A good pair of pruning shears is imperative for all kinds of dormant-season pruning, from cutting back roses and trimming fruit trees to thinning out dead and diseased wood from deciduous trees and shrubs. Good shears are sharp and sturdy. Great ones are also comfortable to use. If you do a lot of heavy pruning, consider buying a pair designed so one of the two handles rotates beneath your fingers as you squeeze the two handles together. The rotating handle helps reduce hand and wrist fatigue. These two models have that feature.
Felco 7 professional quality pruning shears. Both the upper fixed handle and the lower rotating handle are coated in plastic for additional comfort. All parts are replaceable; models are available for left-handers (Felco 10) and small hands (Felco 12). Price is $55 to $65. If you can't find them locally, order from A.M. Leonard (800/543-8955 or www.amleo.com).
Fiskars Bypass Pruner, model 7936 . The rotating handle (made of lightweight, reinforced nylon) has a gear mechanism that increases leverage and reduces cutting effort by 50 percent. Other features include an adjustable handle opening and a replaceable blade. The pruners cost about $30. For sources, call (800) 500-4849.