Heavy Duty Garden Forks in Review
Thanks for taking the time to read our reviews on the best heavy duty garden fork. There will of course be times when every gardener will need the use of a good quality garden fork.
There are quite literally hundreds of these available on the UK market. They are made by all of the popular and well known gardening brands. They also range quite a bit in price.
That can make it hard to find the best one that will suit your needs. There are a mixture of garden forks, and they can vary in length, weight and most importantly in their durability.
The principle behind these is pretty simple. They usually have a handle and at the bottom there will be four prongs, that allow you to get into the earth. That allows you to dig up and aerate soil, and even can deal with wet and sticky types of clay.
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Heavy Duty Forks vs Normal Garden Forks
Many gardeners do prefer a lightweight fork as it is easier to use, and easier on the back and arms. That is of course a very good tool to have for light digging in things like garden borders or flower beds.
The user can dig away and they will not suffer from the fatigue of using a heavy fork. That is however not always the best idea if you have some heavy digging to do.
For that you need a fork that can get the job done, and is durable enough to stand up to the rigours of that type of work.
For that you do need a heavy duty, well made and well balanced fork.
It is also worth mentioning that for the lighter forks most gardeners will buy what is called a "border fork" rather than a "digging fork." The border fork is always smaller and usually lighter than your standard garden digging fork.
What Are the Different Type of Garden Forks?
We include this section in our article for one reason only. That is to help you make sure that you are buying the right type of garden fork. There are actually 10 different types of garden fork as we have shown below.
Fork Description & Use
This is the most popular type of garden fork. It can be used for all types of digging, and is suitable for digging vegetable gardens, lawns, flower beds, and borders.
This is a smaller and lighter version of the digging fork. It can be used for digging narrow borders and raised beds. This is preferred for lighter digging work.
This is as the name would suggest is suitable for digging trenches and also for working with hard core. It is also good for working on harder and stony ground.
This is as the name would suggest is suitable for working with manure, compost heaps and also very good for mulching. The most common have four tines with very fine points that allow it to get through the fibres of rotting compost. These tines are usually widely spaced and also curved.
These small hand forks are a great choice for working on borders, tubs and pots. They are really useful for weed removal and for breaking up the soil before planting. These are usually sold along with a small gigging spade/trowel.
The pitch fork is mainly used to move straw and hay around, and for mucking out at farms and horse stables. These are usually either 2 or 3 pronged with sharp ends.
The pitch fork is of course to help dig up potatoes without damaging them. These forks are also good for working with other root vegetable such as carrots and radishes. They typically have 9 tines and each tine has a rounded end.
This looks like a compost fork but is made to be able to tougher work, such as working with hard core. They typically have 8-9 closely placed tines and the tines form a basket shape.
The pitch fork is the only choice if you suspect that you may be digging close to buried electric or telephone cables. They are made from fibre glass and will have 1 or 2 layers of insulated material around the shaft and handle.
With the telescopic fork you can adjust the shaft length to suit your frame. These are really only available as weeding forks, though there are a few digging forks available with this telescopic feature.
Which Garden Forks Are Best for Heavy Duty Work?
We know there are 10 different types, but only some of these are really suitable for heavy work. Those are:
- The Digging fork
- The Trench fork
- The Ballast fork
The insulated fork can also be classed as a heavy duty fork, but those are seldom bought and used by anyone other than a contractor.
So when it comes to buying a heavy duty garden fork, the choices do become a great deal simpler. The trench fork is great for digging trenches and all of those are heavy duty in design.
The ballast fork is for moving hardcore around, so they are also heavy duty and built to last.
That then leaves the normal garden digging fork, and some of those are heavy duty and some are not. In fact we would go as far to say, that most standard garden forks are not suitable for heavy or prolonged digging of difficult ground.
Important Features of a Heavy Duty Garden Fork
Strength and Durability
If you are planning to work on an allotment or digging a larger garden, then a good quality digging fork will be your best friend. An absolute necessity in terms of features is that it is strong, and built to last for years.
Forks have certain weak points which are usually the tangs (prongs) which can bend when over used, or when they hit a large stone. The other weak point is where the head meets the shaft usually called the socket. That can also come apart if it is not a really secure connection.
The last weak point may also be the quality of the shaft. Some of these are wooden and some are made from metal.
What you are looking for is a fork that is well made and tough as old boots. The handle type is not that important, but where the shaft and head meet should be an extremely tough joint.
You will find that cheaper digging forks (less than £20) will not be made of high quality metal, and usually the joint between the shaft and the digging head is usually held together by a single screw, or a poorly designed gripping clamp.
Ease of Digging
A few things come into play when it comes to making our digging that little bit easier. Let's face it any type of digging is hard work. Garden forks are better to use on ground than using a spade.
If the fork prongs are made of good quality steel, then they will go through the ground with a lot more ease. Likewise if those prongs are also coated or polished, then less soil will stick to those.
That makes using the fork a lot easier, and also makes the fork easier to clean.
If you plan on digging a lot we would recommend stainless steel that has been polished as the best option for a head.
The size/length of the shaft is also very important. Most garden forks are designed for medium sized people. If you are tall which is generally over 6 feet tall, then always look for a longer shaft fork.
You can check out our reviews of the best long handled forks by clicking here.
To maintain comfort when digging you need to have a good grip, a fork that isn't heavy and one that is the right height to suit your body height. The handle type is also worth considering.
There are T shaped handles, D shaped handles and even O shaped handles. In most cases the choice will come down to user preference. The T shaped handle is a good choice for anyone who wants to be able to get both hands on the fork or for someone who has larger hands.
The D shaped handle is my own preference as I feel it just gives me a much better one handed grip and control.
The O shaped has proved to be the best handle type for those who may have problems with their wrists or hands.
Top 3 Buyer Rated Heavy Duty Garden Forks
Spear & Jackson Select Stainless Digging Fork
This is a very well know gardening brand, and this garden fork does sell a lot.
It has been designed for major for digging and cultivation tasks
The shaft is made from polypropylene shaft and has a forward tilting handle for the ideal digging angle
The head is made from mirror polished stainless steel, which is resistant to rust, and makes for easy ground penetration and simple cleaning
Manufactured to exceed the British Standard load test BS 3388
88% buyer satisfaction based on 600+ online buyer reviews
Bulldog 5TFAM All Metal Trenching Fork
This fork is from the popular Bulldog brand
It is a solid forged, 4 prong all steel trenching fork
This particular fork has been designed and made to be able to easily break up uncultivated ground
It is also suitable for digging trenches and moving hardcore
The blade size is 31 cm x 21 cm and it weighs 2.53 Kg
92% buyer satisfaction based on 150+ online buyer reviews
Spear & Jackson 1700AV Tubular Contractors Fork MYD
This is pretty new to the UK market and is classed as a heavy dutyy trenching fork
It is ideal for use in clay or stony ground
It is made with extra strong square prongs with chisel points
It has a tubular steel fork shaft that is rotary welded for perfect alignment and maximum strength
The handle type is Metal MYD
The head size is 325mm (13”) x 215mm
88% buyer satisfaction based on 50+ online buyer reviews
Our Verdict on the Best Heavy Duty Garden Fork
When we were doing our research for the best heavy duty garden forks we did find many of these that included the words "heavy duty" in their name. Quite frankly on almost everyone of these, the reviews were terrible.
You often find that with gardening tools. Manufacturers label these as being "heavy duty", "professional" or "contractor" and when you check them out, buyers are certainly not impressed.
You will also find that because of these branding names, the price is also higher and we find that hard to justify when the buyer reviews are just so bad.
The three that we included on our list are the best that we could find, and in particular the Bulldog gets pretty solid reviews. If we had to pick just one heavy duty fork, then it would be this one.