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If you’re going to plant a new garden, you’ll need loose, drainable soil for the roots to spread out and grow, giving you a nice crop. To get the perfect soil, the best tillers may be something you need to add to your gardening list. These are designed to break up the ground, giving you the perfect area to start planting. Tillers come in a few sizes, so you can get the right one for the size of the garden you plan to plant. There are also some budget-friendly options available for those with limited funds.
When checking out tillers for your yard work, there are a few features to look for. This will ensure you have the right model to meet your needs. The type is important, as the smaller ones are good for existing planting areas of various sizes, while the larger ones are best for breaking new ground. The cultivating width and depth tell you the area the tiller can cover with each pass, which is especially important if tilling large areas or going between existing rows. The tines are the metal pieces that actually loosen up the soil, so the more there are, the faster it works. You may also want to check out the weight, especially if you’re looking into a handheld model.
To help you choose the best tillers for your garden, we spent countless hours looking at the manufacturer’s information, checking out the product features, and reading hundreds of customer reviews. Then we created a comparison table with in-depth reviews and added a buying guide to help you make the right choice.
Extra features: 6-inch flip down transport wheels; push-button start
The best garden tillers are built to last, without costing you a fortune to get your hands on one. The Earthwise TC70001 has a lot of power in a small package, with a great price that will likely fit into any budget.
This model has an 8.5-Amp motor, which makes it quite powerful despite its small size. It can also run for a long time since it uses electricity, so you can plug it in and start tilling, though you will have to be careful not to run over your extension cord as you work.
Another benefit of this little machine is that it is lightweight, which is important since you do need to do a bit of pushing to keep it moving forward. The low weight keeps you from straining yourself when working in your small or mid-size garden, even if you’re tilling for a few hours at a time.
There are four steel tines, covering up to 11 inches in width. These tines are also quite long, so they can till about eight inches in depth, giving your plants plenty of loose soil to take root in.
The two-stage ignition system requires you to push a button and pull a level at the same time, which some may find a bit tricky to handle, though it is a safety feature, so is well worth getting used to. The soft, ergonomic handles also keep your hands comfy while you work.
Extra features: 7 depth adjustments; 190 RPM rotational speed
If you’re looking for the best rear tine garden tiller, the YARDMAX YT4565 is a good one to check out. It is easy to assemble, with a durable build that can handle any type of soil in your yard, from hard-packed clay to softer earth that just needs a bit of aeration.
This model is powered by a 208cc Briggs & Stratton Engine, which gives this machine 9.5 ft/lbs of gross torque. It also has a 190 RPM rotational speed, so it can cut through the soil with ease. There is also a heavy-duty transmission that includes a self-propelled drive system, so it does most of the work for you as you guide it along. You can even stand and steer it from the side, thanks to the single-hand operation.
This dual-rotating tiller allows you to set it to the forward rotation when cultivation is needed or counter rotation for deeper soil that is getting its first turn. The shifter is a bit clunky, though, so you’ll need to be patient when changing gears.
The tine design is 18 inches wide, with 13-inch self-sharpening tines spread across this area. They have a 6.5-inch working depth but also come with seven depth adjustments to choose from.
Other great features include the drag bar, side shield, and serrated rear shield, all of which are adjustable for comfort and safety. There is a front counterweight on the large pneumatic tires for extra balance and smooth handling.
Extra features: 93 dB noise level; 3-position wheel adjustment
There are a few reasons that the Sun Joe TJ603E is one of the best small garden tillers on the market. This product is light enough to move easily but heavy enough to get the job done properly. It works great for soil that needs a bit of cultivation, though it may bounce around too much on hard-packed soil getting its first turn.
This model has a 12-amp motor and uses electricity to run, so you’ll need a long extension cord to keep it running as you work. This saves you the hassle of adding gas, though, which costs you less while helping reduce environmental damage.
There are six steel tines on the front of the tiller, so they are durable enough to cut through dirt, weeds, and even some small tree roots. They are also angled to help increase their performance. The tines are positioned to give you up to 16 inches of cultivation width. There is a three-position wheel adjustment, with the tines reaching eight inches below each of those specific settings.
The handle is in a fixed position, which means you can’t adjust it to your size, which may make it a bit uncomfortable for those who are not of average height. These handles are foldable, though, making it easier to store the tiller when you’re not using it or transport it as needed. Aside from the handle grips, it also comes fully assembled.
Extra features: powered by 20-volt MAX lithium-ion battery; can cultivate up to 325 feet on a single charge
The best mini tillers are mainly used for lighter work rather than digging up hard-packed soil for the first time. They are designed to help get already established gardens and flower beds ready for their next planting or for weeding between the rows.
The BLACK+DECKER LGC120 is a compact, lightweight model. It is handheld, with a soft handle grip that keeps your hands comfortable as you move it around your garden. It also includes an adjustable handle as well as a telescoping tube, so you can customize it as needed to fit your height for easy use.
This model is an electric cultivator, so you don’t need to worry about filling it with gas and producing harmful emissions. It is cordless as well, so you won’t chew up any cords when trying to work. To replace these, Black & Decker has added a 20V MAX lithium-ion rechargeable battery, which works for up to 325 feet before it needs to be recharged. The charger is also included for added convenience.
For the cultivation, there are counter-oscillating tines that turn the earth and cut down the weeds. These are designed to prevent any clogs with dirt and tangled weeds, though longer ones may still get wrapped around them. These are easy to remove, though, so you can get right back to work.
Extra features: ½-inch powder coated steel shaft; 12-inch T handle
Tilling your garden is hard enough without having a complicated tool added to the mix. That’s why some people consider the Yard Butler Twist Tiller to be one of the best tillers for gardening. This handy little tool has no engine, no buttons, and no parts to maintain.
Instead, this tiller consists of a long pole with handles at the top and a step plate over the angled claw tines. All you need to do is hold on to the handles as you step up on the plate. Your body weight then pushes those sharp twisted tines into the ground where they loosen up the soil.
This little tiller is great for all types of gardens, including flower boxes or raised beds. It can also be used under shrubs or any other hard-to-reach area in your yard. As well as turning the soil, you can use the Twist Tiller for mixing some fertilizer or peat moss in before you start planting, plus it takes care of the weeds.
Another benefit of this tiller is that it is made of durable steel, so it won’t bend or break, even if you’re working on some tougher soil. It is ergonomically designed with comfort grips to help reduce blistering. It does have a fixed height, though, so some may find it a bit short for comfortable use. Those with larger hands may also find the handles a bit small.
Why is it special?
Very low price
What are the flaws?
Things to Consider
Whether you’re an expert with lawn and garden maintenance or just starting out with outside work, a tiller is a great tool to help reduce your work level. The best tillers and cultivators can turn the earth for you, getting it ready for planting grass, veggies, or some colorful flowers to brighten up your yard. If you’re in the market for a new tiller, be sure to do your research to ensure you’re getting the right one to meet your personal needs.
What can a tiller/cultivator be used for?
The main use for a tiller or cultivator is to break up the soil in a yard or garden. This loosens up the dirt, which prepares the soil for whatever you want to plant. This also makes it easier for the plant’s roots to work their way deeper into the soil.
Another reason to use a tiller is to mix organic matter into the soil before you start planting, including fertilizer, compost, or peat moss. The tiller blends these additives into the soil as it turns it. The best small tillers, like the Yard Butler Twist Tiller, can even be used in between rows of vegetables and flowers to cut down any weeds that may spring up throughout the growing season.
Features to consider when choosing a tiller
If you’re trying to choose a tiller for your garden, there are a few features to consider before you start spending your hard-earned money. This will ensure you’re getting the right model for the area you have to work on.
There are a few different types of tillers to choose from. First, there are cultivators, which are lightweight and come with a lower price tag. Though not great for breaking new ground, these smaller models, like the BLACK+DECKER LGC120, work well for stirring up the soil in established gardens.
Front tine tillers have their tines in front of the wheels, beneath the motor. They are a bit more powerful than cultivators but still may be a bit small for breaking up new ground. Instead, these models are best used for weeding between rows of crops or mixing up the soil. You can even use them for composting.
The best rated rear tine tillers are the most powerful tillers there are. These have the tines at the back, behind the wheels, and can cut through tough soil with ease. Models like the YARDMAX YT4565 even include dual-rotating tines for different types of work.
Cultivating width and depth
The larger the machine, the wider and deeper its tines can cut. The smaller handheld models can only till as wide as the head on them, so you need to move them back and forth around your garden as you move forward to cover the entire area you’re working on. That’s why models like the Yard Butler Twist Tiller are best for getting between rows and plants or under bushes and shrubs.
Front tine tillers are a bit bigger, usually with a tilling width of about 12-16 inches. They can go as deep as their tines can reach, which is usually about ten inches or less. This smaller coverage area makes these ones good models for in between rows or for tilling small or mid-sized areas.
The best rear tine tillers are the biggest type there is, which is why they have the largest coverage area with each pass. They have a fixed tilling area between about 14 and 20 inches, plus can till to a depth of ten inches or less. This makes models like the YARDMAX YT4565 the best choice for larger areas that are getting their first tilling.
The number of tines can vary from machine to machine. Smaller cultivators may have only two tines that spin and mix up the soil. Larger front tine models can have from four to six tines, while larger rear tine tillers can have as many as ten. The more tines there are, the wider the area is that the tiller can cover. If you’re only working on a small garden or trying to keep the weeds down between your veggie rows, fewer tines will work better than a huge model with multiple tines.
When it comes to the power source of a tiller, there are only a few to choose from. The smaller models usually use electricity to power them, with an internal battery. Some models are corded, like the Earthwise TC70001, so you need to run an extension cord to the tiller in order to use it. The small handheld machines may include a rechargeable battery instead. Though they are lighter and require less maintenance than the larger models, they do have their limitations on how long they can run or how far from the power source you can work.
The more powerful models have larger motors and need gas to power them. This allows you to work longer and anywhere you like, plus these models can handle tougher jobs at a much faster pace. The gas adds an extra cost and they do need a bit more maintenance over time, though, so keep this in mind if considering this type of tiller.
As strange as it sounds, the weight of a smaller tiller matters more than that of a larger model. The big rear tine tillers have wheels at the front that pull the machine along, so you don’t have to work very hard to get the job done. They are bulky, though, and don’t handle corners well, so you do have to put a bit of effort into maneuvering them, which is where the extra weight may work against you.
Front tine tillers have the wheels at the back that are more for guidance, with the tines actually pulling the machine along. This means that you need to lean it back on the wheels to get it where you want it to start tilling, so the lighter it is, the easier it will be to get from point A to point B.
The handheld or manual models are the lightest tillers or cultivators there are. These usually weigh less than ten pounds, plus come with some sort of ergonomic design to ensure you don’t strain yourself, even if working in your garden for a few hours at a time.
Like any product on the market that you buy for your home, a tiller needs a decent warranty to ensure it will last for a while doing the hard outdoor work it is designed for. The longer the warranty and the more it covers, the more peace of mind you’ll have when using it in your garden.
For instance, the Yard Butler Twist Tiller only comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. This means if you don’t actually try it out in those 30 days and it fails on you after that, you are stuck with it. Though made of durable steel, it could still bend or break if there is some sort of defect in the workmanship, but after 30 days, you won’t get a refund or replacement.
Every other product we’ve reviewed here has a two-year limited warranty, which covers defects in the parts or the manufacturing, so if the product has any issues in that time, you likely won’t have to pay for any repairs.
Front tine tillers are a bit lighter than rear tine tillers. They are also better for breaking up ground that is moderately hard or already loosened. Rear tine tillers are much stronger and heavier, plus are built to handle much more packed soil. The rear tine tillers are also better for larger areas, while front tine models are best for small to mid-sized gardens. Front tine tillers are usually electric as well, while the larger rear tine tillers are gas-powered.
The small manual cultivators are best used for ground that is already loose. If the soil is harder, especially after a long winter, you’ll want to upgrade to a front or rear tine tiller. These have a bit more weight to them, plus have stronger motors and larger tines for digging into that hard-packed soil.
Though pretty much any type of tiller can help you cut through and remove the weeds from your garden, they can’t all handle rocks. If your garden or yard is pretty rocky, your best choice for breaking ground or mixing the soil in these areas is a rear tine tiller. These heavy-duty machines are built a bit stronger to cut through harder soil and rocky areas.
If you like to spend time in your garden, or are just starting one, the right tiller can be a great addition to your other gardening tools. Every model we’ve reviewed here has its place, though some require a second look.
Our top choice is the Earthwise TC70001 front tine tiller. This model is lightweight, with a solid build and a push-button start. It also features six-inch flip-down transport wheels, an 8.5-Amp motor, and a two-stage safety ignition.
The YARDMAX YT4565 is a rear tine tiller, with seven depth adjustments for its dual rotating tines, and a front counterweight. It is easy to assemble, with back and side steering capabilities, plus has an adjustable drag bar, side shield, and back shield.
The Sun Joe TJ603E is another front tine model, with a 12-Amp motor, six steel angled tines, and a three-position wheel adjustment. It comes almost fully assembled and includes foldable handles for easy storage.