The Difference Between a Tiller and a Cultivator

Breaking Soil vs. Stirring Soil

By  | Tiller Product Expert

People often use the terms tiller and cultivator interchangeably, but they mean very different things.

They actually serve two different purposes. One breaks up solid ground whereas the other mixes loose dirt.

Using tillers and cultivators interchangeably is like using a power mixer to toss salad and a fork to stir cake mix. Use the right tool for the job, and you'll be much more efficient.

View Cultivators
Cultivators are designed for mixing loose soil and stirring in compost or fertilizer. Less powerful than a tiller, cultivators aren't designed for breaking ground or loosening hard soil.

They come in gas powered, corded electric, and cordless models, and they blend soil much finer than a tiller, making them great for putting final touches on your garden before planting.

When someone uses the term "electric tiller," what they're referring to is actually "electric cultivators." Actual tillers are only found in gas-powered models.

Ideal for...

  • Blending soil prior to planting

  • Stirring in compost and fertilizer

  • Controlling weed growth

  • How to Pick the Perfect Cultivator

    Garden Tillers

    These are the creators! Garden tillers are the strong machines designed for digging and mixing hard soil into a loose garden bed.

    They come in two styles, front tine and rear tine. Which one you choose should depend upon what you plan to use it for.

    Front Tine Tillers
    View Front Tine Tillers
    Front tine tillers are great for breaking soft ground or cultivating larger gardens year after year.

    They are more maneuverable than their rear tine counterpart because the wheels are in the back and allow for easier turning and reversing.

    Ideal for...

  • Breaking moderately hard ground

  • Loosening firm soil

  • Digging small to medium gardens

  • How to Pick the Perfect Front Tine Tiller

    Rear Tine Tillers
    View Rear Tine Tillers
    Rear tine tillers enable you to leverage the weight of the machine for more power. They tend to be large, and are therefor less maneuverable.

    These are great for breaking up a lawn and creating lots of loose soil over large areas.

    Ideal for...

  • Breaking hard ground

  • Loosening hard or rocky soil

  • Digging large gardens

  • How to Pick the Perfect Rear Tine Tiller


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