Most rakes have an overall length of 5′ or 6′ but that is where their similarities end. There are several types, each for a specific function.
Garden Rakes are used to break up and smooth soil after it has been spaded and cultivated.
They have sharp, curved teeth of high-carbon steel to pulverize dirt clods, and straight backs to level the soil for planting.
The head of a level-head rake is set close to the handle, attached by driving the shank of the head into the handle. Bow-rake heads are attached to the handle with long, curved bows extending from each end of the head. Spring action of the bow rake makes it preferable to many gardeners. Handle should be at least 54″ long.
Lawn (or leaf) Rakes have two designs: straight edge or sweep (broom).
Straightedge rakes pull leaves and debris toward the user, gathering up heavier trash such as sticks and stones.
Sweep rakes are used like a broom. They pull or sweep the leaves and debris past the user.
Sweep rakes are fan shaped, better ones with spring-steel teeth of graduated lengths for a straight leading edge. Others have a rounded leading edge.
Level head (straightedge), spring-steel lawn rakes range from 18″ to 36″ and wider. Generally, the closer the spacing of spring-steel teeth, the better the raking and cleaning action.
Better metal lawn rakes are made of heat-treated and tempered flat spring steel for strength and flexibility. Flat teeth offer better lifting action than do wire teeth.
Wooden rakes with wide heads quickly rid lawns of heavy debris. Ash teeth with rounded tips are gentle on lawns and are easily replaceable. Solid aluminum bows support the 28″ wide head and help hold and gather bulky loads. The best wooden rakes have tubular steel necks to minimize handle breakage.
Better quality bamboo rakes have an arched steel support attached to each tooth and a spiral wire which allows the rake to work well over uneven surfaces. The teeth should all be evenly bent for best raking results. Bamboo rakes are lightweight, allowing widths up to 30″. Usually, the thicker and wider the individual teeth, the better the rake.
Plastic rakes are lightweight and have easy lift. They have 18″ and 24″ one-piece polypropylene heads, offering a multitude of uses.
Thatchers are usually described as wheeled or half-moon.
The wheeled rake rolls along the ground digging up thatch. It digs as it is pushed forward, cleans itself of debris as it is pulled backwards.
The half-moon type does not have wheels and is dragged over the ground. The work stroke is pulling the unit towards the operator, the cleaning stroke is pushing the unit away.
Special Purpose Rakes include crabgrass/dandelion rakes which pull out crabgrass and dandelions without injuring grass. Push-pull rakes with crescent-shaped disc teeth eliminate the need to lift the tool while raking.
Better hoes have socket construction in which a one-piece blade, shank and socket are driven onto the handle, providing greater strength.
Promotional hoes have the shank welded to the head and driven onto a ferruled handle.
Depending upon their use, handles will be straight or shaped to provide a combination of strength, light weight, resiliency and comfortable grip.
Width, depth and shape of blade indicate the tool’s main use. For example, a garden hoe usually has a 6″ blade for soil preparation, while a weeding hoe will have a 1 3/4″ pointed blade to lift out weeds.
Draw hoes are tools that are pulled toward the user to accomplish a variety of tasks including weeding, soil cultivation, digging and making furrows.
Push or scuffle hoes are pushed, rather than pulled and allow the blade to slide just below the surface to cut weeds. The handle is attached to the rear of the blade at a shallow angle. This kind of hoe works best on young weeds.
Oscillating hoes cut with both edges of their sharp, steel blades, so they work with either push or pull motions. The blade shifts back and forth to keep the angle right in either direction.
Other, more unusual hoes are available, including the multi-hoe, which combines a flat, pointed triangular blade with a curved, scooped blade. Beyond all-purpose garden hoes, your customers’ needs will dictate additional specialized hoes to stock.
For loosening dirt in a garden, sell a general purpose trowel, blade width usually 3 1/4″ to 3 1/2″; for transplanting, sell a slimmer 2″ bladed trowel.
Better quality trowels have high carbon steel blades and comfortably shaped handle, either hardened ash or rubber or vinyl gripped.
Aerators cut through hard soil, to loosen and break up the dirt several inches below the surface.
With their spiked discs and long handle, aerators are no substitute for a spade when heavy work is necessary. They do, however, offer a relatively easy way to loosen soil around plants.
Long (4′)- or short (12″)-handled cultivators break up clods left by spading or aerating, with three or four sharp, curved tines. For heavier work, a rotary cultivator with sharp spurs cuts through most soils.
Quality construction features include hot-rolling instead of welding, tines formed from steel rods rather than stamped from sheet metal, solid attachment of head to handle and well-shaped grip.
Collapsible steel handles are available on some units. These save storage space.
Several models now offer such attachments as a single row garden seeder and a snow plow blade.
To plant or transplant flower bulbs, corms or small plants, a bulb planter is twisted back and forth as it is pushed into the ground. When desired depth is reached (shown by inch marking on tool), tool is removed from soil, bringing with it a core of earth.
The conventional garden seeder has two wheels and a furrowing shoe connected to a seed-delivering mechanism.
Some are made of structural steel tube and plastic; others of aluminum strapping, steel and plastic. The structural steel unit has a furrowing shoe with side flanges that push the dirt over the open seed furrow and a concave rear wheel that builds a protective mound over the seed. The aluminum strap unit’s furrowing shoe has a chain that drags the dirt over the seed.
A pogo stick type seeder has a seed reservoir. The seeds are released into the ground by pushing the unit onto the ground. The unit has two spring loaded flanges which thrust themselves into the ground, opening a hole. The unit then releases a seed or two and springs back out of the ground.
With a sharp notched blade, diggers lift out dandelions, root and all. Long-handled diggers enable the user to remove dandelions without stooping while short-handled diggers make it easier to pick up dandelions as they are cut.
Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document. “Cultivating Tools”