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When it comes to getting your garden into tip top shape, there’s one piece of essential equipment that every gardener needs in their arsenal – a really good garden fork.
Ideal for a multitude of reasons, a garden fork helps to take all of the hard work out of turning over soil for ground preparation, working compost into the ground ahead of planting, or for digging up those precious vegetables that you’ve put so much time and effort into growing.
However, as with all gardening equipment, there is such a wide variety of options available that finding the perfect garden fork for your needs can take what should be a fairly simple task and turn it into one that’s filled with confusion!
That’s why we;ve done all the hard work for you, and put together a list of five of the best garden forks along with a breakdown of what makes them so great. We’ve also created a handy buying guide that covers some points you should give some thought to before making your purchase, ensuring that you find the perfect garden fork the first time round.
Pull up a chair, get comfy and read on as we take you through the ultimate guide to buying the best garden fork!
Got a big gardening project coming up soon that you need a reliable garden fork for? Take a look at our top pick.
In a hurry? This is our winner!
Best Garden Fork – Comparison Table
Best Garden Fork – Reviews
Best Garden Fork – Buyer’s Guide
There are a surprising number of gardening jobs that you need a garden fork for, from turning over soil to prepare your beds for planting, to rotating your compost heap and even aerating your lawn so it doesn’t become compacted over winter.
But, when it comes to purchasing this essential piece of gardening equipment, there are a few things you need to give some consideration to before making your final decision. We’ve outlined these below to help you find the perfect fork that will help you take on a variety of tasks in your garden.
Type of Fork
The first thing to consider is what type of garden fork it is that you need. Garden forks don’t come in a ‘one size fits all’ capacity, so if there is a certain task that you need one for, then make sure you’ve got the right tool for that job.
There are, in fact, 6 different garden forks to choose from, which we’ve listed below for you along with their intended use.
- Digging Fork: As the name suggests, digging forks are best for digging through soil and penetrating hard ground. They’re also good for oxygenating your soil and digging up stubborn roots and existing shrubs and bushes.
- Pitchfork: Used for shifting bulkier materials such as hay or straw, as well as clearing waste after landscaping and turning over compost.
- Potato Fork: Has multiple prongs, sometimes as many as 10, and has blunted ends in order to not damage the crop of potatoes as you dig through them.
- Border Fork: Often referred to as a ‘ladies fork’, a border fork is smaller in size than a digging fork, and is designed to get into more compact spaces in your border so you can dig through the ground without disturbing existing plants.
- Compost Fork: The perfect choice for aerating and turning over the contents of your compost heap, as well as loading with compost for transportation.
- Trenching Fork: Used for digging up particularly stubborn and uncultivated soils, and able to handle much heavier duty tasks than a standard digging fork.
Realistically, however, most gardeners won’t have the space to store six different types of garden fork! So, if you’re looking for a good all rounder that will help you carry out a wide variety of jobs, we’d recommend going for a digging fork.
The material that your garden fork is made of will ultimately play a part in how durable the fork is, and how long it lasts for. Some of the tasks that you’ll be using your fork for will require a lot of pressure being put on it, so you’ll want one that won’t bend or snap as you use it.
Look for a garden fork that has a head and tines constructed from a strong metal such as carbon steel or boron steel, as these will be able to lift out plants and turn through soil with minimal effort.
Also, when you’re looking at the material that the head and prongs are constructed of, take some time to look at the shape of the prongs. A garden fork that has pointed, diamond shaped prongs will be easier to sink into tough soil with minimal effort, and is also a good choice for getting a good amount of leverage behind for bigger jobs.
The shaft of the garden fork is the next thing you pay some attention to when it comes to looking at the material. Metals such as carbon fibre or fibreglass will offer you the strength needed for taking on tougher tasks, and are less likely to bend or snap.
However, if you’re looking for a more traditional looking garden tool, garden forks with wooden shafts are a good choice, but you should make sure that they are weight tested or have a metal shaft buried into them.
A lot of jobs around the garden need a good amount of effort behind them, and using a tool that is really heavy can leave you feeling weighed down and increasingly lethargic as you use it.
With that in mind, it’s worth looking into the weight of the garden fork as well. By researching how heavy it is, you can decide whether or not you feel like you’ll be able to comfortably use it before you make your purchase.
If you’re looking for a particularly light garden fork, then a good material to keep an eye out for is fibreglass, which is incredibly lightweight but is also very strong so you can garden confidently knowing that it won’t easily break, but also won’t feel like your wielding a particularly heavy object.
It’s a good idea to look at the size of the garden fork before you buy as well. This means looking at the measurement from the tip of the prongs all the way up to the top of the handle, and making sure that you’ll be able to comfortably use it in comparison to your own height.
Generally speaking, the longer the garden fork is, the more leverage you’ll be able to get behind it as well, so if you’re purchasing one in order to remove a stubborn bush it would be a good idea to get one with a longer shaft.
Losing your grip on your fork could lead to an accident, so it’s worth taking some time to look at the handle and the grip that it will provide you with, as well as the shape of the handle that it has been designed with.
The most commonly shaped handle you’ll find in a garden fork is a ‘D’ shaped handle. These are a great choice to go for, as they have been designed to allow you to get a comfortable grip on the fork, even if you’re wearing gardening gloves, and also often allow enough space to use two hands.
Some garden forks have multiple places to grip onto, usually the handle and then halfway down the shaft. This gives you the opportunity to get even more purchase on the fork, and provides a better ergonomic stance which reduces the risk of back injury or wrist strain.
If you can find a garden fork that has a rubber-coated handle as well, this will also help to improve your grip, as well as provide you with a more comfortable gardening experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there more than one type of garden fork?
Yes! In fact, there are six different types of gardening fork, each of which is designed to tackle a particular job around the garden. These include a digging fork, border fork, and compost fork. Take a look at our buyer’s guide above for more information on all six fork designs.
Which garden fork is best for preparing vegetable beds?
Before you can sow your vegetable seeds or plant out young seedlings, you need to make sure that your soil has been properly turned over and that any large clumps have been broken up. The best tool for this is a digging fork, which will easily penetrate the soil and slice through large sods of earth.
How do I aerate a lawn?
Lawn aeration is a really important job, particularly outside of the growing season, as the soil the grass grows from can be easily compacted through a mixture of cold temperatures, heavy rain or snow and foot traffic. Take a garden fork, ideally a digging or border fork, and puncture holes into your lawn at one-foot intervals. This will prevent the ground from becoming compacted, and encourage root growth which in turn will ensure a strong, healthy lawn next summer.