Tools & Equipment

The UK’s Best Garden Forks For Digging & Trenching

man in wellies using garden fork
Written by April Foot

A garden fork is a gardener’s best friend. This multi-purpose tool can be used to turn soil, aerate your lawn, remove weeds, dig trenches, and landscape your garden – and that’s just a few of the many potential uses.

There are several types and sizes of garden fork, and which one is most suitable for you will depend on a variety of factors. These include your soil type (a dense, rocky soil will require a stronger fork), and your height (the taller you are, the longer the fork will need to be).

Perhaps the most important consideration though is the purpose for which you want to use the fork. Digging or spading forks are used to break up compacted soil or root structures; compost forks have more slender prongs designed for moving loose soil and turning compost; and border forks are smaller tools, intended for cultivating narrow garden beds. These are just a few of the many types of garden forks available.

Last update on 2019-09-11 / Affiliate links / Images / Pricing from Amazon Product Advertising API

To help you navigate this spiky world, we’ve put together this list of what we believe are 5 of the best garden forks on the market, based on indicators such as size, strength, comfort and price. We also cover some of the most common applications of garden forks, just in case you need convincing that a good-quality fork is a must-have!

Best Pick: Roamwild Fibreglass Spading Fork

Our best fork, with an innovative design to make digging your garden easier than ever

This impressive Roamwild Spading Fork is a lightweight and high-quality garden fork, with a unique blade design that enables you to dig faster and more effectively – all with less effort on your part.

Undoubtedly the best thing about this fork is the tapered centre blade, which enables the fork to glide through soil like butter, easily breaking up any lumps in its path, whilst helping to keep the prongs clump-free. It makes light work of clay and root-dense soil, as well as larger landscaping jobs, such as trenching and digging out ponds.

The handle features an ergonomic design and large, dual-grip end, which offers full flexibility in how you want to hold and control the tool. It measures 102cm, meaning that most users of average height shouldn’t need to bend too much to use it, further encouraging a comfortable operation.

The fork has a reinforced fibreglass shaft, which makes it both strong and ultra-lightweight. At just 0.85kg, it’s easily the lightest fork on our list, and won’t pose a problem if you need to transport it between gardens. It also has wide footplates to help you comfortably slide it into the ground with minimal effort.

Everything about this fork is designed with the user in mind. From the lightweight construction to the tapered blade and dual-grip handle, it’s one of the most user-friendly garden forks we’ve come across, and we’re confident you won’t be disappointed.

Pros

  • Strong fibreglass shaft.
  • Unique wedge-shaped centre blade breaks up lumps with minimal effort.
  • Dual-grip handle offers flexible control and increased comfort.
  • Wide foot plates for easy digging.
  • Ultra-lightweight (0.85kg) and easy to carry.

Cons

  • Not the most affordable option.
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Value Pick: Silverline Border Fork

A small yet durable garden fork, for a highly affordable price

Considering its small size and low price tag, this Silverline Border Fork performs surprisingly well. It’s a border fork, designed for maintaining your garden beds, and the slim design and short 92cm length certainly make it suitable for tending to narrow areas.

It’s made from high-quality enamelled steel, with a polypropylene shaft. Whilst this construction is fine for turning loose topsoil, such as that found on garden beds, it isn’t strong enough to tackle chalky, rocky or root-dense soil – if you have one of these types of soils, you’ll need to look for a bigger, more durable design.

The footplates on this one are smaller and more awkward to use than the Roamwild Fork. Indeed, unless you have particularly narrow feet, you’ll probably struggle to get a good enough grip to apply a decent amount of pressure.

Another downside is that it’s pretty heavy for its size – it’s 10cm shorter than the Roamwild, yet more than double its weight. It is perhaps a little unfair to compare this steel and plastic model to a fibreglass version though, especially when it’s around a quarter of the price.

Which brings us to the main draw of this fork – the price. When it’s this affordable, you really can’t complain too much. If you’re just looking for something suitable for digging soft garden beds and turning topsoil, this slim border fork will make light work of such tasks, and for a fraction of the cost of many similar designs.

Pros

  • Made from durable enamelled steel, with polypropylene shaft.
  • Slim design is ideal for small gardens and borders.
  • Excellent value.

Cons

  • Not strong enough for chalk or root-heavy soil.
  • Heavy for its size (1.88kg).
  • Small footplates.
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Fiskars Aluminium Digging Fork

The extended shaft and lightweight of this garden fork make it great for reducing back strain

This Fiskars Digging Fork is perfectly suited to turning over soil, harvesting and composting. It has a lightweight aluminium shaft and durable hardened steel prongs that glide through loose soil – although again, it’s not intended for hard ground.

It’s part of the Fiskers Light series, which is designed to be lightweight and accessible to users of all ages and sizes. Fisker specifies that the range is targeted at average people taking care of kitchen and herb gardens, as well as children interested in taking up gardening.

The overall weight of the fork is 1.25kg, which is very reasonable considering its size – it’s bigger and lighter than the Silverline. In fact, at 113cm long, it’s our longest fork yet, which makes it particularly suitable for taller users (5’8” and over) – although does mean some shorter users might struggle.

The lightweight design promotes a back-friendly posture whilst digging, and reduces the common gardener’s complaint of back pain (although unfortunately there’s no chance of eliminating this completely!) A D-shaped handle features a soft grip with an insulating plastic sleeve, which also makes it more comfortable to use in colder conditions.

Overall, if you’re looking for a lightweight yet durable digging fork to tend your small flower beds or herb garden in comfort, this stylish fork might well be the ideal choice.

Pros

  • Slim aluminium shaft and steel prongs are ideal for tight spaces.
  • Soft grip handle with insulating sleeve ensures comfortable operation.
  • Weighs 1.25kg – light and easy to carry.
  • Long shaft helps reduce back pain.

Cons

  • Not sturdy enough for hard, rocky ground.
  • The shaft may be too long for some users.
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Kent & Stowe Carbon Border Fork

A stylish, mid-range border fork, suitable for soil turning and aeration

With a pale, ash wood shaft that gives it a cool Scandinavian aesthetic, this Ken & Stowe Border Fork is another garden fork which expertly combines practicality and style.

Don’t fret though; no functionality has been compromised in the pursuit of looks – the fork has strong carbon steel prongs, which are considered more durable than plain steel, and are especially good for a border fork of this price point.

The fork is ideally suited to light use in garden borders and beds, where it can be used to turn, cultivate and aerate soil – although again, it’s unlikely to stand up to anything heavier, and you’ll want to keep it away from chalk and rocks.

At 104cm long, most gardeners will be able to operate the fork without too much bending over, reducing the risk of back strain. The design is also weight balanced for improved performance and exceeds UK standards in this area.

Even if it’s not strong enough for compacted or rocky soil, the manufacturer is confident enough in their product to offer an impressive 10-year guarantee, which bodes well. Ultimately, this is an aesthetically pleasing, functional border fork, that is handcrafted, so you can be sure you’re getting a high-quality tool.

Pros

  • High-quality carbon steel prongs.
  • Stylish ash wood shaft.
  • Weight balanced for improved performance.
  • Impressive 10-year guarantee.

Cons

  • Not strong enough for heavy soil or rocky ground.
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Draper Border Fork

A short, carbon steel fork of adequate quality, with a very reasonable price tag

Our last garden fork, the Draper Border Fork, is another model that’s best suited to moving and turning loose topsoil, but should be kept away from denser and rocky soils – perhaps even more so than the previous designs.

The prongs of the fork are made from carbon steel, but they are relatively slim and are positioned close together and are prone to bending and snapping in anything heavier than light soil.

A length of 92cm makes this fork particularly suited to shorter users, and for use in small areas such as narrow garden borders and herb gardens. This isn’t a fork that we would recommend for taller gardeners.

Having said this, although the length is suitable for shorter users, the weight is not. At 1.88kg, it’s one of the heaviest forks on our list, which is disappointing considering its size. It does have a plastic-coated, ergonomic D-shaped handle, designed to encourage a more comfortable digging experience, although there’s no grip or padding.

Ultimately, this is a fairly simple garden fork, with no fancy looks or features, but the price does reflect this, and it’s nonetheless a perfectly functional fork for light use and moving topsoil.

Pros

  • Durable carbon steel prongs, perfect for turning topsoil.
  • Plastic-coated, ergonomic handle.
  • The smaller size is good for shorter users and narrow garden beds.
  • Great value.

Cons

  • Short length may cause back strain in taller users.
  • Not overly durable, and not suitable for heavy soil.
  • Heavy for its size (1.88kg).
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What Is A Garden Fork Used For?

Garden forks have a wide variety of uses. Here are a few of the most common:

Moving soil

If you want to move a patch of soil, a garden fork will help you loosen it first. A fork is much more effective than a spade in this instance because the prongs pierce the ground and break up clumps in the soil. You can then use a spade to move the loosened soil.

Cultivating and tilling soil

A garden fork can be used to cultivate soil by breaking up the crust on top of the soil and loosening the upper layers of soil prior to planting. The effect of this is both to remove weeds and to create space for water, oxygen and nutrients to penetrate deeper into the soil, which will encourage plant growth. At the end of the growing season, you can also use a fork to deep cultivate or till the soil.

Turning your compost pile

Use a compost or manure fork to lift, move and aerate your compost pile, allowing oxygen into your compost, which keeps microbes alive and encourages the process of decomposition.

Transplanting crops

If you need to move plants between beds, a garden fork can allow you to do so without breaking the plant’s fragile root system or causing damage when lifting.

Removing weeds

For the same reason, a garden fork is a particularly good way of removing weeds from your soil, as it pulls out the entire root system, ensuring they will not grow back.

Removing sod

You can use a pitchfork to remove sod in your garden, to make way for garden beds or paving. You should first water the grass you want to remove, then divide it into squares using a spade. A pitchfork can then be slid under each square to pry it from the ground by the roots.

Landscaping

A digging fork can also be helpful for larger landscaping tasks, such as digging out trenches, foundations for a garden structure, or a hole for a pond. This will generally be done in combination with a spade – use the fork to loosen the earth and break up clumps, and the spade to move the soil out of the way.

About the author

April Foot

April is a freelance writer who specialises in travel, home and garden design, and the environment. She is an avid wildlife-enthusiast and adventure-seeker, and feels happiest when in the Great Outdoors.

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