Whether gathering fallen leaves, breaking up compacted soil, or leveling mulch or gravel, a top-quality rake has many uses. “Leaf clean-up can be a breeze with the right tools in hand,” says Amber Freda, a landscape designer specializing in city gardens in the New York City area, including rooftops, terraces, and townhomes. We consulted with Freda while researching the best leaf rakes and evaluating products on their material, tines, weight, and comfort.
Our favorite, the Fiskars 24-inch Leaf Rake, is lightweight, durable, and has an extra-long handle to prevent backaches and fatigue.
Here are the best rakes for a variety of tasks.
Fiskars 24-inch Leaf Rake
Can ease back strain
Not suitable for heavy soil or gravel
Our choice for the best overall leaf rake is from Fiskars, a leading manufacturer of garden tools. I have used this Fiskar rake for more than 5 years to gather leaves and small twigs. I love the ease of using a lightweight rake! The handle is comfortable and fits the shape of my hands, and aids in the natural motion of raking leaves. This 24-inch wide rake is lightweight, and the polycarbonate tines are durable enough to take on even the deepest layer of leaves.
With an overall length of 67 inches, the 55-inch handle provides plenty of reach to get under trees. Plus, it should give you enough reach to avoid having to bend too much. The curved tines flex and grab leaves easily but help prevent the rake head from clogging.
If you regularly wear garden gloves while raking, you may find those unnecessary. On the other hand, the aluminum handle might feel chilly on colder days.
Price at time of publish: $19.08
Tine Length: 5.5 inches | Rake Head Width: 24 inches | Tine Material: Polycarbonate | Handle Material: Aluminum | Weight: 1.5 pounds
Anvil 24-Inch Poly Leaf Rake
Simple but effective design
Large tines to collect more yard debris at once
Not suited for longevity
"Aluminum or plastic rakes are best for most standard leaf cleanups because they are lightweight and cover a larger span than steel rakes,” says Amber Freda, a landscape designer based in the New York City area. With large tines and a long handle, the plastic Anvil Poly Leaf Rake is well-designed for collecting leaves, sticks, and other yard debris with ease.
Despite its size, this rake is extremely lightweight and has a broad reach, so you don’t have to exert a ton of effort to use it. While this budget-friendly option might not last as long as others, it has a 5-year warranty, it’s fairly durable, and works well considering the price. So, whether you need a rake for regular yard maintenance or just seasonal leaf shedding, the Anvil Poly Leaf Rake is a solid option.
Price at time of publish: $12.98
Tine Length: 3 inches | Rake Head Width: 24 inches | Tine Material: Plastic | Handle Material: Wood | Weight: 1.9 pounds
Best for Gravel
Midwest 10036 Aluminum Landscape Rake
Can use for grading
When it is time to add gravel to a driveway, in a xeriscape bed or French drain, the right rake makes the job go more smoothly. "Steel rakes are excellent for moving soil, gravel, or large, wet clumps of leaves," says landscape designer Amber Freda. "But," she continues, "take care not to dig them into your lawn, or you could damage the grass.”
We found an alternative to steel in the Midwest 10036 Aluminum Landscape Rake, made in the USA. It is built for heavy work. A cushion grip anchors the 66-inch heavy aluminum handle, leading to long, tapered 4-inch-high teeth, measuring 36 inches wide. The sturdy connector, made of powder-coated aluminum, assures a close, solid fit.
While this product is specifically designed for moving gravel, such as in driveways, you could easily use it for detritus that builds up besides water such as a river or lake. Turn it over and its straight edge works well for grading a landscape too.
Price at time of publish: $104.65
Tine Length: 4 inches | Rake Head Width: 36 inches | Tine Material: Aluminum | Handle Material: Aluminum | Weight: 4.79 pounds
Jardineer 63 inch Adjustable Garden Rake Leaf
Head adjusts for various tasks
Can clear narrow areas and wider spaces
Sturdy aluminum handle
Parts may bend or break over time
This adjustable leaf rake from Jardineer can perform a variety of gardening tasks. The rake head is expandable from 7 to 23 inches, and a lock keeps it fixed in any position. The long, telescopic handle reduces the need for bending down and prevents fatigue while raking. Weighing just 1.37 pounds, this rake also is lightweight and easy to maneuver. Its thick aluminum handle is sturdy and comfortable to hold for an extended period.
This rake can be used to gather clippings, leaves, and loose lawn debris. When compressed to its narrowest width, it can get under hedges and in between flower beds without damaging delicate plants. The Jardineer Garden Rake Leaf doesn’t require assembly, which is another big plus. We found a few reports of broken and bent parts, but the product is covered by a 1-year warranty.
Price at time of publish: $22.99
Tine Length: 5.5 inches | Rake Head Width: 7 to 23 inches | Tine Material: Steel | Handle Material: Aluminum | Weight: 1.37 pounds
Bully Tools 30-Inch Poly Leaf Rake
Durable, comfortable handle
Wide heads collects more yard debris at once
Limited lifetime warranty
Not suitable for light-duty tasks
Heavier than standard leaf rakes
Got large piles of leaves? This heavy-duty leaf lake from Poly Tools gets the job done. The handle is made of durable fiberglass designed to stay rigid under pressure, and the smooth surface makes it comfortable to hold. With an overall length of 72 inches and a 30-inch curved head, you get plenty of reach to pull heavy loads of leaves. The wide fan of tines, which feature reinforced ridges on both sides, can pick up saturated yard debris with ease.
This rake requires assembly but is simple to put together: All you need to do is attach the handle to the head and secure it with a screw. We found a few reports of broken parts upon delivery, so be sure to take advantage of the limited lifetime warranty if you encounter any problems. Also, at 3.4 pounds, this rake is on the heavier side. While the heft is necessary for heavy-duty jobs, users may find it too cumbersome for raking lightweight leaves.
Price at time of publish: $40.41
Tine Length: Not listed | Rake Head Width: 30 inches | Tine Material: Poly | Handle Material: Fiberglass | Weight: 3.4 pounds
Best for Grass
Ames Thatch Rake
15-year limited warranty
De-thatching, scarifying tines
Not suitable for raking leaves
Leaving deep layers of leaves on a lawn eventually kills the grass. Leaving a thick layer of thatch—grass clippings, stolons, and rhizomes that have not decomposed—is equally as detrimental to a healthy lawn. While some thatch is removed when raking leaves, removing thatch with a rake can be hard work. But the Ames rake does a thorough job.
The Ames rake features a head with two types of tines. The straight-edged tines loosen and remove the dead thatch layer with ease. Flip the head over, and the flare-edged tines can be used to scratch or scarify the soil to prepare it for reseeding, if needed. The head and tines are made of steel, so they are strong enough to pull through the most tangled mat of thatch.
Price at time of publish: $49.98
Tine Length: 4.875 inches | Rake Head Width: 14.25 inches | Tine Material: Steel | Handle Material: Wood | Weight: 4.5 pounds
Best Scooping Rake
MEKKAPRO Leaf Scoops
Can handle heavy loads
Easy to store and clean
Handles may dig into wrists
Leaf scoops take the work of a rake and simplify it: instead of raking leaves into a pile and then scooping them up with gloved hands, you can do both in one fell swoop. The latest model of the Mekkapro Leaf Scoops offers increased durability, with reinforced plastic to hold up under the weight of larger piles of leaves.
The plastic material is easy to clean and, with a shell-like design, these scoops fit together for compact storage in your garage or tool shed. Now when autumn arrives, you won’t have to dread leaf season—just scoop them up and you’re finished! We've noted that the handles can dig into some wrists, based on the particular person.
Price at time of publish: $28.99
Tine Length: 19.5 inches | Rake Head Width: 13.5 inches | Tine Material: Reinforced plastic | Handle Material: Reinforced plastic | Weight: 1.6 pounds
Tabor Tools Telescopic Metal Rake
Adjustable rake head and handle
Galvanized, non-rusting steel tines
Not suitable for heavy raking tasks
If the leaf-raking duties at your house are shared by folks with varying heights, then a rake with an adjustable handle reduces back fatigue and complaining. The Tabor Tools Telescopic Metal Rake not only has an adjustable handle but it also has an adjustable rake head that can move from 8 to 23 inches in width.
Made of lightweight galvanized steel that should not rust, this is a great rake for small urban yards. It is not a good choice for heavy tasks, such as spreading mulch or de-thatching grass, but works great for raking leaves. Since the head width can be adjusted, you can get in tight spaces under shrubs and in small garden beds.
The handle adjusts and locks at any length from 63 to 32 inches. This not only makes it more comfortable to use but also reduces storage space. Since it collapses into an 8-by-32-inch tool, this rake is great to take along to a campsite to clear away leaves for a tent or campfire.
Price at time of publish: $32.99
Tine Length: 16 inches | Rake Head Width: 8 to 23 inches | Tine Material: Galvanized steel | Handle Material: Galvanized steel | Weight: 2 pounds
Best for Garden Soil
Bully Tools 66-inch Garden Rake
Lightweight, but durable
Limited lifetime warranty
Not suitable for lightweight raking
Bully tools are made to last. This sturdy rake, made in America, features a bow-shaped steel head with 15 tines that can break through hard garden soil. The connectors on the head are welded to the handle to add the strength you need. Use the tines to break apart dirt clods; then, flip the head over to smooth the soil and ready it for seeds or seedlings.
The bow design helps give efficient spring action when raking. The 54.5-inch fiberglass handle provides the reach needed to make spreading mulch, weed removal, and removing small roots and rocks go more quickly.
Price at time of publish: $57.74
Tine Length: 4 inches | Rake Head Width: 16.25 inches | Tine Material: Steel | Handle Material: Fiberglass | Weight: 3.7 pounds
Best Shrub Rake
Fiskars 8 Inch Shrub Rake
Fits well in small spaces
Not suitable for heavy raking tasks
Wide rake heads just don’t fit between and under shrubs or in tight corners easily. That’s why you need a shrub rake. This one from Fiskars is a great choice. The 58-inch-long aluminum handle is lightweight but long enough to get under the largest shrubs. The handle is teardrop-shaped for comfort and provides a good grip as you work.
The tines are made from plastic resin that is flexible but difficult to break. The 8-inch head and 11 tines pull out an amazing amount of leaves with each pass. While doing an entire lawn with this rake would be exhausting, you can make fast work of clearing leaves from hedges and foundation shrubs.
Price at time of publish: $25.99
Tine Length: 5 inches | Rake Head Width: 8 inches | Tine Material: Plastic resin | Handle Material: Aluminum | Weight: 1.08 pounds
Best Hand Rake
Black+Decker Steel Hand Rake
Soft grip handle
3-year limited warranty
Not suitable for heavy raking tasks
Leaves manage to fall and weeds manage to grow in flower boxes and container plants. A hand rake, like this one from Black+Decker, is the best tool to remove them without damaging the other plant material.
Made of rust-proof powder-coated steel, this 9-tined tool is extremely lightweight but durable. The tines are strong enough to help with weeding or creating lines for seeding in well-tilled, loose garden soil. To make chores easier, the molded handle has a soft grip for comfortable use. Once you have this tool in your garden caddy, you’re sure to find plenty of uses.
Price at time of publish: $14.99
Tine Length: 8 inches | Rake Head Width: 5.24 inches | Tine Material: Powder-coated steel | Handle Material: Molded resin | Weight: 7.2 ounces
Our best overall rake is the Fiskars 24-inch Leaf Rake, a lightweight and durable option, with an ergonomically designed handle. It's large enough to gather leaves on a lawn but small enough to get under many shrubs. If you're looking to remove deep layers of grass from your lawn, we recommend the Ames Thatch rake. It has two tine types, including one for detaching and one for scarifying soil for seed.
What to Look For in a Leaf Rake
- Leaf/Lawn Rake: The classic lightweight rake for removing fallen leaves has long, flexible tines that fan out from the handle to swoop leaves into a pile. The tines’ ends are bent at a 90-degree angle to gather leaves without damaging the lawn.
- Garden/Landscaping Rake: Much more heavy-duty, garden or landscaping rakes are offered with straight or bow-shaped metal heads. The tines are short and rigid to break through clods of soil or move heavy gravel.
- Thatch Rake: Fitted with heavy-duty, short, specially shaped metal tines, a thatch rake removes the layer of dead organic matter that can choke out the grass in a lawn.
- Shrub Rake: A smaller version of a leaf rake, a shrub rake has a narrow, less flared head of tines to easily remove leaf litter from underneath shrubs.
- Hand Rake: Around the size of a garden trowel, a hand rake is perfect for removing leaves or loosening soil in a container or small area of the garden.
Metal tines are the most durable option and are well-suited for heavy-duty tasks such as spreading gravel or raking wet leaves. On the downside, metal rakes with steel tines tend to be heavier and more expensive than those made of plastic or polyresin.
Plastic tines are less durable than other options and better suited for light-duty tasks. Their lightweight construction makes them easier to use for an extended period. But they aren’t likely to last as long as metal rakes, and they’re more likely to bend or break.
Polyresin tines straddle the line between metal and plastic. They’re not quite as durable as metal, but they're stronger than plastic and can handle heavy-duty jobs.
Weight and Comfort
An uncomfortable rake can result in issues with your back arms, and muscles, according to medical experts. A too-short handle can result in excessive bending; a heavy product can result in muscle strain. We recommend that before purchasing a rake, you test it for comfort in a brick-and-mortar store. Adjustable handles are a good choice for a rake intended to be used by people of different heights. A lightweight handle made of polyresin or aluminum can help reduce arm fatigue; a cushioned grip eases hand fatigue. Consider a rake model that can accommodate a handle replacement.
“Steel rakes are more heavy duty and longer lasting overall than plastic or aluminum,” says Amber Freda, a landscape designer specializing in city gardens in the New York City area. “Aluminum or plastic rakes are best for most standard leaf cleanups because they are lightweight and cover a larger span than steel rakes.” Rakes made with metal tines and handles are usually the most durable. The metal tines seldom break, and can be hammered back into shape if they get bent. Handles made of metal are often adjustable for comfort. But this durability comes at a higher price tag. Aluminum handles are durable but lighter to handle and generally cost less.
When is the best time to rake leaves?
The one rule to always follow when raking leaves is to get the leaves removed before the first snow falls. Leaves left on the ground over the winter can cause diseases in turfgrass. Too many leaves left around home foundations can harbor bothersome insects and rodents.
Some gardeners like to rake leaves several times during autumn to keep the leaf piles smaller. Others wait until late autumn so one weekend of labor takes care of the task. However, “It’s not a good idea to have leaves sitting on your lawn because they can kill your grass by depriving it of sunlight,” Freda points out. It is always best to rake leaves when they are as dry as possible before winter precip makes a soggy mess.
Is raking good for your lawn?
Removing large leaves and thatch from your lawn helps keep it healthy. Both types of organic matter can block nutrients, airflow, and sunlight that are needed for lush lawns. “Raking will allow your lawn to breathe and receive sunlight better,” Freda says. If you despise raking, consider getting a lawn mower that grinds the leaves into small bits of mulch. Left in the lawn, they enhance the nitrogen level of the soil. If you prefer to remove leaves entirely, consider them as compost or other uses such as plant insulation. On the lighter side, you can even turn raked leaves into an art form.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Sage McHugh, a lifestyle writer for The Spruce who specializes in the home and garden sector. For expert insight, Sage interviewed Amber Freda, a landscape designer specializing in city gardens in the NYC area, including rooftops, terraces, and townhomes. To select the best leaf rakes for this roundup, Sage considered dozens of products, carefully evaluating their material, tines, weight, and comfort.