These sturdy tines can penetrate tough materials
Tested by Matt Mattus
A rake may be the most practical yet unexciting of garden tools. But as many gardeners know, some rakes don’t work well for all the jobs we demand from them, and many times those jobs are much more complicated than merely raking leaves. My favorite rake is the Groundskeeper II shrub rake from TRG, with a 55-inch-long fiberglass handle and a 21-inchwide rake head. It can handle leaves in addition to sticks, pine needles, and thatch grass, but it takes raking to a whole new level. Its stiff, spring-loaded tines can quickly rake gravel, peastone, and even topsoil, making it perfect for pulling out young weeds through light cultivation. Despite its size, it is lightweight and will surprise you by how much it can do.
A telescopic rake built for precision
Tested by Michelle Provaznik
One of my favorite tools for garden cleanup is this telescopic shrub rake from Bond. The telescoping feature allows the tool to extend from 25 to 37 inches long, making it perfect for reaching under plants of all sizes to remove garden debris. I also use it around prickly plants such as roses and cacti, thereby saving my hands and arms from nicks and cuts. The 5-inch fan of tines allows you to get into small spaces, including between rocks and dense plantings, or near the edge of a structure. It also works great on peastone, leaving the rocks in place while gathering leaves. This rake is both lightweight and sturdy. I’ve owned mine for years.
This hand tool is perfect for tight spaces
Tested by Mark Dwyer
With over two decades of supervising garden volunteers, I’ve noticed that the small whisk rake from Harmony Farm Supply and Nursery continually makes the list of their favorite tools. This well-balanced, stainless-steel, 9-tine rake is great for collecting debris without damaging surrounding plants or shallow roots. Roughly 16 inches long and 5½ inches wide, it excels in those hard-to-reach or confined spaces where special attention is warranted. The wide, flexible tines are also spaced well for debris collection or light cultivation efforts, and the handle has a rubber grip that won’t slip out of your hand.
Photos: courtesy of the contributors