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Is the number and the shape of the tines important?

Shop for Garden Forks

The number and shape of the tines determines the function of a quality fork Ultimately, a fork has been designed for either digging or scooping, although it can be used for a combination of both. The number and the shape of the tines influence the intended function of the fork. So tine is of the essence!┬áLet’s examine why the number and the shape of tines are important.

Four tines

Typically has four tines A conventional digging fork usually has four rectangular tines with sharp points at the cutting edge for effortless soil penetration.

This type of fork is used around the garden for digging, turning over and loosening soil and removing plants or weeds.

The tines should be broad and flat to be able to lift heavy soil and prise out root crops such as carrots.

Straight tines are ideal for digging The tines of a digging fork are mainly level along their entire length. That is, the tines will be in a straight a line as possible with the rest of the fork.

This design will help cut through tough soils and compacted ground while creating smooth pit walls.

This will keep together bulk material for easy transporation A fork designed for scooping, however, will typically have rounded, thinner tines which also turn up slightly towards the tip, creating a ‘basket’ shape.

This curved contour will ‘cup’ the material together when being carried around from pile to wheelbarrow, to garden bed, for example.

More than four tines

This is ideal for moving loose or fine material Some scooping forks will also have more than four tines – sometimes as many as ten.

Although the head of this type of fork will usually be wider than a conventional fork, the tines will be more closely-spaced.

This type of fork is ideal for scooping loose material such as wood chips, small stones, decaying leaves, clearing fallen crop residue and turning over compost or manure.

The tines are closer together, which prevent any of the fibrous material falling through the gaps other than soil.

Ideal for lifting potato crops out of the ground Some tines have blunted ends rather than sharp diamond-shaped edges.

A potato fork, for example, used to dig crops of potatoes out of the ground, will occasionally have bulbous edges to minimise damage to root crops or delicate plants when lifting from the ground.

Although you are less likely to end up stabbing your spuds, this type of fork does not cope well with digging.

Less than four tines

This is ideal for hay bales and other coarse material Have you ever scooped up straw or similar coarse material with a fork only for it to get stuck between the tines? Then you know how frustrating this is when you have to stoop forward to remove the material from the tines yourself!

For chunky material like hay, straw and compost which hasn’t decomposed much, choose a fork with less than four, widely-spaced tines to avoid the rough stuff getting jammed in the tines.