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Top 4 Best Garden Tillers of 2019

Best garden tiller reviews of 2019

Best-in-class
YARDMAX YT4565

YARDMAX YT4565 Briggs & Stratton Dual Rotating Rear Tine Tiller

Best self-propelled garden tiller

Dual rotation capability ensures unrivaled ground breaking and quick garden preparation.

#1: YARDMAX YT4565 Review

If you’re dealing with tough soil, the YARDMAX YT4565 could be just what you need to deal with it quickly and easily. This rear tine tiller boasts dual rotation, a feature designed for deep ground breaking and fast cultivation.

Its high-power engine delivers optimal torque and rotational speed so you can finish your tasks quickly. Despite its power and heft, the tiller is also easy to use and boasts a convenient one-hand operation.

This unit might not be the easiest to assemble but boasts an 18-inch rear tine design, seven depth adjustments, and a 6.5-inch max working depth that make it ideal for anyone looking to combine practicality and performance at a very affordable price.

Best value
Schiller 7940

Schiller Grounds Care 7940 Mantis 4-Cycle Tiller Cultivator

Best for all gardens

This compact and lightweight rototiller packs heavyweight performance and is suitable to use in all gardens.

#2: Schiller 7940 Review

The Schiller Grounds Care 7940 redefines practicality and convenience. Although compact, this garden tiller comes with a powerful 4-cycle Honda engine that spins it faster than its competition, for unrivaled ground breaking performance.

Its 9-inch width makes it suitable to use in tight spaces, while the unique, curved tines, can reach up to 10 inches deep. Or, if you want to cultivate the top 2-3 inches of soil, all it takes is to turn the tines around.

Lightweight and easy to maneuver, this workhorse even comes with a finger controlled throttle that gives you unlimited speed control. The tiller is quite hard to start, and the user manual is not the most comprehensive. Despite these slight drawbacks though, this tiller brings unrivaled value for money.

Also great
Earthwise TC70016

Earthwise TC70016 13.5-Amp Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator

Best electric garden tiller

Six adjustable tines and a powerful motor make it ideal for breaking softer ground.

#3: Earthwise TC70016 Review

The Earthwise TC70016 is perfect for smaller gardens with softer ground, and despite being electric, it still provides outstanding performance.

It’s powered by a 13.5-amp motor and comes with six adjustable tines and a working depth of 8 inches. Adjustable width from 11 to 16 inches lets you prepare the soil or cultivate even the tighter spots of your garden.

Compact, lightweight, and easily maneuverable, this tiller is perfect for multiple tasks, from soil loosening to bed cleanup.

Best budget
Sun Joe TJ603E

Sun Joe TJ603E 16-Inch Electric Tiller and Cultivator

A cheap alternative

More suitable to use on loosen soil but still excellent for cultivating.

#4: Sun Joe TJ603E Review

The last on our list of the best garden tillers, the Sun Joe TJ603E may be the cheapest, but it still delivers performance. Slightly weaker than the Earthwise, this garden tiller is powered by a 12-amp motor.

It can cultivate up to 16 inches wide and 8 inches deep, but it doesn’t have an outstanding performance on tough or clay soils. Nevertheless, it’s great to use on already loosen soil for either cultivating or bed cleanup at the end of the season.

Really compact, this rototiller is a breeze to maneuver even in the tightest spaces, and its handle collapses for easy transport and storage.

1. Garden tiller vs. cultivator

Many people use garden tiller and cultivator interchangeably despite the two terms referring to different types of machines. Cultivators are often defined as mini tillers, and this only brings further confusion. In broad terms, a rototiller is used to break the lawn or garden soil, and the cultivator is used to loosen or aerate the soil before cultivation.

  • Garden tillers: Are heavy-duty machines, typically gas-powered like zero turn mowers, designed to dig and mix hard soil. These machines are often used to loosen the soil after winter and have a poor weeding performance. Rototiller come in front tine and rear tine designs.
  • Garden cultivators: Look similar to the front tine garden tillers but are much smaller, and their main role is to mix loose soil, fight weeds or blend compost into the soil. These units are powered by either gas or electricity and are ideal to use for lawn and garden care, but are too weak to use for heavy-duty tilling.

2. Types of garden tillers

Garden tillers, or rototillers as they are also referred to, can have a front tine or rear tine configuration.

  • Front tine tillers: Are mid-duty machines designed for both ground breaking and cultivating. They look similar to the garden cultivators but are bigger and capable of digging deeper. Most front tine tillers are gas-powered, and they are ideal for breaking moderately hard ground or loosening firm soil.
  • Rear tine tillers: Are true workhorses designed to break or loosen the very hard ground and rocky soils. They can also be used for digging larger gardens, although they are rarely employed for cultivation purposes. These machines are perfect for loosening the soil before working it with a front tine or mini tiller.

Do you need a rototiller or a cultivator?

To make sure you pick the best rototiller for you, consider the type of soil and the size of your plot. Below, some general guidelines you should follow.

Cultivator

Front tine tiller

Rear tine tiller

Soil

Loose, pre-tilled

Moderately packed

Compact or rocky

Area

Under 1,000 sq. ft. (90m²)

Up to 5,000 sq. ft. (465 m²)

Over 5,000 sq. ft. (465 m²)

3. The best garden tillers of 2019

4. Rototiller power

Garden tillers are gas-powered machines equipped with 2-stroke or 4-stroke engines capable of outputting between 5 and 7 horsepower. Gas-powered mini tillers come with much smaller engines, typically of no more than 2 horsepower.

Two-stroke vs. four-stroke engine

There is a never-ending debate on which type of engine is more effective. The truth is they both have their advantages.

  • Two-stroke engines: Typically use a 50:1 mixture of gas and oil as fuel and the absence of a separate oil tank makes their structure much simpler. These engines are easier to maintain and less expensive, and they are also much lighter than a four-stroke engine. They output a lower power though and are recommended for light and mid-duty work.
  • Four-stroke engines: Come with separate tanks for fuel and oil, and typically use unleaded gasoline or propane. The separate lubrication improves the engine’s capabilities and fuel consumption, and these motors generate sufficient power for heavy-duty jobs. However, they are bigger, heavier, and need more maintenance.

Electric mini tillers

Garden cultivators can also be powered by electricity. These units are either corded or cordless and ideal for light-duty tilling of the pre-loosen soil, weeding, aerating, and soil mixing. Electric garden tillers come in various sizes, with motors ranging from around 2.5 to 13 amperes or over.

Like most cordless lawn and garden care equipment, including lawn mowers, chainsaws and string trimmers, the cordless cultivators are typically equipped with lithium-ion batteries in the 20-40 volts range, although some models have weaker or more powerful batteries.

5. Tilling depth and width

The tilling depth and width vary from one rototiller to another, depending on the size of the machine.

  • Rear tine tillers usually have a fixed tilling width between 14 and 20 inches (35-46 centimeters) and an adjustable tilling depth up to 10 inches (25 centimeters). They are ideal for large areas and for working hard soil.
  • Front tine tillers have an adjustable tilling width, typically between 12 and 16 inches (30-41 centimeters), and a working depth of 10 inches (25 centimeters). Usually used on mid-size properties and on semi-hard terrains.
  • Most mini tillers have an adjustable tilling width between 11 and 16 inches (27-41 centimeters), although some models have lower widths up to 9 or 10 inches (23-25 centimeters). These machines can usually work at a depth of 8 inches (20 centimeters). They are perfect for small plots and loose soil.

6. Build and maneuverability

Garden tillers can be cumbersome, heavy machines, that’s why it is important to check their overall build and maneuverability. Two things to check are the wheels and the balance.

A balanced machine is easier to maneuver and control in tight spaces, while sturdy, all-terrain wheels improve the unit’s stability. Ergonomic handles are also important, considering the heavy-duty rototillers can often weigh more than 200 pounds (90 kg).

7. Other optional features

Besides the features above, there are a few other optional features that can improve your user experience or increase your safety.

  • Drag bar: Is a metal bar that runs behind the tiller and keeps the digging depth consistent. This feature is important especially if you want to use the tiller for cultivation.
  • Counter weight: A safety feature designed to prevent the heavier rear tine machines from jerking during use.
  • Electric starter: Helps you start your engine effortlessly even in colder weather.
  • Power take off: Another feature available on some rear tine tillers, the power take off allows you to use the machine’s engine to power various attachments.
  • Adjustable control handle: Allows you to move the tines from side to side or up and down to adjust the tilling width or depth.
  • Folding handles: Most cultivators and front tine tillers come with folding handles for easier transport and storage.

8. The best garden tiller for the money

Best value
Schiller 7940

Schiller Grounds Care 7940 Mantis 4-Cycle Tiller Cultivator

Best for all gardens

This compact and lightweight rototiller packs heavyweight performance and is suitable to use in all gardens.

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