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Are there any alternatives to rakes for turning soil?

Are there any alternatives to rakes for turning soil?

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Rake soil up with a garden rake. Turning soil prepares it for planting. Rakes are very good for turning or tilling topsoil, or the surface layers of soil. They are not so suitable for turning deep soil patches, especially if they’re compacted. There are lots of different garden tools which can turn soil, many of which are designed to reach much deeper in the ground than most rakes.

Spades and shovels

Spades and shovels can be used to turn soil, spades being the tool specifically designed to dig. Rakes can turn soil, but not as deeply as spades can For digging deep into and turning soil, one of the best tools is a spade, and many shovels can also be used to dig. The dug soil can be moved, turned and replaced with a spade. Often a planting bed will need to be turned with a spade before a rake is used to improve the soil’s tilth. Spades and shovels can also dig out weeds with deep-set roots, which a rake might struggle to remove.

Garden forks

Garden forks can be used to turn soil, in a similar way to garden rakes Garden forks can be used in a similar way to spades or shovels. The rigid prongs of a fork can dig further into the ground than most rakes, meaning you can turn deeper soil. They should also be able to remove weeds with deep roots.

Trowels and hand forks

Trowels and hand forks are hand garden tools used to turn soil when a hand rake won't reach deep enough These tools are smaller versions of spades, shovels and garden forks. They can all be used close to a surface, like hand rakes. They can also be used to dig around and under plants and bushes. These tools can dig into soil deeper than most hand rakes.


Hoes come in different designs, like rakes. Hoes and rakes are often used in gardening to turn soil Hoes come in many different designs, like rakes. Most hoes have a long handle with a small blade-like attachment. They can dig into soil and be used to turn it over or create trenches for planting.


Cultivators can be used to turn soil in a similar way to garden forks or rakes Cultivatros are similar to rakes. They usually have three or six long rigid tines which are pointed. They come in long-handled and short-handled versions and can be dug into soil and twisted to disturb and turn it. Powered cultivators are also available.


You can use a tool called a broadfork to turn soil and aerate lawns. some rakes can be used for the same jobs These tools are also known as U-bar diggers. They usually have about five long, sharp tines. They are attached to a large U-shaped bar which forms two handles. The tines can be pushed into the earth to aerate, loosen and turn it.


Pickaxes can be used in soil to dig through rocks and other heavy duty debris, some rakes wouldn't be strong enough to do this Pickaxes can be used in particularly rocky ground, where a heavy duty tool is needed to break up the earth, rocks, or concrete. A pickaxe is much stronger than a rake and has a sharp edge for breaking up particularly tough materials.

Rotary tillers

Tillers till soil with a rotating blade. Rakes can till the surface layer of soil Powered tillers, or rotavators, enable you to turn soil with minimum effort, but they are expensive. Mechanical tillers are usually used in farming or industrial landscaping, but there are smaller versions which can be used in gardens. They have rotating blades which dig into soil and turn it over. They usually have settings which can adjust the depth they go into the soil.

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