Best Garden Tiller 2016
Tilling the soil is one of the toughest and most labour intensive jobs that a gardener faces. It is the act of breaking up compacted soil, and cultivating and preparing the soil for planting. This can be accomplished with a spade and a fork, but this is a lot of work, especially for anyone who has a large area to deal with.
Soil becomes compacted over time, and rocks find their way into the ground. The soil loses air. Weeds emerge in the area that you wish to plant in, and their roots find their way into the soil. None of this is conductive to new growth.
That is why tilling can be advantageous. It can aerate the soil, chop and kill off weeds and roots, and can be used to mix in fertilizer, compost, and organic materials.
It is not easy to till by hand. It is also very time consuming. Garden tillers are the answer to your prayers. Traditional gardeners might scoff and frown upon the tool as they dig their vegetable patch by hand, but there are a range of different sizes and types of garden tiller available that will save you a lot of time and energy, and do just as good a job.
Anyone with a large plot of land to cultivate will likely want a garden tiller, and many people with a smaller plot or yard to deal with will probably come to enjoy the feeling of being able to crush through and turn over even the hardest soil with more ease.
Knowing the best garden tiller to buy can be difficult, and there are plenty on the market to confuse the buyer. There is no single tiller that is better than all of the rest. Purchasing one that is perfect for your needs and budget is what really matters.
Tools Around The House have collated and presented garden tiller reviews that show the best tools available, along with information about the types of tiller, and the factors that you should consider before buying one.
Top 10 Comparison Chart
|Earthwise TC70001||Electric Corded Cultivator||8 ½ Amps||4.5 out of 5 stars2462 reviews||$118 - $149
|Cub Cadet RT 65||Rear-Tine Gas||208cc||4.0 out of 5 stars87 reviews||$799
|Honda FG110||Gas Cultivator||25cc||4.7 out of 5 stars319 reviews||$349
|Husqvarna FT-900||Front-Tine Gas||208cc||4.6 out of 5 stars24 reviews||$519
|Black and Decker LGC-120||Cordless Cultivator||20V Lithium-Ion Battery||4.2 out of 5 stars159 reviews||$112
|Powermate PFTT142||Front-Tine Gas||150cc||4.1 out of 5 stars43 reviews||$299
|Sun Joe TJ600E||Corded Electric||6.5 Amps||4.2 out of 5 stars697 reviews||$99
|Mantis 7225-15-02||Gas Cultivator||21.2cc||4.6 out of 5 stars163 reviews||$319
|Husqvarna CRT900L||Rear-Tine Gas w/ Counter Rotation||205cc||4.5 out of 5 stars8 reviews||$799
|Yard Butler TNT-4||Hand Tiller||N/A||4.5 out of 5 stars95 reviews||$33
What Is A Garden Tiller?
A garden tiller is a tool that can be used to break up compacted soil, improving the soil quality and drainage, and preparing the ground for planting. You can turn the soil, extend a bed, or cut a new vegetable patch with them. You can weed between your vegetable patches too. The best garden tillers make much lighter work of even dense and truly compacted soil.
The machine itself comes in many different shapes, sizes, and types, which are covered below. The main component of the garden tiller is the tines. These are metal blades that rotate and cut into the soil, to break it up effectively. The blades are specially curved to dig deep into soil, while stopping it from being caught in the tiller.
The blades are attached to a pushable machine that has wheels, and an engine or electric power source. In some cases, the power turns the blades, and you must push the machine manually. In other cases, the engine will power both the blades and the wheels, giving the tillers a self-propelled mechanism.
In all cases, the garden tiller is designed to make preparing and cultivating soil much easier. However, it is important to remember that even with the best tool for the job, tilling is pretty demanding work. You will have to put some energy in yourself; the smaller models can be tougher to use on hard soil, while the larger types are heavier.
Types Of Garden Tiller
Not all garden tillers are born equal. Even among the top quality models mentioned in these reviews there are big differences. There are three main types of tiller:
- Cultivator/ Mini-Tiller: These are the most lightweight design, and are not suitable for really heavy jobs such as digging deeply into rocky soil. They do provide you with some power though, and are great for mixing up loose soil, breaking partly compact soil, and weeding between rows of vegetables. The tines are at the front, and they also propel the machine. These are the least expensive garden tiller available.
- Mid-Sized Front-Tined Tillers: The front-tined tillers give you much more power than the mini-tillers, and can break up more heavily compacted soils. They have larger engines and more power, but are still great for weeding between lines too. The tines are at the front, and they again propel the machine.
You can expect to pay more for these, but they are still generally a lot cheaper than the larger ones, and are easier to maneuver too. They are a popular choice, as they tend to have enough power to deal with tough soil and large areas, while still being affordable.
- Large Rear-Tined Tillers: These are the beasts of the garden tilling world. They are bigger, heavier, and much more powerful. They feature a gasoline engine, and various power levels are available to accommodate your needs. If you have a larger yard or small farm to take care of, then you need one of these.
If you are tiling an entire yard, or you need to work on really compact, or even clay or rocky soil, then a rear-tined tiller is the one for you. This type of garden tiller has the tines on the back, and is carried forward by the wheels. You can expect to pay more for the rear-tined tillers.
Electric Or Gas?
Garden tillers are available with either electric, battery, or gas engine power sources.
There are electric garden tillers available in either corded or cordless versions. These deliver some power, but may not be suitable for tougher or larger jobs. They are also cleaner and quieter, as well as being lightweight and less expensive, so if you only have light cultivation work to do, then they may be your preferred option.
Gas powered tillers are much more powerful. The engine size can vary between around (what and what). Gas type tillers are available in all sizes, from the mini-tiller, to the large rear-tined tiller.
Forward-Vs-Counter Rotating Tines
All front-tined garden tillers and cultivators have forward rotating blades, which turn in the same direction as the wheels.
The rear-tined tillers come with either forward-rotating, or counter-rotating blades. Counter-rotating blades dig into the soil deeper and more aggressively. This means they can be better for breaking new ground, or for dealing with the toughest types of soils. However, the counter-rotation designs tend to lack finesse, and you can risk tearing up and digging too deep if you use them for turning a shallow soil bed.
Now that you know a little bit about the types of garden tiller available, you can take a glance at our garden tiller reviews table and get a quick overview of the models that might work for you. Later in the article there are reviews for each individual tiller mentioned in the table.
Factors To Consider When Buying
So, you have decided that you want to till your soil. One of the main considerations that you will have to make to find the best garden tiller for you, is the type that you will buy. Will it be a mini-cultivator, or a large rear-tined model that can bash through a heavily compacted garden with?
Questions To Ask
In order to know what type of tiller, and eventually what model is best for you, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- How Big Is The Area That You Want To Till? If you only want to weed in between your veggies, or you want to prepare a really small area of land for a flower bed or herb garden, then you can probably manage with a mini-tiller. Larger gardens will require a larger more powerful model, or else you will still be putting a lot of work in.
- What Are You Using Your Tiller For? If you are maintaining a small, already existing plot, or turning over a loose soil bed ready for next year, then a lighter duty garden tiller will do the job. If you want to make a completely new vegetable garden out of your lawn, and need to dig deep to do so, then you will need a larger, heavier machine, probably a gasoline rear-tined tiller.
- What Type Of Soil Are You Dealing With? This is a really important question to ask yourself before you buy a garden tiller. There are many different types of soil. If your soil is soft and airy, then it won't take too much effort to till, and a smaller front-tined machine might do. If your soil is sun-baked, hard, and is composed of 80% red-clay and rocks, then you are going to need the most heavy duty tiller you can get your hands on; one with a high power gas engine.
Once you have asked yourself these questions, you will have a better idea of the type of garden tiller that is best for you. Mini-tilers are best for small areas of easy to deal with soil, while the medium front-tined tillers are better for bigger jobs. Large rear-tined garden tillers are most useful for breaking through the toughest soil, or cultivating an entirely new area for growing.
There are also other factors to consider, along with just the type:
Garden tillers are available in electric corded, electric cordless, and gas engine powered. Needless to say, the gas-powered tend to deliver more power, and therefore make lighter work of preparing and cultivating tougher soil and larger areas. Gas engines vary in power too.
Again, the idea is to try to buy a tiller that matches your purpose, so ask yourself the questions above to find out how powerful a machine you might need.
Depth & Width
The tines on all of the garden tillers mentioned in our reviews can be adjusted for depth, so you can set them to cut only as far down as you need to go. If you need to dig really deep into the soil, then you will need a larger tiller that has the capability to do so.
Tilling width is also a factor. If you are looking to cultivate a large area for a full size vegetable garden, or to seed a large lawn, then you will want a nice wide cutting tiller. Full size tillers can cut as wide as 3 feet in one pass, whereas some small cultivators only dig 8 inches wide.
If you need precision, as is the case when you weed between a line of veg, then a smaller width will be great, but if you have heavy work to do you will want a larger width, which a larger tiller will provide.
Some tilers are multi-functional, and can take attachment that can help you with other garden tasks. It is usually front-tined tillers that are compatible. This means that you will sacrifice some power for the versatility that you gain. Attachments can include de-thatchers, aerators, plows, and edgers. Not all models allow it. The models on our list that are good for attachments are the Honda FG110, and the Mantis 7225.
As with any tool purchase, all of these factors have to be balanced against your budget. Bigger is not always better when it comes to garden tillers. You have to decide what you need it for, and what type and size would best do the job, while also considering that the bigger machines tend to cost a lot more money. Prices vary according to the model, power, and features, and not just the type. Here is a price range guidance:
Garden Tiler Reviews
The Earthwise TC70001 is a beautiful model that will not let you down, and which serves its purpose perfectly well. Nearly 2500 people will testify to that! This is an electric corded model, which means it gives out zero emissions, and is quiet and clean. It has string and durable tines, capable of cultivating compact soil.
The Earthwise is very good value, and gives a good amount of power for the price. However, you should be aware that this is made for light work, and ideally for narrow rows. If you want to work along raised beds, against fences, or weed between veggies then this tiller is ideal for you. It has a width of 11 inches, and a depth of 8 ½ inches.
A very reasonably priced electric garden tiller, suitable for small and especially narrow tilling and cultivating jobs. Very highly regarded, and a safe and reliable purchase!
Rating: 4.5 stars based on 2462 reviews
Cub Cadet RT-65
From the small and humble, to the mighty and mean, the Cub Cadet RT-65 is a powerful rear-tine tiller that can tear through even the most compact and dense soil, and do so in very little time at all. It is cut out for the toughest soil, and to cultivate large areas. A wide tilling width of 18 inch only adds to the efficiency, and 12 tines work to till your soil.
The Cub Cadet RT-65 is also self propelled, and can travel both forwards and backwards. This means that although it is large and heavy, it is fairly manageable, and won't work you too hard. Some users have complained about the handling, however, so be prepared to get used to the machine before you get the most from it.
Okay, so it comes with a pretty mean price tag, but this rear-tine garden tiller is suitable for large scale tilling, and is also great for tearing through the toughest of soils. If you need a powerful, heavy duty machine, then this could be the one!
Rating: 3.9 stars based on 87 reviews
Sometimes you pay for the name, and sometimes that name is really worth it. Honda are a reliable name, and the FG110 is a garden tiller that lives up to the reputation of the brand. A powerful high quality Honda engine powers this lightweight mini-tiller, and turns 4 tines for perfect performance.
The price tag is a little higher than other tillers of its calibre, but what you get here is true quality. The FG110 is reliable, durable, and runs like a treat. It is easy to use, and is highly regarded as being a great product. An added bonus is the attachments that are available for it. You can get an aerator, edger, dethatcher, and more, saving you money on your garden tools in the long run.
This product has been discontinued. Instead we recommend the Powermate PRTT196E
A really high quality garden tiller that will never let you down. Mini, but high performance, this Honda gas tiller is suitable for even tough soil, but is best used for small areas. If you have the budget, highly recommended!
Rating 4.7 stars based on 319 reviews
This is a front-tined garden tiller that is full of power, and delivers a high performance from its reliable Briggs & Stratton engine. The FT-900 is a gas model that is actually CARB-compliant. It uses gas really conservatively, while still giving tremendous tilling capabilities. The engine starts fast, and runs great.
If you need any more convincing, the Husqvarna FT-900 has an adjustable tilling width that is easy to use. Choose from 12 inches, 24 inches, or 26 inch widths, making it quite versatile and capable of doing narrow paths, as well as making short work of large areas. It also features depth adjustment, adjustable handles, and the ability to travel in reverse.
This is a real beauty of a tiller. Many people are attracted by the Briggs & Stratton engine, which is notoriously reliable and performs really well. This is a large and powerful machine that matches the capabilities of a rear-tined design!
Rating 4.6 stars based on 24 reviews
Black & Decker LGC120B
It's small, and it's not going to help you very much if you have clay ridden soil to cultivate, or a 10 acre vegetable grow. The Black & Decker LGC120B is, however, a really high quality cultivator that is available at a low price. It is lightweight, features a dual-tine design, and has a decent level of power to break up soil.
It is battery powered. This gives you freedom from cords, but it also means you have to account for the lifespan. Thankfully, the battery is lithium-ion, and has better retention than most. You can expect to get a little over 300 feet of cultivation per charge.
We are not going to lie. If you need to till a large area, or break up really tough soil, then go elsewhere. If you are looking for a sturdy cordless garden tiller that can help you with some small cultivation jobs, then this inexpensive and high quality Black & Decker model will do the trick!
Rating 4.2 stars based on 159 reviews
The PFTT142 is a quality front-tine garden tiller that is a close competitor with the more well known, and expensive, Husqvarna mentioned above. It is only slightly less powerful, but is just as capable of turning even tough soil, and makes light work tilling large areas.
It features a gear drive system that gives you maximum fuel and engine efficiency when it manually operated. The large wheels balance the tines, and allow for better mobility and stability on tough terrain. You can adjust the tilling width to either 11, 16, or 21 inches, making the PFTT142 a pretty versatile option.
A powerful front-tined model that makes light work of medium to large areas, and can break through even tough soil. Beast of a machine, and cheaper than rival models. Does an excellent job!
Rating 4.1 stars based on 43 reviews
Sun Joe TJ600E
If you are looking for an electric garden tiller to replace your shovel, then the Sun Joe TJ-600E may be perfect for you. It is small and lightweight, easy to store, and completely clean and gas free. Powered by electric, this corded model gives you enough amps to cultivate your soil. It is ETL inspected and approved.
The Instant-Start system of the Sun Joe is a brilliant feature, and gives you a perfect start every time. Don't expect the power of efficiency of a large gas model, but do expect some serious quality tilling for a very low price.
Anything power tool under $100 is a bargain in our eyes! If you have a small area of pretty loose soil to deal with, then this might be all you need. Just think, all of your tilling needs taken care of for that price!
Rating 4.2 stars based on 697 reviews
Mantis have several amazing gas powered cultivators on offer, but this is the one that really stood out as an all round beaut. It features a powerful 21.2cc Echo engine to give it all the oomph it needs to deal with even the toughest of soil.
It may be small, but this machine is just as capable as the larger models. The advantage is its 9 inch tilling width fits in hard to reach places, and is a must for raised-bed gardeners. Another noteworthy feature is the adjustable depth; you can till at 10 inches deep, or cultivate at a shallow 2-3 inches.
The Mantis 7255 comes with push button priming, is lightweight and easy to control, and has finger-tip speed control and cut off. It is also CARB compliant, making it a great option for California residents. You may also be very happy to hear that this garden tiller comes with a 5 year full warranty, and a lifetime warranty on the tines. That is well above the industry standards, and is a demonstration of how sturdy and reliable the Mantis really is.
Stunning commercial quality powerful garden tiller that is also small and lightweight. Full of features, and comes with an edger attachment. 5 year full warranty gives you the ultimate peace of mind. Perfect!
Rating 4.6 stars based on 163 reviews
This is a truly massive and powerful garden tiller that is suitable for cultivating large areas of land. It has counter rotation tines, which mean it can dig deeper and harder into really tough ground. Even solid rocks and roots are no problem for the CRT900L. A new release, there are not a lot of reviews yet available, but you can trust the brand name, and the machine is really well made for its purpose.
Stay clear if you need to work light soil in a small area. You don't need something this big. But if you have a little farm to run, or need to till a large area on your property, then this could be the garden tiller for you. It features a Briggs & Stratton 900 Series OHV engine for maximum performance, has forward and reverse gears, a drag bar, large grippy agricultural tires, and the ability to plow and ridge aswell as till.
If you need a really powerful counter clockwise tined tiller, then the Husqvarna CRT900L can more than deliver. It will make short work of even hardcore soil, and can work through cultivation areas in no time. The most expensive, but perhaps most effective, and definitely the largest model available in our list!
Rating 4.5 stars based on 8 reviews
Yard Butler TNT-4
You make think that we have included this handheld garden tiller here just to give a nod to the traditional gardeners who are still reading, and in a way we are. It is possible to till by hand, and this twist and till design will really help you to do so. It has a long handle, so less effort is needed from you. You out your weight on it, dig in, and twist to cultivate and prepare soil.
Obviously, it is a lot of effort to till your garden by hand, and if you have any sort of substantial area to work then you are going to want to buy a mechanical tiller. However, the Yard Butler can make an excellent addition to your list of tools, and can help you to till in the places where your powered machine cannot reach, such as around bushes and shrubs.
The Yard Butler TNT-4 is one of the finest hand cultivators available. Far from being dated, you can use this to till in the hard to reach places that your mechanical tiller cannot reach. The Yard Butler also comes with a lifetime warranty!
Rating 4.5 stars based on 95 reviews