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Few gardeners are blessed with the loose, loamy soil plants love. For those who must break through heavy clay soil or fix poorly drained soil, using a tiller can be the first step on the path to a lovely, bountiful garden. Heavily trafficked areas and those with hard soil, often in areas where rain pools and is slow to drain, are great candidates for tilling.

Mechanized tillers make it easier to work in soil amendments like compost and fertilizer, and they help aerate the soil and increase permeability. All of this boosts the growth of beneficial soil organisms in the soil, translating to a better growing experience—and a healthier back, too.

Tillers are an invaluable tool for making soil workable and transforming a landscape, but there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for every garden. This guide highlights the important features like size, engine, and tine options to help you choose the best rototiller for the job. Plus, a selection of some of the top options in a range of categories is listed below.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Earthwise TC70001 11-Inch Electric Tiller/Cultivator
  3. BEST COMPACT: Sun Joe TJ599E 2.5-Amp Electric Garden Cultivator
  4. BEST CORDLESS: Greenworks 40V 10 inch Cordless Cultivator
  5. BEST CULTIVATOR: Garden Trax Mini Cultivator Tiller
  6. MOST VERSATILE: EARTHQUAKE 12802 Mini Cultivator


Tiller vs. Cultivator

Though the two terms are often used interchangeably, tillers and cultivators differ in functionality and purpose. When shopping, it’s important to understand which tool is more suitable for your specific gardening needs.

  • Cultivators are best used in existing beds to loosen the top few inches of soil and break up the crust that results from the impact of rain on exposed soil. The crust prevents air, water, and nutrients from reaching plant roots and beneficial soil organisms. Furthermore, a loose soil surface makes it easier for germinated seeds to penetrate through the soil as they reach for sunlight. Cultivators also work well to uproot weeds around existing plantings or to prep the soil before planting a vegetable or flower bed.
  • Tillers, on the other hand, work best in areas requiring more muscle, like new beds that need improved airflow and water permeability. The tiller tines dig deeply to turn over the soil, sometimes requiring several passes over the bed to break down heavy clods of soil into a workable substrate. If a tiller is used in a densely planted landscape bed, more harm than good may be done by damaging the root systems of existing plants. Furthermore, digging too deeply in an established bed can destroy developing soil structure and displace worms and other beneficial soil organisms.
  • Tiller/cultivator combinations offer the benefits of both tools with the option to adjust the digging depth of the tines on some models. Wheeled combos require that the machine is tilted forward or backward to adjust depth.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Rototiller

There are a few shopping considerations to keep in mind when looking for the right rototiller for the job. In particular, think about the power source, type of tines, size, and portability so you can get the most out of your purchase.

Power Source

Tilling heavy soil can be backbreaking work if trying it by hand with a shovel, but it doesn’t have to be tough when armed with the best rototiller for the job.

The ideal rototiller has an engine that fits with the landscaping goals. For existing beds that require some moderate cultivation, an electric tiller will likely fit the bill. These tillers tend to be less powerful than their gas-powered counterparts, but they’re often lighter in weight and more compact. For cutting new beds and working in compacted soil, a gas-powered tiller makes the work easier.

Unlike electric tillers, the heavier and often larger gas-powered tillers have unlimited strength and run on two-cycle or four-cycle engines. Though cheaper, two-cycle engines require a mixture of oil and gasoline to operate. Four-cycle engines run on gas alone, which makes them cleaner and more environmentally friendly than two-cycle engines.

Corded vs. Cordless

Some rototillers and cultivators can run on electricity through an electrical cord or using battery power.

  • Corded rototillers rely on a direct connection to a power outlet, though an extension cord can help increase mobility. These tillers are a good option for gardens located close to power outlets. However, the cord can be a nuisance to keep track of while working, and it can also limit a user’s movement.
  • Cordless rototillers rely on rechargeable batteries that typically work for 30 minutes to 2 hours on a single charge, depending on the model. These tillers are great when working away from a power source, and they don’t pose a tripping hazard. Still, users will need to keep an eye on battery life while they work.

Tines Positioning

Rototillers vary in how the tines are positioned on the tool. Differences in the positioning of the tines affect how the soil is tilled.

(Video) ✅ Top 5 Best Rear Tine Tillers 2022 - Reviews & Buying Guide

  • Front-tine tillers have forward rotating tines located in the front with small wheels positioned behind the tines. These tillers typically don’t reach deeply and are best for use in existing beds that require light cultivation for weeding or adding soil amendments.
  • Rear-tine tillers have large wheels positioned in front of the tines and are ideal for new beds or heavily compacted soil where the tines can dig deeply, lifting clay and rock with each pass. Vertical-tine tillers offer the best of both worlds. The churning action of the tines, much like an egg beater, uses a forward motion to cut through and stir the soil.
  • Unlike rear-tine machines that require several passes to break and then mix the soil, vertical-tine tillers do it all with one pass and can help gardeners create new beds or cultivate existing ones.


Mechanized tillers can have adjustable tilling width and dig deeply into the soil—8 to 10 inches and sometimes deeper for new beds—breaking up compacted or rocky soil.

The wider the tiller, the more ground it can cover, which means fewer passes across the bed to till the soil to the desired crumble and depth. This convenience, however, comes with a price. Large tillers often are heavier and more difficult to maneuver in small beds.

Electric tillers, while lighter, lack the power to turn heavy soil but till well in new beds where soil works easily. Consider a mini tiller for small gardens that are less than 1,500 square feet and have loose soil.

A 5- or 6-horsepower tiller will handle a medium-size garden. Large gardens more than 5,000 square feet or those with heavily compacted soil will benefit from the added power of a tiller with a 6-horsepower engine or higher.


As tillers go up in size, they also become more cumbersome and can be tough to operate in tight spots. For this reason, some tillers offer adjustable-height handles for maximum operating comfort or folding handles that make them easier to store.

Many buyers value both power and portability in tillers, but like most things, increased size means increased weight. For this reason, the best tiller should only be big enough to handle the task at hand. Otherwise, there may be operating and storing challenges.

Our Top Picks

Digging heavy soil is physically demanding work, but the best rototiller will turn the most compacted soil into a crumbly and plant-friendly oasis in no time. Check out the following choices for some of the best tillers on the market in specific categories.


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Till or cultivate with this two-in-one combination tool powered by an 8.5-amp motor. The corded tiller is lightweight at just 27 pounds, and it has a pair of wheels to help support the powerful front tines, so users don’t need to struggle to control the depth or direction of the rototiller.

As long as the rototiller is connected with a suitable extension cord to a nearby power outlet, it will continue working until the job is done. It has four front tines that can reach a depth of 8 inches, and the width of the tines is fixed at 11 inches, making quick work of medium and large gardens. The handles have comfortable padded grips, and the V-shaped handle makes it easier to control the tiller.

Product Specs

  • Power Source:Corded electric
  • Motor Power:8.5 amps
  • Cultivating Width:11 inches
  • Cultivating Depth:8 inches
  • Tines: 4


  • Great for medium and large gardens
  • Padded grip handles for comfort
  • Tiller and cultivator in a single tool


  • No speed control

Get the Earthwise rototiller on Amazon and at Walmart.


(Video) Top 10 Best Rear Tine Tillers In 2022 | Cultivate Like A True Pro

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If raised or existing beds require only light cultivating, the BLACK+DECKER may be the right choice. This battery-operated tiller/cultivator can till up to 325 square feet with a single charge. Four-inch counter-oscillating vertical tines make short work of weeds without tangling, and the telescoping shaft helps make this a back-friendly tool.

At just more than 8 pounds, it’s lightweight, easy to operate, and has comfort-grip handles, so working longer is easier. The 20-volt lithium-ion battery, when completely depleted, takes up to 8 hours to fully charge.

Product Specs

  • Power Source:Cordless electric
  • Motor Power:4.5 amps
  • Cultivating Width:7 inches
  • Cultivating Depth:4 inches
  • Tines: 2


  • Cordless for unlimited reach
  • Long battery life
  • Lightweight and easy to operate


  • Battery takes a while to fully recharge

Get the BLACK+DECKER rototiller at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Walmart.


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The Sun Joe corded electric cultivator is equipped with a telescoping shaft that allows for a customized length adjustment. It also has an ergonomic handle that makes it more comfortable to use and easier to control. It weighs just 10 pounds, but since it doesn’t sit on rolling wheels, the user will have to bear the full burden of carrying and maneuvering the tiller.

The corded cultivator is equipped with a 2.5-amp motor that can cultivate 6.3 inches wide and 6 inches deep. Although its smaller size and lower power rating are designed primarily for cultivating, this cultivator also is useful for tilling small sections of soil.

Product Specs

  • Power Source:Corded electric
  • Motor Power:2.5 amps
  • Cultivating Width:6.3 inches
  • Cultivating Depth:6 inches
  • Tines: 4


  • Affordable
  • Adjustable length
  • Great for light work
  • Lightweight and stores easily


  • No wheels so users must fully support it

Get the Sun Joe rototiller at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Walmart.

(Video) Best Garden Tillers 2022 | Top 10 Best Garden Tiller 2022 Buying Guide


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The Greenworks cordless electric cultivator has a 4-amp motor and comes with a battery charger and a 40-volt battery that can power the tiller for up to 40 minutes on a single charge. Instead of having to deal with the pull-cord start common on gas-powered tillers, this rototiller has an easy-to-operate push-button start.

The rototiller weighs about 40 pounds and sits on a pair of small wheels, so the user doesn’t need to hold the entire weight of the machine. The four front tines can till to a maximum depth of 5 inches, and the tilling width is adjustable between 8.25 inches and 10 inches.

Product Specs

  • Power Source:Cordless electric
  • Motor Power:40 volts
  • Cultivating Width:8.25 to 10 inches
  • Cultivating Depth:5 inches
  • Tines:4


  • No gas fumes
  • Minimal bouncing
  • Easy push-button start


  • Pricey
  • Battery can be difficult to remove

Get the Greenworks rototiller on Amazon and at Walmart.


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The Garden Trax cultivator is a versatile tool ideal for maintaining the soil health and consistency of the garden. It’s a suitable option for serious gardeners who prefer to weed, mix, and aerate the soil with one powerful machine. While this front-tine cultivator isn’t suitable for breaking up hard ground, it can be used in all types of pre-tilled earth with a max tilling depth of 4 inches.

The gas-powered cultivator has a two-cycle engine that provides ample power for mixing a consistent amount of fertilizer, mulch, and soil throughout the garden. It weighs just under 30 pounds, though most of the weight is supported by two adjustable wheels. The cultivator also has a tilling width that’s adjustable from 6 to 12 inches.

Product Specs

  • Power Source:Cordless gas
  • Motor Power:33cc
  • Cultivating Width:Unlisted
  • Cultivating Depth:Unlisted
  • Tines:Unlisted


  • Ideal for serious gardeners
  • Weeds, mixes, and aerates at the same time
  • Powerful engine


(Video) Best Rear Tine Tiller in 2022 (For Soil, Small & Large Gardens )

  • Can take time to get the engine going

Get the Garden Trax rototiller on Amazon and at Walmart.


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Sometimes it’s tough to justify the purchase of a task-specific tool, but the optional add-on dethatching and edging kits make this tiller/cultivator combo a powerful multiuse machine. Use it to turn the soil in an existing garden or lift a portion of sod and till the hard soil underneath to create a new garden.

At 32 pounds, the four-cycle gas-powered engine is lightweight and easy to maneuver across existing beds. Front-mounted tines till up to 8 inches deep and 10 inches wide with each pass. Adjustable tines make transitioning from tilling to cultivating fast and efficient, while variable speed controls apply more muscle when soil conditions call for it.

Product Specs

  • Power Source:Cordless gas
  • Motor Power:40 cc
  • Cultivating Width:10 inches
  • Cultivating Depth:8 inches
  • Tines:4


  • Adjustable tines for multiple uses
  • Variable speeds
  • Easy to maneuver


  • Checking the oil can be troublesome

Get the EARTHQUAKE rototiller at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Walmart.

Our Verdict

For a great all-around rototiller that is lightweight and easy to maneuver, consider the Earthwise electric tiller, which offers a gas- and fume-free gardening experience. If shoppers are looking for more of a compact unit to save space in that ever-bulging tool shed, then the Sun Joe Aardvark electric tiller is an excellent choice.

How We Chose the Best Rototillers

The best rototillers have a tilling depth and width that makes it easy to quickly and effectively till the garden to the desired consistency. Our list of recommendations all fulfill that important objective, since we know that tillers that are too small take too long for use in a large garden, while tillers with a shallow depth may not break up enough soil for the plants to grow to their full potential.

Our top picks operate on gas, corded electricity, or battery power. We made sure to offer a range of power source options to satisfy shoppers’ requirements. To ensure users get the optimal results, our list recommends a wide range of rototillers and cultivators that can be suitable for the size of the yard or garden.


Rototillers can help improve the yield of a garden and rejuvenate the lawn, but if you aren’t quite sure about the difference between tillers and cultivators or even what type of rototiller would be ideal for your needs, continue reading. Several of the most commonly asked questions about the best garden tillers for new ground are answered below.

Q: What is the difference between a tiller and a cultivator?

Tillers are made for breaking up hard, compact dirt so plant roots have an easier time growing down through the soil. Cultivators look the same and are often referred to as electric tillers, though they are smaller and less powerful. However, this isn’t a bad thing because they have a different purpose than a tiller. A cultivator isn’t intended to break through hard ground; instead, it specializes in blending and aerating soil before planting.

Q: What type of rototiller do I need?

In general, rear-tine tillers and vertical-tine tillers are best for large gardens or yards, while front-tine tillers are better for a medium or small garden.

Q: Is it hard to use a tiller?

Using a rototiller isn’t difficult. Just start the engine, then set the tiller so that the tines begin to rotate. When the machine is ready, move in a straight line along the patch of lawn or garden to be tilled. Proceed row by row to till the entire area, then turn the rototiller off, and use a rake to remove any weeds.

(Video) Top 5 Best Rototiller You can Buy Right Now [2022]

Q: When should you use a tiller?

There are many instances when a rototiller is helpful. For example, a garden tiller can turn loose soil in the garden; break up hard, compact soil to prepare the ground for planting; or be used to break through dying patches of lawn, killing off the old grass so new grass can be planted.


Which tiller is easier to use? ›

While they aren't common, mid-tine tillers are the easiest of the three types to maneuver. Their engines are located directly over their tines, which distributes their weight in an evenly balanced way. This ease of use makes them a great choice for gardeners or farmers with large plots to till.

Which Mantis tiller is best? ›

The best Mantis tiller is the Mantis 7924 Two-Cycle Plus Tiller And Cultivator. It uses a recoil start system called FastStart that makes it far easier to start the engine.

Which is better front or rear tiller? ›

Rear tine tillers are considered stronger, can turn the soil deeper, are better suited for creating new beds thoroughly, can chomp through tougher and rocky ground and work on larger areas faster due to being wider.

How do I choose a tiller? ›

For small gardens less than 1,500 square feet, you can get away with a mini-tiller, sometimes called a cultivator. For a medium-size garden, you probably need a mid-size tiller with a 5-horsepower engine. For gardens larger than 5,000 square feet, you'll want a heavy-duty tiller with at least a 6-horsepower engine.

Are rototillers worth it? ›

A rototiller is actually great for certain tasks. It's perfect for creating smooth soil for planting grass. And yes, it can certainly be helpful in creating your first garden space from a grass covered lot. Tilling a large garden space can be a lot of work.

How deep should a tiller go? ›

For most jobs, a tiller depth between four and six inches will prove ideal, as you won't encounter tree roots or rocks which can damage your rototiller. Once you have prepared the correct settings, it's time to till the area. If the soil is compact and hard, start tilling with the shallowest setting.

How deep do rototillers dig? ›

Tillers have larger, heavy-duty tines that can be used for initial ground-breaking and can often dig the soil to depths of 8 inches or more. These machines can also be used for cultivating.

When should I buy a tiller? ›

If you are lucky enough to score a good deal on a tiller of your own, don't be so quick to pack your new purchase in the back of the shed until next spring – you'll be needing it just a few months. Fall is the perfect time to start preparing your garden for spring planting, so keep it accessible.

What is the biggest Mantis tiller? ›

Our Widest, Most Powerful 4-Cycle Tiller Ever. This extra-wide rototiller is built for bigger yards and gardens, and features our unique, curvy tines that easily break through new ground and sod, compacted soil… even hard clay.

Does Honda make Mantis tillers? ›

The Mantis Gas-Only 4-Cycle Tiller weighs just 24 pounds. It starts easily, runs quiet and requires no gas/oil mixture in the tank. This lightweight tiller/cultivator features a 4-cycle engine powered by Honda®.

Who makes Mantis tiller engines? ›

Mantis 4-Cycle Plus Tiller/Cultivator 7940

This lightweight tiller/cultivator features a 4-cycle engine powered by Honda®. It's a compact, easy starting, fun to use powerhouse that's tough enough to till up sod and hard-packed soil and is so easy to use.

Should I wet the ground before tilling? ›

Before You Till

Avoid tilling in wet soil as soil compaction can occur and lead to poor root penetration in the growing season. If it rains, it's best to wait a few days to allow soil to become semi-dry.

Should rototiller blades be sharpened? ›

Rotary tillers break through a variety of soils to create a workable area for gardens and flowerbeds. After repeated use, the tines, or blades, dull and wear down. No matter what type or brand of tiller you own, these blades will need to be sharpened or replaced to keep your machine working properly.

What kind of tiller should I use for grass? ›

For many yards, either a front tine or rear tine garden tiller will work well for this process. If you're seeding a small patch of grass, a cultivator might be better for the job. Give the soil in place at least one pass with your tiller.

How much horsepower does a rototiller need? ›

Consider this: A typical 5-ft rotary tiller with four tines can be run by a 25-hp tractor and the same 5-ft rotary tiller with six tines would need a 31-hp tractor to operate the tiller at peak performance. A 40-hp requirement jumps to nearly 50 hp with six tines.

What is the difference between a rototiller and a tiller? ›

A rototiller, or tiller, is the heavier and more powerful of the two. Tillers are made for digging deeply and aggressively to break open the soil—for instance, when you're creating a brand-new garden bed or to getting started at the beginning of the season.

Whats the difference between a tiller and a cultivator? ›

What is a Cultivator? The purpose of a lawn tiller is to break up hard and compact soil, whereas a garden cultivator like the Husqvarna T300RH petrol cultivator serves to mix up soil that is already loose and stir in compost or fertiliser so that it is ready for planting.

Why are people against tilling? ›

Tilling Damages Organic Matter. Tillage results in two self-perpetuating cycles: it burns up soil organic matter (OM) necessitating the addition of more, and it stirs up weed seeds, necessitating yet more tillage to kill the weeds. Conventional farming “solves” these two problems in a manner that is not sustainable.

Is tilling bad for soil? ›

Tillage can break up soil structure, speed the decomposition and loss of organic matter, increase the threat of erosion, destroy the habitat of helpful organisms and cause compaction. Each of these potential outcomes negatively impact soil quality. A soil's performance is directly related to a soil's quality or health.

Should you rototill your garden every year? ›

Using a rototiller in the garden can make the soil light and easy to plant, break up tough root systems and move plant material into the soil. Rototilling every year can actually cause damage to the garden by increasing erosion, removing nutrients from the soil and disrupting organisms that are needed for soil health.

What is the difference between a rototiller and a cultivator? ›

Cultivators mix the soil, while tillers break up hard soil into pieces. A garden cultivator is designed for regular maintenance tasks on already loosened soil and for working around growing plants. Think of it as a hoe with a motor.

What company makes Earthquake tillers? ›

Earthquake® is the leading designer, manufacturer, and marketer of seasonal outdoor power equipment specializing in earth tilling and drilling products for the residential, rural, and light commercial markets.

Who makes Viper tiller engines? ›

Earthquake® expands its successful cultivator family with the MAC™ and MC33™ models. Both are powered by our new 33cc Viper® engine.

Are Earthquake tillers any good? ›

Earthquake tillers are generally very reliable and produce excellent results for furrowing your garden. While this one doesn't cut as deep and wide as some of its rivals, it makes tilling very easy and the fact that it's gas powered does increase the range.

How far down does a tiller go? ›

For most jobs, a tiller depth between four and six inches will prove ideal, as you won't encounter tree roots or rocks which can damage your rototiller. Once you have prepared the correct settings, it's time to till the area. If the soil is compact and hard, start tilling with the shallowest setting.

Can tiller cut through roots? ›

Tillers can cut through smaller roots without much problem. The maximum size of roots that the machine can cut through depends on the tiller's size and power, as well as the blades' size. However, running into overly large roots can stop, or even damage your tiller.

Can I use a tiller to remove weeds? ›

A small tiller can be a life-saver (or at least a back-saver). Lightly till around plants and along paths to churn up the soil, exposing the weeds' roots to the drying sun. A light rototilling once every week or two will go a long way to keeping weeds from taking over your gardens.

What tillers are made in the USA? ›

Mantis tillers are proudly assembled in Pennsylvania with components manufactured both in the United States and abroad.

Where are earthquake power tools made? ›

Where Are Earthquake Products Made? Harbor Freight's Earthquake and Earthquake XT tools and accessories are designed in Calabasas, California at our state-of-the-art design center and built by our industry's leading manufacturers of tools.

Where are earthquake mowers made? ›

Guaranteed. At Earthquake, we manage the design and manufacturing of each product from our Cumberland, WI headquarters. Dedicated product specialists work with each of our suppliers to ensure that we consistently build high quality products.

Who makes Viper 99cc engine? ›

Manufacturer's Product Number: 18100.

How do you start an earthquake Viper Tiller? ›

How to start your Earthquake Garden rototiller. - YouTube


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