Pitchforks are indispensable tools for both the professional and weekend gardener. With long handles and three or more tines, they’re used to lift and pitch loose material, such as leaves, straw, hay, and even compost or manure. But despite being a simple tool, there are many differences between the various models on the market. Some pitchforks are only suitable for lifting and throwing material. Heavier-duty ones can also be used to break-in the ground and loosen the soil. With this in mind, check out the best pitchforks below so that you can find the right one.
The Best Pitchfork
Needless to say that the nastiest job you’ll have as a gardener is handling manure, especially if you’re an adept of eco-friendly gardening. Luckily, this manure fork by Ames Companies can save the day. Forged in steel, it features a 5-tine design and is ready to handle whatever your garden is throwing at it. As its name suggests, it’s built specifically for manure, but it doesn’t shy away from other jobs.
Indeed, you can use it to move around a variety of materials, including hay, straw, wood chips, and even compost and mulch. Relatively lightweight, it’s also an excellent gardening tool for clearing and replacing mulch around the plants, while the strong, tempered tines can even help you aerate some soil come springtime. Besides the heavy-duty head, this pitchfork also has a heavy-duty handle made from hardwood. From first glance, it promises strength and durability, two essential features when choosing a pitchfork.
Heavy-duty steel head
Hardwood handle with oversized cushion grip
- BrandThe AMES Companies, Inc
- Weight4.13 pounds
Slightly curved tines make it easy to move loose material around
Suitable for a variety of chores, such as turning compost, moving manure, or aerating the soil
Very well balanced
The handle grip is not as long-lasting as the pitchfork tool
Slightly smaller than the Ames, but also lighter and cheaper, the Truper Tru Tough Spading Fork brings true value for money. Design-wise, it’s a completely different animal than the Ames, but that’s to be expected considering that it serves a different purpose. The Tru Tough is a spading fork rather than a manure one, which means it’s more suitable for digging. You can still lift and move loose material with it, and overall, we can say it’s very versatile.
Our favorite feature is the D-grip lacquered handle. This kind of design enhances balance and control, making it more suitable for heavier duty jobs. The clear-coated steelhead is also strong and durable. Thanks to all these features, the Tru Tough can easily become the most used tool in the garden. You can employ it for quick transplants, flipping compost, moving manure, digging new flower beds, and even loosening difficult ground. Ready to go through years of abuse, this pitchfork is also a breeze to care for. Just clean it with the garden hose, coat the head with some silicone spray, and you’re ready to go.
Clear-coated gray-steel finish head
- Weight3.75 pounds
Relatively lightweight and easy to handle
D-grip handle enhances control, balance, and comfort
The wooden handle seems flimsy
It could be too short for some users
If you’re looking for a premium pitchfork at a price that won’t break the bank, the Truper 30314 Tru Pro might be it! Designed for commercial and industrial use, this manure garden fork is an excellent choice for the home gardener who needs a heavy-duty tool. It boasts a strong forged steel head and North American white ash handle – a choice of materials that guarantees a lifetime of dependable use.
Like most manure forks, it boasts a 5-tine design. We particularly like the thin, sharp tines, that make it easy to turn compost or dig through the tougher ground. However, the slim profile might come as a downside too, as the fork won’t be able to pick up the smaller bits of manure due to a too wide distance between the tines. Nevertheless, it’s a great tool to move soiled hay, some straw, or turn the compost. It’s also strong enough to help you aerate the ground or dig out potatoes.
Hardened steel tines
- Weight4.4 pounds
White ash handle delivers optimum resistance and flexibility
Suitable for heavy-duty use
Optimum length for most gardeners
Tines are a bit too wide apart
The handle is not varnished and could be rough on hands
The Fine Tine Fork by Dover Saddlery is not your typical pitchfork, but it’s a true godsend if your main concern is cleaning a horse stall. A quick glance reveals a rather peculiar design. Halfway between a pitchfork and dustpan, it features 30 closely spaced tines attached to a sort of a basket – a 17-inch wide basket – designed to gather and hold the material. The tines are spaced 5/16-inch apart, a feature that allows you to sift out even the smaller stuff and reduce the stall picking time considerably.
The only downside is the polycarbonate construction. Although it looks sturdy, the fork is flimsier than a steel fork, so you can’t expect it to last for a lifetime. You’ll get several years of dependable use, though, which is still a great deal for the money. For more handy tools like this, check out our selection of the best garden trowels.
13-inch long tines
- BrandDover Saddlery
- Weight2.43 pounds
Closely spaced tines make it easy to pick up the small stuff
High basket edges prevent loose material from falling as you’re cleaning
Long wooden pole enhances maneuverability
There is a weak spot where the bottom of the sides attach to the bottom of the front section of the basket
Polycarbonate is not as long-lasting as steel
Another Truper pitchfork that has made it to our list is the Pro Manure Fork. It’s similar to the Tru Pro up to an extent but comes with a few differences that make it more comfortable to handle. The main difference between the two models is the professional-grade fiberglass handle with soft cushion grip on this fork. At only 50 inches long, the pole is also slightly shorter than the one employed by our premium pick, enhancing balance and control.
Obviously, the choice of fiberglass instead of wood also trims off some weight, while the two-inch forged head features a rivet connection for strength. The head of the fork presents 5 heavy-duty tines that are strong enough to dig through the tougher ground and that can seamlessly pick up most loose materials. The wide space between the spikes will make it harder to gather small stuff, though. Built to last for a lifetime, the Truper Pro Manure Fork is an excellent choice for the professional gardener who doesn’t mind a higher price point. Our guide to the best leaf rakes features more must-have tools for your garden, so check them out.
5-tine forged steelhead
50-inch fiberglass handle
Soft cushion grip
- Weight4.08 pounds
Lighter and easier to handle than most manure forks
Strong enough to amend and prep clay soil
Convenient soft cushion grip
The head is not welded to the sleeve
The handle is not as solid as expected
Among the best pitchforks for digging, the True Temper 2812200 stands out. This 4-tine fork designed for spading and digging is extremely versatile, and it might just become your favorite gardening tool. The first thing to keep in mind is that it’s shorter than your average pitchfork. With a 30-inch wooden pole, it might be a hassle to handle by taller gardeners. However, the smaller size adds up digging strength.
Indeed, the pitchfork impresses with four diamond-pointed steel tines designed specifically for easy soil penetration. Be it soil preparation in spring or aeration during summer; this dependable tool is up to anything. Besides strength, the shorter pole also delivers more balance and control. Then, for added leverage, we like that it boasts a convenient D-Grip handle. Ready to break even the toughest soil and clay, the True Temper is versatile enough for aerating and turning, and it comes at a price that won’t break the bank. You may also be interested in some of the best mattocks from our list, so check them out and pick the right one for your collection.
4 diamond-pointed steel tines
- BrandThe AMES Companies, Inc
- Weight3.9 pounds
Strong tines make it perfect for digging, turning and aerating the soil
Relatively lightweight and easy to handle
Versatile enough to use for multiple gardening chores
Hardwood handle may break under excessive force
The Little Giant Red Stable Fork comes as a versatile alternative to the fine tine fork by Dover Saddlery. This model is more compact and lacks the sides, a design that not only makes it suitable to pick up manure, but that also lets you move leaves, hay, straw, and other vegetal material. Boasting 17 tines and fairly wide, it can help you get over all your stable chores in no time. There is approximately half-inch of space between the tines, which means that you can also pick up small stuff. The molded head is made from strong polycarbonate, a material that provides strength without hindering flexibility. Easy to handle, the fork also features a sturdy wooden pole.
Unlike other pitchforks that come assembled, this one requires some DIY skills. Securing the head to the handle, though, only requires a quick fix with a screw and nut – a job that literally anyone can do. Ideal either for a farm ranch or even a backyard, the Little Giant is a great choice for cleaning manure, turning compost, or moving vegetal material. Be sure to also read our reviews of the best garden shovels and pick the right one for your garden.
Extra-strong polycarbonate head
½-inch between tines
Some assembly required
- BrandLittle Giant
- ModelPDF1 RED
- Weight2.82 pounds
Uniquely angled tines provide easy manure pickup
Nylon lock nut secures the handle tightly
Versatile use around the ranch, farm, or home
Too weak for heavy-duty jobs
The handle is not of the best quality
Fiskars is known for their innovative gardening products, and the Ergo D-handle Steel Garden Fork doesn’t disappoint. As its name suggests, it’s made entirely from steel – a choice of material that cuts off the downsides of both wood and fiberglass handles. The result is a heavy-duty fork that tackles most jobs with incredible ease. Its primary purpose is to dig, mix, and turn the ground, but you can also use it for lifting mulch, dead vegetal material, manure, or compost.
Full steel construction adds up some weight, but the tool is still light enough to handle easily. Furthermore, the D-handle delivers impressive ergonomics. Indeed, it does an exceptional job of keeping your wrist in a neutral position, reducing the risk of strains. We also like the mid-grip on the shaft that enhances control and comfort. Getting to the heart of the matter, the four tines are incredibly strong and durable. Their sharpness makes it easy to penetrate the ground, while the powder coating adds resistance to elements and rust. No serious gardener can go without a good weeding tool, so be sure to check out our selection of the best ones on the market.
Welded boron steel blade
- Weight4.72 pounds
Ideal for loosening, lifting, and turning garden materials
Outstanding value for money
The teardrop-shaped shaft fits the natural shape of your hand
Heavier than the average pitchforks
The plastic D-handle feels flimsy
Mexican manufacturer Truper has made it to our list with another outstanding pitchfork. The Tru Tough is designed for manure and bedding and boasts a wide head with 10 heavy-duty tines developed to lift and move a lot of organic material. Besides cleaning the ranch or stables, the fork is also ideal for arranging new bedding for your animals.
At the same time, homeowners might also find it useful, especially if you have a larger backyard. Its steel tines resist heavier loads beautifully, making this pitchfork ideal for lifting dead leaves, mulch, or compost. The heavy-duty head is complemented by a strong wooden handle that’s 54 inches long. Thanks to this feature, the pitchfork appeals to taller gardeners. Just keep in mind that it’s a bit on the heavy side, so no quite a great choice for someone with arthritis. That said, this tool is dependable and resistant. Perhaps it won’t last for a lifetime, but for the money, we can only recommend it. You may also like some of the best pruning shears from our list, so check them out.
10 heavy-duty tines
54-inch ash handle
- Weight4.37 pounds
Wide, heavy-duty head makes it easy to remove more manure per scoop
Versatile enough to use for a variety of other purposes
An excellent choice for taller gardeners
The fork is poorly attached to the handle
Poor customer service
The TABOR TOOLS Digging Fork is the last one on our list, but it’s still worthy of your full attention. A tad more expensive than the tools above, it’s one of the best pitchforks for general-purpose digging and breaking through the ground. All it takes is a quick look to understand the aggressiveness of its four tines. Forged from hardened and tempered high carbon steel, this fork is up to anything. It’s strong and tough, suitable for home, as well as heavy-duty commercial or industrial use.
Not only the head will last for the years to come, but the anti-corrosive coating will keep it in good shape for an even longer time. Virtually unbreakable, it also features a D-grip steel handle that’s welded to the head. Thanks to this construction, you can dig even through the toughest ground without worrying that it will break or bend.
Forged from rust-resistant high carbon steel
Steel head and handle
12-inch long tines
- BrandTABOR TOOLS
- Weight5.5 pounds
Ideal for prepping the soil, planting, turning, aerating, and more
Heavy-duty industrial-grade construction
Easy to handle thanks to its ergonomic grip
Heavier than most pitchforks
On the expensive side
Pitchfork Buying Guide & FAQ
Features To Look For In A Pitchfork
A pitchfork is an essential gardening tool that serves a variety of purposes. That’s why it is important to check its features and assess its quality before buying. Here are a few of the most important things to look for:
Materials – Many homeowners think that the best pitchforks are made from hardened steel, but this might not necessarily be true. Sure, a steelhead is your best bet if you need a digging fork, but a manure fork made from polycarbonate could be easier to handle. Also, check the material of the shaft. Wood is the most popular and economical option, but it’s also the least resistant. Fiberglass is usually a great replacement, but this material is too flexible for heavier-duty chores. Steel shafts are obviously the most durable, but also the heaviest.
Length – A too short or too long pitchfork might be hard to maneuver, so you should also check this feature before buying. In broad lines, forks with a shaft length between 30 and 50-52 inches are typically a great choice for most users.
Grip – Some of the best pitchforks feature, either soft cushion grips or D-handles, that make it easier to hold and maneuver the tool.
Weight – Last but not least, also consider the weight. As you can imagine, a full steel tool will be heavier than its counterpart made from steel and wood or polycarbonate and wood. While the heavy-duty option might satisfy strong users, a lighter tool could be a better choice for some ladies, elderly, or impaired people.
Different Types Of Pitchforks
Pitchforks come in a wide range of styles. To make sure the tool that caught your eyes is right for you, check out the different types of pitchforks below:
Manure fork – The lightest-duty type of pitchfork is the manure fork. This tool has a wide head and small spaces between the tines, and it is designed to pick up manure, soiled bedding, and other organic materials. Most models have polycarbonate heads and wooden or fiberglass handles; they are lightweight and easy to maneuver.
General-purpose fork – The most versatile type of garden fork, the general-purpose pitchfork can have anywhere between four and 10 or more tines. It’s designed to lift and move most kinds of messes, from manure to dead leaves, mulch, and compost. These forks can even be employed for light-duty digging, aerating, and turning, but they are not suitable for breaking in the ground.
Spading/Digging fork – The daddy of them all, the spading fork, is the heaviest-duty type. This kind of fork is usually made entirely from steel, although some manufacturers equip their tools with wooden or fiberglass handles. Most digging forks have four heavy-duty tines designed to break tough ground and clay. The tines are typically too wide apart for cleaning manure, but these forks work wonders for turning compost or lifting heavier material.