Garden forks have fallen a bit out of vogue, but I think they remain a critical tool for any gardener to have. Garden forks are used for many different tasks so we listed the best garden fork in Australia today.
Best Garden Forks in Australia for 2023
1. The Ames Companies, Inc 4-Tine Spading Fork
2. Spear & Jackson Garden Fork SJ-4550DF
3. Spear & Jackson Garden Fork SJ-1570AL
4. Super Steel Shaft Heavy Duty Spading Fork
5. Spear & Jackson 1550HR Heritage 28" Forged Border Fork
They can be used for shifting mulch and leaves, they can be used to help uproot difficult plants and they can be used to aerate or turn over soil. This is but a small number of the tasks that garden forks can be useful for.
Garden Fork Buying Guide
What to Look for in a Garden Fork
Garden forks are used for lots of different, labour-intensive work, so it’s important to find one that will last many years and get the job done.
Here are some important features to look for.
- Forged steel – The best garden forks are made from one solid piece of steel that is shaped in a furnace, as opposed to forks that are assembled out of several different parts and materials.
This will ensure that it can easily withstand the pressure of being pushed deep into the ground, as well as being able to provide good leverage when you are breaking up hard-packed soil, removing rocks or digging out roots.
- Aluminium alloy – Many good quality forks are made from an aluminium alloy – a combination of aluminium and other metals. However, aluminium is a very malleable metal which means it bends and twists easily.
This means you really need to make sure the alloy has enough other metals to strengthen the tool. Feel the prongs on the fork, put some pressure on them. If you can bend them yourself (which isn’t out of the question with cheap tools today) then they simply won’t last in the garden.
- Comfortable handle and generous shaft - Make sure the handle feels comfortable and the shaft is a reasonable length. Short handles make the tool more versatile, as it’ll be easier to manage in tight spaces, but it also means the work is more labour-intensive.
Longer handles provide more leverage which can make the job easier, depending on what you are doing, but also make it harder to use in tight spaces. Think about how you think you will be using the tool and to help decide what you need most.
Different Types of Garden Fork
There are several different types of garden fork, each slightly different for different jobs. A standard garden fork is the best all-rounder, although a short, small garden fork is a useful addition too.
- Standard garden fork – This is a large fork that’s similar in size to a construction-size spade. They’re tough but versatile, and can take care of most jobs around the garden, from aerating soil to turning compost.
- Digging fork – Often called diggers, these are small forks that you can hold and use with a single hand. They are ideal for working close to the ground like when you are weeding, harvesting vegetables or planting seedlings and small plants.
- Compost fork – This is a similar size to the garden fork but usually has sharper tines and a more slender design, like a pitch fork.
This makes it easier to lift and shift big chunks of compost, mix in leaves and move compost to a wheelbarrow or flower bed. However, a garden spade usually works just as well.
- Potato fork – This is a much more specialised fork that is particularly useful if you are growing lots of potatoes in your garden or on a farm. The tines are blunted to ensure they don’t damage the potatoes as you dig them up.
Other than the digging fork, all the garden forks are designed to be used in a standing position, using your foot to plant it into the ground and your arms and upper back to supply the power.
How Much Does the Best Garden Fork Cost?
Although no one likes breaking the bank, the best rule to follow here is not to buy cheap. In recent years, many cheap brands have entered the market but the tools they sell just don’t last.
The garden fork is one tool that is very commonly made for ‘cheap’ prices but these tools simply will not stand the test of time. These poor-quality forks are usually under the $30 mark.
Good quality mid-range garden forks will cost about $30-$40 and will likely work well. The best garden fork – a solid steel forged garden fork - will set you back about $70 or more but will last you a lifetime.
5 Best Garden Forks To Choose From
1. The Ames Companies, Inc 4-Tine Spading Fork
The Ames Companies, Inc True Temper 4-Tine Forged Spading Fork have a 4 diamond pointed steel tines for easy soil penetration and a 30 inch hardwood handle for strength and durability.
2. Spear & Jackson Garden Fork SJ-4550DF
Another Spear & Jackson Garden Fork designed with a mirror polished stainless steel tines and a weatherproof hardwood shaft.
Its one piece shaft is split to form a D handle for comfort.
3. Spear & Jackson Garden Fork SJ-1570AL
This Spear & Jackson Garden Fork have a fully forged carbon steel head and socket. Also have a weatherproof hardwood shaft for greater durability.
4. Super Steel Shaft Heavy Duty 4 Tine Spading Fork
Super Steel Heavy Duty 4 Tine Spading Fork is one of the best heavy duty garden fork today. It is ideal for heavy duty, commercial and industrial use.
It's forged from hardened and tempered high carbon steel to ensure maximum strength and toughness for a lifetime use.
5. Spear & Jackson 1550HR Heritage Border Fork
This Spear & Jackson Heritage Forged Border Fork is suitable for digging and cultivation. It has a extra long socket for additional strength and durability.
Best Garden Forks for 2023 - Top Pick
Best Garden Fork of 2023
Our pick as the best garden fork of 2023 is The Ames Companies, Inc. 4-Tine Forged Spading Fork! This versatile and well-made garden fork has sharpened, diamond-pointed, hardened steel tines for easy soil penetration and durability over the seasons.
The poly D-grip handle adds leverage and control to help make breaking up your soil easier on your arms and back, and the hardened hardwood handle is light but tough.
It’s pretty lightweight too at 1.7kgs, making it easy for anyone to use, whether you have a small suburban garden or a larger holding.
Best Value Best Garden Fork
For us, the best value garden fork is the Spear & Jackson Garden Fork SJ-4550DF. It combines simple aesthetics and traditional crafting to make a garden fork that’s simple, unfussy and gets the job done.
It’s ideal for maintaining established gardens, turning compost, or loosening soil in vegetable gardens.
This garden fork has a mirror-finish stainless steel head and tines to help stop soil from sticking to the fork, has a high-quality hardwood shaft, and a comfortable D-shaped handle.
Premium Choice Garden Fork
If you’re handling hardened ground in tough conditions, you need a strong garden fork that’s going to work hard – and last many seasons to come.
The Spear & Jackson Garden Fork SJ-1570AL features a fully-forged, high quality carbon steel tines and head, with a hammer-finish, epoxy-coated head for solid rust-resistance, weather-proofing and durability.
Even with all that steel, this fork remains fairly lightweight at just 2. 45kgs.This makes it our pick for the best premium garden fork that money can buy!
What Can I Use a Garden Fork For?
These are versatile tools that can be used for all kinds of jobs around the garden, whether you have a small, established garden or a rural plot. They are regularly used for:
- Aerating soil – Soil becomes compacted over time, becoming harder and harder. This makes it difficult for plant roots to grow through the soil and access water and nutrients.
Typically, areas with compacted soil have stunted plants or are simply bare. Using a fork, you can easily break up the soil in beds and lawns, creating a healthy environment for plant growth.
- Preparing beds – If you are preparing a new flower bed or vegetable garden bed, then a garden fork is invaluable for turning the soil, mixing in compost, mulch and organic matter, and clearing away roots and debris.
- Removing roots – If you have unwanted shrubs and plants, your garden fork is the easiest way to pull out root boles and prepare beds for new plants. Simply use the same technique you would use for removing a rock.
- Turning compost – Home compost beds and bins need to be turned on a regular basis to aerate the compost, mix it thoroughly and promote healthy bacteria that break down your organic matter.
The tines make this a much easier job because they are able to grab and lift the compost more easily than a spade.
- Removing rocks – Garden forks with longer handles can break up the soil around rocks, allowing the tines to slip underneath the rock and providing good leverage to make pulling it out of the ground easier.
How to Store and Maintain Your Garden Fork
When you’ve invested in the best garden fork, the last thing you want to do is have to replace it before it’s time. The right care and maintenance will keep it in great shape – and it’s all very easy to do.
- Clean – Always clean your garden fork after use, rinsing it down or washing it with a dishwashing liquid or a 10% bleach solution to remove compost, manure, bacteria, fungi and other less pleasant substances.
You can also keep a bucket of clean river sand mixed with linseed oil in your storage shed. Simply plunge the tines into the bucket a few times to clean.
- Dry – Dry your fork well to prevent rusting. It’s easiest to just leave it out after washing and let the warm weather do its work. Always put it in a shaded position, however, as the metal can get very hot and the sun will cause the rubber grips to decay.
- Store – Oiling your garden fork will prevent rust. The easiest method is to use the sand and linseed oil mix, but you can rub a thin coating of general-purpose machine oil onto the tines with a clean cloth.
Store in a weather proof shed, storage bench or garage, out of the sunlight and where it cannot fall onto other equipment. It’s a good idea to install a tool rack that will secure your garden fork alongside other tools for easy access and preventing clutter.
Garden Fork Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a garden fork and a digging fork?
Garden forks and digging forks are the same tools, but products marketed as digging forks tend to have tougher tines and better constructions and are therefore better able to dig through tough or compacted soil without damage.
What is a garden fork used for?
Garden forks can be used for limitless jobs in the garden, from lifting plants to dividing clumps of herbaceous perennials. They are great for aerating lawns or working compacted soil too.
Garden forks are generally better digging tools for clay soils than spades, as they loosen the soil and improve drainage as you work.
What is the difference between a spading fork and a digging fork?
Digging forks have flattened tines, designed to slice through the earth before lifting it. Spading forks are generally better for removing weeds, as they pull rather than slice through roots and earth.
What is the difference between a garden fork and a border fork?
Border forks are smaller versions of garden forks, designed for leaning in and around plants. Their handles are shorter too, so you can work them more easily with one foot and less purchase on your back foot.
How do you use a weeding fork?
Rather than simply digging into the soil and tugging, push your weeding fork in around the base of weeds, and twist it back out. This helps to loosen the soil around stubborn roots and should result in more of the root coming out in one go.
What are the prongs of a garden fork called?
The prongs of a garden fork are called tines, or tynes. Sometimes also referred to as prongs or teeth, these elongated parts of your garden fork are used to separate soil before lifting it.
Is a garden fork good for weeding?
Garden forks are much better than spades for weeding as they remove the root along with the soil, by dragging it rather than slicing through it. For smaller areas or weeding between rows of vegetables, garden hoes are more effective tools.
Is forking good for your lawn?
There is no situation I can think of where forking your lawn is bad. On dry lawns, forking allows moisture to get further down to the roots, and helps retain the soil structure for a healthier lawn. On damp or waterlogged lawns, forking helps to improve drainage.
How do you fork over soil?
Forking over soil, particularly in new gardens can be a back-breaking chore, so don’t rush it. It’s important to use both feet for proper purchase, and start from the further corner, working in logical rows, so you don’t compact the soil by walking back over it.
How do you lift potatoes with a garden fork?
To lift potatoes with a fork, without harming your crop, start between two rows, and dig right down into the soil before twisting backward. This will help to lift the first section, which gives you a way to start working along the row.
Always start digging a few inches away from the plant to avoid piercing the tubers.
How do I drain my lawn with a fork?
To drain your lawn with a fork, you’ll want a fork with 20-25cm tines and a sturdy handle. Every 15 cm, push the fork down fully into the ground and wriggle back and forth. Repeat across the entire lawn to evenly aerate and improve drainage.
What is the best month to aerate my lawn?
The best month to aerate your lawn is February or March. This gives time for your lawn to recover as the days begin to get shorter, without letting the cold right down into the roots during winter.
Get the Best Garden Fork and Make Turning Compost, Preparing Beds and More Simple!
A good quality garden fork is a very useful and rewarding tool to have in your gardening maintenance toolkit. Not only is it easy to maintain and store, it’s also powerful enough to take on some of the toughest jobs, from shifting rocks and mixing compost to aerating your lawn.
With the best garden fork, your garden will be easier to manage and work in, helping you to create a thriving flower or vegetable garden.
I like the part where you say not to buy cheap. I have make sure I buy all the things we need when it comes to buying quality for long lasting tools. My wife, she’s great, but she always goes for the cheapest item available, even if she has to buy them over and over. 🙂
We have to buy a garden fork this spring as I believe someone actually walked off with ours last season.
I’ve had shovels and garden forks that were not the best quality before and they have to be handled with kid’s gloves. Not the helpful tools I want to have. So my wife isn’t going to be buying.
That is exactly what happens these days. Because you can pick up tools for under $10 people buy cheap…every summer. No body thinks ‘if I spend $40 today I’ll have a tool for life’. They think ‘sweet, $10, done!’. What often happens is not only does the tool break but it does so BEFORE the job they bought it for is finished.
What I would really love is a communal shed with a good set of tools. I own a fork but don’t use it often – hence it is a cheaper model and suffers the defects you mentioned. There are a lot of tools I would like to own but can’t justify given the size of our yard – such as a mulcher which I would only use on occasion.
I agree Grendel! I dream of the day when I own a PROPER mulcher. I was conned into buying a cheap one once, except it wasn’t truly a mulcher and it barely did the job it was supposed to. I won’t be making that mistake again! Next time it is a proper one or nothing at all.