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Best Rear Tine Tillers of 2021

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.

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Best Rear Tine Tiller Reviews of 2021

Best-in-class
Southland SRTT212

Southland SRTT212 196cc 4 Stroke 18 inch Rear Tine Rotary Tiller

Best for heavy-duty use

Powerful engine and super-easy operation help you get the job done faster.

Check price on Amazon

1 Southland SRTT212 Review

Topping the charts as the best rear tine tiller around, the Southland SRTT212 is an excellent machine designed to help you get the job done in a breeze. Blending practicality and performance in a compact design, it impresses with a dual rotation that delivers unrivaled ground breaking power.

Powered by a reliable 4-cycle engine, it delivers optimal torque and rotation speed no matter what your garden or landscape is throwing at it.

A quick operation is also ensured by the 18-inch wide tine. Thanks to this feature, the machine can cover more ground quicker and with less effort and is by far the best rear tine tiller you can find.

Best value
EARTHQUAKE 33970

EARTHQUAKE 33970 Victory Rear Tine Tiller

Best for mid-sized gardens

This rear tine tiller offers full-sized power in a compact frame, all at a price that won’t break the bank.

Check price on Amazon

2 EARTHQUAKE 33970 Review

The Earthquake 33970 is undeniably the best rear tine tiller for most homeowners. It’s slightly smaller than our best in class, featuring a tine width of only 16 inches. Nevertheless, it packs similar power and the ability to deal with all kinds of grounds.

Featuring a 10-inch tilling depth, it can easily break even the toughest soil and provide proper garden prepping for all the fruits or veggies you plan to grow.

The more compact frame also comes as a blessing, making this rototiller much easier to control. Sure, it’s not as feature-packed as our top pick, but all in all, this is a perfect option for private use at an attractive price point.

Best budget
Schiller Mantis 7940

Schiller Grounds Care Mantis 7940 4-Cycle Tiller Cultivator

A front tine tiller alternative

Well priced tiller that comes with unique curved tines allowing you to switch from tilling to cultivating effortlessly.

Check price on Amazon

3 Schiller Mantis 7940 Review

A great value front tine tiller, the Mantis 7940 is perfect for avid gardener and homeowners on a budget living in an area with tough soil.

This tiller is powered by a 25cc 4-cycle Honda engine that delivers a rotating force up to 240 RPM to the tines. The infinite speed control adds versatility while the unique tines are designed to be used for either tilling or cultivating.

Another nice feature is the 9-inch machine width, which allows for easy maneuvering in tight spaces, while a handy kickstand the machine comes with keeps the tiller steady when not in use.

Perfect to employ for heavier-duty jobs, compact, and easy to maneuver, the Schiller Mantis 7940 is a great value alternative if you don’t mind it’s not a rear tine tiller.

1. What’s 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
  • Are more powerful
  • Tend to dig deeper into the soil
  • 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Set the tiller to “drive” (or “forward”) and move in a straight line
  4. 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 too

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—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, or backward—mixes up the soil more thoroughly and is more effective on extremely compact ground. This option is great for beds that have never been tilled.

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.

Size

  • 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

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:

Plow/bike-style handles:

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 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.

13. The Best Rear Tine Tiller for the Money

Best value
EARTHQUAKE 33970

EARTHQUAKE 33970 Victory Rear Tine Tiller

Best for mid-sized gardens

This rear tine tiller offers full-sized power in a compact frame, all at a price that won’t break the bank.

Check price on Amazon

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