What is a garden fork? A garden fork, along with a shovel, rake and scissors, is one of the most important tools in the garden. The forks available include large versions for upright work and small versions for more detailed, low-level tasks.
Types of garden forks
First, there are the forks that are used for digging or aerating soil: the garden fork, the digging fork (also known as the spade fork), and the edge fork.
- Garden fork – The garden fork is the largest of these and is suitable for larger rooms. When should a garden fork be used? These sturdy tools are great for heavier tasks like breaking up hard ground or setting up a new garden. Other garden fork applications include double digging and soil aeration. They are especially useful when you have heavy clay or compacted soil.
- Digging fork – As a cousin of the garden fork, the digging fork (also known as the spade fork) is used for digging or turning over lighter types of soil and for harvesting root vegetables. Like garden forks, digging forks most commonly have four prongs.
- Rim fork – The edge fork is a smaller version of the garden fork, so it is suitable for both small people and small spaces. You’ll want to buy a border fork when you have a small garden where a larger fork would be overkill. They’re also great for borders, raised beds, or other tight spots where a larger fork may not fit.
Then there are the pitchforks, which are sharp-pointed forks used to move or turn over materials like hay, straw, compost, or manure. Farmers use them, among other things, to move small bales of hay and replace bedding in cattle sheds.
Pitchforks can have two, three, four, or more tines. Unlike garden forks, the tines are usually curved upwards for better shoveling ability. Common types of pitchforks in gardens are:
- Compost fork – A compost fork is a pitchfork with very sharp prongs intended to be cut into the compost. This makes it easier to grab and lift the compost when turning the compost heap.
- Potato fork – The potato fork is a special fork that makes harvesting potatoes easier and more efficient. These have different numbers of tines, usually with blunt ends so as not to damage the potatoes.
All of the above forks are used while standing. Hand forks are designed for times when you want to work close to the ground. These little forks are held in one hand and are better suited for smaller, more detailed tasks.
Buying a garden fork
Choose a fork that is heavily crafted, as poorly crafted forks can bend with use. Forged tools are stronger than those made up of multiple parts. Choosing a well-made tool makes using a garden fork a lot easier, especially if you have heavy clay or compacted soil. A good tool will also save you money over time since you won’t have to replace it every few years.