Describing the Different Types of Rakes, Their Uses, What's Right For You

Even if you are not a gardener, this is one tool you may find indespensible as you work at taking care of your yard. Rakes become an important part of your yard maintenance arsenal during the fall months, especially if you have a tree or several trees in your yard which drop their leaves during the fall months. Whether you are just starting out with yard maintenance, or looking to replace your old or worn out rakes, this article offers information on the best rakes for the job, including types, models, and price ranges. There are rakes designed especially for leaves and grass; rakes that work as a light tiller for loosening soil and weeding, and even power rakes. Rakes come with metal, bamboo or plastic tines, wood or metal handles, and in different sizes and shapes. Whether you need a rake for your garden, to rake up the leaves that drop in the fall months, a landscape rake for grading and leveling your soil, or one for miscellaneous yard care duties, come along with us as we learn about the different types of rakes and their uses, price information, and rake manufacturers.

Leaf Rakes

When we think of rakes, the first thought and use of rakes which comes to mind is usually for raking leaves in the fall. While lots of people use leaf blowers, there's still plenty of uses for rakes for this job. Leaf rakes are cheaper, there are no environmental issues as there are with leaf blowers, no noise to deal with, and its good for your body as you get more aerobic exercise. And with the right type of rake, you can dethatch your yard at the same time. This type of rake can also be used to rake your lawn clippings after mowing if your lawnmower does not have a grass catcher. As for power rakes, these aren't really rakes at all, but are a type of leaf vacuum cleaner that is much more expensive than a common rake. Here are a couple of choices for raking leaves and grass.

Spring Brace Leaf Rake
This is your basic lawn rake, and it comes with a heavy-duty 24" head, 24 steel tines, and steel spring brace. This is heavier than plastic rakes so it won't crack or break under a heavy load. The handle is powder-coated aluminum with a foam handle grip for comfort. It sells for around $20, and you can find it at most hardware and variety stores such as Lowe's, Home Depot, Ace Hardware stores, or online at

Pivot Leaf Rake
This one is part of a trend towards ergonomically friendly garden tools. Raking leaves can be hard on one's back, so on this model the rake head can be adjusted to whatever is most comfortable with you. You can sweep the leaves, or flip a lever and push the leaves instead. The handle is lightweight aluminum and telescopes to about 4 ft. The rake head is a durable plastic. The rake folds for easy storage if you prefer. Sells for $20-30 and is available at the usual locations such as Lowe's, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Target, and other hardware stores.

Ace Wet-n-Dry Leaf Rake
Fall brings falling leaves, but can also bring rain before your leaf-raking chores are done for the season. If you live in a climate with frequent fall rain showers, you already know that raking wet leaves is not the easiest job. The Wet-n-Dry rake has an tension adjuster that allows you to make the tines stiffer for the wet leaves, or more flexible for the dry ones. Has a cup-shaped head which is about 26" wide, and sells for $20-30 at the usual locations.

Garden Rakes

There are also rakes used primarily in gardening, for such chores as cultivating garden areas, breaking up sod after you've rototilled your garden area, preparing your seed bed, raking gravel, and can also be used to rake leaves and grass. Usually garden rakes have long wooden or metal handles, and heads made of steel with sharp teeth to handle these chores. Here are a few examples for your consideration.

Swan Neck Garden Rake
Has an ergonomically-correct handle and curved "swan-neck" to make a difficult chore a little easier and less painful. Diamond-shaped, curved and pointed tines dig into the soil a little easier than standard garden rakes. Has a 16" head with 8 teeth spaced about 1 3/4 " apart. Costs more, around $55, but will last a lifetime with its hand forged workmanship.

Ames True Temper Garden Rakes
There's a number of Ames True Temper rakes on the market, ranging in price from about $8 to $45. All feature a seal-coated white ash handle and chrome steel ferrule for the tines. For $8, you can purchase a light-weight Eagle bow rake with 14-inch blade width, 14 tines, 48-inch handle and a capacity volume of 1.2 cubic ft. Bump the price up to about $18-$20 and buy a sturdier rake, 51-inch handle, 14-inch blade width with 14 tines in the Gardener bow rake. The Ames True Temper Bow Rake with 60" handle and 16 3/4" blade width is $45.

Yard or Lawn Rakes

By now you've probably noticed that many rakes can be used interchangeably. While most people use them to rake up leaves, grass or other yard debris, yard rakes have other uses as well. There are also a few other types of rakes in this category.

Shrub Rake
If you have a lot of tight spaces to work in, such as among your plants or shrubs or under fences, the small shrub rake may be just what you need. Fiskars makes an 8-inch shrub rake with a nearly unbreakable rake head and extra wide tines, perfect for those small places. Prices run around $25. For about $12, Landscape Gardener makes an 8-inch shrub rake, too.

Thatch Rake
A Thatch rake is a rake for removing the thatch from your lawn. It's a dual-sided rake, one side for loosening the soil and the other for lifting and removal of the thatch. The Ames Adjustable Push-n-Pull Thatching rake has adustable heads which can be modified to suit the height of the user. Prices average about $28-$38.

Bow Rake
Your basic garden rake, can be used for all gardening and yard chores, including raking leaves and debris as well as moving and leveling soil.

Level Head or Landscaping Rake
Level Head rakes work well for leveling gravel and grading soft soil. Landscaping rakes are similar, but are more light-weight for soil and other landscape materials. Ames True Temper Landscape rakes runs about $45-$50 with 30 tines and a 66-inch aluminum handle.

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