Garden Tiller Buyer's Guide
How to Pick the Perfect Garden Tiller
Interested in starting a new lawn or garden? You won't find a better piece of equipment for getting your soil into shape than a large, powerful garden tiller.
Garden tillers are gas-powered dirt crushers with substantial tines and enough engine power to break through rough, chunky, uncultivated ground.
And if you've already established a sizeable garden, a garden tiller will help you cover that large area more easily and finish your tilling and cultivating in less time.
Garden tillers are available in three styles:
- Rear tine tillers
- Front tine tillers
- Mid-tine tillers
Rear Tine Tillers
Powerful engines, rugged tires, and frames built with counterweights to provide stability: there's a reason why rear tine tillers are the tillers used to work the most difficult kinds of soil.
Aside from their engine power, one other feature of rear tine tillers that makes them ideal for use in challenging areas is their sheer size. Although other types of garden tillers can fit in areas as narrow as 10 or 12 inches, the smallest rear tine tillers you'll find will have a tilling width of 16 inches. These machines were made for large plots.
Another way they differ? Their tines can rotate in three different ways:
- Forward-rotating tines
- Counter-rotating tines
- Dual-rotating tines
Forward-rotating tines will help you push forward through your soil and blend it, while counter-rotating tines will help your tiller dig deep, and dual-rotating tines allow you to switch between modes. With rear tine tillers, you have plenty of options.
Front Tine Tillers
With their lightweight 4-cycle gas engines, front tine tillers fall somewhere between rear tine tillers and smaller cultivators in terms of the work they can handle.
They might not be the best for breaking up heavy clay soil, but they're excellent for breaking ground in areas where the soil is light and loamy. They're also great for regular garden tasks:
- Breaking up compacted light soil
- Adding soil amendments
- Tearing up weeds
One feature that makes them so versatile is the ability to adjust the width of their tines. With an adjustable tine tiller, it's just as easy to use your tool for breaking wide strips of ground as it is for cultivating a small area.
And because the tines on front tine tillers rotate forward, they will pull the machine along, making these petite powerhouses easier to maneuver than rear tine tillers.
They aren't as common as their rear tine or front tine counterparts, but mid-tine tillers are a solid option that combines the best of both worlds: power and cultivating width close to that of rear tine tillers with a slightly smaller and lighter construction similar to that of front tine tillers
What distinguishes mid-tine tillers, as you can guess from their name, is the position of their tines. Because their tines are located in the center of their frames, mid-tine tillers provide a sense of balance and control that's hard for other tillers to match.
And because they often have adjustable width tines, mid-tine tillers still come with plenty of versatility.