Garden forks, called spading forks, or digging forks, have many uses. Garden forks have short handles with shorter, flatter, thicker, and tines spaced fairly close together. They are used mostly for lifting potatoes and other root crops from the ground. They also come in handy using two together, back to back, to separate large clumps of roots or dividing overgrown plants.
Pitchforks are good for moving loose materials like straw, hay, compost, leaves, or manure and are slightly different from garden forks. Pitchforks have a longer handle and are available in various widths with thinner sharper tines. True pitchforks usually have only two or three tines to lift and move straw and hay. A pitchfork with four or more tines is used for handling manure or mulch mainly but can also be used for straw and hay.
Hand Held Fork
Another tool with tines is a hand-held fork that is great for digging up weeds. It looks like a claw with a handle and the tines are bent at a 90-degree angle to the handle so it is easy to get the tines under the roots to pull them out. It is also good for digging in rocks or places where you can’t reach with a regular fork.
Depending on the extent of your gardening activities, you may benefit from all three types of forks. If you buy bulk mulch, the pitchfork is very useful in moving it into the wheelbarrow and out into the garden. The shorter garden fork makes digging potatoes and root crops easy without cutting into the crop. The hand held fork gets into tight spaces and digs deep rooted weeds.