Little Rake, Big Improvement

by Marty Ross

Keeping the garden tidy requires a few deft moves with the right tools, and, time and again over the seasons, shrub rakes are the tool for the task.

Gardener walking with shrub rake

These well-proportioned rakes with extra-long handles are as handy as a whisk broom: they make quick work of garden clean-up.

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Big lawn rakes are great for autumn leaves, but sometimes you need a smaller rake for tight spaces and hard-to-reach areas. A shrub rake — the head of the Fiskars Shrub Rake is only eight inches across — is the tool you need.

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They're great for raking around the skirts of shrubs and preserving the definition of beds and borders.The small head of a shrub rake is easy to maneuver around plants without getting tangled up or damaging them.

A shrub rake can also be used to rake leaves or grass clippings right off the top of bushes. The gentle plastic tines will not rip at the foliage. You can remove pine needles from azaleas and autumn leaves — or snow — from spiraea, yews, boxwoods, and other shrubs. An accumulation of leaves can smother evergreens and get trapped in the twiggy structure of deciduous shrubs, so it is a good idea to take them off.

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Once you rake leaves off shrubs, don't bag them for yard-waste pickup: rake them back under the shrubbery. Autumn leaves and pine needles are great mulch. They help conserve moisture in the soil, which is especially important around shallow-rooted plants. Raking leaves under shrubs is like composting in place; as the leaves break down, they add nutrients and micronutrients to the soil. Birds will take an interest, too, rustling through the leaf litter for insects to feed to their young.

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Take a shrub rake out into the garden with you when you're pruning. After you finish shaping a shrub, it only takes a few seconds to round up the trimmings with a shrub rake. Sometimes pruning generates a good bit of debris — more than you want to leave for composting in place. A Fiskars Kangaroo® bag is a really convenient way to move leaves and trimmings to the compost pile.

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Shrub rakes are great for sprucing up the front walk, keeping leaves and grass clippings out of the gutter at the curb, and for tidying up around the edges of the patio. They make it easy to reach the leaves that always accumulate under patio furniture.

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Use the rake like a big hand to pick up leaves and debris and drop them into your Kangaroo® bag, which is light and easy to drag along behind you. And don't forget to take the time to appreciate your own effort: even a little tool can make a big difference.