The Right Rake
Standing in the garden tool section of a big box store can be a bit overwhelming. There are a lot of different types of rakes—a lot. To help you find the right rake for your needs, we've gathered five popular choices designed for different fall lawn and garden tasks.
When it comes to raking leaves, the leaf rake, or lawn rake, is what you need. Sold in varying widths, it has a long handle with metal, plastic, or bamboo tines that fan out in a triangle. Metal is the most resilient, but not as effective as plastic tines when moving large quantities of leaves, especially if they’re wet. Bamboo tines are the most fragile but are much gentler on plants—especially helpful if you're raking over groundcovers or beds.
A shrub rake is built very much like a leaf rake. It has a smaller fan of tines, though, to allow it better access between shrubbery, around fencing, and in other tight areas of your landscape.
A bow rake, also called a level head or garden rake, is generally used for such tasks as leveling dirt, mulch, gravel or sand. The metal tines are shorter and thicker than those of a leaf rake, and spaced more widely.
A hand rake is a smaller version of a shrub rake or bow rake. It has a short handle and is more the size of a trowel. This is what you want to use in and around flowers and smaller plantings. The short handle gives you greater control in those spaces, but be prepared to get down on your knees with it.
A thatch rake is not for raking leaves at all. It’s for removing the thatch (a layer of organic material between the green matter and soil surface) from your lawn. It has razor sharp blades for teeth on both sides of the head. One side breaks the thatch up; the other removes it.
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