Put a fork in it! In your garden, that is. A garden fork is a useful tool to help prepare your soil and dig up weeds. It’s also a simple tool – it really is an oversized fork! Still, it’s important to choose wisely so that you get a garden fork that’s comfortable to use and will hold up year after year.
What A Garden Fork Is For
You likely won’t use a garden tool often, but it does some important work. Its main purpose is to help break up the soil. It’s fantastic for when you have to break up matted weeds with wide root systems but don’t want to damage your plants in the midst of them.
A garden fork’s tines will get under roots. But unlike a shovel or spade, it won’t indiscriminately break all the roots on the way down. And it’s less likely to hurt worms or other important underground creatures! Instead, you use it to get below the surface then pull up systems that are stuck together.
You can also use a garden fork to aerate your garden. If you need to aerate a small area or need to be careful around your plants, you can pierce the ground with the fork.
A garden fork can also help break up the soil without having to move all the weight that comes with a shovel. It can be a good first step and help you create large clumps that can later be turned over with other tools.
Finally, a garden fork can also come in handy for mixing manure or tossing hay.
What To Look For In A Garden Fork
The shape of a garden fork is pretty simple. It looks like a large kitchen fork. Most have four prongs attached to a handle. And that’s it!
The handle of a garden fork tends to be a good bit shorter than a shovel, though. That’s because you’ll often be holding it at waist level. You’ll step on the back of the prongs to force it into the ground, so it’s more manageable when you hold it at that level.
Still, one of the most important factors to consider is the length of the handle. Like many tools, garden forks are made for some abstract “average-sized” person. But you’ll find some an inch or two longer or shorter. That can make them a bit more comfortable to use for some people.
Most also have a “D” handle. That is a definite plus with this tool. It makes it easier to control while driving the fork into the ground. It also makes it simpler to pull out.
Other than that, you want to be sure the prongs are well-put-together. The welding should be strong, and the attachment to the handle should be durable.
The handle itself should be lightweight but tough. Fiberglass, wood, and steel are common materials. You want to be comfortable using it.
Our Top Garden Forks
Keeping these things in mind, we’ve looked around to find some of the best garden forks available right now. We think the ones we review here will help you get the job done without breaking your back – or the bank!
It’s no surprise to find Fiskars on a list of our favorites. They’re not the only garden tool company we like, but they do seem to be among the best for just about every item. And their garden fork doesn’t disappoint.
There are a few points that make this fork stand out. First, it’s longer than most. At 47.25 inches long, it’s a bit easier to handle, especially if you’re tall. Also, the pole has that ergonomic “teardrop shape”, which does fit the hand better than a completely straight shaft. There’s also a grip on it that makes it even easier to hold.
We were hesitant about the tilted handle at first, but it eventually won us over. It’s a D-shaped handle but it leans slightly forward. Since a gardening fork is short and you usually are using it close to your body, this extra angle lets you keep your arm a bit more forward. And it did feel more comfortable once we got used to it.
The whole tool, including the handle, is made of steel. It’s welded together well and should hold up for its intended use.
Of course, the all-steel construction does make it a bit heavier than some of its counterparts. But it’s still under 5 pounds and we didn’t find it uncomfortable to use. The price is toward the higher end for similar products, but with Fiskars, we feel you get your money’s worth.
There’s a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.
Radius is another brand that we often mention positively. And we’re glad to recommend this digging fork.
This fork has a durable carbon-steel handle and holds up to the stress of digging into tough soil. The tines are stainless steel. It’s well-assembled and you’d really have to abuse it to notice that it wasn’t a solid piece.
Of course, this garden fork’s handle was another one with a non-conventional handle that we weren’t sure about at first. The large circular handle makes it stand out. It does give more room for gripping it. It’s an advantage for larger hands, although we didn’t find it that much more comfortable otherwise.
The tool measures almost 43 inches and weighs nearly 5 pounds.
The “step” is a decent width for pressing down on it with your foot. It’s not great, but not terrible either. Most people will find it sufficient.
We have seen some complaints that the tines broke off after “light use” over several years. It’s hard to judge what each person’s understanding of “light use” is. It did seem sturdy to us, but we suppose there could be some that were not up to snuff.
As of this writing, it’s also the most expensive garden fork on our list. We do think it’s a quality tool, but the price might be too high relative to the competition. However, if you like the novel design and find it easier to use, it can pay off in the long run.
Radius does offer a lifetime warranty for buyers in the continental US.
This Ames garden fork has sturdy tines and holds up to your home gardening needs without worry. And the price is right, too.
Overall, this tool measures 45.25 inches long and weighs a shade under 4 pounds. Overall, it’s a standard garden fork with no unusual features, but it’s sturdy and gets the job done.
The handle is a tough hardwood. We didn’t find any weaknesses in the connection to the head, and the head itself is forged steel. The fork is inserted into the handle and the joint is covered by a collar that keeps it from slipping.
Like some other such tools, we’ve seen that some people had issues with tines breaking. We thought these were sturdy enough for digging dirt, even if it’s pretty densely compacted. However, it can be returned to Home Depot within 180 days if you have issues. We don’t expect you to have any, though.
There’s a 15-year warranty from Ames on this garden fork.
Spear and Jackson has been around for over 250 years and they continue to come through with quality products. This one has forged tines attached to a wooden shaft. The tines are one forged piece that is welded to a collar that slides around the base of the handle. The collar is long and is riveted to the handle. It makes for a sturdy connection.
The handle is made of hardwood. It has a stylish D-shaped handle that’s carved out of the same piece of wood. It looks a bit weak but actually holds up quite well.
The overall length is 43 inches. That’s similar to many products in the category. It weighs 5 pounds.
The price is definitely on the high end of the market, but not unexpected considering the craftsmanship.
Another great option is this garden fork from True Temper. The price is good, it’s sturdy, and it’s got diamond-pointed tines to help cut through the soil.
Did we say diamond? Yes, we did. We’re not claiming these are high-quality industrial diamonds. But whether it’s the diamonds or just the steel, they still do a good job cutting through tough ground.
This is one of the longer garden forks we’ve found, at 46.75 inches from handle to the tip of the tines. It weighs 3.9 pounds.
The shaft is made of hardwood. It’s durable and well-treated to prevent splintering and weathering.
The handle is a D-shaped polymer piece. It’s attached securely and is tough enough for the job. It’s reasonably comfortable and better than many wooden or metal handles.
It’s also made in the USA.
Even if you don’t use a garden fork often, it’s still an indispensable tool in certain situations. It will help with weeding when you need to be careful not to damage other root systems. It will also help break up dirt or aerate the soil in close quarters. It’s definitely a tool you want to have in your shed!