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Versatile Rake Attachments Simplify Tough Landscaping Challenges

Wed August 15, 2012 - National Edition
Mike McSorley

Deciding how to tackle the landscaping jobs ahead of you, no matter what time of year, can be tough. Several types of rake attachments are available and, depending on your job requirements, each offers specific benefits. Finding the right rake attachment for your needs can increase your productivity, allowing you to move on to your next job quicker — ultimately increasing your profit.

Site Cleanup

When starting a landscape project, you first need to create manageable soil if it isn't already present. Grader rake attachments feature strong, evenly spaced tines designed to separate debris for site cleanup and scarify and level compacted soils.

Grader rakes are best for applications that require the clearing of coarse materials such as sticks, bricks, rocks and roots on a job site. It is not recommended for preparing soil for grass seeding because its tines create long striations that allow seed to fall too far into the ground, creating stripes in a lawn, a landscaping faux pas.

Grader rakes can typically be adjusted to better suit specific tasks. For instance, using the attachment for rough leveling or scarification may require a different rake angle or attachment to the wheel arm than if you are using it to push large quantities of loose material. Read your operator's manual for the proper positioning for each task.

Soil Preparation

Once you've cleared away excess debris from your job site and have it leveled to the appropriate grade, you can begin preparing your soil for seeding. Auto rakes utilize a bucket with either a rake chain or a bar with teeth on it to remove smaller rocks and debris from loose soil and sift the surface layer of the soil to effectively groom and finish it for seed or sod. Unlike the grader rake, an auto rake can collect, transport and dump debris quickly and easily.

Before using an auto rake attachment, be sure that the area is free of all boulders larger than roughly 6 in. in diameter, logs and large tree branches, wire, lumber and any other item that is too large for the bucket or could get wrapped around the rake chain. It also is important to make sure that the soil is relatively loose and that any compacted areas have been tilled with another piece of equipment to a depth of 2 in. or deeper. Attempting to pick up large debris with an auto rake attachment or using it to till compacted soil is not recommended and could severely damage the attachment.

The Triple Threat

A preparator rake attachment can be your best friend in soil preparation. This one attachment combines the cleanup, rock removal and soil preparation capabilities of the grader rake and auto rake into one easy-to-maneuver rake attachment. Its rotating bi-directional drum carries rocks and debris into the perforated bucket, which efficiently sifts dirt to till and fluff the ground as it grooms the soil.

Use a preparator rake for the following tasks without switching between attachments:

• Rock Collection — Collect large rocks and debris resting on the soil surface.

• Foliage Removal — Uproot and collect foliage that is growing or has been growing on the soil surface.

• Soil Tillage — Till the soil to create a looser soil condition.

• Roughing — Rake rocks, debris and foliage, scarify and fill depressions in tilled or untilled soil.

Each time your soil conditions or the task you are performing changes, you may need to reposition your preparator rake's skid shoes to achieve the best results. For foliage collection and work on very loose soil, rotor teeth should be positioned just above the skid shoes. When using the attachment to uproot foliage or till hard soil, rotor teeth should be positioned about 2 in. below the skid shoes. Consult your operator's manual for exact placement of skid shoes.

Most Versatile Rake Attachment Around

If you're in charge of a landscaping project from start to finish, a power rake attachment can help you increase productivity and profitability. Power rakes combine four attachments into one, allowing you to grade, level, rake, remove debris and prepare bare ground for seed or sod. Power rakes also can be used to dethatch and remove old lawns and weeds for lawn renovations.

Power rake attachments are equipped with rollers that have a specially shaped carbide tooth design and pattern that releases the optimal amount of moisture from the soil, creating the perfect seedbed. Its rugged barrier adjusts so the operator can choose the amount of material left in the seedbed depending on the soil moisture conditions — allowing for faster drying in wet and muddy conditions. The barrier's flexibility makes it possible for material such as roots and large tree limbs to pass through the attachment without compromising or stressing the attachment. The combination of this barrier and the attachment's end plates lets you control, deflect and direct materials similar to how a plow moves snow. Dual, independently self-adjusting gauge wheels contour to the ground and provide added flexibility for an even cut on drainage grades and small slopes.

Power rakes are versatile enough that they can accomplish the following tasks and more, all without ever switching between attachments:

• Condition wet, weedy soil

• Mill material for dense backfill

• Smooth out infields at ballparks

• Renovate existing turf

• Remove rocks, tree limbs, weeds and other debris

• Prepare bare ground for sod or seed

• Make drainage grades

• Maintain dirt and gravel roads

• Dethatch tired lawns

For added convenience, many power rakes have the ability to work with a power seeder to sow seed in the ground as it is being prepared. For example, Harley offers its power seeder and power box rake attachments as complementary landscaping tools for tractors. The Harley power seeder attaches behind the power box rake to accurately distribute seed onto the prepared soil.

Choosing the right rake attachment can be the difference between a landscaping nightmare and a dream come true. Whether you're solely responsible for the clearing of a site or have the task of seeing a landscaping project through to its completion, there is a rake attachment that can increase your productivity. Evaluate your job requirements and soil conditions to determine which is best for your needs.

Mike McSorley is a product support and training representative of Paladin Attachments, which includes Harley and FFC Attachments, based in Dexter, Michigan. For more information, visit

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