Can You Still Rake Leaves With a Metal Rake?

Whether a garden tool is bamboo, metal, or plastic typically depends on the region. However, some gardeners desire particular materials in their tools that are endemic to their area. Metal rakes are popular for their durability, but can you rake leaves with a metal rake?

You can rake leaves with a metal rake. Rakes can be made of various materials, but how they’re used doesn’t differ. Some people prefer metal for its durability, but others may find it too heavy. It may be worth investing in both a metal rake because it also has other functions.

In this article, I’ll go over the materials used to make rakes, how they differ, and why some prefer metal. I’ll also explore the types of rakes and their uses. Read on to learn more about different kinds of rakes.

What Materials Are Rakes Made From?

The world’s oldest rake was found in China and had wooden tines pushed through holes in a wooden head. Typically, old rakes resemble modern rakes. The design hasn’t changed for a very long time, with the only innovations being what the tool is made from.

Modern rakes are generally made of metal, plastic, or bamboo. In fact, they’re rarely made of any other material. While each material has its strengths and limitations, they all perform one common function: raking leaves.

In the United States, most rakes are made of plastic. Metal rakes are rare. However, it’s rare to see a plastic rake in some European countries. There, metal rakes are the norm. And, like all things, growing up with something may mean that you prefer it—or it might mean the opposite. If you’ve never tried a metal rake, it might behoove you to try one. You may like it better.

Whether you decide to use bamboo, metal or plastic is up to you, but there are pros and cons for all—none excel in all areas, so consider the traits you value most in a gardening tool before buying.

Let’s look at some features of the various materials used to make rakes.

Metal Rakes

Metal rakes are significantly stronger and more durable than plastic or bamboo. If their tines bend, they’re unlikely to break and can be bent back without damaging the rake. When equipped with a hardwood handle, a metal rake can be a force to be reckoned with. 

In addition to raking leaves, a metal rake can work well with gravel and small stones, making it a pretty helpful garden tool. 

Some people may even use metal rakes as an alternative digging tool.

However, if you use them recklessly, they can damage your plants and your lawn. The metal tines might unnecessarily dig too deep into the ground and harm your plant’s shallow roots. Moreover, a metal rake is significantly heavier than the other materials on the list.

Plastic Rakes

A plastic rake is lightweight and flexible, making them a good choice if your children are doing lawn maintenance with you. They excel at raking light debris for which a heavy metal rake would be too heavy. 

However, they become brittle in the cold and tend to break within two years of purchase. Plastic rakes may be cheaper, but they are undoubtedly less durable than metal rakes. You may need to pay attention to these pros and cons when choosing which kind of rake to buy.

Bamboo Rakes

Bamboo is the best of both worlds, as its fibrous nature means it’s both incredibly flexible and extremely strong. It’s a natural material that is both strong and flexible due to its fibrous nature.

However, bamboo can be hard to find in the West. While it can be expensive due to its rarity and has a chance of breaking down if not cared for properly, bamboo makes a good lightweight alternative to metal.

Metal Rake Vs. Plastic Rake

But you may be wondering, is using a metal rake different from using a plastic one? Will you need to learn new motions or techniques to use a metal rake properly?

Using a metal rake is no different from using a plastic one. However, you may notice that it’s heavier and possibly more destructive if mishandled. In some circumstances, a flexible plastic rake may have an edge over it. But, the act of raking leaves is the same whether it’s metal or plastic.

Metal rakes are not only harder than plastic ones, but they’re heavier. If you hit planters with it, for example, it may cause the wood or pottery to break. You may have to exercise more controlled motions while using a metal rake, but the motions will be the same.

Why Do Some People Prefer Metal Rakes?

So, metal rakes are heavier and have the potential to be destructive. Why do people use them over plastic rakes anyway? Here are a few reasons why some people would choose a metal rake:

  • Some prefer metal rakes simply because they grew up with them. 
  • Other people prefer metal rakes for their durability and the money saved because they need to be replaced much less often. 
  • Metal rakes can be used to dig out hardened or stubborn yard debris, including small rocks.

While plastic rakes have an edge when it comes to raking grass clippings and other light yard work, metal rakes may do a more thorough job—especially when the debris is heavy, such as wet leaves that have fallen in autumn.

Metal rakes also appeal to people who would rather buy a more expensive but lasting product rather than one that is cheap but may break in a year or two. While the merits of such a practice are up for debate, it is worth considering.

Different Types of Lawn Rakes and Their Uses

There are different types of rakes, in addition to rakes of different materials. Some rakes are used exclusively for heavy farm work, while others are more delicate.

Leaf and Garden Rakes

Just as their name suggests, leaf rakes are used to clean up leaves. Sometimes, they’re called landscape rakes instead. Garden rakes—which are also sometimes called bow rakes—are general-purpose tools that can easily be used anywhere in one’s yard.

Their defining feature is their straight handle and stiff head, which sits at an angle to the handle in order to make gathering debris easier. In addition, some leaf rakes have scoop-shaped jaws that can be used to pick up leaves, relieving you of the tasks of bending down or donning gloves.

Thatch Rake

A thatch rake is used to drag out matted debris from beneath your grass, allowing more air to reach it and beautifying your lawn. They’re also known as scarifying or dethatching rakes, and their tines are sharp enough to be blade-like in their application.

There are many more types of rakes, including rakes that are the size of farm equipment and are used for making bales of hay. However, these three are the main ones used on leaves and other lawn debris. You can read about more types of rakes in an article by Trees.

How Do You Take Care of a Metal Rake?

Like with most tools, your metal rake will last longer if you perform some maintenance on it. It is relatively easy to take care of metal rakes. There are only a few things you need to do, and once you get used to them, these things will become more natural for you.

  • Rub the metal occasionally with vegetable oil. Doing this helps condition the metal, weatherproofing it and helping it resist rust
  • You can store it in a bucket of sand and oil. This is an alternative to rubbing the metal rake with vegetable oil. Preventative measures can help prevent the need for rust removal and prolong your rake’s life.
  • It’s important to store your tools in a cool, dry place. You can place it with other gardening tools in your garage to protect it from heat and humidity, especially during extreme weather. This method can also be used to safeguard any other metal tools you may own.

Can Metal Rakes Be Repaired?

Metal rakes may be one of the hardest working tools in your gardening arsenal. They are used to rake leaves and heavier stuff like soil, hay, or even gravel and stones. These functions make them more prone to wear and tear.

Whether metal rakes can be repaired depends on the damage. If a tine has broken off, you may be able to weld it. If a screw has come off or broken, you may be able to replace it. However, if maintenance no longer keeps your rake in good condition, it may be time to purchase a new one.

If you’re unable to weld a rake, replace a screw, or use a rust removal product, your rake has probably been treated badly or outlived its life. Everything wears out and does so even faster when neglected—which is why preventative maintenance is important.


You can rake leaves with a metal rake. It can also be used for other purposes like digging or gathering heavier materials like wet leaves and small stones. Metal rakes are durable and inflexible, but using them isn’t different from using other materials like plastic or bamboo. 

Proper maintenance is necessary to keep your metal rake working for longer. To care for your metal rake, treat the tines with oil. You can repair your tool by welding breaks, replacing screws, or using rust removal products.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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