The raking of lawns and gardens is an important – albeit slightly onerous – part of maintaining your patch.
It’s not just a matter of making things look nice and tidy – the removal of garden matter from places where it shouldn’t reside will help reduce the chances of pests and diseases taking hold and, in cultivated areas, will help prep the soil ready for planting.
Rakes come in all shapes and sizes and it’s important to choose the correct rake for your task in hand.
Garden rakes are the springy, thin-tined type that are useful for clearing up duties on lawns, but will tend to spear fallen leaves, making their removal from rake to composting bin a tedious task. Garden rakes are primarily used to get rid of mossy thatch in lawns – a job best tackled in late spring and early autumn.
Soil rakes are hard toothed and long handled, these are best used for dragging through soil beds to help break down the earth prior to planting.
Leaf rakes are the ones with large heads and wide plastic tines. Although good for keeping lawns looking pristine throughout the year, they really come into their own in the autumn for gathering up leaf debris and grass clippings.
There’s racks of rakes on the market, but which ones to choose? We’ve been raking, scraping and combing our garden with some of the best.
Sneeboer, Ten Tines Soil Rake: £63.95, Harrod Horticultural
This Rolls-Royce of rakes is hand built from forged steel and has an ash shaft that’s so long and sturdy you could could use it to pole vault over a row of broad beans.
It’s a pricey tool, but for your outlay you’ll get a quality rake that boasts 10 talon-like tines to frighten your soil into submission.
The business end of the rake is so sharp you’ll let out an audible gasp when you remove the protective caps supplied, so make sure you store it away safely after use.
Burgon & Ball, Mid Handled Shrub Rake: £15, Greenhouse People
Fans of Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon will spy this rake and be reminded of one handed baddy Han and his vicious, screw-on claw attachment.
Thankfully, this steel-fingered tool is not meant for violent martial arts mayhem, but for the genteel task of prizing leaves and plant debris out from amongst delicate border plants.
It has a smooth, ergonomic long reach handle and nice, fat tines (the width of cooked tagliatelle pasta) that ensure a swift, stress free tidy time.
Briers, Kids Soil Rake: £5.99, Briers
For anyone keen to get their kids into gardening a rake makes a great first tool – not only is raking one of the more enjoyable tasks for children but their efforts are likely to be helpful to you (whereas forks and spades usually lead to holes in the wrong places).
Avoid any garish plastic handled implements that are designed to look like a toy and go for a shorter version of a grown-up rake instead.
Briers products fit the bill, with sturdy wooden handles securely bolted to a strong, bright green plastic leaf rake head for under a fiver or a traditional metal soil rake head in natty orange.
These are quality tools that will last until long after they’re old enough to start borrowing your full-sized versions.
Darlac, Rake & Shift: £21.99, Crocus
This is a handy tool to have on call. Rake up leaves, then shovel them into your wheelbarrow or compost bin using the large bucket shaped head. It’s essentially a giant spork, complete with back-friendly curvy handle that helps prevent stooping whilst scooping.
We were dubious about the durability of the hard plastic tines, but they withstood our roughshod, over exuberant rake testing without breakage. It’s also useful for other, non-raking tasks; removing leaves from a pond, sifting muck from gravel driveways, eating giant Pot Noodles – that kind of thing.
De Wit Bow Tine Rake: £25.89, Crocus
Bow Rakes are the garden shed’s tough-toothed operators, designed to deal with patches of soil that are harder going than most.
De Wit’s light, ash-handled rake is fitted with a hand forged, carbon steel head complete with 13 menacing, curved tines. It’s sharp enough to easily rough up heavier soil and it can cope with stonier ground without buckling under pressure.
It’s easy to wield and comes with a lifetime guarantee, making it a great investment for both novice and professional gardeners.
Bentley Garden Tidy: £19.99, BuyDirect4U
This budget priced combo from Bentley features a leaf rake, dustpan and brush. All components are constructed from plastic, making them lightweight for nifty shifting of garden detritus.
The rake head and plastic bristled brush are a bit on the small size, so this set best suits the smaller lawn or yard. That said, the dustpan is double the size of an average hand dustpan and will gobble up plenty of garden garbage before it needs emptying.
After use, each component snaps together for easy storage in your shed.
Spear & Jackson Heavy Duty Lawn Rake: £28.99, Amazon
A nice, weighty trad rake that’ll handle most garden raking duties with aplomb. This one boasts 20 heat treated tines that are held securely in place with an extra rivet on the underside of the rake head.
Its bomb proof build makes it a touch on the weighty side, but the long hardwood shaft gives it balance to help ease you through long autumn raking sessions.
Wolf Garten 4-in-1 Rake: £36.95, World Of Wolf
This versatile 4-in-1 leaf rake from Wolf Garten can be assembled in 3 different widths (20cm, 48cm and 76cm) to cater for all your raking needs.
Use the central rake piece on its own for tackling small grassy pathways or clip on either one or two of the side rake extensions to form one massive, leaf-herding head.
You can also dual wield the side wings – sans pole – for close quarter leaf combat. The pole itself will need to be purchased separately, but can be used to host other tool heads in the Wolf Garten range.
Wilkinson Sword Plastic Leaf Rake: £24.99, Wilkinson Sword
This big-headed, plastic tined tool makes the gathering up of pesky leaves an absolute breeze.
Its light, wooden shaft and springy plastic tines makes it comfortable and speedy to work with – it also excels in gathering grass clippings for when you’ve not been bothered to fit the grass box on your mower.
Darlac, Big Hands Leaf Collectors: £5.99, Crocus
Technically not a rake, but we reckon Darlac’s tough plastic Big Hands are close enough for this list and they certainly make a cheap and cheerful addition to the raker’s rack.
The theory is simple: slide your fingers through the fixed straps and gather larger piles of raked up detritus than your own palms can manage, meaning less bending down and fewer trips to the compost bin.
Although they can be used for grass cuttings they really come into their own with leaves or hedge trimmings, enabling large scoops with minimal spillage, and are particularly useful if you’re shifting piles with pointy bits that might penetrate human skin.
The Verdict: Best garden rakes
For beasting soil beds into a fine grain ready for planting, reach for the excellent (if pricey) Sneeboer Ten Tines Soil Rake.