Find out which garden forks topped our tests from brands including B&Q, Spear & Jackson, Screwfix and more, and what you need to know to get a garden fork that’s right for you.

 

Digging forks are an essential part of any gardener’s kit. They’re used to prepare beds for planting, as well as to harvest root veg and dig out perennials and shrubs, and they’re especially useful for gardens with heavy clay or compacted soil.  In September 2021 our researchers joined forces with the Which? Gardening team to put a selection of 10 garden forks through their paces. We tested garden forks from a variety of retailers including Homebase, Screwfix, Toolstation and B&Q, as well as from brands such as JCB, Spear & Jackson and Fiskars, assessing their build quality, durability, comfort and ease of use.

The best garden forks

Best Buy: Neverbend digging fork

 

 

Cheapest price: £29.99 available from Screwfix. Also available from Amazon.

Weight: 2.23kg

Shaft length: 62cm

Handle width: 13cm

Tines: 29cm x 19cm (HxW)

Total length: 99cm

Our verdict: A brilliant digging fork you can rely on.

This sturdy garden fork from Spear & Jackson’s Neverbend range has an epoxy-coated carbon steel socket and tines, a wooden shaft and a rubber gripped steel handle.   The handle has a slight forward tilt which supports you in finding the perfect angle to protect your back while digging.  Our researchers and Which? Gardening experts said that while this fork was a bit on the heavy side, it was well balanced and felt sturdy and strong.  However, our Gardening experts did warn that a heavy tool, no matter how well balanced, is likely to tire you out quicker and therefore may not be the best choice for long jobs. The grip was considered comfortable to hold and while it is one of the better made digging forks in our test, it still has a few areas between the shaft and the socket that could catch your fingers while you work so we’d recommend gardening gloves.

Pros: Good comfortable grip, well balanced, sturdy

Cons: A bit on the heavy side, seams between socket and shaft can catch your fingers

Best Buy: Spear & Jackson Select Stainless Steel Digging Fork

 

Cheapest price: £33.49 available from Amazon

Weight: 2.25kg Shaft length: 63cm

Handle width: 19cm

Tines: 30cm x 18cm (HxW)

Total length: 103cm

Our verdict: A well-balanced garden fork with a traditional design. Also from Spear & Jackson, this digging fork has mirror-polished stainless steel tines that the manufacturer says are rust-resistant, and a polypropylene (plastic) shaft with a non-slip grip handle.  The manufacturer claims the forward tilting handle is at the ideal digging angle and this is something we agreed with on the whole.

Our Gardening experts felt the handle was a good size and it’s comfortable to hold, but it was let down by some mould lines of plastic inside it.  The rubber grip sections along the shaft are useful and this fork felt well-balanced to use but it’s one of the heavier ones in our test.  Our  Gardening team say that heavy tools can tire you out quicker and therefore may not always be ideal for larger or longer jobs in the garden.

Pros: Sturdy, well balanced, comfortable to grip

Cons: A bit on the heavy side, mould lines in the handle

How the rest of the garden forks we tested fared

Here’s our verdicts on the other digging forks we tested, listed alphabetically.

Burgon & Ball Standard Digging fork

Burgon & Ball Standard Digging fork

 

Cheapest price: £39.99 available from Amazon. Also available from Burgon & Ball, B&Q

Weight: 1.97kg Shaft length: 61cm

Handle width: 13cm

Tines: 28cm x 18cm (HxW) Total length: 109cm

Our verdict: A handsome, sturdy and well-balanced fork, let down by the sharp edges around its handle. Most of our researchers liked all but one aspect of this FSC-certified hardwood digging fork from Burgon & Ball.  The sharp edges around the wooden handle dig into your hands, especially if you’re not wearing gardening gloves. Other than the handle issue, this fork was easy to use and made short work of digging up the topsoil in our tests.

Pros: Well balanced, sturdy, made with FSC-certified wood

Cons: Sharp edges around the handle, rough finish around the socket

Fiskars Xact Soil Work Fork Large

Fiskars Xact Soil Work Fork Large

 

Cheapest price: £49.99 available from Amazon

Weight: 1.85kg

Shaft length: 82cm

Handle width: 12cm

Tines: 27cm x 18cm (HxW)

Total length: 120cm (also available in a smaller size of 108cm)

Our verdict: A light fork which proved very easy to use for our taller researchers. This digging fork from Fiskars has the longest shaft of any of the forks we tested, but considering its size it wasn’t that heavy.  Some of our taller researchers found this longer shaft made the fork much easier to use and put considerably less strain on their backs. The manufacturer says the tines of this fork are made from steel while the handle and upper portion of the shaft are made from ‘fibreglass reinforced synthetic material’ (in other words plastic).   One of our Gardening experts felt this fork had very little internal strength and worried the fork’s shaft could bend or even break under pressure.  However, this fork didn’t receive any damage while we tested it. Even when our heaviest researcher jumped on it.

Pros: Light for its size

Cons: Doesn’t have a comfortable handle

Great Value: Hawksmoor All Steel Digging Fork

 

Cheapest price: £14.98 available from Toolstation

Weight: 2.13kg

Shaft length: 60cm

Handle width: 12cm

Tines: 29cm x 18cm (HxW)

Total length: 100cm

Our verdict: A solid and sturdy steel digging fork that’s not quite a Best Buy but is still worth considering.  Apart from the wooden section of the handle, this digging fork is all steel with a solid forged head welded to the socket.  While the handle of this fork was largely felt to be comfortable, most of our researchers commented on the rough welds along the underside of the shaft and socket. Our Which? Gardening experts felt this fork was well balanced and therefore pretty easy to use. They also felt, if cared for correctly, the sturdy all-steel construction could last a long time.

Pros: Sturdy, comfortable handle, well balanced

Cons: Seams on the underside of the shaft could catch on your hands

HomeBuild Carbon Steel Fork

HomeBuild Carbon Steel Fork

 

Cheapest price: £9.95 available from Homebase

Weight: 2.01kg

Shaft length: 60cm

Handle width: 11cm

Tines: 29cm x 19cm (HxW)

Total length: 100cm

Our verdict: A cheap and cheerful digging fork with a few rough edges. This fork from Homebuild has steel tines and a steel socket, with a plastic-coated shaft and handle. Although easily the cheapest digging fork in our selection, our Which? Gardening experts did say it felt like it would last due to its sturdy frame.  Most of our researchers weren’t a fan of the plastic handle which they described as feeling ‘cheap’ and ‘nasty’.

Pros: Sturdy

Cons: Uncomfortable handle

JCB Professional Solid Forged Garden Fork

JCB Professional Solid Forged Garden Fork

 

Cheapest price: £33.99 available from Amazon

Weight: 2.28kg

Shaft length: 61cm Handle

width: 13cm

Tines: 29cm x 20cm (HxW)

Total length: 98cm

Our verdict: A large and professional-looking garden fork. The tines and socket of this digging fork are solid forged carbon steel. The shaft and handle are coated in plastic. One of our Gardening experts pointed out the hollow shaft which they worried could fill with mud and make this already heavy fork even heavier. Most of our researchers described this fork as both sturdy and well put together, though they did note how it felt unbalanced and heavy in their hands.

Pros: Sturdy

Cons: Unbalanced, a bit on the heavy side

Magnusson Fork

Magnusson Fork

 

Cheapest price: £27 available from B&Q

Weight: 2.39kg Shaft length: 78cm

Handle width: 15cm

Tines: 30cm x 19cm (HxW)

Total length: 119cm

Our verdict: A big and heavy fork with a very comfortable handle.  This digging fork from Magnusson has a carbon steel socket and tines with a nylite composite handle. While getting a feel for this digging fork our Which? Gardening experts said it felt sturdy and heavy, but it was also really comfortable to use.  As a general note, using a heavier garden tool will tire you out quicker and so it’s not always best suited for longer or bigger jobs. The researchers also commented on the handle’s comfortable rubber grip.

Pros: Good handle with comfortable grip, sturdy

Cons: A bit on the heavy side

Roughneck digging fork

Roughneck digging fork

 

 

Cheapest price: £24.99 available from Screwfix

Weight: 2.16kg

Shaft length: 69cm

Handle width: 12cm

Tines: 28.5cm x 18cm (HxW)

Total length: 107cm

Our verdict: An unbalanced digging fork which wasn’t the easiest to use. This digging fork from Roughneck has a lacquer-coated carbon steel socket and tines with a fibreglass handle. The welding marks between the tines and the socket of the Roughneck digging fork we bought were extremely visible and slapdash in appearance. It was also noted by our researchers how unbalanced this fork felt while it was being used. This made it harder to turn the soil.

Pros: Sturdy

Cons: Unbalanced, very poor welds adjoining tines to the socket

Stanley Fatmax Fibreglass D-Handle Fork

 

Cheapest price: £27.48 available from Amazon, Toolstation

Weight: 2.28kg

Shaft length: 79cm

Handle width: 15cm

Tines: 29cm x 18cm (HxW)

Total length: 118cm

Our verdict: A sturdy digging fork which our taller researchers really liked. This garden fork from Stanley Fatmax has a fibreglass handle and heat-treated steel tines. When first using this digging fork one of our Gardening experts thought it felt odd to use.  Due to its length she didn’t need to bend as much as usual, however, once she got used to it, she felt it was very easy to use and put a lot less strain on her back.  Most of our researchers felt this fork was easy to use and comfortable. It was only disliked by the shorter members of our team who felt it was too long.

Pros: Good handle, sturdy

Cons: A bit on the heavy side

Anatomy of a garden fork

garden fork parts labelled

 

Handle grip: The part of the fork you hold, located at the top of the shaft.

Shaft: The section of the fork adjoining the handle to the socket.

Socket: The section of the fork adjoining the shaft to the tines.

Tines: The bottom part of the fork used for digging and turning soil.

What is FSC certified?

FSC logo

 

FSC is a global forest certification system. The label allows consumers to confidently purchase wood, paper and other forest products made with materials from well-managed forests. FSC-certified products are worth looking out for as it means that these trees were grown as part of a well-managed forest, protecting forest plants and animals.

Is a wooden handle better than a plastic handle?

Garden fork handles

 

To find out which is better we spoke to our Which? Gardening experts, who use gardening tools including forks all year round on an almost daily basis.  They said that while wooden handles can irritate the hands over prolonged use, this can easily be avoided with a good pair of gardening gloves.  It’s also worth noting that wood is better able to absorb shock and vibrations. Plastic handles, on the other hand, often boast a textured or rubber grip, but they can become brittle over time, especially if left out in the summer sun.

Does height matter when choosing a garden fork?

garden forks next to trolley

 

When purchasing a gardening fork it’s important to consider your own height compared with the different lengths of forks.  If you have back problems or can only work for shorter periods, consider a fork with a longer or angled shaft to help you bend less and take the strain off of your back.

Bear in mind if the fork’s shaft is too short for your height, this puts extra strain on your back.  We recommend going to purchase the fork in person if you can.

This way you can get a feel for the length and weight that’s right for you.  To check the overall length, hold the fork as you would if you were about to push it into the ground. The handle height is right for you if you’re leaning over it slightly.  Then hold the fork as if you were lifting soil.  Are the areas you’re holding comfortable? And can you reach the base of the shaft easily without stretching?

How to care for your garden fork?

scrubbing garden fork

 

After each use:

Clean the tines: After each job wash off the mud from the tines and socket and then make sure you dry it.

Store inside: Keep in your home, in a shed or outhouse, just make sure you don’t leave your spade to the mercy of the elements.

When storing wooden tools for winter:

Clean the tool: Remove soil and dirt with a stiff brush and/or damp cloth.

Lightly sand: Lightly sand any rough patches across the wood.

Oil a wooden handle and shaft: Apply a coat of linseed oil or teak oil with a brush or cloth.