If you own no other tool, buy a good pair of clippers/pruners. The British call them secateurs, a fancy word for cutters. Pruners are used for everything! Choose a pair that fit your hand, that can bite through woody stems easily, and that spring open with a heavy-duty spring mechanism after each cut. My favorite is the orange pair at two-0-clock (in the image above). They cost me eight dollars. I bought them at a wholesale florist supply house. As you can see from the picture, I am a bit of a clipper nut—and these are only the ones that survived my abuse! When I find a pair I like, I buy at least five more. The orange pair at ten-O-clock used to be my favorite, and I have purchased replacements for them at least ten times. Unfortunately, the spring mechanism breaks after a few hour’s use. They cost one dollar. They gave my hand a great feel when deadheading flowers. How a pair of pruners feels in your hand is very important! Try out the different styles before buying. If you become a professional in the landscape industry, you will be using pruners almost every single day. Professional landscape maintenance crews tend to like Felco bypass pruners. Bypass pruners act like scissors for a cleaner cut without crushing the pruned branches. Anvil pruners are good for larger branches and have a sharp blade press against a flat chopping blade. They are the brute force tool for cutting branches. Hand clippers/pruners mold and shape your garden in the same way as a paintbrush produces a painting.