A Buyer’s Guide To Rakes

No landscaper’s or gardener’s toolkit would be complete without a few rakes. Rakes have a multitude of uses - both conventional and otherwise! - and come in many shapes and sizes.

You may need to use a rake with shorter, sturdy tines (teeth) or longer, thinner tines arranged in a fan shape. More often than not, landscapers will have a number of rakes to deal with different jobs.

In this guide to rakes, I want to look at the importance of choosing the right rake - which, not surprisingly, will make a big difference to its effectiveness - as well as some of the popular professional products out there on the market.

Finding the right type of rake

In terms of construction, most rakes have teeth that are made of steel, plastic or wood, and handles can be made from wood (typically varnished ash) or metal. Rubber-toothed rakes are best for delicate surfaces. For removing leaves, opt for a lighter-weight, fan-shaped rake with narrower teeth that can cover a larger area in less time. For raking over soil prior to planting, you will probably need a heavier-duty rake with fewer but thicker teeth.

By choosing the best rake for the job in hand, you will reduce the time taken to complete the job whilst minimising the risk of injury. In research carried out by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, it was found that raking is equivalent to using a rowing machine in the gym. It uses the pectoral muscles in the chest and the muscles in the shoulder and back. All of these can suffer from injury through overuse if you opt the wrong tool for the job.

So, which rake should you choose from the wide range available? Here is a brief buyer’s guide to rakes that will help you decide.

Fan Shaped Rakes

Leaf (fan-shaped) rakes

The smallest version of the leaf rake is the reasonably priced Bulldog Junior Springbok Rake which is ideal for scarifying lawn shapes that need an intricate touch and for working in tight areas. Each of the tines (teeth) are 9 inches long and the wooden handle is just 48 inches.

If you are looking for a larger rake, our Bulldog Springbok Lawn Rake is a good buy and the most popular of all our rakes. It’s suitable for scarifying larger lawns and has long (19 inch) sprung tines and a 54-inch handle made of varnished ash. This is longer than a standard handle 48” length and thus allows the user to maintain a better posture whilst raking.

The wide fan shape also allows quick and effective gathering of leaves or other lightweight debris. We also stock replacement heads for the Bulldog Springbok which gives it a longer life span.

Alternatively, we stock two plastic leaf rakes, the Bulldog Leaf Rake and the Spear and Jackson leaf rake. The Bulldog version has stiffer tines which are ideal for raking on hard surfaces such as paths or patios as the tines are more sturdy and hence slower to wear down. The Spear & Jackson rake has softer, more flexible tines, which are great for use on lawns, as the tines will flex to follow the contours of uneven ground. Both will gather up leaves quickly and effectively.

Incidentally, our leaf collectors (also known as leaf grabs) are the ideal tool for quickly gathering up piles of leaves into a bin or compost heap.

Chelwood Rake

Garden rakes

A good choice of garden rake is the Bulldog Garden Rake. The tines are shaped so that they will not snag stones as the head moves through the soil. There are 14 sturdy teeth and the handle is 48 inches long and made from varnished ash. 

The Bulldog Nail Tooth Rake also has solid steel tines but these are thinner and sharper, ideal for helping to break up heavy soil.

Another option is the Chelwood 18E Landscaping Rake which has a very wide, 28-inch head. The wide head combined with strong steel teeth make it ideal for grading soil prior to seeding. The back edge can be used for levelling as well as grading.

The Chelwood 32P Rake has closely set, curved tines with an additional second set of teeth along the top of the rake allowing easy collection of debris as the rake is pulled along. As the rake is lifted the debris falls cleanly away from the rake. With a polypropylene head, this rake is very lightweight yet extremely strong, making it a very popular choice for various uses.

For delicate surfaces, such as bowling greens, you may wish to consider the Bulldog Wizard Rake which has softer rubber tines and will not cause damage to the surface. It is also perfect for raking up debris from uneven and hard surfaces so it suits patio shingle and decking. The ash handle is 54 inches long and the head is 19 inches wide.

Wizard Rake

Interchangeable head rakes

A cost-effective and space-saving option is to invest in one handle and several interchangeable heads. The Multi-Change range from Wolf Garten Tools is a very popular system and provides handles of various lengths so that you can pick one that suits your height. It is lightweight and easy to use so helps avoid strain on your back and shoulder muscles.

Particularly useful heads include

  • The Wolf Leaf Rake head for raking up leaves on the hard ground
  • The Wolf Small Sweep Rake head which has a head that is 11 cm wide with seven strong tines. It is useful for sweeping up debris but is also good for working in confined areas.
  • The Wolf Bow Rake head which has a flat top that is excellent at levelling seed beds. The head is 35cm wide.

There are also many other tool heads that can be fitted to the system.

For any questions relating to the rakes or other tools that we sell, please get in touch with us and we’ll be glad to help you.