How to use a garden fork…

How to use a garden fork…

Using your garden fork

– to open the earth & lift plants & weeds –

I explain how to use a garden fork properly.

The fork is a favourite tool among gardeners, especially useful for the following tasks:-


  • to avoid slicing plant roots when transplanting and, to avoid damaging crops when lifting e.g. potatoes;
  • to lift branching underground weed stems e.g. couch grass, it breaks soil away from clumps to extract the weed in one piece,
  • when opening the earth without moving the weighty bulk of soil. Does less damage to worms and soil than a spade,
  • when opening the soil surface to lightly cultivate and work in organic fertilizer, compost or manure around plants or shrubs,
  • to move light fibrous materials like straw, weed heaps, manure etc…
  • divide certain clumps of perennials by slipping in 2 forks back to back, and pulling plant apart.


Many weeds grow with shallow matted roots over settled ground. I used this method to weed e.g. ‘Couch Grass’, ‘Nettles’ etc… under established fruit trees and leave the tree roots relatively unharmed – the weeds invaded the ground from beyond, but plastic sheet mulch would prevent this problem occuring.

How to use a garden fork...

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  • Slip the Digging Fork underneath shallow rooted clumps of weed. The picture shows the fork being stabbed into the ground at 45 degrees. (don’t prong your leg)
  • It involves bending the back. But then use the gardening tool to support your stance and always lever the weeds up don’t lift from your back.
  • ‘Digging’, ‘border’, ‘manure’, ‘pitch’ and ‘potato’ forks; the use of solid square and flat tines; are described and compared on my other pages.

    Compare with the 3 Tined Cultivator, and the Long Handled Garden Claw below.


    How to use a garden fork...A gardening tool innovation and alternative cultivator. Good for small gardens because on large areas it involves intense repetitive action. Here’s what it does and how it works.

    • you stand in upright position to use it – no bending
    • the chisel ended curved tines dig into the soil and loosen it up
    • loosens up weeds without chopping roots of cultivated plants
    • easy to reach the bottom of a trench so better than a fork for double digging
    • used to work in top dressings or fertilizer
    • you get lots of leverage through the handle bars
    • How to use it

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    • on better quality models the height is adjustable
    • stand easy astride the cultivator
    • press down while pushing and pulling the handles back and forward
    • involves intense repetitive action so it’s best used on smaller areas, or take a break.
    • a slight bending of the knees will absorb the tension to ensure you don’t twist your back.
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    Garden Claw – U.S.A. How to use a garden fork...

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    Take care and remember: work with gardening tools requires skill that has to be learnt and practised. Do remember to take care with your gardening tools and keep them clean and sharp.

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