Metal vs. Plastic Rake – Rake Those Leaves!

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When the leaves start falling from the trees, there will be a lot to rake. It’s a landslide of leaves that just won’t stop – and I now live in a place that doesn’t even have any actual trees on the property! 

We just happen to have trees behind us, trees across the street, and one in our neighbor’s yard. So the other day, I stood in front of my garage, where I’ve overpacked everything, and I found a huge plastic rake, a metal rake, and finally, a leaf blower. 

This begs the question, which works best? So, let’s go on this journey…because, hey… just because it works best, does that mean it is best? 

In my opinion, leaf blowers work best, especially on mostly dry materials. If you don’t mind a good workout, try a metal rake. It picks up debris well, is lighter than most plastic rakes, and it’s more earth-friendly than a leaf blower. To be honest, don’t waste your money on plastic rakes. 

Let me explain why I believe in the answer I’ve given. It’s complicated! 

The Story

One day, I heard the buzzing roar of our neighbor’s leaf blower. He actually waited until after 8 am. This is good for him. He’s a retired serviceman and is very nice. But…I felt like he was calling me out for not doing a darn thing to help with the leaves. I rolled over. But sleep was impossible. 

Who wants to stop and rake leaves? Not me! I raked leaves my entire childhood. No matter where we moved, my parents always wound up with huge pecan trees, oak trees, or maples in their yards. Being the only child, guess whose responsibility it was to rake up all those leaves? 

Playing in the freshly raked leaves.
And what happens to all those raked leaves you may ask?

Yep. Me. 

I’d much rather leave the leaves where they were and aim a leaf blower at them. Since the first time I got to try out a leaf blower, I’ve always considered this the easiest method of dealing with fallen leaves. But was it really the best?

Considering the leaf blower hadn’t been charged since moving, it was definitely not the best choice this day. Not happening. I never got a gas-powered leaf blower because I never really needed one as an adult. At the most leaf-worthy home we’ve had, I got away with a cordless and a rake.  

So, I plugged in the charger for the leaf blower and turned to the nearest rake – a large plastic thing that looked like it would be great at nabbing a bunch of leaves all at once. It would be great if it helped me cut my work time down! I went out with the rake and was immediately disappointed. 

The rake was very pliable – bendy? The leaves were a bit damp. I found that I had to go back over the same spot several times. You know when that piece of thread winds up on your carpet, and you keep driving your vacuum cleaner over it again and again until you’re angry? Well, that was my experience with the plastic rake. 

And don’t get me started on the pine straw. 

So, I marched back into the garage and grabbed the metal rake. It actually seemed lighter, and it was definitely smaller. But at that point, I had no choice. I was pleasantly surprised! The metal rake pushed into the grass and wet leaves and stripped the yard bare of debris. 

I realized just how out of shape I was, but that meant I needed the workout, right? And though the rake was smaller, so it couldn’t hold as much as the plastic rake – just the fact that it could gather so much without having to go back over the same spots saved me time and energy. 

The tines slid through the deeper pine straw and pulled it in a huge rolling layer off the ground. The metal rake was working, lighter than the other equipment, and the action of raking gave me a workout.  

I believe we have a winner, ladies, and gents! 

I raked the entire front portion of the yard using the metal rake until I felt sweaty and accomplished. The wind had been blowing, and the sun had been shining, so things were drying out. I had raked up a mess to dump in a compost area and had gotten a workout.

Therefore, I rewarded myself by marching right back into the garage, picking up the newly charged battery, slipping it into the leaf blower, and finishing the rest of the yard. 

Because ain’t nobody got time for that… 

The Conclusion…

Plastic rakes are heavy and awkward, and the tines are not very strong. If the leaves are wet, the tines tend to slip by instead of gathering them. Also, moving pine straws with them is iffy at best. 

Metal rakes are either the same weight as the plastic rake or lighter. The tines are stiffer, being made of metal, and will generally pick up even wet leaves and pine straw when the plastic rake will not.


What is the difference between a metal rake and a plastic rake?

Metal rakes have metal tines and a metal handle while they make plastic rakes with plastic tines and a plastic or wooden handle. The tines on a metal rake are stronger and more durable than those on a plastic rake, but plastic rakes are more lightweight and easier to handle.

Which type of rake is best for gardening?

Gardeners prefer a metal rake for its durability and strength. A garden rake with metal tines is better for raking soil, mulch, and damp leaves, while a plastic rake is for light work, such as freshly fallen leaves.

Are plastic leaf rakes as effective as metal leaf rakes?

It depends. Metal leaf rakes are stronger and you can get thicker detritus up when using them. They are also very good for getting under shrubbery and where you have a lot of tightly packed pine straws or damp leaves. They even make a specialized rake called a shrub rake.

However, metal leaf rakes are also narrower than plastic ones. So if you have leaves and detritus that are not wet or tightly packed, it can get up more than a metal rake.

What kind of rake is best for removing thatch?

A thatch rake is best for removing thatch, which is the layer of dead grass and other debris that can build up on a lawn. These rakes are metal and have sharp, curved tines that help to cut through the thatch and remove it from the lawn.

Can you use a plastic rake to remove mulch?

While a plastic rake can remove mulch, it may not be as effective as a metal rake because the tines on a plastic rake may not be strong enough to pick up heavier materials.

Which rakes rust?

Metal rakes can rust if they are left outside in wet conditions. Plastic rakes do not rust but may crack or break over time with extended use. This is especially true if you leave them out in the sunlight.

Can you use a metal leaf rake for other purposes besides raking leaves?

Yes, you can use a metal leaf rake for other purposes, like raking grass clippings, hay, and other debris. You can also use it for spreading mulch or smoothing soil in a garden bed. I’ve used them for moving soil in a garden and for cleaning gravel paths.

Are there different rakes available besides metal and plastic ones?

Yes, there are many types of rakes available, including bamboo rakes, and wooden rakes. There are also as many sizes and specializations of rakes as you find for other yard tools.

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"Growing up a country-girl means you enjoy the outdoors as much as possible, and no matter where you go in life, the outdoors is always part of you. I began doing research on things I wanted to do to make my outdoor space my own, no matter where we moved. And that research led me to write this blog to share with you!"