8 Best Tiller Models for 2020: Which To Choose

Nothing is quite as satisfying as a freshly tilled garden. Unless, of course, your garden tiller isn’t cut out for the job. Tilling with the wrong type of garden tiller can be more than a hassle – it can be a nightmare. The first time I tilled my garden was a sweaty, frustrating, and time-consuming disaster.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Tilling your garden can be a rewarding and straightforward task, provided you have the best garden tiller for your needs.

If you want quick recommendations on the best gas or electric tillers, they’re right up front. Afterwards, you’ll find a long article on everything you need to know about tillers!

Product Features
Mantis 7940 4-Cycle Tiller CultivatorBest GasMantis 7940 4-Cycle Tiller CultivatorBest Gas
  • 24 pounds
  • 9" tilling width
  • 10" tilling depth
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Earthwise TC70016 16Best ElectricEarthwise TC70016 16" Corded Electric TillerBest Electric
  • 35 pounds
  • 11" to 16" adjustable width
  • 8" tilling depth
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Sun Joe TJ603E 16Electric CultivatorSun Joe TJ603E 16" 13.5 Amp Electric TillerElectric Cultivator
  • 27 pounds
  • 16" tilling width
  • 8" tilling depth
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Craftsman C210 9Small GasCraftsman C210 9" 2-Cycle Gas TillerSmall Gas
  • 29 pounds
  • 6" to 9" adjustable width
  • 5" tilling depth
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Mantis 7566-12-02 Deluxe 4-Cycle TillerHeavy-Duty GasMantis 7566-12-02 Deluxe 4-Cycle TillerHeavy-Duty Gas
  • 34 pounds
  • 16" tilling width
  • 10" tilling depth
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Yardmax TY5328 Compact Front Tine TillerBest Front TineYardmax TY5328 Compact Front Tine TillerBest Front Tine
  • 95 pounds
  • 11"-16"-21" adjustable width
  • 7"-11" adjustable depth
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Landworks Mini Tiller CultivatorMini TillerLandworks Mini Tiller CultivatorMini Tiller
  • 32 pounds
  • 11.8" tilling width
  • 4"-6" adjustable depth
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Mantis 7250-00-03 Electric TillerSmall ElectricMantis 7250-00-03 Electric TillerSmall Electric
  • 21 pounds
  • 9" tilling width
  • 10" tilling depth
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8 Best Garden Tiller Reviews

There are many devices which are considered best tillers. You will need to determine what power your garden will require, and make choices on the best tillers for your specific uses.

But having said that, we’ll go over a list of the best garden tillers on the market right now. Each of these is extremely useful, and they all have their place in the world. Since tillers come in so many varieties, there’s no universal “best tiller” out there, but we’ll certainly get you in the right direction!

Mantis 7940 4-Cycle Tiller Cultivator

[amazon box=”B00N6X9VY4″]

I believe that the best gas tiller on the market is the Mantis 7940. This is an all-around adaptable model and is definitely one of the best tillers for your money. The blades allow for adjustable tilling or cultivating as needed. Its compact size and low weight profile ensure you won’t be fighting to control it.

Specifications

  • Honda 4-cycle, 25cc engine
  • 24 lbs
  • Finger-controlled throttle
  • 9″ tilling width
  • 10″ tilling depth
  • Foldable
  • Tines are reversible for shallow cultivation
  • Includes kickstand
  • 2-year manufacturer’s warranty, with a separate warranty from Honda for the engine

Positives

  • Requires no mixing of oil and gas
  • Surprisingly light & easy to maneuver, even in tight spaces
  • Has a solid worm-gear transmission
  • Handles fold down for storage and transport
  • Fairly quiet motor

Negatives

  • The 9″ width may require more passes for larger jobs
  • 10″ blade depth may not be deep enough for some tasks
  • When reversed, only cultivates the top 2-3″

For the average homeowner, this is about all you’ll need. I consider it the best rototiller in its class.

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Earthwise TC70016 16″ Corded Electric Tiller

[amazon box=”B06Y2DMBF4″]

Electric garden tillers are typically corded devices to provide enough power to get the job done. Earthwise has produced a superior product for residential use.

Specifications

  • 13.5 amp electric motor
  • 34.8 lbs
  • Push-button start
  • Adjustable tilling width (11″-16″) with 6 steel tines
  • 8″ tilling depth
  • Flip-down transport wheel
  • Includes cord retention hook
  • 2-year manufacturer’s warranty

Positives

  • No oil, gas, or regular maintenance required
  • No fumes to breathe while working
  • Fully adjustable tine placement and width
  • Front tine design
  • 6″ flip-down wheel makes it easy to move to your work location

Negatives

  • Corded, so must have close proximity to a power source
  • 8″ depth may not be deep enough for some tasks
  • Doesn’t have much front weight, so may need to be pulled rather than pushed

For someone who wants to go electric, this will be one of the best tillers you’ll find right now.

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Sun Joe TJ603E 16″ 13.5 Amp Electric Tiller

[amazon box=”B01DTIC79Q”]

SunJoe’s garden tillers are starting to work their way up the list. This is their current best. If you’re looking for a quality cultivator for prepping your soil in the spring or tilling under those cover crops, take a look at this.

Specifications

  • 13.5 amp electric motor
  • 27.1 lbs
  • Push-button start
  • 16″ tilling width
  • 8″ tilling depth
  • 6 steel angled tines for cultivating
  • 3-position, height-adjustable rear wheels
  • 2-year manufacturer’s warranty

Positives

  • Collapsible handles for easy storage
  • Maintenance-free – no gas or oil to deal with
  • Reasonable power for an electric model
  • Variable-height rear wheel helps to move it around easily

Negatives

  • Lighter weight than the Earthwise, so may not work as deep as it could
  • Requires proximity to a power source
  • Could be better if it had a metal frame

If all you need is a quality cultivator with a decent width and reliable power, you won’t go wrong with this product.

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Craftsman C210 9″ 2-Cycle Gas Tiller

[amazon box=”B07MFW79C4″]

A small gas tiller may be all the power you need. If so, the best choice is going to be this Craftsman C210. Its narrow but adjustable tilling width will get you into all those tight spaces.

Specifications

  • 2-cycle, 25cc gas engine
  • 29.1 lbs
  • Tilling width adjustable from 6″-9″
  • 5″ tilling depth
  • 4 three-way, forward-rotating steel tines
  • 3-step pull start
  • Removable transport wheels
  • Variable speed throttle
  • 2-year limited warranty

Positives

  • Compact garden tillers can get into hard-to-reach areas
  • Great for lightweight annual garden care
  • Good power for its size
  • Easy to maintain

Negatives

  • Its shallow tilling depth is only good for basic garden duties
  • May be best for people growing in established beds

This may not be the best model for everyone. But if you have annual cover crops to till under and want to spare your back, this will work for you.

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Mantis 7566-12-02 Deluxe 4-Cycle Tiller

An urban farmer will love our next choice. Garden tillers are nice, but if you need professional-level functionality, this Mantis product suits the bill. You’ll make short work of your hard-packed soil with this machine!

Specifications

  • Honda 4-cycle, 35cc engine
  • 34 lbs
  • Finger-controlled throttle
  • 16″ tilling width
  • 10″ tilling depth
  • Height-adjustable handles
  • Solid worm-gear transmission
  • Kickstand included
  • 2-year manufacturer’s warranty. Honda engine warrantied separately by Honda.

Positives

  • Extra width to handle larger spaces
  • Handles adjustable to suit multiple heights of users
  • Lightweight for its size
  • Easy to maneuver

Negatives

  • Motor good for its size, but could be even more powerful
  • Too large for small-space gardeners
  • No cultivating tines included, only tilling tines

Those who have lots of landscaping duties to attend to are going to love this Mantis device. It’s expensive, yes, but it’s worth the money you’re paying for it!

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Yardmax TY5328 Compact Front Tine Tiller

[amazon box=”B06XQ4DP99″]

As far as front line tillers go, this is fantastic. This chews through compacted, dry soil like a champ. Better yet, it’s adjustable for use in multiple sizes of garden!

Specifications

  • YardMax 79cc engine
  • 95 lbs
  • 11″, 16″, or 21″ adjustable tilling width
  • 7″-11″ adjustable tilling depth
  • Worm gear + belt transmission
  • 8″ tires
  • 1 speed forward
  • 2-year residential warranty

Positives

  • Excellent digging experience
  • Gets deeper than most models
  • Much wider than most models
  • Can remove outer tines to allow for more maneuverability
  • Includes a rust-resistant tine shield
  • Solidly-built outdoor equipment, durable and built to last

Negatives

  • May be more tiller than most really need
  • Lack of variable speeds makes it always on full-forward rotation
  • Requires regular maintenance to keep it functional

Front tine tillers are definitely good tools, and this product will make your life easier if you’ve got a lot of space to handle. It may not be for everyone, but it’s an excellent one to get.

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Landworks Mini Tiller Cultivator

[amazon box=”B07S2TMWKP”]

This gas mini-tiller cultivator is an excellent addition to your weed-removal kit. Its steel powder-coated body makes it a very durable option and acts as a safety feature as well. You’ll make quick work of your smaller beds with this Landworks machine.

Specifications

  • 2-stroke 55cc 3-horsepower engine
  • 32 lbs
  • 11.8″ tilling width
  • 4″-6″ tilling depth
  • Uses a 30:1 mix of gasoline & oil
  • 4 tines, steel
  • Recoil starter
  • Adjustable tire height

Positives

  • Steel construction makes it resilient to damage
  • Great for small gardens
  • Engine is surprisingly powerful for the size

Negatives

  • Narrow tilling width may require more passes
  • Shallow tilling depth, best for cultivation or soil-blending purposes
  • Cannot find evidence of any sort of warranty at this time

For small garden tillers, this is surprisingly powerful. You’ll get a lot more power than you’d expect from this device!

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Mantis 7250-00-03 Electric Tiller

[amazon box=”B01DYB9KRK”]

Of the best garden tillers, this one is a solid choice. You’ll find it lightweight, maneuverable, and easy to work with.

Specifications

  • 3-speed, 540 watt electric motor
  • 21 lbs
  • 9″ tilling width
  • 10″ tilling depth
  • Foldable
  • Quick-start button
  • 3 preset speeds
  • Solid worm-gear transmission
  • Tines reversible for shallow cultivation
  • Lifetime no-breakage warranty on the tines
  • 5-year manufacturer’s warranty

Positives

  • Lightest weight of the tillers we’re highlighting
  • Easily maneuverable in small spaces
  • Handles fold down for storage or transport
  • Make quick work of your digging/cultivating with this machine
  • No gas/oil mixing required
  • No maintenance required

Negatives

  • Narrow width may not be optimal for all gardens
  • Needs access to power supply as it’s electric
  • Very shallow tine guard may produce some soil kickback

Overall, I consider this one of the best garden tillers out there as far as electric ones go. While its motor is fairly mild, it’s still one of the best tillers in terms of how well it works, and definitely worth the money to get.

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What Is A Tiller?

Tilling the Garden
A rural farmer tilling his field. source

Is your garden actually more like a mini-farm, making a tractor more efficient? If so, you’re going to want a tiller. Whether you call it a tiller or rotavator for garden use, these devices chew through and break up the soil, cutting easily through roots or plants that might be in the way. The best garden tillers or garden rotavators feature two to four blades that churn through hard material easily, loosening it and making it easier to work in. They also do a marvelous job of working compost or fertilizer into the soil.

A powered soil tiller is not absolutely necessary, of course. You could do the work with a hand tiller as well. But if you’ve got a lot of ground to cover, a heavy duty tiller may save you from some serious aches and pains. Even a small tiller can reduce strain on your back and arms.

Electric Tillers

Best Electric Tiller

Electric tillers are perfect as small garden tillers. With an electric tiller, you never need to worry about running out of gas, although you do have to work near a power outlet or have a long extension cord. Electric tillers tend to be less powerful than gas-powered tillers, but this is not necessarily a problem for small gardens.

The other thing to consider when looking at tillers is maintenance. Electric tillers start easily without having to pull a cord. Compared to gas tillers they are relatively maintenance-free. Electric tillers also tend to be cheaper than gas-powered tillers.

Gas Tillers

Best Gas Tiller Cultivator

Gas tillers pack a punch. These are the tillers you want in your corner if you need to till large areas at a time or if you are breaking new ground. Gas tillers are more powerful than electric tillers and can handle weeds, rocks, and compacted soils with ease.

All that power comes at a price. The downside of gas powered tillers is that they are significantly harder to push and maneuver than electric tillers. Your forearms will definitely get a workout, along with the rest of your body, so be prepared to break a sweat. Gas powered tillers also come with more maintenance tasks than electric tillers, so if you are not mechanically inclined this might not be the right tiller for you.

Cultivators vs. Mini-Tillers

Cultivators are not rototillers, although the two terms are often used interchangeably. Like tillers, cultivators come in gas and electric models, but cultivators are used to loosen the soil in an existing planting area and to weed (think soil maintenance vs. breaking new ground).

The tines on cultivators are not designed to cut as deeply as tillers. As a result, they are easier to maneuver than the average tiller and are perfect for cultivating – just not tilling. A mini tiller, on the other hand, has the deeper slicing tines of a tiller in a smaller package.

Front Tine vs. Rear Tine Tillers

Front Tine vs Rear Tine Tillers

One of the most important distinctions you need to make is whether you need a front tine or a rear tine tiller. Rear tine tillers cut more deeply into the soil and are typically more powerful than front tine tillers. This makes rear tine tillers the better tiller choice for breaking new ground or dealing with heavier soils.

There are mid-line tillers as well that act as a middle ground between front tine tillers and rear tine tillers. While these are fairly uncommon, they can be very effective and adaptable.

Front tine tillers do not cut as deeply as rear tine tillers, but they are perfect for dealing with already loosened dirt. They are easier to push through slightly loosened soil than rear tine tillers, making them ideal for gardens that don’t require regular deep tillage or for gardeners who till several times throughout the season.

Before You Buy…

Now that you know about the different types of tillers, it is time to ask yourself a few more questions. The first, and for many gardeners the most important question, is about your budget.

What is your budget?

Not all of us have bottomless pockets. Tillers range in price from $100-$3000. The trick is finding a tiller in your price range that does not sacrifice efficiency for economics. Buying a cheaper tiller that is too small or not powerful enough for the job is not worth the investment.

On the other hand, spending hundreds of dollars on a machine that is way too powerful for your small garden is definitely a waste of your funds. The trick is to find the balance in-between.

How big is your garden?

Best Tiller for Garden Size
The size of your garden will affect the type of tiller you should consider buying. source

The size of your garden plays a huge role in determining what type of garden tiller to buy. If you have a small garden, consider investing in a smaller, electric tiller instead of a larger, gas-powered tiller. If your garden is large, then you want a tiller that is going to be able to run all day and cover a lot of ground, which means a gas-powered tiller is probably the better choice.

What type of soil do you have?

If you are lucky enough to have fine, loamy soil rich in organic material and that is relatively weed-free, congratulations. You can get away with buying a less powerful tiller that is easier to use and probably cheaper. If your soil is heavy, clay-based, very gravelly, compacted, and/or full of rocks, then you need a more powerful tiller.

Are you breaking new ground or re-tilling?

Breaking new ground is tough work, which is why you need a tough tiller to help you. If you are re-tilling, then a smaller tiller, front tine tiller, or electric tiller might be enough to suit your needs.

How versatile do you need your tiller to be?

Some tillers come with multiple attachments. If you are looking for a “multi-tool” tiller with other accessories then that will play a large role in your decision-making process. Just keep in mind that the same selection standards apply for versatile tillers as they do for stand-alone tillers. Don’t sacrifice quality for versatility.

What manufacturer do you want to go with?

Some gardeners have manufacturers that they know and trust. If you have a preferred company that you have purchased things from in the past, or if there is a company in your area that manufactures good-quality tillers, then the first place you want to look is in their showrooms or catalogs.

Does the manufacturer have a decent warranty or guarantee?

Let’s face it. Anything that you use in your garden is guaranteed to encounter unforeseen circumstances, like very large rocks, buried twine, and a host of other things that put stress on tilling twines, engines, and parts. Warranties and guarantees protect your investment and give you the peace of mind that most of us like to enjoy while gardening.

Tillers can be dangerous. Use a low gear any time you are operating a heavy tiller on a slope or in loose soil and turn it off immediately if you feel the tiller is getting out of control. When it comes to powerful tillers, machine beats man every time. Don’t try to wrestle the tiller into submission. Instead, take a minute to regroup and start again.

Common Garden Tiller Questions

You should ask a lot of questions before investing in a tiller. Here are the answers to some of the most common garden tiller questions that seem to come up.

Why won’t my tiller start?

Sadly, tillers don’t always turn on when we need them. There are several reasons why your tiller might not be starting. If your gas tiller has been sitting in a shed for months then you might need to clean the old fuel out of the carburetor. Fuel that sits around for months can cause problems, and in a worst-case scenario you might need to replace your tiller’s gaskets and diaphragms, so make sure you read up on the best way to store your tiller.

If your pull-string has no resistance and your engine does not fire up, you might have dirt or debris caught in your pawl catcher assembly. Read through your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer for the best way to clean this out.

Your tiller also could be out of gas, out of oil, or suffering from damaged parts. If you’ve tried everything you can and your tiller still won’t start, contact the manufacturer or a repair person to investigate the situation further.

Can I turn my backyard into a garden using only a tiller?

It would be nice if all it took to turn your backyard into a garden was a tiller, but tilling is just the first step towards a new garden. Once you have tilled the soil, you will need to prepare it for planting by adding organic material – which you can do as you till – and by shaping the beds, if you prefer a raised bed or square foot gardening method. You also might want to smooth out the soil further using a rake.

Tilling certainly makes transforming your backyard into a garden easier, but do some research into preparing your garden for planting before you start sticking seeds in the ground.

Should I buy a gas or electric tiller?

The decision to buy a gas or electric tiller depends on the size of your garden and whether or not you are tilling or re-tilling, among other factors. In general, electric tillers are ideal for small gardens and gas tillers work better for larger gardens.

How do I maintain the tines?

The best way to maintain the tines on your tiller is to remove the tines after each use and clean them of dirt and debris. Once they are clean, spray the tines and the tine shaft with a light lubricant like WD-40. This will protect the tines from rust and prevent them from freezing onto the shaft.

How often should I replace my fuel filter?

You should replace your fuel filter after 100 hours of running time or every 3 months.

The Right Gardening Tiller For You

Part of the battle of finding the best garden tiller is knowing what to look for. Now that you know the right questions to ask yourself as you search for the perfect garden tiller, you are well equipped to make an informed decision about the best product for you.

Tillers are a big investment. While all of this information might initially feel like information overload, choosing the right tiller the first time around will save you money and make gardening easier, more rewarding, and more productive.


The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:

Kevin Espiritu
Founder

Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime Gardener

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