sharpen them. This task can be performed by rubbing them over a sharpening stone. A stone only costs a few dollars and a light sharpening performed on a regular basis is a simple thing to do. Blunt hand pruner blades can also be dangerous to the plants that you are pruning because the cuts will no longer be clean and smooth. The more ragged the cut, the greater potential for disease to enter the wound.

It is also a good idea to regularly inspect the blades of your pruners to ensure there are no nicks or that the blade hasn't become bent. If they have been damaged in some way it will be necessary to replace one or both blades. Some brands of hand pruners are simple to dismantle and are popular enough that spare parts are easy to source. If you have such a pruner, like a Felco hand pruner, you should be able to undo the top nut and the hand pruners will fall apart easily.

After replacing the blades of your hand pruners give them a good wash and an oil. Make sure you remember to oil the spring while you are at it. This will give you a sharp hand pruner that is as good as new.

Sometimes the blades don't need to be completely replaced. The blades could simply have been twisted through too much hand pressure while attempting to cut a branch that was too thick for the hand pruners. In this case you should be able to dismantle the pruner and reset the blades.

Diligent care for your hand pruners will ensure that they will continue to perform perfectly for a long time. The final piece of advice to keep your hand pruners in top working order is to store them in a leather pouch when they are not in use. Doing so will ensure that they won't suffer any unexpected or unnecessary bumps that can possibly damage them.