How to Choose the Best Landscaping Rake for Your Backyard Jobs
Things you need to know about a landscape rake and when to use it... Image Courtesy of Midwest Rake
A rake is a rake is a rake or is it? Have you ever noticed how many different types of rakes a professional landscaper has in his trailer? Chances are good that he has several, include a leaf rake, a garden rake, and a “landscaping rake.”
These types of rakes are also called beach rakes, gravel rakes, or grading/leveling rakes. Most versions feature braces that run from the rake head to the handle for extra durability.
What are Landscaping Rakes Made From?
In short, two main parts. The handle, and the head. Each is available in a wide range of materials.
Let's take a quick look at the most common of each.
1. The Handle
The right rake for you should have a comfortable handle that feels good in your hands and is strong enough for the work being done.
A rake with a corrosion resistant handle is usually the best choice as these rakes tend to be used in moist conditions.
Hardwood handles tend to be very strong
Good quality handles are expensive, cheap ones break too easily
Lightweight, corrosion resistant
Can become brittle when exposed to the elements, also expensive
Very heavy, subject to corrosion
Lightweight, corrosion resistant
Weaker than steeland can be expensive
2. The Tines
The tines of a rake are the fingers on the head that actually make contact with the soil, rocks, or other materials you are trying to move.
How strong the tines are and the materials they are made from should be matched to the type of work you have in mind. The best quality tines are corrosion resistant and won't bend or break when used properly.
Lightweight can be very durable
Can be subject to rot and not as strong as metal tines
Hard to find and not very strong
Great for leaves, inexpensive
Heavy duty plastics are very expensive, can become brittle
Extremely strong, range in flexibility
Stainless steel may not rust but can be weak
Lightweight, won't rust
May bend or break
NOTE – Some of today's landscapers rakes feature soft grips intended to make them more comfortable to use, especially over long periods of time.
Rubber or silicone grips are the best as they offer superior comfort and shock absorption. These materials tend to hold up much better under heavy usage. Some of the less expensive grips are made from cheap plastic. While these may feel good at first, it won't take long before they lose their comfort and begin to split.
3. A Float
If your planning on using your rake to skim the top of water then a float is a must. It is used to clear away algae and other aquatic vegetation.
Why Do You Need a Landscape Rake?
Landscape rakes are generally used to level ground, spread out ground coverings, and improve the overall quality of large areas of ground.
The best ones are strong enough to be used for a wide range of tasks and ground coverings. Here's a few examples of why having one can come in really handy:
Here is an excellent video on how to grade your lawn
1. Leveling and Grading Soil
Now that you have your garden are all dug up, you need to level it and remove any rocks, roots, weeds, and other debris. The rake is also used to level the soil and prepare it for planting.
The large wide head of this type of rake makes moving larger amounts of soil at the same time much easier. Landscapers use this type of rake for leveling soil prior to laying new sod, walkways, and foundations for walls.
The rake can be used to smooth out each sub-layer in preparation for pouring cement. It can also be used for contouring your land to allow for better drainage. A good strong rake can also be used to break up clumps of dirt.
2. Removing Debris
Whether you have just dug a new garden, planted trees, and shrubs, or are dealing with the after-effects of a storm, a landscaping rake can be used to clean up debris such as branches, twigs, rocks, and more to be collected by your local waste disposal company.
3. Spreading Mulch and Compost
The best way to even spread out bark or any other form of march is a good strong landscaping rake. The wide head lets you smooth out and level larger areas in a single pass.
Most gardeners use plenty of compost is their gardens, the wide head of this type of rake helps you to easily move and spread out the compost. You can use the strong tines to help dig the compost into the soil and mix it all into a single top layer.
This is how road crews level gravel for roads, but for a home sized job the landscaping rake is the perfect tool to do the same thing
4. Making New Gravel Paths and Driveways
A good landscaping rake should be strong enough that you can use it spread out gravel or rocks to help you create new paths, walkways, and driveways without breaking.
5. Cleaning Up the Shoreline
If you have a lake on your property with a sandy beach, you will find there are special landscaping rakes made to help clean up the sand and leave a nice finish on it, much like those seen at golf courses.
Landscaping Rakes Worth Taking a Closer Look At
Finding the right landscaping rake for your needs might seem a bit challenging, especially with so many to choose from.
So to help make things a little easier for you, I have pulled together a short list of those I think can help you get the job done.
Take a look at these and then take a look in your local discount hardware superstores and online, you may find others you like more.
1. Razor-Back Aluminum Landscape Rake
Heavy Duty Aluminum Rake Made for Pros
No one ever buys a landscaping rake just to clean up a few leaves, we buy them to handle the heavy chores.
The Razor-Back is made from heavy-duty aluminum with a 36-inch head and an extra strong 66-inch long handle. While this is a good sized rake, you will be pleasantly surprised at just how lightweight it truly is.
Extra strong head and handle
Handle to head angle is not as steep as it could be
Wide head speeds up your chores
Aluminum tines bend easily
Great for bigger projects
Tines are not long enough
2. Structron 36″ Head Landscape Rake
Round Teeth Won't Gouge
This rake has rounded teeth to provide you with a smoother raking action. The striking edge is perfect for helping you to grade your finished work.
The double rib construction and wrap-around bracing ensures head stability and will provide you with long-lasting performance, no matter how heavy the work is.
The fiberglass handle features a comfort grip for those long hours out in the yard. 100% made in the U.S.A.
Double-wall construction for added strength
Fiberglass handle may crack or break
Aluminum will not rust
Aluminum tines may bend or break
Comfort grip great for long hours of raking
Grip may crack if left exposed
3. Bon 42-Inch Aluminum Head Landscape Rake
Extra-Wide 42-Inch Head for Those Really Big Jobs
Just when you were beginning to think that they're all made with aluminum heads and handles, here comes the Bon 14-650.
This rake features a hardwood handle that is extremely tough, and flexible, which might not make it the best choice for heavy-duty work. It is, however, perfectly suited for use in leveling and contouring soil and many light cleanup tasks.
The head with its 2-3/8-inch teeth is bolted to the handle via a mounting adaptor.
Solid hardwood handle won't rust
Wood handle flexes too much
Aluminum head has nice long teeth
Head has no extra bracing
Lightweight and easy to use for long periods
At only 60-inches, the handle comes up short
4. Kobalt 36-in Landscape Rake
Get More Debris with These Close-Set Tines
All aluminum construction make this lightweight landscaping rake a real winner for the homeowner and professional alike.
It features a 66-inch long aluminum handle with a 9-inch long blue comfort grip that reduces fatigue and discomfort. The extra-wide 36-inch head features rounded teeth that are perfect for working with mulch or gravel.
The top of the head is flat for use in leveling and grading. The wrap-around bracing makes this a very strong design that should last for many years.
Lightweight, easy to use design
Black colored handle tends to get very hot in the sun
Close tines make for easy debris removal
Close tines may not be the best choice for leveling
Thicker tine design reduces wear
Aluminum tines may break easily
5. Corona Clipper Landscape Rake Aluminum 60″, 67″
Cheap and Great for Lightweight Work Only
The Corona Clipper features a strong lightweight aluminum handle that is 67 inches long. The head is also made from aluminum to further help keep overall weight under control and to ensure you never have to deal with rust.
The back of the head features a leveling blade that is ideal for top grade finishing work. For added strength, the head is further supported by a wrap-around brace.
Aluminum handle and tines can bend or break
Not made for heavy duty usage
Thick strong tines and leveling blade on back of head
Overall construction quality not very good
What If You Don't Want to Use Your Hands?
So far we have been looking at landscaping rakes designed to be used by hand, but if you happen to have a lawn tractor or an ATV, you will find there are a number of landscaping rakes made to be towed behind them.
While these are made for much larger areas, they can make the task of cleaning up and leveling your garden, lawn, or footing for the new path or driveway much easier. Here is one we really like:
Yard Tuff ATV/Lawn Tractor Landscape Drag
Drop into Gear and Clean your Yard Up in a Hurry
With a width of 5 feet 6 inches, this landscape drag rake can certainly cover a very large area in a hurry. It features a pin-style hitch that allows you to easily connect it to your ATV, lawn tractor, UTV, or even a riding lawn mower.
The heavy-duty steel construction features a powder-coated finish that is designed to protect it for years. The center bars are designed to hold up to 50 pounds, letting you add several cement blocks for better leverage and depth.
Blocks used for weight will fall off if not secured
Easy assembly, should take approximately 30 minutes
Does not cut as deep as it should, not recommended for pulling weeds
Pin-style hitch lets you hook up to virtually anything
Does not always track well
The Final Cleanup
There are so many different brands and models of landscaping rake on the market today, it is very hard to say which of them is truly the best. You will need to base your choice more on how you plan to use the rake you buy than on any particular review or brand.
Of those I sampled, I really like the Kobalt 36-in Landscape Rake as it has a 36-inch head and good strong construction. I bought one and to date have used it to clear and level a new garden for my wife, removing all kinds of debris and creating a nice smooth finish. I have also used it to level out almost 10 tons of gravel used to cover my driveway.
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