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Outdoor

Best Tiller

Tillers aren’t often thought of as being electric as they are generally considered to be heavy-duty gas powered units for chopping up thick dirt and smoothing out the soil in large garden plots.  However, most suburban gardeners don't need the brute force and power of a gas powered tiller. They need something lightweight, compact and capable of tilling the soil in smaller household garden plots. That's exactly where an electric tiller comes in.

To that end, many of the tillers on this list double as cultivators, which might be considered as either a power weeder or a tiller-lite. These best electric tillers are capable of tilling the soil to a lesser depth and they won't break up extremely hard chunks of soil. The best picks on this list focus on being lightweight yet pack sufficient power and greater amperage. After all, weekend will gardeners want to get in and get out of the garden as fast as possible, so we’ve included a best bang for the buck model too. And the best way to do this is with a lightweight yet powerful electric tiller.

Sun Joe Tiller Joe Max Electric Garden Tiller/Cultivator TJ601E

The Sun Joe Tiller Joe Max 9 AMP Electric Garden Tiller/Cultivator - TJ601E looks and performs just like a gasoline powered tiller, and that's why it’s at the top of the list. There's plenty of power with the 9 amp motor, and the ergonomic handles let you steer it easily.

An 18-inch width makes short work in smaller to medium sized gardens, and the seven inch depth is plenty deep enough for planting. All terrain wheels and six blade tines give you versatility on par with gas powered types, while weighing just 28 pounds. It comes with a two year warranty, a safety button to engage the tines and fold up handles for easy storage.

Mantis 7250-15-02 Electric Tiller with Border Edger

Probably the best known tiller on the market is the Mantis Electric Tiller/Cultivator. This is a solid and well built tiller that is perfect for smaller gardens or garden plots. It sports a five amp motor and weighs 21 pounds for easy maneuvering. It’s easily one of the most durable tillers here and comes with a five year warranty. This tiller has three speeds and tills down to 10 inches.

Although it may be the best overall tiller on the list, the short nine inch tilling width and the high price takes it out of the top spot. However, f you’re willing to pay the price, the Mantis can't be beat for smaller gardens.

Earthwise TC70001 11" Electric Tiller/Cultivator

The Earthwise TC70001 electric tiller features a powerful 8 1/2 amp motor, an 11 inch tilling width andweighs about 20 pounds. It’s light and maneuverable, yet gives you one of the widest cutting widths of any tiller featured here. A safety button engages the tines and it will till down as deep as eight inches.
Better still is the price since you get all of this for one of the lowest prices available.

The Earthwise TC70001 electric tiller is the best bang for the buck tiller around, with one of the largest blade widths and one of the most powerful motors on this list. No bells or whistles, just a tiller that will do your garden proud and it also comes with a two year warranty.

Troy-Bilt TB154E Electric Tiller/Cultivator

If you are looking for one of the most versatile tillers on the list, welcome to the Troy-Bilt (6-12") 6.5-Amp Electric Forward Rotating Front Tine Cultivator. Although it's rated as a 12 inch tiller, you can remove half the tines and use it as a six inch tiller. That allows you to get into places where others cannot go.

It's the heaviest tiller here, at 35 pounds, but gives you a bit more leverage when breaking up compacted soil. It has a three depth position adjustment, and will till down to eight inches deep. This is a good choice for smaller and medium sized gardens, with the added versatility of weeding between rows by removing one set of tines. It comes with a 2 year warranty.

Craftsman 120V Electric Mini Tiller

Craftsman 120V Electric Mini Tiller

At 22 pounds, the Craftsman 120V Electric Mini Tiller is one of the lightest tillers here. Perfect for small gardens, you can even remove a set of tines to go from a 10 inch tilling width to a six inch tilling width. That versatility makes it a decent tiller and a weeder for between the rows. It comes with a two year warranty, and only a five inch tilling depth. But with a middle of the road price, you would be hard pressed to find a better tiller for a smaller garden. It comes with a 6.5 amp motor and folding handles make for easy storage.

Mantis 4-Cycle Tiller/Cultivator

The Mantis 4-Cycle Tiller/Cultivator is nearly bullet proof, and backed by a 5 year warranty on the mechanical parts of the machine, and a lifetime tine warranty on the tilling blades. Secondly, for most suburban gardeners you just won't need more of a tiller than a Mantis.

A lightweight 23 pounds, it’s very convenient to use and will till up to 9-inches deep. It’s a 4 cycle model so there’s never any mixing gas or oil; just start it up and go. It even comes with comfortable, ergonomic hand grips. While there may be bigger and better tillers out there, none are as versatile or lightweight as the Mantis.

Masport Home Gardener (17") 3.5HP Forward Rotating Front Tine Tiller

The Masport Home Gardener Forward Rotating Front Tine Tiller is the best full size tiller out there. For starters, it features a reliable, 3.5 horse Briggs engine while the 17-inch cutting width is more than adequate for virtually any midsize garden plot. You can even adjust the tine width to 12-inches for added versatility.

However, the Masport tiller has something that beats out all of the other tillers. It features an out-front tine design providing unheard of maneuverability in a tiller this size, making it one of the most distinctive tillers available.

Although potentially strong enough to take on the largest gardens, it’s best suited for medium-sized tracts or garden plots. Shaft drive reliability and wide set handles for added stability complete this package. The Masport Home Gardener front tine tiller gives power and control in a convenient package that will do your medium sized garden proud.

Cub Cadet RT65E Tine Tiller

For the biggest gardens or just for bragging rights in your neighborhood, the Cub Cadet RT65E (18") 208cc Dual Rotating Rear Tine Tiller w/ Electric Start can't be beat. This tiller is powered by nearly 7 horses from its 208cc motor, while the rear tine design places weight where the tines are so it will easily break up the hardest soils. It will till a swath 18 inches wide, and will go down to a depth of 7 1/2 inches deep.

The 4 cycle motor needs no oil and gas mix, and this tiller comes with a 3 year warranty. While heavy at 220 pounds, it features an electric starter, so you'll never have to pull a rope, with 1 forward and 1 reverse speed so you can till back and forth to really chop up soil. It’s not an inexpensive tiller, but for larger gardens, this Cub Cadet would be hard to beat.

Earthquake 3365PS Front Tine Rototiller

For medium sized gardens, none are as good as the Earthquake 3365PS (21") 190cc Pro Style Forward Rotating Front Tine Tiller. It has about 6 horsepower with two big 11-inch wheels that will you’re your progress from getting bogged down. This tiller is adjustable for 3 tilling diameters, 11 inches, 16 inches and 21 inches, making it incredibly versatile for any of your gardening need.

You can adjust the Earthquakes wheel position, forward for traveling and in reverse for tilling. It’s a beefy 108 pounds and comes with a 1 year warranty on the machine and a 2 year warranty on the 4 cycle Briggs motor. Best suited for medium sized gardens, this is a decent tiller at a good price.

Powermate Front-Tine Gas Tiller

For the most bang for the buck, you can't beat the Powermate (21") 140cc Front Tine Gas Tiller, the lowest priced full size tiller here. Weighing 105 pounds, it comes with 3 adjustable tilling sizes, including 11, 16, and 21-inches. Able to till down to a depth of 8 inches, the Powermate Gas Tiller also comes with a 4 horsepower motor, making it prefect for smaller to medium-sized gardens.

This tiller also has a self sharpening tine feature for keeping blade edges sharp, and the big 8-inch wheels keep it rolling over rough terrain. The reality is that, most suburban gardeners don't need a tiller better than this, and with a 2 year warranty you can't do better for the price.

Buyer's Guide

 

Rototiller Buyers Guide

Tilling the soil for planting has been done as long as humans have been sowing seeds. The first manual tillers used were wooden sticks, with durable metal blades eventually added for increased effectiveness. Eventually the blades were mounted and fixed in one position which allowed tillers to be pulled along by oxen and horses until the advent of steam engine powered units in 1857 and the first small engine gasoline powered rototiller in 1936.

Powered rototillers were initially made with an engine mounted above a set of rotating tines, steered by a couple of crude handles. Granted, you would still have to spend some time muscling around a heavy weight unit, but the design allowed greater operator control and a tilling pace unmatched by either manual or animal powered tilling.

Modern powered tillers are extremely useful machines for breaking up soil, tackling tough weeding, and even mixing compost into the soil before and after planting. For more information on the types of power sources driving these machines, you can refer to our lawn equipment power source buyer's guide which gives you a breakdown on what types are appropriate for your landscaping needs.

Rototiller Types

Front Tines
Front tine tillers are the "do-it-all tillers" which are available in a wide variety of sizes suitable for virtually any garden plot out there. They may still have guide wheels at the back, but these aren’t powered and only serve to add stability when you’re tilling.

These tillers can be light enough to cultivate between garden rows or heavy enough to break up the soil on smaller-to-medium garden plots. They’re a bit more labor intensive to use than rear tined varieties, but their size and lower weight makes them extremely versatile.

There are some specialized front tine tillers available which have drive wheels and are made for huge gardens or acres of land, but for the most part, front tine tillers will work fine for the majority of light-to-medium-duty situations you’re likely to encounter.

Rear Tines
Rear tine tillers have drive wheels on the front which help pull the tiller along. This set-up makes these tillers larger and bulkier, so they’re best used for larger plots of land. They're the easiest to use because you literally just hang on and steer while the wheels and tines do all the work.

Because the wheels make these units self-propelled (as well as having larger engines), they come larger and heavier than front tined models. These heavy duty components make rear tine tillers perfect for large gardens or acres of land where you’ll need to break up tough, hard-packed soil.

Features

Adjustable Depth
On smaller mini-tillers, the depth is operator adjustable; the harder you push on the handles, the deeper the blades will dig into the soil. The adjustable depth is the height of the front axle above the ground which typically about 4 inches deep.

On front and rear tine rototillers, the depth should be adjustable at the wheels by lowering or raising them, depending on how deep or shallow you want to till. Generally, higher priced units will have height adjustments on a separate handle, while lower priced models will have manual adjustments located on the wheels themselves.

Tires
The tires on a rototiller can either be solid, rubber, plastic, or air-filled pneumatic options. Guide wheels are almost always solid since all they need to do is to keep you on course. The best powered drive wheels are pneumatic because they’ll adhere better to the terrain and cause less slippage during the tilling process.

Removable Tines
This feature is found mainly on front drive tillers to add to their versatility. Removing specific tines will allow you to leave one or two on the unit to better cultivate and weed between rows. For example, you can remove the two inner tines on a four tine rototiller, allowing the center of the unit to safely pass over smaller plants while weeding or composting around them.

Counter Rotational Tines
These can be found on higher end rototillers which gives the operator a more aggressive, and therefore a more efficient, rototiller. These are the best tine types for breaking up hard-packed soil, but these are also the heaviest units in their class due to the extra tines and mechanics needed to make them work efficiently.

What's Best for You

Small Gardens
The lightest in weight and the least expensive rototillers are electrically powered. They’re all fairly light duty and would be perfect for smaller gardens as long as you are within the recommended cord length of 100 feet. Small, gasoline powered mini-tillers which are lightweight, and easy to maneuver are also suitable.

Most lighter weight rototillers can be used for weeding between the rows, as well as mulching and overall garden care. While these light-duty tillers won’t do break up extremely hardened soil, they’re good for regular spring rototilling of established soil.

Medium Gardens
Front tined tillers work best here in medium-sized garden settings; those with removable tines are especially useful as they can be converted to till between rows. Since front tined tillers are a bit more labor intensive, operator fatigue tends to set in a little sooner. However, for most homeowners with somewhat larger gardens or areas of land to till, these would be the best types to consider.

Large Gardens or Plots of Land
Rear tined units are made for large gardens or large plots of land. They have the capability of chopping through hardened dirt, and will run and work as long as you can. Although some of these units may have removable tines, rear-tined units are generally much too heavy duty for anything but the most extreme tilling jobs. The larger engines and the overall increased weight make them a better bet for going in straight lines over multiple acres of land. Realistically, they could till acres of land with the least amount of operator fatigue, but if you have that much land, a tractor driven tiller would be a more sensible investment.

Dale Y
Dale Y has been writing about home improvement and Do-It-Yourself projects for more than a decade, using his own hands-on maintenance, construction and facilities management experience as a guide. He has covered the gamut by writing about news and views, home and garden ideas, home and business maintenance, and property management. As an offshoot, he had his own sewing machine and small appliance repair business, and can tell an embroidery stitch from a stretch stitch, all the while cooking the best salmon fillet ever on a countertop grill, while making a smoothie in the latest bullet blender. In this capacity, he has used a wide variety of tools and equipment for every need, worked with products ranging from adhesives to solvents, sewed shirt sleeves with a #14 needle and finished leather appliqué with a #18 needle.
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