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Reinventing the Rake

Photo by Jon Shireman

There are as many types of rakes as there are things to rake up. You've got flexible lawn and leaf rakes for tackling the big maple drifts up North and the piles of pine straw down South. Stiff-tined garden rakes for clearing clods of dirt and grading topsoil until it's level and ready for seeds or sod. Dethatching rakes for untangling matted layers of dead grass from the healthy turf beneath. The list goes on (and on). That's because new takes on rakes seem to appear every autumn, whenever hopeful manufacturers make bets that money does in fact grow on trees. To make your choice easier, we've sorted out the brilliant from the bogus and given you a few useful new variations that deserve a permanent place in your garden shed.

Adjustable Rake

Photo by Jon Shireman

The steel tines on this 1½-pound leaf rake expand to 21 inches wide for yard-size cleanups or squeeze down to 7 inches for rousting strays out of the shrubbery. Its handle also collapses from 69 to 35 inches so you can tuck it neatly out of the way.

Approximately $17, Amleo

Rake-n-Grab

Photo by Jon Shireman

When you're moving leaves, this rake's two heads fold flat together. When you're done, the heads pivot open to make giant jaws and then chomp down on the pile so you can bag without bending over.

Approximately $20, Rake-n-Grab

Snaggletooth Rake

Photo by Jon Shireman

This innovative variation on the bow rake earns our Editors' Choice for its light weight, sturdy construction, and offset tine design. Arrow-tipped steel teeth lead the way, breaking through crusty dirt; rounded teeth trail behind, sifting out the clumps. We liked the comfortable shape of the anodized aluminum handle, which helps keep the rake to a trim 11⁄2 pounds.

Approximately $31, Fiskars

Thatch Remover

Photo by Jon Shireman

Dethatching rakes are typically heavy and narrow, with steel teeth that can harm living grass. The 24-inch-wide Power Rake removes thatch with 25 angled plastic-coated steel tines and gently collects the detritus in a generous cow-catcher basket. A pivoting hand grip gives you ergonomic options for a powerful pull stroke.

Approximately $34, Lee Valley

Rubber Rake

Photo by Jon Shireman

Short rubber tines on this 20-inch-wide, ash-handled rake gather leaves without disturbing gravel walkways or harming delicate turf, including the putting green out back.

Approximately $64, Robert Larson Company

Rock Rake

Photo by Jon Shireman

Looking like a cross between an apple picker and a hoe, the rock rake plunges 3 inches into soil to extract rocks as small as 3/4 inch. Shake out the loose dirt, then sling the stones, lacrosse-style, into a bin. In the fall, use the 65-inch rake to harvest turnips and potatoes from your rock-free garden.

Approximately $43, Lee Valley

Crescent Rake

Photo by Jon Shireman

Whereas ordinary garden rakes allow bits to escape from either end, the C-shaped head of the Groundhog corrals clods and other material in its center. Flip it over and use it as a fork for pitching thatch or turf into a wheelbarrow.

Approximately $25, Dream Tools