No gardener can go for long without a rake. A rake is an essential tool, whether you are working a flower bed, a vegetable garden or manicuring a lawn. When form follows function of a tool, then over the years a basic shape becomes a classic. A hammer is a hammer, with variations. A shovel is a shovel, with blades of different sizes and shapes. So too, the basic shape of the gardener's rake has become iconic--but various types have some functional differences.
This classic rake, also called a bow rake, has a square head with short, vertical teeth. It is made of steel and is tough and heavy. This is the rake you need to level a surface to plant seed or lay turf. It is tough and heavy. If you want to break up clods and chunks of soil, this is the rake of choice. It is also the rake you'll want to use for ripping out and remove weeds and waste that choke your garden.
Garden rakes made of forged iron are more expensive but last longer. The classic bow rake has wooden handle about 60 inches long. The term bow comes from the slight curve in the 14 to 16 tines that make up the head of the rake.
The leaf rake, also called a spring rake, has long, slender tines that are either square or fan out from the bottom of the handle. The tines, which are curved at the end to help collect leaves, can be made of metal, plastic or bamboo. The tines are supple and flexible---they have "spring"---necessary because they are used to rake leaves, hedge cutting and grass clippings from lawns without damaging the turf.
This rake looks something like the leaf rake with long, flexible tines--but it is heavier. Like the leaf rake, its tines can be square or that fan out, and they also curve at the end for better grip. The lawn rake is more robust than a leaf rake because its duties require more heft and substance.
Lawn rakes made of metal are used to remove dead grass, called thatch, from the surface of the lawn, a process called scarifying or dethatching. Lawn rakes made of plastic are used to remove debris from a lawn.