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A Garden Rake Completes The Job

* Guide to choosing garden rakes,
* Sticking points when using a rake,
* How to get more done with a wire rake,

Garden rakes are specially designed for the jobs that you do.
  • To grade and level soil for seed beds and planting,
  • For lifting and clearing debris from lawns and aggregates surfaces,
  • For raking leaves together,
  • For raking and grading gravel paths,
  • For de-thatching and scarifying lawns - see panels U.K. & American links. My rake store is here.

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Your garden rake should not be - one tool does all jobs.

Soil Rakes... To Grade Earth Ready For Seed And Plants

A soil rake is actually intended for grading and levelling before you sow seed and plant. For the preceding cultivation - there are several specialised cultivators that I recommend elsewhere to break soil clods into crumbs.

Weeds tangle in the tines of a soil rake, so they have to be removed first. Stony soils also baulk a garden rake. But you can remove some weed debris and stones with the right kind of rakes and method.

Shorter long-handled rakes for borders are usually worked at a steeper angle and flat tines do the job. See my two raking methods 'the gondolier' and 'the rowing' methods. You can use the first with a sideways sweeping action to effectively usher stones and debris out of the way.

Also note that flat faced garden rakes are well-used for gently making a level and evenly firm soil surface before sowing seed onto smaller areas.

Curved tines are best on extra long-handled soil rakes. They glide out over the soil and gently lift the earth while being drawn back. Stones are lifted onto the surface. Seeds are gently covered with less piling up at the end.

Wider spans are a must for landscaping and creating anything but the smallest lawn. The Bow Rake is designed to add strength to wider span rakes by attaching the handle to both sides instead of the centre. The Bow Rake shown on my links can be turned over and used to grade the soil level.

Adjustable Rakes

Soil rakes are however quite a blunt instrument...
And I have found that adjustable spring rakes are quite good at preparing small areas of earth for sowing seed. Set them on narrow span and they roughen up the surface more finely for seed than a soil rake does. Hold at a very steep angle (the 'gondolier'), with tines down and sweeping back and forth.

Actually the adjustable concept is to store the normally wide fan of a spring rake in a smaller space. You can draw the tines up the handle, using a continuously adjustable stop, and the fan width narrows.

This enables you to rake into narrow spaces between vegetation. Wide spans deal with larger leaves and with fewer strokes. But I like to narrow the span to concentrate my effort. The adjustment also sorts small and larger sized debris.

And on my adjustable garden rake when I twist the adjustable stop the flat ended tines rotate to become like cutting blades - although this wasn't intended in design it may help you to scarify small areas. See below for scarifying rakes.

Leaf Rakes

Modern leaf rakes have flat plastic tines with a deep bend. Use these to rake fall leaves into big piles. They feel like a big hand because of their ability to gather effectively. They are essential to manually deal with large piles of leaves. Find more garden rakes for leaves here.

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Spring Rakes

A traditional rake for clearing leaves and debris from lawns and drives is the spring rake also known as a Springbok. I suggest you get the longest handle you can. With interchangeable tools you can save clutter with just one or two handles for all your tool heads.

Gardeners sometimes complain that the tines on spring rakes come loose. But tines are usually inserted in pairs as hair pin bent wires. See also adjustable spring rakes - I work mine hard with no problems.

But Alan Titchmarsh recommends ... ...

A Rubber Wizard Rake

These Wizard Rakes have curved rubber tines. The tines are flexible enough not to damage a lawn while lifting out all the dead leaves, petals and berries that have landed - they're easy to use too.

However, I should add that an extra long handle is best for these jobs. Some are too short for my liking. Check out the Bulldog Premier Wizard Rubber Rake U.K. - (33 tines - 54" ash shaft.)

You can also use Wizard Rakes to clear debris from gravel. Gravel rakes and scarifying rakes have a different purpose that's described below.

Hay Rakes

But the Hay Rake is a more traditional design with round pegs of wood or metal. They are also used for clearing debris from grass and aggregate surfaces. The Longspan Rake on this link is an example - it's ideal for gathering grass cuttings.

Scarifying Rakes - To Remove Moss And Scarify Lawns

The reason for scarifying lawns is to cut through and drag out organic debris. In some circumstances this debris consolidates on the surface beneath the grass blades. If left it can seal the surface and spoil your lawn.

You need a sharp instrument for this job. When done with an ordinary wire rake it can be hard exhausting work. And they are not as effective. The answer... Scarifying rakes have hooked tines designed to cut through the thatch and drag it out.

Gravel Rakes

Gravel rakes may be used to grade and level aggregate surfaces. You can rake gravel into patterns and raking helps to maintain a neat and fresh appearance.

If you only want to remove debris from a gravel surface then you might choose a wide span Hay or Wizard rake as noted above. Otherwise you need a rake with tine spacings to suite the size of gravel that you are working with. Curved tines of the correct spacing help sort out larger from smaller aggregates.

You'll Find The Right Type Of
Garden Rake To Do Your Job Below...

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You'll find lot's more pages of information on other gardening tools by following these links:-

Check out my Garden Tool Shed for information on small garden rakes, larger garden tools from shedders to rotavators - and other handy gardening resources for the potting shed and garden.

Get more information about weed problems and how to tackle them.

Find organic gardening suppliers in your country on this link.

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