Leaves are a pain to clean up—especially when they're covering your whole yard. Whether it's the end of summer, and you're just starting to see the leaves turn, or you've decided to put off yard clean up until after Halloween and Thanksgiving for their autumnal aesthetic, you're going to need a reliable rake to help you to take care of the mess. And, then, rake your leaf pile back up again after you've jumped into it.
Surprisingly, though, choosing the right rake is more involved than just blindly adding the first search result to your online shopping cart. So to make your work easier, I tested seven of the most highly-recommended rakes on the market to see which ones performed the best.
After spending some quality time raking a New England lawn filled with leaves, pine needles and acorns (in the rain, I might add), I liked the lightweight Truper Tru Tough 24-inch Leaf Rake(available at Lowe's for $21.98) the best, due to its solid performance and ease of use.
Here’s how the rakes I tested ranked, in order:
Truper Tru Tough 24-inch Leaf Rake
Razor-Back 24-Tine Steel Rake
Ames 26-inch Dual Tine Poly Leaf Rake
Ames True Temper Poly Leaf Rake
Blue Hawk 24-inch Leaf Rake
Fiskars 24-inch Leaf Rake
Gardenite 63-inch Adjustable Garden Leaf Rake
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The Truper Tru Tough is a mix of all of the best qualities of a rake. It’s light enough so that it’s easy to maneuver, but it’s heavy enough that the tines don’t bounce on the ground as you drag the rake towards you. Additionally, between this rake’s metal tines and its weight, it is very efficient at raking; only the occasional leaf is left behind after the first rake sweep. It worked very well on both harder ground and in slightly longer grass.
During testing, I found that this was the rake I kept gravitating towards. While it didn’t always sweep up every acorn or pine needle, it had a long fiberglass handle with a slightly cushy part at the end that made it more manageable to hold during longer periods of raking. It’s also not as wide as some of the rakes I tested, but I found that to be a bonus, since what it lost in horizontal coverage, it made up for in its maneuverability, raking efficiency, and ease of storage.
When confronted with pine needles, the Truper often got clogged, but then again, nearly every rake did. Apparently, pine needles are the collective bane of a rake’s existence. This rake was much better at remaining mostly unclogged during regular leaf raking.
Lastly, this Truper also comes with a 25-year limited warranty, which pleasantly surprised many Lowe's customers who said in online reviews they are used to replacing their rakes every year. They also noted that its slightly more expensive price was worth the extra cash because the rake was solidly built and could stand up to repeated use without tines breaking or being damaged.
The rake is connected to the handle by two bolts, which results in very few instances of the rake breaking or failing.
The bottom line: Rakes have one job, and the Truper Tru Tough 24-inch Leaf Rake does that job best. Other bonuses like a 25-year warranty and sturdy assembly are just the cherries on top.
My name is Julia MacDougall, and I’m the senior scientist here at Reviewed. In addition to designing and upgrading the standards for all of our product testing, I sometimes get to step away from my computer and test products myself. In the past, I’ve tested a variety of different products, including on- and over-ear wireless headphones, fire extinguishers, smart thermostats, and lunch coolers. I like products that let me get my hands either physically or metaphorically dirty. The rake testing was definitely the most raking I’ve done in a long time, but I was happy to do it in the name of SCIENCE.
Unsurprisingly, the core of the testing for these rakes involved me actually raking leaves. However, I made sure that I tested these rakes out in a variety of circumstances, including the terrain type (hilly vs. irregular vs. flat) and lawn debris (leaves, acorns, small sticks, pine needles, etc.). In addition to raking performance, I also took note of some more subjective aspects of each rake, such as how quickly the rake clogged with lawn debris, how comfortable it was to hold, and how well-built it was.
Things to Consider When Shopping for a Rake
Even though a rake is probably the most basic lawn maintenance tool out there, there’s still enough variability in the types of rakes that it’s worth considering a few points before you buy one.
Lawn debris—What kind of lawn debris do you have in your yard? You may have leaves, acorns, small sticks, pine needles, or anything else that falls off of trees. If you’re often dealing with something more complex than just leaves, it may help to have rake tines that are further apart. This way, it’s less likely to get clogged with sticks or pine needles.
On the other hand, tines that are spaced too far apart may start to miss leaves and require you to rake the same swath of ground over and over again. Also, look for rakes that have "Medium Duty" or "Heavy Duty" labels; "Light Duty" rakes are best for raking jobs that just involve leaves.
Terrain—Do you have a relatively flat lawn space, or does your backyard have slopes, hills, or dips? Plastic rakes, which are more rigid, will do a good job clearing leaves from a flat lawn, but the tines may have more trouble reaching all of the leaves located in ditches, divots, or hills. The tines on metal rakes are more flexible, and it will be easier to pull leaves and other lawn debris out of non-flat places.
Grass height—Do you have low grass that just peeks out of the hard ground, grass that fully covers your lawn, or tall grass? While metal rakes can work well on all three types of grass, the sharp edges of the metal rake may leave marks or gouges on the lawn if the ground is exposed. Additionally, tall grass may get tangled in the spaces between the metal tines. Plastic rakes generally do not leave scratches on a hard ground surface.
Handle material—While it’s common for rakes to have wooden handles, those wooden handles may not be conducive to your comfort if you’re raking for long periods of time.
Fiberglass and metal handles are smoother, lighter, and often come with grips on the end of the handle that can make it easier and more comfortable to hold and wield the rake for however long you need.
Handle height— While long handles can make it easier to reach leaves further away, they can prove to be cumbersome if you’re shorter or if you have shorter arms. Make sure the raking motion feels natural, and that your backhand doesn’t have to stretch a long way to grab the end of the handle.
In my experience, if you stand a rake upright next to you, the end of the handle shouldn't be much taller than your height, or too much shorter than your chin. If it's too long, the arm that reaches for the back end of the rake will hurt from constantly stretching beyond your normal range of motion, and if it's too short, you'll be bending over a lot.
Rake head width— Most of the time you see a measurement in a rake's product name, it's referring to the maximum width of the rake head, that is, the horizontal distance from the first tine to the last tine. This number also translates roughly into the width of the swath of lawn you can rake in a single sweep.
Most rake heads are about 24 inches wide; usually, it's a trade-off between rake head width and the size of the debris you'd like to rake. A wider rake head means that the tines are probably further apart, leaving space for smaller lawn debris to slip through the tines. The reverse is true for a narrower rake head—it's best for smaller debris, since it may end up clogging quickly otherwise.
Other Rakes We Tested
Razor-Back 24-Tine Steel Rake
The Razor-Back 24-Tine Steel Rake is identical to the Truper Tru Tough 24-inch leaf rake in every respect except for one: it has a shorter handle. I felt more comfortable with the Truper rake and if you have shorter arms or just feel more comfortable with a shorter handle, then the Razor-Back is the rake for you.
As with the Truper rake, the Razor-Back's 24-inch-wide rake head did a great job at raking leaves. It was comfortable to hold, able to get in tight areas and areas with uneven ground, and felt sturdy.
Most of the online reviews of this product read the same way I felt—they were impressed with this solidly-built rake (which has a lifetime warranty), and pleased that it survived despite heavy usage from kids and teenagers. A few did note that they wish that the rake was connected to the handle by more than one bolt; in some cases, the bolt came loose, and the rake separated from the handle.
The bottom line: Similarly priced and identically performing to the Truper Tru Tough rake, this rake has also a lifetime warranty, a shorter handle, and is slightly less securely attached to the rake handle.
The Ames 26-inch Dual Tine Poly Leaf Rake Combo is the most complex rake we tested. You may wonder how a rake can be complex, but the Ames Dual Tine Rake actually has two alternating sets of tines: one that juts out straight, and one that curves downwards, like a more traditional rake. This rake is made of plastic, and is about six inches wider than the Truper and the Razor-Back rakes. While that means that you can rake a wider swath of lawn in one go, it also means that it’s a bit unwieldy.
This rake did not remove leaves as effectively as its metal counterparts, but I only had to go over the ground a couple of times to get all of the leaves in my path. Instead of being solid plastic, this rake has gaps built into the branching part of the rake, much like the metal rakes. That means that it’s a bit lighter, and is less likely to fight you if you happen to be raking in windy conditions.
This rake’s main claim to fame is that it that the alternating tine arrangement makes it “clog-free,” and will lead to shorter raking times. While I didn’t find the rake to be 100 percent clog free, it definitely clogged the least of the rakes that I tested. While every other rake instantly choked up when it came to a heavily pine needle-laden field, this Ames Dual Tine Rake was able to shrug off most of the pine needles and keep on raking.
Most people who reviewed this rake online were delighted with their purchase—they loved the sturdy build (and its 15-year warranty), dual tine arrangement, ability to rake heavy-duty debris, and the bonus small rake (good for gardening) that is included. A few customers did have tines snap off, though, or found that they had difficulty actually using the rake due to its wide size and heavier weight.
The bottom line: This large rake will serve you well if you’re dealing with tons of non-leaf detritus, but might be too large/heavy-duty to use on more straightforward raking jobs.
The Ames True Temper Poly Leaf Rake is one of the most basic rakes on the market. It has a wooden handle, a plastic rake head with a width of 24 inches, and a 5-year warranty. It does an average job of raking, and can often leave leaves behind after a sweep. I found that if I pressed the rake down I could grab more leaves in a given sweep, but that just means more effort to complete a task that, with a good rake, can be accomplished with the weight of the rake alone. Also, it has no hand grip, so your hands may start to hurt after extended use.
Unfortunately, the Ames Poly Leaf Rake had real difficulties when it came to the pine needles and non-leaf debris. I had to frequently remove the cloud of pine needles that somehow wove itself into the tines of this rake every few sweeps or so.
While it’s only a little bit wider than the steel tine rakes we tested, this rake is cumbersome to move around because most of the rake head is solid plastic, with no holes to promote airflow or to make the rake lighter (unlike the Ames Dual Tine Rake).
When you purchase this rake online, expect it to ship in pieces: the wooden handle, the plastic rake head, and some screws. Assembly is required. Some customers who wrote online reviews said they had difficulty assembling the rake, or found that even with assembly, the rake head separated from the wooden handle. Once the rake was put together, most people were very happy with the rake’s performance.
The bottom line: This basic rake will get the job done, but expect to spend a few minutes assembling it.
The Blue Hawk 24-inch Leaf Rake is virtually identical, both in specifications and performance, to the Ames Poly Leaf Rake. It also did an average job of raking, has a 5-year limited warranty, and has a solid wooden handle and a wide plastic rake head. The only differences? The handle is slightly longer and has a rougher texture, which makes it easier to grip, but less comfortable to hold.
Online reviews were positive about the purchase of this rake, knowing that this light-weight rake was meant for light-duty jobs, but multiple people mentioned that the addition of a soft grip on the end of the handle would have made it more comfortable to use over long periods of time.
The bottom line: You get what you pay for with this basic rake. Its light weight means that both kids and adults can use it, but you might want to wear gloves while raking so as to avoid hurting your hands on the bare, not-quite-smooth wooden handle.
The Fiskars 24-inch Leaf Rake is uniquely shaped—it has a rectangular-shaped head with a slightly curved tine arrangement. The rake head is plastic, and the handle is metal with a plastic grip at the top. Like most of the rakes on this list, it did an average job of raking, but it definitely missed some leaves on a single sweep, which meant that I often had to re-rake swaths of lawn that I’d already gone over.
However, this rake is simply designed, lightweight, and easy to use and move around. The handle is ergonomically designed (that is, the pole is not perfectly cylindrical) to fit better in your hand, and the plastic grip at the top of the pole will help to ease hand strain. Its lifetime warranty is also nothing to sneeze at.
Sadly, the Fiskars rake really suffered when it came to the pine needles. Its shape seemed to be specifically designed to collect pine needles, and the rake clogged often. It did just fine with regular leaves, but pine needles proved to be its undoing.
Contrary to my average raking experience, most of the online reviews about this rake are positively thrilled with it. Those customers really appreciated the rugged and light-weight design, raking performance, and lifetime warranty.
The bottom line: If you want a sturdy, well-built rake that is backed by a lifetime warranty and decent raking performance, this rake is for you.
The Gardenite 63-inch Adjustable Garden Leaf Rake is ingeniously designed to get around the problem of storing your large, unwieldy rake when you don’t need it. By simply pulling a latch, this rake’s tines retract and really help you to save on space, especially when it’s accompanied by a hole at the top of the plastic hand grip so that it can be hung on a hook. Alternatively, you can flip the latch again and expand the tines to any width you like. With its rake head fully extended, the total height of the rake is the advertised 63 inches; the rake head width varies from 7-22 inches wide.
While the adjustability of this rake is a huge plus, it actually detracts from the rake’s ability to remove leaves. I found that when the rake was fully expanded, the tines were too far apart and missed many leaves in a single sweep. Additionally, the tines, which are skinny to take up less space, seem less solid than the tines from the other steel rakes I tested. During raking, the flimsy tines caused the rake to bounce on the ground as I completed a sweep, which also contributed to the rake missing leaves in a single sweep.
Thanks to the same latch, you can, of course, adjust the rake so that the tines are closer together, but that decreases the width of the swath of lawn you rake in a single sweep, so either way, you’re making more work for yourself. Also, making the tines closer together makes the rake handle shorter, so it may be more difficult to wield. However, if you find yourself needing to rake in tight spaces, this adjustable rake will make your life easier.
According to online reviews, those who used this rake in small areas and with light yard debris were generally very happy with this rake. Others had a similar experience to mine, in that the rake bounced and didn’t rake leaves very well. Some reviewers reported instances of the adjustment mechanism breaking or failing, as well as difficulty using the rake when its tines were closer together and the handle was correspondingly shorter.
Julia is the Senior Scientist at Reviewed, which means that she oversees (and continually updates) the testing of products in Reviewed's core categories such as televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, and more. She also determines the testing methods and standards for Reviewed's "The Best Right Now" articles.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.