As winter shifts to spring and the last of the snow melts, gardens are often strewn with the debris tossed around by winter storms. So, in spring, the first task is to clear the waste away, and the best tool for that is the rake.
There are two basic types of rakes: the steel rake and the spring, or lawn, rake. The steel rake has a small, squat head with metal tines that are ideal for smoothing out garden soil or gravel. It shouldn't be used on lawns or around shrubs, however, as it will damage tender growth, uproot plants, and otherwise scuff up the lawn.
Spring rakes can be made from either bamboo or metal, but a bamboo rake has more flexible tines that are gentler on turfgrass, clearing away all the debris without damaging the new, tender spring growth.
Rake Buying Tip
When you're buying a spring rake, look for one with a tension bar across the tines, which distributes stress and prevents the tines from twisting and breaking; avoid plastic rakes, which break quite easily. There are also smaller spring rakes -- some are small enough to be held with one hand -- that are effective for tight or hard-to-reach spots.