How to choose a garden tiller

What is a Garden Tiller / Cultivator

It is possible to facilitate the work in the garden using a cultivator. It is a small garden equipment able to do the same work as a tiller but on a small area (cultivator vs tiller). The main tasks for a cultivator include plowing and loosening of the ground as well as digging, slicing and harrowing of the soil.

However, when choosing this equipment it is important to get money’s worth quality, technical parameters and price. After reading this material you will learn how to choose a tiller, what power you need, what type of engine and transmission is the most practical and reliable as well as maintenance details and types of additional attachable equipment.

How to Choose a Garden Tiller

Quick Picks: 7 Best Garden Tillers

Comparison of the Best Garden Tillers

Earthquake 31635 MC33Earthquake
31635 MC33
Front tineGas
Earthwise 7.5 Inch TC70025Earthwise
7.5 Inch TC70025
Front tineElectric
Front tineBattery-powered
4.0 AH Battery
Schiller Grounds Care 7920 MantisSchiller Grounds Care
7920 Mantis
Front tineGas
Schiller Grounds Care Mantis 7940Schiller Grounds Care
Mantis 7940
Front tineGas
Husqvarna  FT900-CAHusqvarna
Front TineGas
Rear TineGas

Principle of operation and tiller devices

The tiller is a small frame with a power unit and a shaft with an inventory (cutter, plow). The handles move back, like a wheelbarrow does, holding which you start the work. The tiller is designed to cultivate 30-40 acres.

The tiller lifts, breaks and shakes the ground, but the layer remains in its horizontal position. It is used both at the preparatory stages and for tilled purposes with already planted crops.

By engine type

There are three types of engines (electric vs gas tiller which is better).

  • Gasoline fuel system. It is a powerful and versatile device, primarily designed to work on large areas. Can have two or four strokes. It is distinguished by loud sound and high emission. Gasoline cultivator is multifunctional, unlimited in moving over the site and is able to cultivate soil at great depths. The unit requires careful maintenance, filling with high quality fuel (often only limited number of brands suite a certain tiller model). In case of large work scope, gasoline models often require expensive repairs (strong carbon appears inside the engine and the device gradually fails). However, all the repair and fuel costs are fully paid off: you spend less physical effort and time while processing vast areas. It is perfect for farmers. The fuel engine provides maximum performance. There are two-stroke and four-stroke engines.
  • Electric. Lightweight, mobile and compact, unlike gasoline one. The electric cultivator is mainly chosen for the garden, processing flower beds and small beds. As the name suggests, it works from the power grid, which means it does not harm the environment. It is easy to maintain and operate, does not require additional fuel costs. There is no noise. However, you will not be able to plow dozens of hectares using it: electric cord severely restricts device transportation.
  • The battery-powered cultivator is more mobile and compact than the electric one. It is  not expensive and reliable device which has high performance and has no difficulty in moving around the site. It is powered by the built-in battery. It will be a good choice for gardening and wider areas.

By weight and power

Separation of equipment on this principle enables you to choose the optimal unit for your needs.

  • Ultralight. Its weight does not exceed 15 kg, and the capacity is about 1.5 hp. The average width of soil cultivation is 30 cm. They can loosen the soil layer to the depth of not more than 10 cm. It is a comfortable and lightweight cultivator for women. It is possible using it to cultivate a small garden area quickly and efficiently: remove weeds between beds, look after the flower beds and low-sized plants, gently loosen the soil in hard-to-reach places.
  • Lightweight. The average width of cultivation is 40-50 cm. Soil loosening depth is from 10 to 15 cm and weight is from 35 to 40 kg. Power indicators are from 1.5 to 5 hp. The performance of the light cultivator is much higher than that of ultralight devices. They are convenient to cultivate both small and spacious areas. However, for narrow areas (for example, in the space between beds) with a width of less than 25 cm the use of this cultivator will not be possible due to its dimensions.
  • Medium. These cultivators include models with the capacity from 4 to 6 hp. Their weight ranges from 65 to 70 kilograms. The unit allows to cultivate the soil to the depth of up to 25 cm, width from 80 to 90 cm. This is a universal garden cultivator (though, only physically strong men will be able to work with it) and an excellent machine for cultivation of large household plots.
  • Heavy. As a rule, it is widely used among the owners of large plots of land. The heavy cultivator is a professional equipment, it is suitable for complex agricultural works. Its power starts from 6 hp, and  the weight is from 70 kg and above. These cultivators are usually supplied by by auxiliary attachments.

Weight of cultivator

So, the cultivator weight varies from 7 to 93 kg. This is directly related to its power and functionality: The higher the weight the wider are the technology options. But this also affects the ease to use this gardening equipment.


1. It will be easier for women cultivating small beds or greenhouses to manage with models from 7 to 15 kg. The same weight is recommended for older people.

2. Plots at the cottage and private houses with the area of about 15 acres should be processed by models from 15 to 30 kg. This work should be performed by adult men.

3. Professional activity on the farm and large areas requires machinery weighing from 30 kg with the opportunity to use additional equipment.


This parameter affects the cultivated area and cultivator productivity. It is measured in horsepower or kW. The maximum power indicator of the modern models is up to 7 hp or 5.2 kW. Estimate the scope of the suggested work and the area of the entire household. There is no need for a unit with a high capacity at small area while only powerful unit will be able to plow a spacious area.

  • It is enough to use the unit with the power of  1-2 hp or 0,6-1,5 kW for the maintenance of greenhouses, forming beds in the garden,
  • For the average area  around the cottage (7-10 acres) it is more than enough to have the unite with the power of 4 hp or up to 3 kW.
  • Huge farm areas are ploughed using the cultivators with a capacity of 6-7 hp or 4-5 kW.

Ploughing width

Available width of the cultivated area can range from 18 to 105 cm. The larger the width of plowing, the smaller the distance you need to cover to process a particular area.

  • The indicator of 18-35 cm is optimal to cultivate flower beds, treat narrow beds in the greenhouse or in the garden. The width of the grip is not more than 35 cm will ensure the maneuverability of your device and ability to pass with it in difficult to reach places.
  • If you have to cultivate a spacious area and work in the field, choose an aggregate with maximum width values (from 70 to 105 cm).

Ploughing Depth

The quality of soil loosening or dipping depends on the depth of treatment. Cultivators vary greatly in the depth of plowing within the following range: from 11 cm to 35 cm.

  • Models with minimal ploughing depth will prepare the ground for planting crops with weak root system. Optimal for small beds.
  • The average value of 15 to 20 cm will allow to aerate and clog hard soil, prepare it for planting of crops.
  • Cultivators with peak values (30-35 cm) are suitable for cultivation of virgin ground, control of a large number of weeds as well as for planting crops with strong powerful roots.


It is good when the cultivator is equipped with reversing. This option greatly facilitates its use. Lightweight cultivators, as a rule, do not have such functionality.

Number of speeds

Cultivators differ in the number of speeds and direction of movement. There are only four options.

  • One speed forward: there is a standard ploughing of the area where on reaching the edge you will need to pull the plow manually. The unit with 1 speed is better operated by people in excellent physical condition. Such models are recommended for the use in small greenhouses and for narrow elongated beds.
  • Two speeds: one forward and one back. Reversing models help out when loosening the site edges. At any time it is possible to turn around and continue to cultivate the ground on the next strip or bed.
  • Four speeds: two forward and two reverse. With such models you will insure even more maneuverability and mobility. When rotating the cutters at various speeds (forward and reverse), the winded roots, long stems and debris can be quickly and effectively removed. It is perfect for virgin lands and areas where there are plenty of weeds.
  • Four speeds: three forward and one reverse. It is a multifunctional cultivator. Essentially, it does a few useful things at the same time: explodes the ground at idle or very low revolutions, cuts the furrows and forms small beds for seeds. If necessary, the device reverses and begins to process the soil using a new path.

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