Best Rear Tine Tillers [of 2022]
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Need to turn densely compacted soil? Use a rear tine tiller! We’ve reviewed the best rear tine tillers and show you the best buy of the moment below.
The 4 Best Rear Tine Tillers
1. Earthquake 33970 Victory
The Earthquake 33970 Victory Rear Tine Tiller is the perfect tool for those who demand precision and power. With its counter rotating tines, this tiller can make short work of even the most stubborn patches of soil.
The included “Instant Reverse” technology means you won’t have to waste time shifting gears when you’re finished working – simply pull the reverse lever and walk backwards.
The Victory Rear Tine Tiller is a great option for those with larger gardens or who are looking for a durable tiller that will last for years to come. It has a compact frame and balanced weight distribution for high maneuverability. Thanks to the 212cc gas-powered engine, its 10″ tilling depth and 16″ width, you’ll be able to tackle any gardening project with ease!
2. Earthquake 37037 Pioneer
The Earthquake 37037 Pioneer is a great helper for easy and comfortable tilling. Its dual direction tines make it incredibly versatile, and the practical lever lets you switch between tilling modes with ease. In counter rotating mode, the Pioneer quickly tills through tough ground, while the standard rotating mode makes the soil soft for planting.
With its light and compact 99cc engine, the Earthquake 37037 is easier to handle and quieter than its larger cousins. Thanks to „Instant Reverse“, you maneuver this machine effortlessly through your garden. Just pull the handle and move backwards! And finally, with its wide airless wheels for maximum traction, the Pioneer will never go flat.
No matter the circumstances, the Earthquake 37037 is up to the task. Get your garden ready for planting with this powerful and easy-to-use tiller!
3. Generac Power Systems DR
The Generac Power Systems DR is the ideal solution for any garden enthusiast who wants to break new ground or loosen up existing soil.
With a 212cc engine and 10.2 ft-lbs of gross torque, its power-driven wheels and tractor-style 13″ pneumatic tires, this strong machine will power through any terrain. After the work is done, the wheels can be released with a pin for freewheeling and easy maneuvering.
The counter-rotating tines create a powerful tilling action and master even the most stubborn ground. The 16″ width and 11″ tilling depth make all types of soil preparation fast and easy.
4. Earthquake 31285
The Earthquake 31285 rear tine tiller is a great tool for gardeners of all levels! With a powerful 99cc 4-cycle Viper engine, dual direction tines, and self-propelled airless wheels, this machine makes short work of all your tilling tasks.
The 16″ tilling width is perfect for small to mid-sized gardens, and the Instant Reverse feature ensures easy navigation in tight spaces. Thanks to the dual-grip handlebars, the Earthquake 31285 can even be operated with only one hand.
This compact and lightweight rear tine tiller is a high-quality product that comes with an exceptional 5-year warranty and US-based customer service.
1. What is a Rear Tine Tiller?
We know that tillers loosen and turn soil for planting. But what is a rear tine tiller? Simply put, it is a tiller whose tines are behind the engine.
What makes rear tine tillers superior
Front tine tillers are useful for already loosened soil or smaller beds. They also happen to be significantly cheaper. But for heavier duty projects, such as work on densely packed or never-tilled earth or large plots, rear tine tillers are worth the extra investment.
Unique rear tine tiller features
Unlike small front tine tillers, the best rear tine tillers:
- Are larger and can cover more land in one pass
- Are heavier than other tillers
- Tend to dig deeper into the soil
- Are more powerful
- Usually have both forward and backward settings to loosen difficult soil
- Have wheels that are driven by the engine, so they work best in straight lines
2. How to Use a Rear Tine Tiller
When you invest in a rear tine tiller, you’ll need to know how to use it safely. They’re fairly straightforward, but there are a few tips and tricks to make your experience go smoother.
- Remove debris first: particularly if it’s your first time tilling the land, removing large plants, roots, rocks, and other debris will make your tilling go much more smoothly. It’ll also keep hard objects from damaging the tiller’s tines or jamming them up with roots and plants.
- Set the tilling depth: your tilling depth should be set to 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) for existing beds or up to 10 inches (25 cm) for new beds or difficult soil. This is so the roots have room to expand unhindered.
Note: some tillers don’t have adjustable depths, so picking one with the right depth for your needs will be crucial.
- Set the tiller to “drive” (or “forward”) and move in a straight line
- For difficult soil, do the entire bed again in a crosshatch pattern (one pass longways and another one across)
Of course, not all rear tine tillers are created equal. There are a number of common comparisons and little-known features to consider so you get the perfect product for your plot.
3. Tiller Power
Unlike many engine-powered garden tools such as chipper shredders, tillers are more likely to display their “power” in engine size than horsepower. If you’re tilling a plot that’s never been turned or your soil is rich in clay and other heavy substances, look for an engine with 200cc (cubic centimeters) of engine size or more.
If you’re tilling a plot that you use every year, you can save a few dollars by choosing an engine between 100 and 180cc.
4. Torque Matters Also
Torque, or the amount of force needed to rotate something (in this case, the tines) is another way to measure power. Higher torque means higher pressure exerted; for tougher or never-tilled soil, look for a torque between 8 and 10 lb/ft.
5. Tilling Width
Rear tine tillers can run as wide as 20 inches (50 cm) or as narrow as 10 inches (25 cm). If you’re investing in a rear tine tiller, you’ve probably got a lot of turning to do. The wider the tiller the fewer passes you’ll have to make, similar to corded mowers, cordless lawn mowers, zero turn mowers and lawn tractors.
A wider tilling width (closer to 20 inches/50 cm) is better for wide, uniform spaces (think rectangular garden beds).
A narrower tilling width (closer to 10 inches/25 cm) is the best choice for decorative, curved, or irregularly shaped gardens. You can’t turn rear tine tillers mid-row to fit smaller spaces, so measuring beforehand is important.
6. Tine Depth
For most gardens and average soil, a depth of 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) is sufficient. If your soil has been tilled recently, you won’t need more than 6 inches (15 cm).
However, if you live in an area with heavy soil or you’re making a brand-new plot, spend a few extra dollars for a 10-inch (25 cm) tiller—your plants will thank you.
7. Tiller Rotation Style
Most rear tine tillers have either one or two rotation directions:
- Forward rotation: When the tines rotate in the same direction as the wheels – forward. This helps break up weeds and loosen the top layer of soil to prepare the ground for planting.
- Counter-rotation: When the tines rotate in the opposite direction as the wheels – backward. This mixes up the soil more thoroughly and is more effective on extremely compact ground. Consequently, this option is great for beds that have never been tilled.
- Dual rotation: When the tines can be operated in both directions. Counter rotation makes it easy to bust sod and till tough soils, while forward rotating tines smoothen and prepare the seed bed for planting.
If you plan to use your tiller in more than one place or for a variety of applications, splurge on a model with both forward and counter rotating tines.
8. Tiller Tires
Of course, being able to operate your rear tine tiller smoothly can also make or break your gardening experience. That’s why it’s important to look for durable, thick, all-terrain tires.
- Tires should be at least 8 inches (20 cm) for smaller tillers and smooth ground.
- Look for tires that are 12 inches (30 cm) or larger if you’re working with a big machine or uneven ground.
Tread also makes a huge difference in the maneuverability of your rear tine tiller. Look for thick, all-terrain or agricultural-style treads like you’d see on a tractor. This style allows you to maneuver the tiller across a variety of terrains, including grassy, muddy, rocky, and uneven ground.
If you have a smooth or already-turned garden bed, you can save a few dollars by going with lighter-duty tires.
9. Tiller Handles Make or Break Ease of Movement
Tires aside, it’s also important to be able to push your new machine without a ton of elbow grease. There are two primary handle styles, each with their pros and cons:
These have bike-style grips that look more like a bar running the width of the machine.
- They allow for one-handed operation.
- Plow-style handles also let you stand to the side of the tiller.
Pistol grip handles:
These are a two-handed-only style, but:
- They provide the freedom to adjust the amount of force as needed.
- They also provide far superior control and power over tough terrain.
10. Consider the Tiller Weight
Most rear tine tillers will weigh between 150 and 200 pounds. That sounds excessive, but keep in mind that more weight does have benefits:
- Heavier machines bounce less on uneven, rocky terrain.
- They’re easier to maneuver in a straight line.
However, if strength or endurance are concerns and you have smoother ground (or a garden bed that’s already been tilled), you can safely opt for a lighter machine. Just keep in mind that machines that are very light (closer to 100 pounds) may not be strong enough to work through extremely heavy or never-tilled soil.
11. Other Good-to-Have Features
Rear tine tillers range from the most basic of necessities to garden glamorous. The more features you need, the more money you’ll spend; however, the more features you have, the safer, easier, and more versatile you’ll be able to be as you branch out in your tilling projects.
- Drag bars: These improve balance, keep the tilling depth consistent, manage speed, and dig into the soil behind the tines to keep the machine from lunging forward. They also help the tines dig deeper into the soil.
- Counterweights: These help equalize the weight of the machine, which improves balance and makes your tiller easier to maneuver.
- Self-sharpening tines: Tines will naturally get dull over time as they turn. Self-sharpening tines remove a cumbersome task from your garden maintenance so you don’t have to remove and sharpen them manually.
- Depth regulator lever or selector: This allows you to manually adjust the tilling depth for greater versatility.
- Safety shields: Having front, rear, and/or side shields around your tines improves safety so you can tine in peace without worrying about wayward rocks going in the wrong direction.
- Easy or quick start: This feature saves you the trouble of yanking endlessly to get the engine to catch like in the older days of yard tools. One turn, push, or pull on the start mechanism is all you need to start the day’s work.
12. Buying Tips
From the most basic push and till models to fully decked out grandiosities of the garden, the best rear tine tillers offer a variety of features. Use this list to determine the must-haves and great-to-grow-with features in budget picks, mid-range machines, and top-of-the-line tine tillers.
Must-haves in budget picks
- Insist on at least 8-inch (20 cm) tires for sufficient control and grip.
- Shoot for at least a 6-inch (15 cm) tine depth.
- Choose a machine with a tilling width of 10 inches (25 cm) or more: This allows enough width to till larger spaces efficiently.
- Go for AG (agricultural) tires. These are essential for grip and control.
Good-to-have mid-range tiller features
- Spend a few extra dollars for tires that are 10 inches (25 cm) or larger.
- Splurge for 14-16 inches (35-40 cm) of tilling width to make quicker work of large spaces.
- A higher-end machine with depth regulation will expand your project range.
Great to have features in a top-of-the-line rear tine tiller
- Go for tires that are 12 inches (30 cm) or larger; they’ll have the most versatility and steerability.
- It’s worth the investment in 18 to 20 inches (45 to 50 cm) of tilling width.
- Self-sharpening tines will save you a time-consuming maintenance task.
- For maximum control, counterweights and drag bars transform your tilling experience.