Rototillers: Buying the Perfect Rototiller For You STEP by STEP

You will find WAY too many gardeners today who are really confused about the type of rototiller they should buy. It’s no surprise, there are too many models of rototillers in the market to choose with lot many options from dozens of different brands.

Also, paying your hard earn cash on the model your gardening buddy recommends is not always the best thing to do.

In US alone, thousands of gardeners and farmers purchase rototillers each year. But at the end of the day most of them think they could have done better with their choice.

So this article is for those who doesn’t want to end up like that. Here we are going to lay out everything you need to know about getting the perfect rototiller to you. And you can follow it STEP by STEP.

STEP 1: Know your tool

A rototiller as sometimes called a tiller or a cultivator, will help break up the soil for planting. In the same time you can use it to blend in organic matter and other nutrients in to your garden.

Although a rototiller is primarily used for this purpose, you will find many other uses for this tool in your garden and lawn.

For an example, it’s also a great tool to break up the sod in your lawn. This is especially helpful if you are starting a new garden in turf. Some gardeners use rototillers to chop up smaller weeds on bear ground or in between beds.

Many gardeners ignore the fact that the rototiller is a multipurpose tool. Usually with right attachments, you can use a rototiller for just about every garden job: from edging borders, burrowing, mixing, aerating to dethatching lawn.

What’s great about tillers is they help break up the soil which is often hard and weed infested, into much richer fine crumbs that are ideal for plants to thrive. It doesn’t matter how much you try, you can never get this soil structure using any other tool.

It’s needless to say a rototiller will significantly cut down the physical labor you might have to put to the garden. It makes the tilling jobs at least hundred folds efficient making the work much easier and faster. The only job you will have to do is to walk behind it enjoying the smell of the fresh soil turning up (which is a great feeling by the way).

Like any other tool, there’s an art of using a rototiller. We are not going to discuss that here. You can read the article in this link that outlines the basics of operating a rototiller. You can also watch this short video to get a better understanding.

STEP 2: Getting clear about what you want to do

Suppose you are trying to decide on the type of a rototiller you must buy. Then the first thing you must do is to get a clear idea about what type of jobs you’ll be doing with your tiller.

This is important because, getting a clear idea about your requirement will help you decide on the options you want in your rototiller. A common mistake most of the gardeners make is buying a rototiller which is too substantial for their use or buying something that’s too weak for their cultivating requirements.

Usually, the requirement of most of the home gardeners is a tool that can mix up the soil in and around their veggie and flower plants. They will look for flexibility, ease of use and low cost.

STEP 2: Getting clear about what you want to do

 If you are gardener who have few gardening beds or rows, you may have frequent tilling requirements in relatively small areas for soil preparation, fertilizing and weed control. Therefore, you may be looking for something bit more substantial but flexible and maneuverable enough to work around garden beds.

A medium to large-scale farmers and growers will have to spend lot of energy and effort in their soil preparations. They machinery that are large scale and efficient to cater their cultivating requirements.

It’s essential that you do some thinking beforehand about the type of the work you would usually carry out with a tiller prior to purchasing it. Just gauge your requirements and think which category would closely represent your requirements.

STEP 3: Knowing what to consider

This is probably where most gardeners start to get confused primarily because of the vast verity of the options available today. However, deciding on the options is surprisingly easy if you follow right steps.

Basically you would want to decide on three things,

  1. The machine power and size
  2. The power option
  3. Tine assembly

We will look in to each of these categories look at the options available. What you’ll have to do is to gauge your requirements with the options that we are going to lay out in each category.

STEP 4: Deciding the size of the rototiller you want

Basically you will find four types of tillers based on their power and size.

  • Manual tillers
  • Mini-rototillers or cultivators
  • Mid-size tillers
  • Large scale tillers

Manual tillers (for home gardeners and basic soil working jobs)rototiller

Manual tillers are great if you are a home gardener and looking for simple and easy method to work your garden soil in and around your fruit, flower and vegetable trees. They cost less (usually less than 30 US dollars) and manually operated.

Manual tillers often come with sharp angled claws or tines that easily dig in to the ground to break up the hard packed soil when turned. It’s great toll for a home grower. You can read more on these tools and learn things to consider when buying these tools from here.

Do not underestimate the power of a manual tiller! If you have to work with closely situated garden beds and rows, it would do better and even faster job than a powered tool.

Manual tillers are not rototillers, however, we thought of including it in here anyway because most of the gardeners usually completely ignore this option.

Mini tillers and cultivators (for small to medium scale gardeners)rototiller

Mini rototillers are small lightweight cultivators that you can use for breaking up soil for small scale gardening work. Their small size and narrow tine assembly make them perfect for working around tight areas such as vegetable beds and rows. Narrow profile also make them easy to maneuver and store.

However, their narrow tine profile and light weight nature bring some limitations to these machines as well.

These tools offer relatively smaller power than other rototillers which makes them more suited for cultivating relatively loose soil which is mostly free of stones and rocks.

Also, due to the narrow profile, they would take number of passes to completely cultivate even a small area. This is okay if the working area is small, but becomes a limitation when dealing with bigger fields.

Therefore, mini rototillers are ideally suited for gardens that are usually smaller than 500 square feet. You can find both gas and electric powered mini rototillers. Usually these tools cost around 100 to 350 us dollars.

Midsize rototillersrototiller

Midsized rototillers are usually front tined and are more powerful than the mini tillers or cultivators. They are great for medium to large scale ploughing jobs that are either difficult or more time consuming if attempted with mini rototiller versions.

These rototillers have wider profiles compared to small rototillers. Because of this, one can complete turning a row within few passes making this tools ideal for medium to large scale tilling jobs. Most of the midsize rototillers handle compacted and rocky soil without much problem.

Common challenge with these midsize rototillers are their difficulty in maneuverability. Most of the midsize rototiller models have front tines which make them to kick back when use. Because of this they are not very suited for gardening beds and working around tight areas.

They are still lightweight (most can be carried by hand), which is a great advantage. Midsized tillers are a better choice for most home gardens and moderate tilling work. You may expect to pay between 300-600 US dollars for these tools.

Large-scale rototillersrototillers

These are definitely heavy hitters of the rototiller category. These tillers are usually very powerful which makes them suitable for working any kind of soil structure including rocky and compacted.

They are big and difficult to turn. So they are best suited for large areas such as entire fields. Tines of these rototillers are positioned at the back of the machine. So during the operation they themselves propel the tiller forward. Positioning tines at the back of the rototiller also puts the tiller weight in to the tines, which force them to really dig into the ground.

They also have the largest tine profiles. Usually more than 25 inches and more.

Buying large scale rototillers is a different art altogether. One would have to consider lot of factors including the budget, type of the terrain, crop type, etc. before purchasing these tools. You can expect large scale rototillers to be priced between 500-1400 US dollars.

STEP 5: Picking the power option

Both midsize rototillers and large scale rototillers only come in gas powered option. Because of the heavy work they have to put out battery or electrical powering is not a possibility for these tools.

So if you are going to purchase either a midsize rototiller or a large scale one, you will need to settle for gas option.

You will only be able to consider between gas, electrical and battery option if you are planning to buy a mini rototiller.

Gas powered option

Gas powered tillers are usually more powerful and can tackle the most power draining jobs. If you need to work long hours tackling compact terrain this is probably the best power option to look for. You will not have to wait until battery get charged or battle with long hazardous power lines across the garden. If the fuel is finished, just refuel it and you are ready to go.

However, gas powered rototillers are noisy. It’s a good idea to look up the local noise regulations because these tillers are often too loud for urban areas.

They would also require extra maintenance and regular servicing to keep it up in good order.

As a rule of a thumb, if you are planning to buy a gas powered version, consider to buy a four-stroke engine instead of a two-stroke one. If you have to buy a two stroke one look for the CARB compliance. This is so, because you don’t need to breathe in the toxic fumes two stroke engines exhaust at the back of the machine. And it’s also better for the environment.

Electric powered optionrototiller

These rototillers are either battery powered or powered by an electric cable. Sometime back they used to be less powerful than gas models but now it has changed.

Most of the corded electric rototiller options are now as powerful as the gas ones and perfect for dealing with small areas with relatively loose soil like mini gas rototiller options. The biggest advantage of corded rototillers are their cost effectiveness. Most of the corded rototillers cost at least two times less than similar gas powered options.

On the other hand, the biggest advantage of battery powered rototillers are their maneuverability and ease of use. Most of the gas models have big engines on their head, which makes the less maneuverable. But electric powered tillers are powered from a top mounted small electric motor which makes it extremely easy to use. They are so agile that you can use these tools to break up soil about 2 inches close to its trunk.

They are also cheap, and require only the basic maintenance. Electric rototillers are also much quieter than gas models.

STEP 6: Picking the right tine assembly

Tines are the blades in the rototiller that cut through the soil. You should always look for tines made of heavy duty steel with multiple cutting surfaces. This increases the plowing efficiency of the rototiller and helps to cut through roots and weeds.

You can find rototillers with either counter rotating tines or forward rotating tines. Counter rotating tines move opposite to the tiller moving direction. Forward rotating tines moves in the same direction as the tiller moving direction.

Counter rotating tines are good for breaking rocky compact soil and usually an option in a large scale rototillers only.

You can categorize a rototiller based on the placement of the tines.

Front tine tiller

Most of the mini rototillers and midsized rototillers are front tined, which means the tines are placed in front of the machines’ wheels.

The great thing about front tine tillers are the ability to easily adjust depth that machine should burrow. They are also cheap compared to rear tined versions.

Front tine versions are generally recommended for moderate to soft soil. Otherwise the gardener will need lot of strength to control the rototiller because of the kickback.

Rear tined tillersrototiller

These machines have tines behind the machines wheels. Most of the large scale rototillers and some medium scale ones are rear tined.

The great thing about rear tined tillers are that they will break even hardest ground with greater ease more deeply. Gardeners can also adjust the tilling depth. They are easy to control and ideal when working large garden areas.

However, rear tined tillers are usually expensive than the front tined options.

STEP 7: Zooming in on a model

Now let’s look at the some of the best rototillers in the market in each category. It’s important to note that we don’t favor any of the rototiller brands listed in here. We’ve used our experience in dealing number of similar products to prepare this list. All the below products listings were done after doing an in-depth search for each of the product. We’ve selected them based on the parameters such as overall product quality, value for money, customer feedback and seller reputation. However, you are always welcome to read user reviews and look for similar products by clicking on the given links.

Here we will be looking at mini and midsize rototiller only.

Top products in mini rototiller category (Gas models)

Mantis 2-Cycle Rototiller Cultivator 7920

Mantis rototillers are probably the most popular among gardeners.The Mantis Gas/Oil mix 2-cycle tiller is the lightest tiller available (just 20 lbs!), but takes on heavyweight projects like busting tough sod or digging a planting hole with ease. Plus, with a simple flip of the tines, you can precision-weed around delicate plants and seedlings! This model has a sleek design and soft, Sure-Grip Handles. Ergonomically flared for fatigue-free operation the grips feature a flush-mounted throttle, palm-controlled safety switch and infinite speed control for ease-of-operation.

Pros of this product

  • Ultra Lightweight. Compact and Powerful
  • 10″ Digging Depth, 9″ Tilling Width: a good tiller profile
  • Folds for Easy Storage
  • Availability of the replacement parts

Cons of this product

  • Expensive for the size and power
  • Not the most easiest to operate especially on hard soil

Earthquake MC43 43cc 2-Cycle CARB Compliant Engine Mini Cultivator Tiller

Earthquake is another famous brand in cultivator category. The Earthquake MC43 Mini Cultivator is a great tool when it comes to weeding, working in fertilizer or aerating soil. Its small size and light weight not only make it easy to transport, but it also increases maneuverability through garden rows without damaging your plants. The high-performance 43cc Viper engine delivers the right amount of power to work through all different types of pre-tilled soil.

Pros of the product

  • Comes with a warranty for tiller (1 year) and Engine (2 year)
  • Very competitive price for a gas powered garden tiller
  • Easy adjustable cultivating depth

Cons of the product

  • Will not work well in rocky soil

GardenTrax 4 Cycle Mini Cultivatorrototiller

The GardenTrax Y4007 garden mini-cultivator features a powerful 38cc 4 cycle engine, Top Handle control design, reversible tines, variable speed control, and all the power you need to weed, cultivate, till in soil amendments, and more. Backed by a manufacturer’s two year warranty, the Y4007 by GardenTrax is the gardener’s choice for power and performance in a compact form factor.

Pros of the product

  • Comparatively powerful engine
  • 4 stroke engine which means no oil to mix with gas
  • Tool free tine and wheel adjustments

Cons of the Product

  • Will not work well in rocky soil
  • Tilling depth is slightly low

Top products in mini rototiller category (Electric models)

Earthwise 11-Inch 8.5-Amp Corded Electric Tiller and Cultivator

This device will take the difficulty out of tilling your yard in the spring when it is time to plant your garden area. This electric garden tiller has a slim, sleek design that will appeal to your sense of style while providing you quality performance that you can rely on. Because it has such a slim design, this piece will store nicely in your garage taking up only a small amount of space. This machine has dual four-blade steel tines that maximize efficiency in your gardening efforts. The Earthwise 8.5-amp electric tiller cultivator has a convenient cutting width of 11″”, with a helpful tilling depth of 8″”. This tool will prepare your soil precisely how you want it for planting.

Pros of the product

  • The market leader in this category of the products
  • Easy to transport and operate with flip down wheels and lightweight design
  • Push start and easy leaver control
  • Four strong steel four-blade tines
  • Easy transport with flip up and down wheels
  • Very cost competitive

Cons of the product

  • The wheels of the product are made of low quality plastic
  • Long tines in this rototiller has a tendency to get entangled with weeds
  • This is a corded tiller and will require a power supply to operate

Sun Joe TJ603E 16-Inch 12-Amp Electric Tiller and Cultivatorrototiller

Sun JOE TJ603E Electric Tiller + Cultivator is a  powerful 12-amp motor quickly pulverizes dirt, effortlessly slicing through the soil at 340 RPM, ensuring maximum aeration and perfectly preparing the seedbed for planting. Cultivate an area 16-Inch wide and up to 8-Inch deep in seconds. Control weeds where needed – TILLER JOE tames the toughest yard and garden tasks with more comfort and less strain. Rear wheels make it easy to maneuver wherever it’s needed – and its collapsible handle makes it a cinch to store when it’s not. The TJ603E comes with a full two-year warranty.

Cons of the product

  • Extra long tiller profile
  • Foldable handles
  • Rear wheels
  • 3 position wheel adjustment

 Cons of the product

  • This is a corded tiller and will require a power supply to operate
  • It’s not variable speed

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *