October 23, 2017

Everything You Need To Know About Choosing a Garden Rake

 Our Review of Leaf Rakes

Some of the main players in the world of gardening equipment, specifically lawn rakes and leaf rakes, include Spear and Jackson, Bulldog, WOLF tools, Gardena, Joseph Bentley, and Draper tools to name but a few. When it comes to the wooden lawn rakes and besom broom brushes, you will find artisans out there who are producing some very high-quality products. If you know of any, please do comment below and let us know!

GoTo4Gardening do not endorse any particular brand(s). The follow rake selections are the opinion of the author and not that of GoTo4Gardening.

With so many types of rakes and brands out there, this leaf rake review will pick out my choices for each of the lawn rake categories.

cleaning green lawn from leaf litter

Springbok Lawn Rake

My choice for this category is the Draper Carbon Steel Lawn Rake. It features Sixteen flexible round steel tines with epoxy coated finish. The handle is made from tubular steel and features a black plastic grip.

  • Comfortable to use and hold
  • Soil feel
  • Light

 

Landscape wooden rake

wooden-landscape-rakeI haven’t picked any particular brand for this type of lawn rake review, as they are generally unbranded. They are brilliant for the tougher rake demands in the garden. Unless you have some serious twigs and branches to rake up, this is not the leaf rake for you. They are based on the traditional haywainers pattern. They feature wide heads and a long reach. The teeth are usually doweled, and the head is usually fixed to the shaft with a metal ‘stay’. The top tip with these is to treat them with oil (I’d recommend linseed) before use and make sure you keep them in a cool and dry store.

  • Heavy duty – will last a lifetime if maintained
  • Great for heavier raking tasks
  • Heavy
  • Not suitable for general lawn raking

 

Landscape metal rake

landscape-metal-rakeAnother Draper choice, their Carbon Steel Garden Rake is a quality and affordable offering. It has twelve teeth that are finished with an epoxy coating. In true Draper style, this rake features a tubular steel handle with a plastic hand grip. I think Draper tools are really making a mark on the gardening tool world; their quality and really great prices make the more expensive brands look a little overpriced at times.

  • Lightweight
  • Strong handle
  • Sturdy
  • Long-lasting tool
  • ‘Light duty’ only. For leaves and grass, you couldn’t pick a better rake. For anything else, you will need a different tool.

 

Plastic fan rake

plastic-fan-rakeWhile other plastic fan rakes exist, the Bulldog  Evergreen Plastic Leaf Rake is the garden standard. This rake can be seen in domestic settings as well as in high-use and professional gardens. The shaft is aluminium and features a great quality non-slip grip. Whatever you might find on your lawn, this rake will gather it up!

  • Wide head
  • Sturdy but flexible
  • Cushioned handle
  • Great reach
  • Value for money

 

Just simply a great leaf rake. The Bulldog plastic fan rake is my no1 choice any day of the week.

 

Besom Brooms

modern broomSimilar to the ‘landscape wooden rake’, besom brooms are generally unbranded products. They vary in length (so choose in person, not online!) and material. Traditional besom brooms are constructed from a bundle of twigs (bamboo is becoming increasingly popular), tied around a central pole that is also the handle. A hint to the quality of the construction will be the shape of the bottom of the broom. Mass-produced and cheap besom brooms will be cut straight. Ones that have been made to a higher standard will be rounded at the base of the twigs.

  • Can be made wholly from sustainable materials
  • Quality brooms can last a lifetime when kept in a dry and cool store

(No Good for flying but great at getting the leaves off the lawn!)

 

… Or you could always use an electric or petrol leaf blower …

 

One really essential piece of leaf raking kit is a pair of ‘big hands’ these are large plastic grabbers that act as huge hands, enabling you to pick up whole piles of leaves in one go. If you add one piece of kit to your gardening arsenal this year, make it a pair of these!!


 

How do I choose a leaf rake?

  • Choose quality! If your patch is the size of a postage stamp with few surrounding trees, then maybe you do not need to worry about rake efficiency. If, however, you will need to rake several times a week to keep the leaves under control, then it is well worth buying a quality rake.
  • With some gardening equipment, the heavier the tool, the better it will be for the job. This is not so when it comes to leaf rakes. Save your back and your arms; choose a lightweight rake.
  • Wide mouth. While the wider the mouth does not necessarily mean the more effective the sweep, it makes sense to choose a lawn rake with a wide mouth over a very narrow one.

 

How to use a lawn rake effectively

Yes, you did just read that! There are definitely more effective ways to use a lawn rake than others.

  • Hand positioning. Use both hands and change their positions as you rake.
  • Bent knees. Think of the manual handling training that most of us have received at some point; bend your knees and keep your back straight.
  • The most effective method to rake lawns is to move backwards and rake the leaves towards you (just watch out for that priceless urn behind you!) 

Can I mow fallen leaves?

Absolutely – at the beginning of the lawn-raking season. When your garden has reached the point that there just are not enough leaves to justify raking, but you really want to do something about them. There is also the option of using a mulching mower. While this may feel like cheating, using a mulching mower shreds the leaves into mulch and then bagged; simple! Mulching mowers are available as petrol or electric mowers. 

Can I rake wet leaves?

If you want to give yourself a tough time, then go for it! There will be times that you will have to rake wet leaves, you can’t just leave them sitting there on your lawn. If at all possible, though, wait until the leaves are dry before you attempt to rake them up. They will move better, be lighter to lift, and the whole experience will be lighter on your back and your lawn. 


 

Just what do I do with all of the leaves I have raked?

Once you have raked your leaves you have a few options available to you. Burning, binning, some sort of amazing crafting activity, or you could turn them into garden gold: leaf mould! Leaf mould is an amazing source of fibre for your garden. It will help you to keep moisture in the areas of your garden that needs a helping hand, helps to improve the drainage of the soil, and is ‘the’ wonder ingredient if you want to improve your soil; and all from leaves that you might have thrown away! If you are into your alpine plants, you may already be aware of this wonder product as it is a common ingredient in the creation of custom alpine composts. Whatever you use your leaf mould for, your garden will thank you a million times over when you feed them your beautiful leaf mould, and it is so easy to make!

Garden Gold: Leaf Mould!

Generating your own leaf mould is really only worthwhile if you have large quantities to deal with. If you don’t have that many, they are generally fine on your regular compost heap.

 

Two things to bare in mind:

  1. Leaves from most deciduous trees take a year to break down
  2. Leaves from oak and beech trees take two years to break down because of the high tannin levels. These leaves should be stored separately from other types of leaves.
  • The sack method

  1. Rake your leaves up and put them into a bin bag
  2. Wet them a little
  3. Tie the bag
  4. Stab them with a fork (just a few times, don’t get over=excited!)
  5. Pop the bag somewhere you won’t trip over it
  6. Leave it to do its thing!

 

  • The cage method

  1. Hammer four wooden posts well into the ground
  2. Attach wire securely to three sides
  3. Fashion a ‘door’ with more chicken wire or a light piece of MDF or similar
  4. Put your raked leaves into the cage, wet them well, and jump on them
  5. Cover with plastic
  6. Keep going (!) until the end of the leaf-raking season.
  7. Cap off your leaf heap with about 5cm of soil
  8. Leave it to do its thing!

Choosing a leaf rake is not a simple task, hey?! Hopefully, a read through this lawn rake review will help you decipher the wide choice of lawn rakes that are out there and help you to choose the one that is the best for you and your gardening needs. Do have a go at making your own leaf mulch; it’s so easy and such a rewarding task.

 

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