The best garden tiller
How to choose the right tiller for you
No matter how big or small your garden is, the soil occasionally needs upkeep. Tilling, or aerating the soil, is an essential part of maintaining healthy soil.
Tilling helps get rid of weeds and loosen the soil to allow better nutrient access. Tilling is most important when starting a new garden, but it’s important to till your soil at least once a year. This keeps the soil loose and allows for drainage.
What to look for in a garden tiller
Because tillers come in a wide range of styles and sizes, there is no one-size-fits-all model. For example, if you have a small, raised garden bed, you would not want to use a large, high-powered gas tiller.
The three most important things to consider when buying a garden tiller are budget, size and style.
Before you start looking at garden tillers, take time to consider your budget. Unless you do a lot of gardening, you can easily till your soil by hand. However, if you want to garden more, soil cultivators can range in price.
You can get mechanical hand cultivators for around $30. But, most fully mechanical tillers are $100 or more.
Not to mention, tillers occasionally need upkeep like new tines. So, if you are on a tight budget, try looking for a small yet durable cultivator.
The size of your cultivator should correspond to the size of the area you want to rototill. Small tillers are easier to maneuver and handle, making them a good option for small home gardens. However, if you need to aerate clay soil, small cultivators are not powerful enough to handle heavy-duty tilling.
In general, large garden tillers will cost more. So, if you have a large garden, you should set a higher budget or plan to spend more time tilling your garden.
However, size does not always equal power, so always check the label. Some large machines will not have as much voltage as small machines.
Tillers come in many different styles. Consider how you plan to use your tiller before deciding which machine will work best for you.
For example, if you need a machine that’s enough power to break ground, a large gas tiller would be the way to go. If you just need something to help upkeep your small garden, an inexpensive electric cultivator would do the trick.
You’ll also want to think about your physical capabilities when it comes to tilling. This will help you decide how you want your machine to move. There are many handheld cultivators, but most tillers use wheels.
Inexpensive, handheld machines are a good option for some but require more energy and effort. Pushable tillers are more common and require some physical effort. Tillers on wheels tend to have more power and are easier on your back. However, handheld cultivators tend to be more maneuverable and better for small spaces.
Cultivator vs. tiller
While the terms cultivator and tiller are used interchangeably, they are technically different. Simply put, tillers have more power than cultivators.
Cultivators work best for general upkeep, while tillers can break compact, rocky soil. Some tillers and cultivator combo machines are moderately powerful, but they are not good for breaking ground.
Cultivators are often cheaper and work well for at-home gardening. However, if you plan to use the machine frequently for heavy work, a tiller is a better option.
Best electric tillers
Electric tillers are generally easy to handle and work well for most gardens. When choosing an electric tiller, check its amperage or voltage. Machines with higher amps or volts are more powerful and can handle harder tasks.
Earthwise Corded Electric Tiller: available at Amazon
At 8.5 amps, this tiller has a lot of power without being large or cumbersome.
LawnMaster Corded Electric Tiller: available at Amazon
A small, electric tiller that packs quite the punch. It’s good for even groundbreaking and tough soil.
Greenworks Cordless Cultivator: available at Amazon
At 40 volts, this cordless cultivator is powerful enough to keep up with some gas tillers. However, it is still not ideal for breaking ground.
Snapper XD 82V MAX Cordless Electric Cultivator: available from Amazon
This Snapper tiller has 82 volts of power and a push-button start. It is also known for its heavy-duty handling capability.
Handheld cultivators are not as common, so the options are limited. However, they can be a good choice if you don’t have room for a large piece of equipment.
BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Tiller: available at Amazon
This cordless, handheld tiller is powerful and maneuverable. While it should not be used to break ground, it is perfect for aerating the soil and digging up weeds.
Sun Joe Aardvark 2.5-Amp Electric Cultivator: available at Amazon
At 2.5 amps, this cultivator can handle common garden tasks with ease.
Best gas tillers
In general, gas tillers are more powerful than electric ones. When looking at gas tillers, cubic centimeters (cc) dictate how much power it provides. A powerful gas tiller is 40cc or above.
Tazz 2-Cycle Viper Mini Cultivator: available at Amazon
This small cultivator has 33cc and adjustable wheels. It is perfect for people without much space who want a powerful machine.
MELLCOM Mini Tiller Cultivator: available at Amazon
If you want a powerful tiller that’s easy to use, this is a great option. EPA-certified and excellent customer service.
Best hand cultivators
While there are many different methods for tilling by hand, mechanical aids like rotary cultivators are a great option. These are not very popular since common hand tilling only requires a shovel and a hoe.
Garden Weasel Twist Tiller: available at Amazon
This twist cultivator is great for manually aerating your soil. Its durability makes it great for clay soils.
Yard Butler Twist Tiller: available at Amazon
This twist tiller is ideal for raised beds and flower boxes. It’s also small, making it maneuverable and easy to use.
Jackalyn Beck is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.