On this well-constructed bow rake, the lightweight ash wood handle connects to the rake head with a riveted socket. A fiberglass coating strengthens the wood and prevents splintering. An end grip protects gardeners’ hands. This tough construction allows for deep digging into soil. The 14-inch-wide steel head features 16 sharp carbon steel tines with a chip-resistant coating. The rake’s total weight is 2.84 pounds.
The Best Bow Rakes for Your Lawn and Garden
Level soil, spread gravel, and rake wet leaves after adding one of the best bow rakes to your gardening tool kit.
BobVila.com and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
- Best OverallAshman Bow RakeCheck Latest Price
- Runner UpUnion Tools 14-Tine Bow RakeCheck Latest Price
- Best LightweightTrue Temper 14-Tine Bow RakeCheck Latest Price
A bow rake, also known simply as a garden rake, differs from a leaf rake in that it has thicker, shorter tines spaced farther apart. Bow rakes are meant for dealing with heavier materials, like sand, dirt, gravel, and compacted turf. A bow rake’s sturdy design makes it the perfect tool for leveling soil, spreading mulch, raking leaves, and other work in the garden and the yard. In fact, this versatile tool may be the only rake you need.
Finding the best bow rake might seem simple, but there are a number of considerations to weigh. This guide outlines the most important features to look for in a bow rake and offers choices for some of the best bow rakes to add to your gardening arsenal.
- BEST OVERALL: Ashman Bow Rake
- RUNNER UP: Union Tools 14-Tine Bow Rake
- BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: True Temper 14-Tine Bow Rake
- BEST HEAVY DUTY: Fiskars PRO Rake
- BEST WITH LONG HANDLE: MIYA Bow Rake
- MOST COMFORTABLE: Hooyman Landscape and Metal Bow Rake
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Bow Rake
All bow rakes are hardly alike, and a number of factors affect how well they work. Keep reading to learn about several of the most important features to consider when choosing the best bow rake for your yard.
While leaf rakes often have plastic heads, bow rakes almost always have metal heads and tines. The tines are typically steel. They may have a powder coating for extra weather resistance.
Rake handles come in wood, aluminum, fiberglass, and steel.
- Wood handles are relatively lightweight and can last for decades—but watch out for splinters. It’s best to use gardening gloves when working with a wooden rake.
- Aluminum is lightweight and often the material of choice for collapsible telescopic handles.
- Fiberglass is lightweight, sturdy, and rust resistant.
- Steel makes for the strongest rake handles, but it adds extra weight. Coated steel and stainless steel are also rust resistant.
In terms of ease and comfort of use, the length of a rake makes it or breaks it. The handle should be long enough to ensure the user doesn’t have to bend or stoop while working but not so long that it’s unwieldy.
Bow rake handles range in length from about 40 to 70 inches. Taller gardeners should look for rakes that are at least 60 inches long. A 55-inch rake should be comfortable for DIY landscapers who are 5 feet 5 inches and shorter. Some rakes have adjustable telescoping handles to make them suitable for gardeners of varying heights.
Head and Tines
The bow-shaped head gives this tool its name. The smooth side allows gardners to push or pull materials for leveling. The heads of bow rakes are almost always made of steel. Be aware that forged steel is sturdier than stamped or cast steel. Look for a head that is either welded to the handle or has steel connecting joints so it won’t separate with heavy use.
A bow rake usually has between 14 and 18 tines, and they’re typically 2 to 4 inches long. The tines can be straight or slightly curved. The curved ones provide a little better grip.
For a long day of gardening or yard work, comfort is key, and that all depends on the bow rake’s handle. An ergonomic design helps to prevent repetitive strain injuries, while cushioning prevents discomfort in the hands and fingers. A nonslip handle provides increased control even in damp or sweaty hands. Height impacts comfort, too. A rake should be long enough to suit the height of the user.
Weight is a key consideration in a bow rake. A model that’s too heavy will cause arm, shoulder, and back pain, not to mention fatigue. Bow rakes generally weigh between 1 and 5 pounds, and are, on average, heavier than leaf rakes. That’s because while many leaf rakes have plastic heads, bow rakes almost always have heavier steel heads. Rakes with fiberglass handles typically weigh between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds. Wood and steel rakes tend to weigh 3.5 pounds or more. If weight is a primary concern, look for a model with a fiberglass handle.
Our Top Picks
The following recommendations take into account the abovementioned features and overall quality and value. Read on to discover some of the best bow rakes on the market.
This bow rake from Union Tools stacks up well against many more expensive options. It has 14 tines across a 13.75-inch head, making it well suited for smaller yards and tight corners. The steel ferrule ensures a strong connection between the handle and head. Rakes with wood handles are sometimes on the heavy side, but this model is lightweight at just 2.5 pounds.
True Temper’s bow rake is a great choice if you’re looking for a durable yet lightweight option. The 14-inch forged tempered-steel head includes 14 tines, each with a slight curve to help you move rocks and other heavy materials. The head and rod connect with a steel ferrule, and this goes a long way toward preventing those components from separating. With a 48-inch-long wooden handle, this rake measures 62 inches in all.
This professional-grade option from Fiskars boasts hardened steel tines and an extruded aluminum metal, both of which enable the rake to withstand heavy use. The 16-tine steel head is welded with triple metal rods for extra strength. Double bolts hold it securely on the handle. The teardrop-shaped, ergonomic handle contours to the user’s hand for extra comfort. The head’s flat edge is great for leveling and grading. The Fiskars rake measures 60.5 inches long and weighs in at 4.74 pounds.
This MIYA bow rake’s stainless steel handle disassembles, so you can customize its length—handy if you’re above or below average height. Meanwhile, the 14-inch rake head features 14 tines that are curved for utility and thickened at end for extra durability. Nonslip ergonomic grips make for a comfortable hold. Fully extended, this rake measures 72 inches long and weighs 3.69 pounds.
A number of factors make Hooyman’s bow rake the most comfortable. First, at 2.2 pounds, it’s lightweight. Next, ergonomic nonslip grips at two contact points on the handle provide extra comfort and control even in damp conditions. The 16.5-inch head features 16 tines made of strong, high-carbon steel, and with a slight curve that delivers added leverage. With its long fiberglass handle, the Hooyman measures 66.25 inches.
FAQs About Bow Rakes
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about bow rakes.
Q. What is a bow rake for?
In addition to raking leaves, a bow rake can level soil, dirt, sand, or gravel.
Q. Can you rake wet leaves?
While leaf rakes are a great tool for raking dry leaves, bow rakes can manage damp or waterlogged leaves as well.
Q. How long do bow rakes last?
A bow rake made of high-quality materials will last for 15 years or longer.