Taking care of the soil in your garden, properly preparing it for planting, or turning it over if you want to revitalize your lawn, can be a time-consuming task. This is especially true if you’re only using a shovel and a rake or a pitchfork to do it and the ground is tough or especially rocky. This is where a machine that does the job for you comes in handy – the best garden tillers are just that, machines that help you take care of the soil much faster and with much less effort on your part. This article will show off the benefits of garden tillers and features a roundup of the best garden tillers on the market right now, to help you choose the one that fits your needs the best. Let’s have a look.
Why Buying a Garden Tiller?
Before we get to show off the best garden tillers on the market, we’ll go over what a garden tiller is, and what benefits it offers for those of you who might still be on the fence about getting one for yourself.
Tilling is necessary for cultivating the soil and making sure it’s ready for planting – if it’s too compact or filled with rocks and roots it’s not good for plants, so tilling loosens it and gets rid of anything that might hinder future growths. It has been done since gardening has existed, and in modern times it also includes adding various fertilizers or compost.
Motorized tillers (also called rotary tillers or roto-tillers) have existed for more than a full century and are intended to make this job easier. They use rotary mechanisms to till the ground (hence the alternate names for them) and are powered by an internal combustion motor or an electric one, in most cases. Over time, they have gotten smaller, stronger, and easier to use.
Tillers are rather simple, in essence – at the core of it are rotating blades made of a metal called tines. Each tine is made of four blades that are curved in opposing directions, two of them pointing inwards and two of them pointing outwards. They all work together to aggressively dig out soil and move it away from the blades, so they don’t clog or get stuck. Of course, in recent times, there are different variants, some with even more blades or slightly different design, but the underlying mechanism is still the same.
While garden tillers do make the job easier, don’t be fooled into thinking they make it effortless – tilling is still tough, even with one of these machines, especially on the harder virgin soil. You’ll still get a decent workout when working over the soil in your yard or garden.
Naturally, not all tillers do the job equally well, and some are just flat-out better than others in almost every regard. Spotting which tiller will do the job and which one will just be useless to you is not an easy thing to do – but we have made this article to help you with that. Here are some of the best garden tillers that we tested and compared – the feedback from us and some other users that is contained in this article should be enough for you to make an informed purchase. Let’s see how these tillers fared:
Meet the Best Garden Tillers
The Good: Cheap and offers plenty of power for its small size.
The Bad: It can overheat, and the start handle can malfunction.
The Bottom Line: While it has some downsides, the upsides far overweight them, making this a great product.
The Good: It has great specs for the price and size.
The Bad: Made of flimsy materials that will not last long.
The Bottom Line: It looks great on the surface but it is not bound to last for long, so it’s difficult to recommend.
The Good: It offers an incredible amount of versatility and strength.
The Bad: It is noisy and rather expensive.
The Bottom Line: While it has plenty of strength and versatility, it has plenty of downsides and is too expensive.
This summary contains only a limited amount of info, however – for more details, keep reading.
All of the Factors Considered
While tillers are simple machines at heart, more than a century of development and improvements have led to plenty of different variations on the same basic idea. Modern tillers have a ton of features and different functions making it hard to distinguish the good ones from the lousy ones at a glance. So, here are the crucial aspects that affect the usefulness of a tiller the most – that should help you with buying one for yourself.
The most popular tiller variants are gas-powered tillers and electric ones – there are upsides and downsides to both.
Gas-powered tillers usually offer more power, but that comes at a price – they are more expensive, both up-front and in the long run, require more maintenance and produce fumes.
Electric powered ones are often smaller and weaker, but they are easier to take care of, eco-friendly and cost less, though the cord they require might prove to be troublesome.
The decision is up to you and what you require out of your tiller.
The most important thing when it comes to the engine of a tiller is the horsepower. The higher it is, the stronger the engine and the easier it is for a tiller to dig up the soil. Tillers with more powerful engines can work on tougher soil and are even better at grounding up softer soil, while also being able to dig deeper into it.
Smaller models usually subsist on around one to at most five horsepower engines, while larger tillers can have engines with a horsepower of up to twelve. Of course, stronger models are also expensive, so you should look to strike a balance between your needs and your budget.
Of course, horsepower only applies to gas motors – the equivalent for electric motors is the amperage.
This depends mostly on how the tines are placed on a tiller, and there are two prominent variants.
The first is the “self-propelled” variant where the tines are placed on the front of the tiller, while the wheels are in the back. In this case, the forward propulsion is provided by the tines, as their digging into the ground pulls the unit forward, while the wheels only guide it along. They always spin when the engine is on, and you need to lift the front of the tiller to move it to where you want. It’s difficult to pull them in reverse, but they are otherwise lighter and easier to maneuver. They are also cheaper.
Rear-tined tillers are designed with the wheels at the front, mounted onto a turning axel, and they pull the tiller forward when in gear, while the tines only dig. In this case, the tines also usually spin opposite to the travel direction which provides more friction for deeper digging. They spin only when turned on, and since they rotate in reverse, it’s easy to back the tiller up.
Till Width and Depth
The width of a tiller determines how wide is the area it can dig is, determining how much ground you can cover in one go. You’ll get the job done faster with a wider tiller, but such machines are also more unwieldy and not suited for strangely shaped areas, so pick according to your needs.
The till depth is how deep a tiller can dig, which is relevant because of the roots of the plants that were in the ground previously and those you want to plant. For plants with deeper roots, you want a tiller that can dig deeper so roots don’t get blocked by tougher soil and the plants can grow. Still, if you suspect there’s bedrock not far under the surface, digging too deep will just ruin your tiller, so be careful.
Pretty much all tillers have a feature that allows for depth adjustment, depending on how deep you need it to dig. Some are more adjustable than others in this regard.
The adjustability of the handle is also necessary for the comfort of the user since you’ll be working with the tiller for extended periods of time. Shorter people want a shorter handle, for example.
Some tillers also offer a couple of different gears they can be put in, allowing you to run the tiller at larger speeds if you are working on soft ground or lower speeds if you’re working on virgin soil.
The more adjustable a tiller is, the more versatility it offers to the user.
Now that you know the most important points when it comes to a tiller’s performance, let’s see what grades we assigned to our top picks.
In-depth Reviews of 3 Garden Tillers
Good Cutting Depth and Width
With a tilling depth of 8 inches and width of 11 inches this machine offers good specs for its size. The four steel tines ensure that it will dig efficiently and can handle a lot of heavy duty work with no problems.
Powerful 8.5 amp Electric Motor
The strong electric motor in this machine stands behind its excellent performance while making it easy to maintain and use. It’s also eco-friendly and almost noiseless, so you don’t have to worry about disturbing the neighborhood.
This tiller is easily able to work in smaller, tight spaces being highly maneuverable due to its small weight and size. It also features an adjustable handle as well as adjustable tines.
The tines of this machine are mounted on the front making it a self-propulsion tiller, easy to use and push as the digging itself is also what propels it forward. The flip up and down wheels on the back also make it easy to transport.
Who Should Buy This Product
For people with smaller or medium properties, this tiller is a great boon as it is small and easy to use but packs a lot of power into its little frame. If you have an irregular shaped patch of ground you need to work on, this machine is especially useful as its low weight, and small size makes it highly maneuverable.
What to Watch Out For
There are a few minor niggling issues with this tiller that you need to consider. First off, there’s the handle that is used to start it – you need to keep it pressed for the machine to run, and that requires some strength. If you press it lightly or let go of it, it will stop working, and it can malfunction, so be mindful of that. Also, this machine can overheat on hot days, so use it in the morning or evening or just keep to the shade and it should be okay.
This tiller is a great garden tool, especially for this price. The power it offers combined with how maneuverable it makes it a valuable product, while the tilling depth and width ensure that you will get the job done quickly. However, you need to be careful with the handle used for starting it and be mindful of it overheating. Even when you take that into consideration, this is still an excellent product for people with medium-sized gardens.
Wide Cutting Area
With six durable steel tines, this tiller can dig an area up to sixteen inches wide, while going as far as eight inches deep, meaning that you will have no problems getting large areas tilled in a minimal amount of time.
Featuring a strong electrical motor with 12 amps of power, this machine can ground up even the toughest soil with no problems. This tiller will ensure that your soil is perfectly prepared for planting.
The tines are mounted at the front allowing for easy self-propulsion, meaning you need to put in barely any strength to push this machine – it pushes itself, you only need to direct it.
The handles of this tiller can be folded for easy storage and adjusted for simple use, while the wheels can be placed in three different positions ensuring that you will have no trouble pushing it around your garden.
Who Should Buy This Product
For people with medium-sized gardens, they need to work on this product is almost ideal, as the size and strength it offers, combined with the great tilling width it offers ensure that you will get the job done quickly. The strong motor it has as well as the six tines provide that as well.
What to Watch Out For
The problem with this tiller is that, while it works great, it might not last that long. The materials it is made off are rather flimsy, and that goes for every part of it. The handle can break or bend easily, the motor’s parts may fail, the tines themselves are prone to rusting over and so on. With that in mind, you can see why the price is so low.
While this tiller seems pretty great on the surface, its strengths might only be skin-deep. It has great specs, the cutting width especially – compared to its size, how powerful it is might seem incredible, especially at this price point. However, it’s made of materials that are not sturdy at all, and it is possible that it won’t last you for more than a year. It works great, but it might not work for long, keep that in mind when considering it.
Powerful 4-cycle Gas Engine
The gas-powered, 4-cycle, 25cc engine housed in this machine is what makes it so powerful, ensuring that it will have no trouble just plowing through hard ground, grass, roots and whatever else may get in its path.
Compact Tilling Width
With a tilling width of nine inches, this machine can easily get into tight spaces and dig deep, up to ten inches below the ground, making sure that nothing remains untouched. Paired with its powerful motor, it is fit for any task.
The ability to adjust the speed of this tiller with the finger throttle is what makes it versatile, along with the ability to turn the tines to the side and just shallowly cultivate the few top inches of soil instead of going deep. Even better – you can get additional attachments to turn this tiller into an entirely different machine!
With the tines mounted in the front, you only need to lightly push this machine for it to go forward, making your job that much easier. The tines themselves propel this with ease while cutting deep into the ground.
Who Should Buy This Product
People who are looking for a very versatile tiller will find this one to be just to their liking. It is not only infinitely adjustable regarding speed, with the speed control throttle, but it can also fulfill a broad range of different functions with the other attachments you can buy for it.
What to Watch Out For
However, even that doesn’t justify the very high price. Especially when you consider the fact that it has all the downsides of a gas-powered machine – the noise, the fumes, being difficult to start and maintain and so on. The omission of any wheels on the machine also seems iffy, as it makes it hard to control, especially when working through the tougher soil.
Overall, this is a small but potent machine that offers a surprising amount of versatility that you usually won’t see in tillers. However, it just doesn’t seem worth the high asking price especially when you consider all the downsides that come with its gas engine, as well as how hard it is to control. It is an excellent machine, but you should think twice before getting it.
The Best Pick – Earthwise TC70001
As you have noticed, tillers come in a variety of shapes and sizes with many different specs and an incredible host of diverse functions. That makes it difficult to choose just one, but since that’s the point of this article, in the end, we managed to do it. The Earthwise TC70001 is our tiller of choice. The amount of power it offers for its size and price is incredible, and it’s durable and versatile as well as being easy to use. The others seem to be no match, even though they are fine products.
While that is undoubtedly our top pick, you shouldn’t make your decision entirely based on that. Consider what you need a tiller for, what’s the size of your garden and the areas you want to work on, does the ground contain rocks, roots, and so on – and then make your decision. The other products we presented here are also good, and one of them might be the right tiller for you. We hope we helped, and we encourage you to share this article if we did. Have a good day!