The 10 Best Tillers

Updated February 20, 2018 by Ezra Glenn

10 Best Tillers
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 39 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. When it comes time to prepare your lawn or garden for planting, you'll find the right tool for the job on our list of rototillers and cultivators. They'll let you break up hard, compacted soil and aerate the ground with ease, leaving behind a smooth, loose seed bed that's ready for new growth. We've included both gas and electric models to suit a range of needs. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best tiller on Amazon.

10. GreenWorks 27072

The GreenWorks 27072 is a good choice for somebody with a small yard and not a lot of storage space. It features a handle that folds down, uses a reasonably powerful 8 amp electric motor, and can get around tight corners thanks to its slim profile.
  • adjustable tilling depth and width
  • not ideal for working through sod
  • assembly instructions are lacking
Brand Greenworks
Model 27072
Weight 35.2 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

9. Sun Joe TJ600E

The angled steel tines of the Sun Joe TJ600E make quick work of loosening even hard-packed dirt. It is designed to limit impact and vibration for its operator, so it's a bit easier on the body than some models, but it's not well suited for large plots.
  • powerful for its size and weight
  • large ergonomic handles
  • doesn't till very deep
Brand Snow Joe
Model TJ600E
Weight 20.8 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

8. Earthwise TC70001

The Earthwise TC70001 features dual 4-blade steel tines that handle hard-packed soil well. It is a good eco-friendly choice thanks to its clean electric motor, but it seems better suited to the casual home user rather than any kind of professional work.
  • handle release shutoff for safety
  • 2-year warranty included
  • no adjustable depth control
Brand Earthwise
Model TC70001
Weight 27.8 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

7. Mantis 7920

The powerful Mantis 7920 features a reliable, commercial grade, 2-cycle engine with push-button priming for easy starts. Its tines can penetrate to variable depths from 2 to 10 inches, and are reversible so their blades face inwards for precision applications.
  • tines have a lifetime guarantee
  • infinitely variable speed control
  • weeds may get tangled in the axle
Brand Mantis
Model 7920
Weight 23.4 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

6. Husqvarna FT900-CA

The Husqvarna FT900-CA is powered by a Briggs & Stratton engine, and features adjustable width tines that can be set at 12, 24, and 26 inches. It also has a depth bar that makes it quick and easy to set its level of penetration.
  • includes a counterweight
  • tears into compacted earth well
  • tine guard width cannot be adjusted
Brand Husqvarna
Model 960830009
Weight 177 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. Southland SRTT196E

With its heavy-duty tread and powerful 196cc engine, the Southland SRTT196E is a beast that's ready to tackle the toughest landscaping jobs. It has a forward and reverse gear drive system and self-sharpening, counter-rotating tines.
  • handles rugged terrain easily
  • regulates depth well
  • very heavy to push and maneuver
Brand Southland Outdoor Power
Model SRTT196E
Weight 199 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Black and Decker LGC120

For small jobs free of tough soil and rocks, it's hard to beat the convenience and control of the Black and Decker LGC120. It runs on a 20-volt lithium ion battery that can cultivate up to 325 square feet of land on a single charge.
  • vertical tines for maximum precision
  • dual-handle design for leverage
  • weighs just over 8 pounds
Model LGC120
Weight 12.2 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Troy-Bilt TB154E

The Troy-Bilt TB154E has four forward-rotating steel tines that are designed to dig, tear, and turn with ease. It's powered by a virtually maintenance-free electric motor, so you don't have to worry about it not starting on cold days.
  • ideal for aerating small plots
  • cord lock prevents detachments
  • well-balanced and ergonomic design
Brand Troy-Bilt
Model TB154E
Weight 33.1 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Mantis 7940

The Mantis 7940 uses a powerful Honda 4-cycle 25cc engine that is designed to spin its tines twice as fast as other models. It's tough enough to tackle big jobs, though it weighs just 24 pounds, and its 9" width is perfect for reaching into tight spaces.
  • heavy-duty transmission housing
  • finger-controlled throttle
  • precision steel-cut gear system
Brand Mantis
Model 7940
Weight 27.3 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Earthquake MC43 Mini Cultivator

The Earthquake MC43 Mini Cultivator has variable speed, throttle, and clutch control settings, so you can work it just as hard as you need. Because of its small size, transportation is a breeze, and it's conveniently easy to assemble.
  • smooth maneuverability
  • high performance 43cc viper engine
  • width adjusts to 6 or 10 inches
Brand Earthquake
Model MC43
Weight 35.8 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

Why Gardeners Use Tillers

A tiller is a garden tool that is used to loosen up soil before initial plantings and in between seasonal plantings. It can also be used to rip up weeds in between rows of raised garden beds and aerate soil for better drainage. Tillers are also a great way to prepare a new, previously unused area for gardening.

One of the main reasons many gardeners use tillers is to make what would normally be a laborious and time consuming job–ripping up weeds and turning soil–quick and easy. By using a tiller, one can eliminate the need for hoeing and manual soil turning. This is doubly true if you have a large garden area to prepare. Tillers can easily rip through weed roots and large clumps of dirt, ensuring that the weeds are completely destroyed, reducing the need for chemical weed killers.

Tilling weeds is better than ripping them out as it leaves the organic plant matter in the soil, allowing it to decompose and fertilize your garden. For those living in areas with hard-packed soil, a tiller is a must-have tool. Not only will it prepare your soil for planting, it will make the act of digging when planting much easier. This is because, after using a tiller on hard-packed soil, it will be light and fluffy.

A tiller can also be a great way to evenly distribute fertilizers or compost throughout the soil before planting. This will help ensure your garden soil has a high amount of nutrients, without any areas containing too much fertilizer and affecting blooms and vegetable growth.

How To Use A Tiller

Before starting to till, you must clear the area of any large debris, like rocks or branches, which could potentially damage the tiller tines or cause injury if they fly into the air. If you plan on tilling an area that has a thick growth of weeds, you should use a garden trimmer to hack them down to just a couple of inches or less above the ground. It is best to till dry dirt, as wet dirt has a tendency to clump after tilling.

If the soil is hard and compact, you should start with the tiller on a shallow setting. If you are dealing with softer soil, you can start with the tiller at a medium depth. Once you have the tiller set to the correct depth, engage the tines and slowly make parallel passes across your yard until you have covered the entire area at least one time.

After tilling the garden area once, set the tiller to a deeper setting and retill the area in the same pattern as the first time. Once finished, you can make a few perpendicular passes. Make sure you are walking slowly as you till the area and let the tiller do the work. Never try and force one forward.

Once you are able to easily till the garden bed at a depth of seven or eight inches, you are finished with the first tilling session. Wait a few days for the organic matter in the soil to break down and give any remaining weed seeds or live weeds a chance to sprout, then start the tilling process again. The second tilling session should go quicker as you can start immediately at a deep depth. As with the first time, you should make one complete pass in a parallel orientation followed by a perpendicular pass.

How To Choose The Right Tiller For Your Needs

The majority of tillers are relatively heavy and take a strong hand to control. As you might expect, smaller tillers, sometimes called cultivators, are easier to control than full-sized tillers. They are also better for smaller gardens. Even if you have a large garden and feel that it warrants a full-sized tiller, but you are too small to control one, then you would be better off with a mini tiller or a cultivator.

As a general rule of thumb, tillers and cultivators are recommended for gardens 300 square feet or greater. For any yards or gardens smaller than, a hand tiller should be used. Gardens under 1,500 square feet can be tilled easily with a mini-tiller or cultivator. Those with gardens in the 2,000 to 5,000 square foot range will need a larger tiller with a 4 to 6 horsepower engine. Any garden over 5,000 square feet calls for a large, almost industrial sized tiller with an engine from 7 horsepower and up.

If you live in an area with very hard or rock soil, you may need a slightly stronger tiller, so even if you only have a 1,000 square foot garden or yard, it may be better to choose a medium-sized tiller with more power.

For smaller yards and gardens, consumers may be presented with both gas and electric models that seem suitable. Gas models will be noisier and may be more difficult to start, especially on cold days, but they are generally more powerful. Electric models are quiet and easily start at the push of a button.

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Last updated on February 20, 2018 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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