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Tools on Tuesday: A Rake’s Progress

Tuesday, September 4, 2012 @ 12:09 PM

When I get my garden rake out, it marks for me the end of the hard job of digging, and the start of the exciting job of planting and sowing. So, using a garden rake to flatten and smooth your soil can be a thing of joy! …  A rake is for me an important part of the enjoyment of gardening – and you should be able to stand back, have a cup of tea, and admire the result once you’ve finished! Soil rakes are more than just for making things look nice though: they are used to break down the soil to a very fine tilth after digging, improving the quality of the soil for your seedlings and plants.

a picture of an old vintage rake against a wall

The design of the garden rake hasn’t changed much over the last 100 years, and because of this your choice of rake is mainly down to weight, durability, and the comfort of the handle.

Rakes shouldn’t be too heavy for you as the movement used in raking is quite tricky – so the easier you can make it on yourself the better, especially as you may need to be using the rake for a fair period of time.

Make sure the handle is long enough for you: a good way of testing this is to hold the rake vertically on the ground: the end should be level with your nose.  Another good test is to check that the head of the rake isn’t at too acute an angle when held in a comfortable position with your back straight.

The hand grip should be wide enough for a comfortable grip, and there shouldn’t be any rough edges on the end.

We’ve had a look at some of the garden rakes on the market, and here are some that we like:

Spear & Jackson Stainless Steel Garden Rake £21.99  This is a really easy rake to use, particularly because the aluminium handle makes it lightweight. The stainless steel head is strong and effective, and the grip is long and soft-feeling.

Fiskars Garden Light Garden Rake £18.97  This is another lightweight rake, with a shaft made from hardened aluminium. The handle is coated in soft plastic for improved comfort and grip. It’s really strong and we were impressed with how well it performed.

Draper Expert Garden Rake with Ash Handle £17.99  This is a good looking garden rake with a traditional ash handle and a strong steel head. It’s slightly heavier than some of the others we tried but it did a great job.

Draper Expert Garden Rake with Soft Grip £40.01   This is a bit more expensive than the others, but combines great durability with comfort of use. It’s got a soft grip handle that makes it comfortable to use even for long periods.

And one more Woolly tip: don’t leave your rake lying around – unless you want a bump on your head!!