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garden-fork

The UK's bestGarden Forks2022 Review

What To Look For in a Garden Fork

Whether planting, digging or making borders, a good fork is one of the most indispensable garden tools. The best garden forks will be compatible with your garden’s soil type, be the right shape for the job, and allow for good digging posture.

Narrow border forks, between 13 – 18 cm wide, allow more delicate digging to be done around plants. Therefore, for smaller gardens and flowerbeds, you may wish to choose a fork under 18 cm wide. On the other hand, a fork that is upwards of 20 cm wide will be better for covering more ground in larger areas.

Forks with mirror-polished tines help stop soil and clay from sticking. This is especially important in clay-based soil, but can help in damp soil too. Non-stick tines will save you from unnecessary heavy lifting. Look for a fork that is 100 cm long – this will suit most gardeners and prevent bending and bad posture.

As an outdoor tool, adequate weatherproofing is also a necessity. For utmost quality, choose a fork with a a carbon steel head and a hardwood or fibreglass shaft – there should be as little brittle plastic as possible. 

I recommend the Spear & Jackson Traditional Stainless Steel Digging Fork as my top choice. It’s well balanced, has a sturdy hardwood shaft, and non-stick steel tines that ensure it’s easy to use and clean. For more details about this garden fork, as well as other great alternatives, see the reviews below.

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Read Our Garden Fork Reviews

B0006UF6DA
5012095045403,0639738367446
Best digging fork
Spear & Jackson Traditional Stainless Steel Digging Fork
  • Where to buy
  • Our Scoring
    Design
    Comfort
    Durability
    Value for Money
    Overall
    4 4.7
  • Handle Shape
    Wishbone
  • Weight
    1.95 kg
  • Length
    90.5 cm
  • Width
    18.5 cm
  • No. of Tines
    4
  • Tine Length
    28 cm
  • Our Review

    One thing we’ve likely all experienced is the difficult of digging when heavy mud keeps sticking to fork tines or spade blades.

    That’s why non-stick tines can make such a difference, and on the Spear & Jackson Traditional Stainless Steel Digging Fork the mirror-polished stainless steel tines significantly prevent mud or clay sticking compared to traditional forks.

    Therefore, not only is this already a relatively lightweight tool at 1.95 kg, it’s good at keeping things that way too.

    The rest of the body is made from one piece of weather-proofed hardwood which splits to form the wishbone handle. This means there are no weak joins on the shaft itself. It isn’t prone to rust and the wood is also well protected against the elements, although of course storing it inside when not in use will help prolong its life.

    When it comes to performance, it’s worth saying that although this is a high quality garden fork, it does have its limitations. If you’re working on vegetable patches and softer, frequently-turned earth, this steel fork is ideal for keeping up maintenance. It’s also possible to use this for aerating soil, given that the tines are around 28 cm long.

    However, this isn’t the best garden fork for leveraging very solid ground, or fighting thick roots. As you might presume, for the relatively low price, it isn’t as hardy as some stronger, heavier forks. Therefore, it can’t be expected to manage all of the heavyweight work of more expensive models.

    At around 90 cm long, it’s also slightly shorter than the majority of garden forks; whilst it’s likely still suitable for gardeners of most heights, taller gardeners might wish to consider other options.

    Overall though, it’s one of the best digging forks if you’re after a good value option with a wooden handle, backed by the reputation of a well-known brand.

    Pros

    • Hardwood shaft and handle made from same piece of wood meaning no weak joins
    • The fork is rust and weather resistant so won’t get damaged if you forget to put it away at night!
    • Very well balanced so comfortable to use for long periods
    • Long stainless steel tines help aerate soil

    Cons

    • Not sturdy enough for heavily compacted soil
    • Fork may arrive with excessive packaging - well wrapped, but not great for the environment

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B00OUQP0P0
5029594826525,5054242580696
Best budget digging fork
Rolson Ash Handle Digging Fork

Best budget digging fork

  • Where to buy
  • Our Scoring
    Design
    Comfort
    Durability
    Value for Money
    Overall
    4 4.45
  • Handle Shape
    D-shaped
  • Weight
    825 g
  • Length
    99.5 cm
  • Width
    20 cm
  • No. of Tines
    4
  • Tine Length
    Not listed
  • Our Review

    For the bargain-hunters out there, this great value Rolson Ash Handle Digging Fork is well priced for the level of quality and performance it offers. It one of the best garden forks if you’re working to a budget.

    Whilst cheaper forks can sometimes fall down when it comes to the quality of materials they use, the carbon-steel head and ash-wood shaft of this garden fork remain very suitable choices. The four tines are heat treated and even have a hammered finish, which helps stop mud from sticking to them.

    With further reference to the materials, the ash-wood shaft also helps keep the weight down, and this is one of the lightest garden forks featured here, weighing just 825 g. If you’re someone who finds most garden tools too heavy, this is a good garden fork to help reduce fatigue and help make the process of turning over soil more manageable.

    The handle is plastic, which is comfortable to use. However, this does mean that there is a potentially ‘weak’ area where the handle attaches to the shaft. Nevertheless, it seems generally well anchored and sturdy overall.

    So, this brings us on to performance: it’s a great garden fork for a lot of different jobs, but may struggle in harder soil and dense clay-based ground. If you’re working in predominantly pre-dug earth, it’s a great value item that should significantly help with turning and digging the soil.

    It measures approximately 100 cm in length which seems relatively standard for digging forks, most gardeners will likely find this a suitable size for comfortably getting on with the job.

    Pros

    • Carbon steel head is excellent quality and very long lasting
    • Can be used for both digging and aerating
    • Lightest fork featured at 835 g and well balanced

    Cons

    • The fork and handle have a slight flex at the joining which could wear over time
    • Best for lighter soil as it’s not strong enough for heavily compacted areas
    • The handle is a combination of ash wood and plastic which gives it a cheaper feel

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B0006UF68A
5012095015802
Best border fork
Spear & Jackson Select Stainless Steel Border Fork
  • Where to buy
  • Our Scoring
    Design
    Comfort
    Durability
    Value for Money
    Overall
    4 4.425
  • Handle Shape
    Rounded design
  • Weight
    1.76 kg
  • Length
    97 cm
  • Width
    13.8 cm
  • No. of Tines
    4
  • Tine Length
    23 cm
  • Our Review

    We’ve all been there – that heart wrenching feeling when you accidentally damage the roots of your favourite plant, whilst using a garden fork that’s too wide for the space. It’s one of those things that’s easily done, yet also so easily avoided by using a narrower tool like the Spear & Jackson Select Stainless Steel Border Fork.

    At approximately 14 cm wide, this is a good garden fork if you want to fit around plants without causing their roots to quake in their boots. As with most border forks, it has a narrower width than a digging fork (despite still having four tines) and this makes it much easier to dig and aerate soil without encroaching on areas you want to leave untouched.

    When it comes to design, the stainless-steel tines and polypropylene shaft make for a sturdy but lightweight combination. It weighs 1.76 kg and the handle is an extension of the shaft so there’s no join where excessive force could cause it to snap. The mirror polished stainless steel head also helps with the weight, preventing large amounts of mud from sticking to the tines.

    The handle itself is very ergonomically shaped, with a rounded design instead of the standard T shaped handle. This, combined with the non-slip grip coating, makes it quite comfortable to use and easy on the hands. It also allows space for two hands to fit, which can be useful for raking soil or driving the tines into the ground.

    One of the primary drawbacks of this garden fork, especially for taller users, is its length. The shaft measures around 71 cm, and the head adds about another 26 cm onto this, resulting in an overall length of approximately 93 cm. This makes it the shortest garden fork featured here, albeit by a just couple of centimetres.

    Whilst the short length may let it down, this isn’t the sort of fork that will be used for long, extended periods of time anyway. Instead, it’s one of the best garden forks for small border work, and shouldn’t really be used for trying to dig larger patches. Using this steel fork on softer, pre-dug soil will get good results, but harder ground may pose too much of a challenge.

    Pros

    • Ergonomic and practical design that allows you to pull soil with minimum effort
    • Smaller than others on the market so can be used in narrow spaces between plants
    • Suitable for both left and right handed users
    • Polypropylene shaft keeps the weight down

    Cons

    • Not intended for heavy use, as tines may break if put under excessive pressure
    • The narrow design means it’s slightly harder to get a foot onto it to dig

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B00TYMMHUG
5060396791604
Best budget border fork
Kent and Stowe Carbon Steel Border Fork

Best budget border fork

  • Where to buy
  • Our Scoring
    Design
    Comfort
    Durability
    Value for Money
    Overall
    4 4.45
  • Handle Shape
    Wishbone handle
  • Weight
    1.82 kg
  • Length
    105 cm
  • Width
    17 cm
  • No. of Tines
    4
  • Tine Length
    30 cm
  • Our Review

    One recurring problem with garden forks is their lack of durability – the tines and shafts aren’t always able to hack the pressure we need them to.

    This Kent and Stowe Carbon Steel Border Fork is more durable than most border forks, with a solid forged carbon steel head, wooden handle and long crank. Its four tines are much less susceptible to bending, meaning it can be used in ground where there may perhaps be a few larger stones lurking, without breaking on contact.

    The crank, which is the metal collar where the shaft joins with the head, is a lot longer than that on most forks, resulting in a stronger construction that can stand up to more pressure. This carbon steel fork seems able to hack tougher jobs than other weaker models, turning soil which contains bricks and stones, as well as soil that is more compacted.

    If you’re aiming to prepare raised beds, dig out roots, or battle tougher clay-based soil, this is a good garden fork to have in the armoury.

    At 1.82 kg, it’s still lightweight despite by no means being the lightest garden fork featured here. It strikes a good balance – it can be used for more heavy duty jobs without picking up so much soil that it becomes unmanageable (thanks to its narrow shape). As a border fork, it has a narrower head than a standard garden fork; it doesn’t move as much soil which keeps the weight down but it’s still hardy enough to be used on tougher tasks.

    One shortcoming is that it can be harder to get a foot onto the head, due to its smaller size (especially for those with larger feet). As a result, it can be harder to push down on this steel border fork, compared to some wider models.

    Overall though, this is a one of the stronger border forks on the market, and its not just confined to light duty work, despite its narrower size.

    Pros

    • Extremely versatile - suitable for cultivation, soil turning, aerating and breaking up soil
    • Long shaft offers ample leverage during tougher digging jobs
    • Solid forged carbon steel tines makes this fork more suitable for heavy duty jobs
    • Well balanced for comfortable usage

    Cons

    • Shaft length may be a little long for shorter users
    • The narrow design means it’s slightly harder to get a foot onto it to dig in tougher patches
    • Heavier than others on the market at 1.8 kg - although not too bad

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How to Choose The Best Garden Fork

A high quality fork is one of the most essential gardening tools; I’m a firm believer that every gardener should have one of these in their garden shed!

There are a number of garden forks to choose from, in various designs and sizes, but for most gardeners a digging fork or border fork is all that’s needed.

Take a look at the following tips to help you make an informed decision when looking for the best garden fork for your garden:

Digging Fork vs Border Fork

Digging forks are generally used as an alternative to spades, as they are easier to push into the ground. Rather than having to lift heavy soil with a garden spade, digging forks break through the soil seamlessly and tend to be easier to use.

Digging forks are perfect for vegetable beds or digging undisturbed soil. They’re also the best garden tools to use on heavy soil like clay. Four tines is usually sufficient, although a larger digging fork may have five.

Border forks are slightly smaller than garden forks. These are ideal for tighter spaces such as raised beds and borders. In general, they’re intended for more light duty work compared to bigger digging forks; however, their lightweight construction also makes them useful for smaller gardeners who don’t have the strength for a heavy fork.

If a border fork is made from carbon steel, it should be able to do a lot of the same heavy duty jobs – it’ll just take more time.

Choosing the Right Material

Most garden forks have tines made from carbon steel or stainless steel. The handles/shafts on these garden tools are generally made from either metal, wood or polypropylene.

Fork Tines

Tines made from solid forged carbon steel are stronger than forged steel tines. However, they don’t have such good weather resistance. For this reason, carbon steel forks are sometimes coated with resin which should protect them from rusting, so this is something to look out for.

Stainless steel forks have good resistance to corrosion and rust thanks to their high chromium content. Stainless steel forks are useful if you have clay soil, as the soil doesn’t stick to them as easily. If the tines are made from mirror polished stainless steel, or have a hammered finish, this can also stop mud from sticking.

On the subject of tines – forks tend to have either round tines or flat tines. Flat faced tines are better suited to digging out plants (doing weeding, transplanting, etc.) whereas round, broad tines do a more effective job of aerating soil.

Fork Shafts

The traditional garden fork has a wooden shaft. The upside of this is that wood is a great shock absorber, making gardening more comfortable. However, the downside is that wood can rot and weaken over time. Wood is also heavier than polypropylene or metal. Using a fork with a wooden shaft for an extended period might end up being quite hard work compared to using a fork with a lighter handle.

Metal shafts more durable but they don’t offer nearly as much shock absorption. Polypropylene shafts are very lightweight and have good weather resistance, but they shouldn’t be used for heavy duty jobs because the plastic isn’t strong enough.

Shaft Length and Handle Design

Garden forks come with shafts of various lengths. In most cases, a fork that measures 100 cm from end to end will be ideal. The shaft section specifically will likely measure around 75 cm. Using a garden fork which is too short for you will hurt your back.

Many garden forks have a shaped handle to make them more comfortable. Commonly forks will have a D shaped handle or a T shaped handle. For most people, a rounded D shaped handle (or even O shaped handle) is more comfortable. However, if you have large hands, you may find a T shaped handle easier to grip.

Finding the Right Weight Garden Fork

A garden fork that’s too heavy will be harder to use, so if you struggle with mobility or you’re not particularly strong, I recommend looking for a lightweight model which doesn’t compromise on quality.

More important than the weight is the handle design, as a heavier fork with an ergonomic handle will be easier to use than a lightweight one which has a bad design.

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Garden Fork FAQs

How do I keep the head and tines of my garden fork in good condition?

You should clean your garden fork regularly to ensure it lasts as long as possible. Soil left on the shaft and head may cause wood to rot and metal parts to rust. Clean all dirt from the tool after use. You can do this with a wire brush; however, really caked-on mud may require the use of hot soapy water as well. Leave the garden fork to dry after cleaning.

Some people keep a bucket of sand mixed with a little linseed oil in their shed. This can be used to protect metal from rust; the tool should be briefly pushed into this bucket after each use.

You should also be careful to only use your garden fork for work that is suitable. Garden forks are not designed to dig up rubble or large tree roots and you may damage your tool if you attempt such heavy jobs.

How do I take care of the wooden shaft on my garden fork?

Twice a year, in spring and autumn, sand the handle with a medium-grit sandpaper. Then, rub a generous amount of linseed oil into the wood to create a protective, waterproof barrier. Make sure you store wooden-handled tools in a cool, dry place.

If the wood breaks, you can usually buy a replacement part. These can be simply fitted, usually with just a couple of screws.

How do I fork soil?

Forking the soil can be done in the winter to prepare your garden for the spring. It should be done on soil around shrubs or other plants where a spade would disturb the roots. It will aerate the soil and improve its health.

To fork your soil, you should first remove weeds and large stones from the ground. Loosely spread compost over the soil then begin to lift the soil using your fork. Shake the soil to break down any lumps, then put it back on top of the surface soil.

Roughly level the surface before spreading more compost over the area.

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Garden Forks Price Comparison

Every day DIY Garden scans thousands of products to help you find the cheapest prices. Not only do we want to help you find the best products through our in-depth testing, but we also want to help you find the best places to buy them too. We’re working hard to expand our network of retailers, and will be continually adding in new options.

The Cheapest Garden Fork Prices Found Today

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