What are the different types of rakes and what do they do?

Rake in pile of leaves
Rake in pile of leaves (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If your backyard is covered with leaves, chances are, you’re spending a lot of time mastering how to rake leaves. But did you know that having the right type of rake can cut the time of that chore in half? 

In fact, knowing what the different types of rakes are can make all the difference to that back-breaking chore. You can find a rake suitable for clearing leaves, branches, foliage and other debris more efficiently.

Raking leaves is an essential part of lawn care to ensure your grass stays healthy and greener for spring. Not only can a layer of leaves suffocate the grass blades, depriving them of sunlight, but leaves also provide the damp, breeding ground for lawn diseases and pests. That’s why it’s important to remove leaves as soon as possible; otherwise, you'll need to read our guide on how to revive dead grass in the future. 

With the right type of tool, though, raking leaves doesn’t have to be a tedious, time-consuming chore. While there are dozens of rakes available for specific tasks, we’ve selected the most common types for gardeners to use. So if you want to make backyard chores a breeze, here are some of the different types of rakes and what they do. 

Before you throw out your leaves, check out these five ways to use fallen leaves in your garden, and save wastage. Fallen leaves can be good for your lawn and has its benefits. Or if you want to buy a leaf blower, these are the 5 things you need to know.

1. Leaf rake (lawn rake) 

Leaf rake

Leaf rake (Image credit: Amazon)

If your lawn has plenty of leaves, you’ll need a leaf rake. These are designed with long tines that fan out from the handle, with a cross piece of material (usually metal) holding them in place. The tines' edges are bent over by 90-degrees, so they can easily grip leaves or debris without damaging the soil. A leaf rake like this True Temper 2914912 Clog Free Poly Leaf Rake ($31, Amazon), is ideal for raking a large amount of leaves at once. Leaf rakes come in plastic, metal, and bamboo, with different sized leaf heads to suit every backyard. 

2. Bow rake (level head rake) 

Bow rake

Bow rake (Image credit: Amazon)

The bow rake is more heavy-duty, and ideal for moving or levelling out soil, sand or other debris heavier than leaves. Unlike the leaf rake, the tines are shorter (about 3 inches long), and wide-set. Similarly, they bend down from the head at a 90-degree angle, and tend to be made from metal. Bow rakes, like this GLORYA Metal Garden Rake, Heavy Duty Bow Rake ($39, Amazon), are designed to be solid and sturdy for those tough backyard jobs.

3. Thatch rake 

Thatch rake

Thatch rake (Image credit: Amazon)

If you’re learning how to dethatch a lawn, you’ll need a dedicated thatching rake. These garden tools have long and sturdy tines, making them ideal for removing thick thatch on your grass. Unlike other rakes, a thatch rake like the AMES Companies 2914000 True Temper Thatch Rake ($82, Amazon) has sharp blades on both sides of its head, to easily break and remove thatch. 

4. Landscaping rake 

Landscaping rake

Landscaping rake (Image credit: Amazon)

If you have a large backyard, you’ll need a landscaping rake to smooth out large areas of soil or achieve a smoother grade. These heavy-duty rakes have a broader head (30- to 38-inch), with steel tines set at a 90-degree angle to the handle. Due to its durability, the head is often made from aluminum, while the handle is made from either wood, professional-grade aluminum or fiberglass. 

Landscaping rakes, such as this Aluminum Landscape Rake Tool ($58, Amazon), are also ideal for ponds, lakes, pools and beaches. There are specific lake rakes available, if necessary.  

5. Hand rake 

Hand rake

Hand rake (Image credit: Amazon)

If you have a small area to dig, loosen or till the soil, a small, handheld rake can get the job done. About the size of a trowel, these miniature rakes are sturdy and designed for heavy-duty work. Hand rakes such as Garden Guru Stainless Steel Hand Rake ($19, Amazon) only have a few long, pointed tines; however, these make it ideal for digging in a small spot.

6. Berry picker rake 

Berry rake

Berry rake (Image credit: Amazon)

As the name suggests, a berry rake is ideal for harvesting homegrown berries, without the sharp thorns. A berry rake is essentially a hand rake with small, metallic tines that is used behind the berries to pull them from the stems. Most berry rakes come with an attached scoop or bucket for collecting berries, and an ergonomic handle for easy pick up. Berry rakes like the LFSEMINI Berry Picker ($12, Amazon), also ensures the berries are not squashed during picking — which is always handy. 

What rake is best for removing dead grass?

Typically, bow rakes and thatch rakes are ideal for removing thick layers of grass. It’s important to remove the dead grass layer as it will build-up above the soil, depriving it of air and essential nutrients.

If you have a large backyard, you might need to know how to use a leaf blower. Find out what happened when our editor used four different tools to get rid of leaves and what worked best and 5 ways to prepare your garden tools for spring. And you might also want to know when you should stop mowing your lawn for the winter; be sure not to make these one of the many potential lawn care mistakes

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!