The typical yard rake is a sturdy, long-handled implement with a triangular fan-shaped head that’s split into multiple tines. Designed to scrape up leaves and other detritus on the lawn, around trees and shrubs, and in flower beds, a rake is a timeless tool and a model of form meeting function.
The best leaf rake options are well-constructed yard companions. They’re lightweight, long-lasting, and effective in their purpose. Ahead, explore the differences among rakes and learn what to look for in a quality model—and don’t miss our top-favorite picks, below!
- BEST OVERALL: Bully Tools Leaf and Thatching Rake
- RUNNER UP: Bully Tools 30” Poly Leaf Rake
- BEST ADJUSTABLE: TABOR TOOLS J16A Telescopic Metal Rake
- BEST COLLAPSIBLE: Professional EZ Travel Collection Folding Rake
- BEST WITH GRABBER: Amazing Rake Back Saving Garden Rake
- BEST HAND RAKE: Yard Butler Terra Hand Garden Spring Rake
- BEST SCOOP: Gardzen Large Leaf Scoop Hand Rakes
- ALSO CONSIDER: Jardineer 63 inch Adjustable Garden Rake
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Leaf Rake
While leaf rakes all serve a similar purpose, they can vary widely in weight, length, material, and quality. The best leaf rakes allow the user to comfortably yet firmly grip the handle while performing the repetitive raking motions necessary to gather dry leaves. Other considerations include the strength and flexibility of the tines, whether the length of the handle is adjustable, and if a heavier or lighter weight rake is desired.
Leaf rakes are not the same as garden rakes, which feature a stiff broad head with short steel tines positioned at a right angle to the handle. Garden rakes can break up dirt clods and dethatch a lawn. Leaf rakes are not suitable for that type of work.
- Standard leaf rakes feature a wide fan-style head with long, slightly flexible tines. Since a wider fan head covers a larger area, it usually will more quickly rake up leaves. The head attaches to a long handle designed to allow the user to rake without bending over.
- Scoop leaf rakes come in two styles: single-headed and double-headed. The single-headed scoop rake resembles a standard leaf rake, but the fan-shaped head folds inward via a twist or pull-type mechanism on the handle. This allows the user to rake, then grab leaves, and lift them to a bag or compost pile. The double-headed style is not designed for raking but for lifting the leaves. It features two opposing scoop heads that open and close to grab and lift the leaves.
- Mini/hand scoop leaf rakes typically feature two separate curved rake plates—one for each hand. The user grabs the dry leaves and lifts them to a bag or bin.
Most rakes have tines made of metal, plastic, resin, or bamboo. In addition to the tines being splayed, each one bends sharply downward at its outer end. These curved tines help grab the fallen leaves. Depending on the rake, the tines will usually feature one or more cross braces near the point where they’re attached to the handle for stability.
The more cross braces a leaf rake has, the sturdier the tines are and the less they will flex when raking. For raking heavy leaf fall, a sturdier rake head with at least two cross braces is desirable. Each tine material has its own benefits and drawbacks:
- Metal tines are the most durable and suitable option for medium- to heavy-duty yard work. Metal rakes with steel tines tend to be heavier and more expensive compared to those made of plastic, bamboo, and resin.
- Plastic tines possess the least amount of strength. They’re more appropriate for light-duty tasks since there’s a greater risk of breakage. Plastic rakes are lightweight and inexpensive, but they don’t last as long as other materials.
- Polyresin tines are a compromise between metal and plastic. This strong polymer combines the durability of metal with the flexibility of plastic to handle heavy-duty jobs.
- Bamboo is sturdy, though less durable than metal and resin. It’s a sustainable material and usually the most eco-friendly (unless the metal, plastic, or resin comes from recycled products). Rakes with bamboo tines are suitable for light- to medium-duty work.
A leaf rake’s ferrule—the part of the rake head where it attaches to the handle—is usually made from the same material as the tines and bears similar qualities. Examine the ferrule to ensure that the rake head is securely attached.
A rake head may feature a female screw-type ferrule that allows for connecting a standard male screw-type handle. Depending on the model, the ferrule can also have a bolt or two that secures it to the rake’s handle. In many cases, a broken handle doesn’t mean the entire rake must be replaced. Often, just the handle can be replaced.
Rake handles are commonly made with wood, steel, aluminum, or fiberglass. Keep the following material characteristics in mind when selecting an appropriate handle.
- Wood is the heaviest option, and while strong, it’s still susceptible to damage. Wood has the least amount of weather resistance and is subject to rot if left outdoors. Additionally, a wooden handle may eventually break if the rake is used for more challenging yard work.
- Steel and aluminum are more durable in comparison. Steel is the stronger metal and less likely to bend or dent. On the other hand, stainless steel, carbon steel, and aluminum handles are resistant to corrosion and rust. Aluminum also is lighter than steel and often costs less.
- Fiberglass is tougher and lighter than steel, though it weighs more than an aluminum handle. Compared to these metals, rakes with a fiberglass handle are more expensive.
The length of a leaf rake determines its reach and how comfortable it is to use. Rake handles vary from 36 to 67 inches long or more. Be sure to factor in the user’s height when choosing a rake. Generally speaking, longer handles are better for taller users.
Weight can be a critical factor when shopping for a leaf rake for yard work. Heavier rakes can become cumbersome and difficult to use over a long day of gathering leaves, while a lightweight rake makes a long day of gathering dry leaves easier. However, lighter rakes may not be as durable and not able to complete heavy-duty tasks.
A rake can weigh from less than a pound up to 5 pounds or more. A heavier rake comes in handy for such tasks as spreading mulch. If yard work involves both light-duty and heavier-duty tasks, a compromise is to opt for a medium-weight multipurpose rake of 2 to 3 pounds.
Rakes have various extra features that influence convenience and usability. If you plan on using the tool frequently, one or more of these features may be worth considering.
- A telescoping handle allows users to adjust the handle length to suit their preference or to accommodate multiple users with varying heights.
- An adjustable rake head allows users to adjust the spread of the tines for different tasks.
- A grabber tool built into the head eliminates the need for bending down to retrieve swept leaves.
- A padded grip, usually made of rubber or foam, provides additional comfort and reduces hand fatigue.
- A collapsible handle saves space and makes it easier to store the rake in a garage or shed.
Our Top Picks
Some find the outdoor task of raking leaves calming, while others would rather do almost anything else. Leaf rakes affect the comfort and ease of the work, with various designs to suit certain users and yard tasks. The following well-built leaf rakes are some of the best in their categories.
For the smooth feel and strength of a fiberglass handle paired with a steel rake head, consider this option from Bully Tools. It comes with a standard fan-shape head that features 24 spring steel tines designed to flex but not break or deform. The fan head connects to the fiberglass handle via an extra-thick commercial-grade steel ferrule for stability.
This leaf rake’s handle is easy on the hands and comes with a foam grip end for comfort. The rake is a total of 66.25 inches long with a 22.5 inch tine spread, and it weighs just 3.39 pounds.
- Light but sturdy fiberglass handle
- 24 steel tines in a fan-shape head
- Extra-thick steel connection of handle to head for stability
- 22.5-inch spread for efficient raking
- Handle might be too large around for smaller hands
- Heavier than many rakes (nearly 3.4 pounds)
Also from Bully Tools, this option comes with a smooth fiberglass handle that’s easy on the hands. The rake also features a 30-inch-wide rake spread with 32 tines and a ferrule made from durable polyresin.
The end of the handle comes with a nonslip foam cover, and the handle attaches to the ferrule with both screw-end insertion and an extra screw to hold it firmly in place. The rake comes disassembled but is easy to put together. It weighs a modest 3.4 pounds.
- Features a 30-inch head for large-yard coverage
- Rake and handle reach 72 inches, good for taller gardeners
- No-slip foam on end of strong fiberglass handle
- Head and handle attachment includes screws for extra hold
- Requires some assembly, but not difficult to put together
- Wide base of head might not fit well in small spaces
- Might be too long for shorter gardeners to use easily
From TABOR TOOLS, this telescoping rake suits any user, no matter his or her height. The extendable handle features a twist-type lock that allows the rake to extend up to 63 inches long or shorten to just 32 inches in length. In addition, the steel tines can be narrowed to just 8 inches wide for raking in tight spots or widened up to 23 inches for clearing away leaves from larger areas in the yard.
The leaf rake tines are made from galvanized steel wires designed to be strong and resist rusting, while the handle features high-grade steel. The ferrule is made from heavy-duty polyethylene and locks firmly in place on the handle with a lever. The rake weighs just 2.05 pounds, and it comes with a hole in the top of the handle cap for hanging on a hook.
- Telescoping handle
- Adjustable head to fit tight spots or handle large areas
- Connector (ferrule) locks firmly in place
- Weighs just over 2 pounds
- Not sturdy enough for frequent heavy-duty use
- Costs more than some comparable rakes
Taking a leaf rake along in a trunk or on the floorboard of a car is a snap with this cleverly designed folding rake. It has durable steel tines that adjust from a narrow 7.5 inches wide for raking in tight spots to 21.75 inches wide for raking larger areas. Weighing just under 2.5 pounds, this lightweight rake is easy to use and carry around.
The steel handle is extendable via a push-snap button system, telescoping from 37 inches for raking raised beds, up to 68 inches for raking the yard. The rake also comes with an ergonomic rubberized grip to reduce hand fatigue, and it has a hole in the handle’s tip for hanging on a nail or hook.
- Collapsible handle and head for easy storage and adjustments for use
- Durable alloy tines in a head that adjusts from 7.5 to nearly 22 inches
- Ergonomic handle with rubberized grip
- Strong but lightweight
- Shaft can bend
- Costs a little more than non-portable rakes
No more bending and lifting is necessary to put dry leaves in leaf bags. With this option from Amazing Rake, users can rake leaves into a pile and grab them securely with the double-headed scoops on this leaf rake.
The solid rake head scoops open and close using a handy push-pull slider on the handle. Just push the slider down to open the scoops wide, grab a bunch of dry leaves, and pull the slider back to trap the leaves for lifting and dumping in a bag or bin.
The scoops are 17 inches wide and made from durable polyresin. They feature jagged tines at the bottom edges to help pull leaves up from the grass. The rake is 64 inches long and weighs just 2.5 pounds.
- Heavy polypropylene rake with a closing gripper
- Rake and pick up leaves or debris with one tool
- Minimizes bending and back pain
- Weighs just 2.5 pounds
- Plastic hinges and scoop can wear with use
Raking dry leaves and twigs from raised beds and other small spots is a cinch with the Yard Butler. The rake is 18 inches long, features a cushioned grip handle, and comes with six tines made from cold-rolled spring steel for long-lasting wear. The tines feature a floating tine control plate that allows the user to widen or narrow the rake head width to suit various garden areas.
Slide the floating tine plate toward the handle to spread the tines out or push it toward the tip of the tines to bring them together and make it easier to reach tight spots in flower beds and elsewhere. This handheld rake weighs just 11.2 ounces.
- Handheld rake reaches into raised beds or around shrubs
- Durable all-steel construction
- Cushioned grip handle
- Floating tines for some flexibility in tight spaces
- Floating tines may feel floppy for some users
- Handheld rake requires more bending, squatting, and reaching
Grab more leaves than ever with Gardzen’s hand rake, which makes quick work of loading leaves into bags or bins. Each leaf scoop—one is included for each hand—is 17 inches long by 13 inches wide. They’re made from molded polyresin in an ergonomic shape that’s just right for picking up oodles of dry leaves.
Just slip each hand into the padded wrist support, grab the finger grips for control, and start scooping. Included are a 72-gallon leaf bag and a pair of work gloves to wear with the scoops to protect hands from chafing. This set of hand rake scoops weighs just 2.29 pounds, or 1.245 pounds per scoop, and are designed to fit most hands.
- A large scooper, not a traditional rake
- Pick up large amounts of leaves, trash, and grass clippings
- Package includes the scoop, 72-gallon garden bag, and work gloves
- Great for those with fall garden cleanup only
- Can’t double as a rake for other garden and landscape tasks
- Not the most ergonomic choice
There’s no need to overpay for a quality leaf rake. The affordable Jardineer’s rake has an adjustable head with lightweight steel tines that narrows to 7 inches in width for raking in tight spaces, such as around plants growing in close proximity. It widens to a full 22 inches, which is helpful when gathering leaves and grass clippings from an open yard.
The zinc-plated steel handle is 63 inches long, and the rake weighs a mere 2.13 pounds. While it’s not designed for rocks, gravel, and other heavy garden tasks, it’s ideal for leaves, lawns, and flower beds.
- Affordable and versatile
- Rake head adjusts for use in tight or large spaces
- Lightweight steel tines
- Lightweight but with tough zinc-plated handle
- Short for taller gardeners
- Not made for heavy-duty use
Raking up leaves is viewed as a chore by many, and a good leaf rake can shorten this task. From straightforward, no-frills rakes like the Bully Tools Leaf and Thatching Rake to the modern telescoping handles and adjustable tines of models like the TABOR TOOLS J16A Telescopic Metal Rake, these yard tools offer plenty of options.
If you use a rake mostly just for fall leaf chores, a combination rake and grabber, like this one from Amazing Rake Back Saving Garden Rake, might be all you need. Considering the differences between models and types can help you find the most suitable rake for your yard—a comfortable tool that can last for years.
How We Chose the Best Rakes
This guide recommends top choices in plenty of rake types and uses. We looked at some of the same considerations that matter to all those shopping for rakes, including type. Using a rake can cause back or arm pain or fatigue, so we also considered the weight as well as length and materials.
Tines are top of mind for a good rake, and those made of metal hold up best. The ferrule, or the section where the rake head meets the handle, also needs sturdy construction. Finally, we looked at additional features like telescoping handles, adjustable rake heads, and padded grips. We also included some specialty tools to make quick work of leaf cleanup.
An annual pastime in many communities after the trees lose their leaves, raking can be a more enjoyable task. The right leaf rake speeds the chore and simplifies the work. Those new to picking out a leaf rake are likely to have some questions. Below are answers to some common questions about these tools.
Q. Is raking good for your lawn?
While a few leaves here or there might not hurt anything, a thick layer of autumn leaves can become damp and soggy. This can block sun and air circulation from the lawn, increasing the risk of fungal diseases.
Q. What is a leaf rake used for?
A leaf rake is lightweight and specially designed to gather dry leaves from the surface of the yard.
Q. How long is a leaf rake?
Handheld leaf rakes (for raised beds) can be as short as 18 inches, while full-size leaf rakes may be 72 inches long or longer.
Q. Is a metal or plastic rake better for leaves?
Both metal and plastic rakes will expedite leaf raking, but metal usually lasts longer. However, the new polyresin used in many of today’s plastic-type rakes is more durable than the plastic of yesteryear.
Q. What do you do with raked leaves?
Add raked leaves to a compost pile or layer them around the base of trees and shrubs for a bit of thermal protection during winter. Alternatively, bag them and contact the local waste authority to see if they’ll pick them up if left curbside.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series, including This Old House and Bob Vila’s Home Again, he popularized and became synonymous with “do it yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila editorial team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.
Glenda Taylor is a freelance writer for the residential remodeling, homebuilding, and commercial roofing industries. She and her husband have been general contractors for over 20 years, and Ms. Taylor has written for several leading media outlets as well as the National Association of Homebuilders. In addition to her construction experience, Ms. Taylor is a Master Gardener, a former real estate professional, a universal design enthusiast, and an advocate for green building practices. The recipient of Journalism and Marketing degrees from the University of Kansas and Bauder College respectively, she enjoys life on a farm in the Midwest with her husband and their five Saint Bernards!