Getting your garden ready for planting takes time and requires money. You need money to purchase farm tools and equipment. Here, we are talking about the best tillers and cultivators for roots, breaking new ground and rocky soil.
Thus, a question most gardeners often ask is where can one find the best tiller/cultivator for the money? Also, what are tillers and do they differ from cultivators?
Here at elliotthomestead.com, we always do the homework for you. It is because, with so many farm tools and machines in the market, we understand how difficult it is to make the right choice.
From advising you on the right features to look for in the best tillers/cultivators to comparing competing brands, our experience in matters of homesteading practices is what you need at this point.
For starters, we understand how confusing it might be using the words tillers and cultivators interchangeable, so let’s start by setting the record straight. Well, a tiller is not a cultivator. The following table simplifies the differences between the two for you:
|A machine for mixing loose soil, often small.||A tiller is often a large farm tool for breaking hard rocks, roots and new ground.|
|Cultivates are best suited to midseason gardening.||A tiller is ideal for use at the start and end of the gardening season.|
|It is ideal for removing weeds and digging small rows.||Use tillers for deep digging.|
|A cultivator is ideal for mixing fertilizer, soil, and compost.||Tillers work best when mixing soil|
Buying A Tiller? Here’s What To Look For
At this point, we presume you can tell the differences between tillers and cultivators based on the few characteristics in the above table. The reason we will be using the two names interchangeably is that you can use either in breaking new ground, digging roots and breaking hard soil.
The next question many gardeners often ask is what should one look for in a good tiller/cultivator? Of course, you will not walk up to a farm store and order just any tool.
You should always make the right decision because, in the end, a good one should last longer while serving you better. Thus, before putting money on a good tiller/cultivator, always consider the following:
The truth is that not everyone has lots of money to spend. From our end of the bargain, you would want to save a few bucks, budgeting is a critical aspect of buying farm tools and equipment. So, you should start by asking this question: How much does a tiller/cultivator cost? Also, are you looking for one that costs less than $1000 or more?
When you can answer the above questions, and also depending on your seriousness about gardening, finding a good tiller/cultivator becomes easy. In our review, we factored in a necessity for having tillers/cultivators that cost differently (under $1000) to give you freedom of choice.
Type Of Engine
You should also factor in the type of engine in a tiller/cultivator. Here, choosing between a gas and electric gas tiller becomes the focal point. Thus, you should ask, which one is the best and why?
Well, to highly a few differences between the two, you should note that gas-powered options are durable and powerful but expensive to maintain.
On the other hand, electric tillers/cultivators are maintenance-free, easy-to-use, convenient and suitable for use in small gardens. You need an extension cord to operate electric tillers, hence limit your movement to a few yards away from the house. 
You will be taking a big leap of risk buying a tiller/cultivator without reading warranty terms. Apart from ensuring a machine is effective and durability, the warranty will protect you from incurring unnecessary costs should a breakdown happen.
How Versatile Should A Tiller/Cultivator Be?
The versatility of machines defines mobility, size, and weight. Depending on the size of your garden, its location and how much weight you can move around conveniently, always go for a tiller that meets your versatility needs.
Does The Type Of Soil Matter When Buying Tillers/Cultivators?
Yes, the type of soil matters. You could end up buying an ineffective machine without considering soil type. In the above differences between tillers and cultivators, you noted that some work best on rocky soil while others are ideal for midseason gardening.
Based on our experience with these machines, we advise that you should buy front-tine tillers for loose garden soil and rear-tine tillers for rocky compact soil.
Does Brand Matter?
Yes, the brand of a cultivator or tiller matters. Some brands like Husqvarna, Troy-Bilt, and Mantis have been around for many years and enjoy a considerably good reputation.
If you take a look at reviews and ratings by buyers regarding these brands, they often rank highest among competitors. The reason is simple. Behind their work precision, versatility, durability and powerful engines, is workmanship defined by hi-tech manufacturing processes.
Remember that when you go looking for these machines, the more attachments they have, the better work they do. Also, having a tiller with reverse gear is a plus.
For those with large gardeners, you will find tillers with dual rotating tines very handy. Digging deeper, especially when breaking new grounds is something you can do best with counter-rotating tines. Among other features to consider are user manual and adjustability of tine depth and width. 
Best Tillers/Cultivators for the Money (under $1000)
Now, are you ready to put money on a good tiller/cultivator? Dive in with us to choose from our list of comprehensively reviewed products for the money.
Earthwise TC70001 11-Inch 8.5-Amp Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator
You can choose from different Amp rating when it comes to Earthwise tillers. However, we find TC70001 a great pick for those looking for a machine with a powerful motor and great run-time.
Earthwise TC70001 is a corded electric tiller that delivers exceptional performance on small and mid-sized gardens. Featuring up to 4 strong steel tines that can dig up 8 inches deep and 11 inches wide, you have equipment that makes a big difference in your garden.
Using Earthwise TC70001 is easy because it is lightweight. Its handles provide the softness of an ergonomic grip. It is a great alternative to gas-powered tillers, weighing only 2.2 pounds.
Sun Joe TJ603E 16-Inch 12-Amp Electric Tiller and Cultivator
If Earthwise doesn’t come across as the best model, our second choice, Sun Joe would be a perfect amend. Sun Joe tiller electric tiller model number TJ603E is a 12-amp tilling machine that delivers excellent performance, thanks to six steel tines. With this machine, you can dig 8 inches deep and 16 inches, which is a big plus.
A manufacturer warranty of two years does not only promise you longevity but also cheap maintenance. You can fold this tiller hence easy to store for those looking to save space when not in use. Its wheels can adjust in three different positions, hence maneuverable in your garden. Sun Joe TJ603E weighs 27.1 pounds, which hence considerably heavy.
Schiller Grounds Care Mantis 7940, 4-Cycle Tiller Cultivator
Schiller grounds Care Mantis 7940 is a dependable gas-powered tiller. It is considerably lightweight at 24 pounds. With a maximum speed of 240 rpm, you will find this 4-cycle cultivator easy to control, thanks to a throttle reachable by fingers.
It is compact, measuring only 9 inches wide hence easy to use in small gardens. If you don’t want to turn its tines around for shallow cultivation, it delivers up to a tilling depth of 10 inches, hence ideal for rocky compact soil.
A supporting kickstand makes it convenient for use both during fueling and storage. You can also fold when moving hence highly portable.
Schiller Grounds Care 7920 Mantis, 2-Cycle Tiller Cultivator
Another tiller/cultivator from Mantis is the Schiller 2-cycle machine that delivers a tilling depth of 10 inches and a width of 9 inches.
Such is an excellent performance that you should expect with a top brand. Weighing only 20 pounds, a unique feature of this machine is that you can mix oil and gas to power it.
Moreover, it presents compactness you need is a tilling machine and commercial machine power that suits greenhouse gardeners.
Earthquake 31635 MC33 Mini Cultivator with 33cc, 2-Cycle Viper Engine
Something a bit different is a tiller from Earthquake. We chose it for this review because it makes soil aeration, weeding and mixing looks easy. Powered by a 33cc Viper engine, we find this 2-cyle cultivator a great product for the money. It has onboard wheels for convenient operation.
Moreover, it is easy to control Earthquake31635 MC33. Thus, you can reduce bounces with great ease while ensuring you only remove weed and not plants. Buyers, who put money on the 33-pound cultivator, enjoy up to a 5-year product warranty.
BLACK +DECKER LGC120, Cordless Garden Cultivator/Tiller, 20v Li-Ion
You have probably heard about BLACK + DECKER before and that’s a good thing. However, does the company also matches top manufacturers of tillers/cultivators with its assorted machines? Well, we wanted to find out and that’s how BLACK + DECKER LGC120 found its place in this review of the best tillers/cultivators.
It is highly affordable and a workhouse that cultivates up to 325 square feet with a single charge. Being a cordless cultivator, LGC120 from BLACK + DECKER is highly portable.
It tines counter-oscillate, hence guard against tangling of weeds. Enjoy a 2-year product warranty by putting money on BLACK + DECKER LGC120 weighing only 11.73 pounds.
GardenTrax, 4-Cycle Mini Cultivator
While GardenTrax is a relatively new 4-cycle mini-cultivator, it is already enjoying exceptionally good ratings on leading e-commerce stores.
It is easy to control and rugged tines ensure its efficiency and longevity. Another feature that caught our attention is fast tuning tines at 250RPM. It means you can only expect smooth and superior cultivation.
It has a powerful engine powered by a 38cc gas tank. You should not mix gas with oil when using this cultivator. Weighing 35 pounds, it is both stable and considerably lightweight.
Greenworks 10-Inch 8-Amp, Corded Tiller 27072
Here is your chance to try a tiller from Greenworks, a company that continues to gain a competitive edge in the market. Its Tiller model number 27072 is very affordable and runs on an 8-Amp electric motor. It has forward rotating tines that deliver exceptional performance on compact rocky earth.
Greenworks Corded Tiller can dig up to 10 wide and 8.25 inches deep. You can also adjust the tilling depth to suit planting needs. If you are looking for a tiller that is easy to store or transport, Greenworks 27071 has a folding handle to top it up. It weighs 29.3 pounds which is good for stability and portability.
Sun Joe TJ604E, 13.5 Amp, 16-Inch, Electric Garden Tiller/Cultivator
It is not only Sun Joe TJ603E that caught our attention. The company’s TJ604E did come close to being the best. So, we decided to pit it against the former. The big question, therefore, is why should you by TJ604E instead of TJ603E? Well, while both deliver excellent performance, slight variations in features can make a big difference.
Make no mistake about it. Sun Joe TJ603E is equally affordable. It runs on a 13.5-Amp motor and can dig up 16 inches wide and 8 inches deep. It is easy to store, thanks to convenient folds. Like TJ603E, you enjoy up to 2 years of product warranty when you purchase the foldable TJ604E tiller from San Joe.
It features a 3-wheel adjustment positioning and foldable hands for easy storage/portability. San Joe TJ604E weighs 27.1 pounds which is the same as Sun Joe TJ603E. However, its engine power is higher than the latter.
Greenworks 40v, 10-Inch Cordless Cultivator with AH Battery-27062
Another cultivator from Greenworks is the company’s cordless 40-volts battery powered 27062.
After testing it, we noted that it delivers a powerful performance, thanks to its 4 adjustable 8-inch tines. You can use its rocky soils and dig up a depth of 10 inches and 8.25 inches wide. You can, however, adjust the tilling depth to 5 inches for planting.
While Greenworks 27062 only runs on G-MAX 40-volts 29462 batteries, the fact that it rips through soil up to 2000 times per minute is a big plus. It is affordable and weighs 21 pounds.
Earthwise TC70065, 11-Inch, 6.5-Amp cordless cultivator
We wanted to exhaust top everything to do with Earthwise, hence the company’s TC70065 cultivator caught our attention. If you ask why we recommend it, the reason is simple. Here is your chance to own an ideal cultivator for small gardens and dig up to 11 inches deep and 8 inches wide effortlessly.
It features ergonomic handles for a comfortable grip, and its 6.5-Amp electric motor is a great alternative for gas-powered tillers/cultivators. Talk about a lightweight and a very affordable cultivator; look no further than Earthwise TC70065. Are we together?
Mantis 3558 Cordless Tiller/Cultivator
Who would have wanted to review tillers and cultivators without taking a closer look at Mantis’s range of products?
Well, at least not elliotthomestead.com. You already know that Mantis is a household name in manufacturing tillers and cultivators but that’s not the point. The company’s Mantis 3558 cordless tiller/cultivator offers exceptional features.
It has both high and low-speed controls, letting you vary how fast or slow tines should rotate when tilling. Weighing only 25.6 pounds, we recommend this electric tiller because it is extra simple, minimalist and lightweight. It runs on a 2.5-Amp, 58-volt battery.
Mantis 3550 Electric Tiller/Cultivator
Mantis tiller/cultivator model 3550 is another great choice for garners looking for experience with the best machines under $1000. It runs on a 120 volt, 9-Amp battery, hence delivers powerful and excellent performance at high speed.
You don’t need oil/gas for this tiller, hence a good selection for those looking for a cultivator that works quietly. You can vary speed between high and low depending on whether you are cultivating or tilling. Mantis 3550 is lightweight at only 24.5 pounds, compact and very affordable.
Dirty Hand Tools Counter Rotating Rear Tine Tiller with Reverse-106145
Dirty Hand Tools is just a brand name but we can assure you that after testing this tiller, its reverse gear functionally gives it a competitive advantage over all the above. It runs on a powerful 196cc Kohler engine, delivering a tilling depth of up to 10 inches and a width of 16 inches.
Tiller from Dirty Hand Tools has a v-belt that connects tines to the engine. Moreover, it comes with a handlebar for easy and convenient handling. It enjoys great reviews and ratings on leading stores. That is not to mention that is affordable.
Mantis 7250-00-03 Electric Tiller
Mantis 7250-00-03 is arguably the most expensive of all the tillers in this review. However, after taking a closer look at its impeccable features, we can say it is worth the money. Its tines are curvy, delivering a tilling depth of up to 10 inches.
You can also switch to shallow tilling for planting, say 2-3 inches. Mantis 7250-00-03 features an attractive and minimalist design hence easy to handle and use in small and medium garden sizes.
You will realize a quiet operation with this machine, not to mention to easy start and a powerful 540-watt motor. It is an electric tiller, running on 115 volts power input.
Mantis 1622 Power Tiller Tines for Gardening
Mantis is a company that manufactures some of the best tillers in the world today. Its 1622 reversible electric tiller is another great choice for the money. It is simple yet can till up to 10 inches deep and 9 inches wide.
When reversing, it tills a depth of 3 inches. Tines on this machine are by the mantis, often the perfect choice for gardeners looking for something that can break through hard soil with great ease.
How to Use tillers/cultivators?
At this point, we presume you already made up your mind on the best tillers/cultivators for the money. We will give our verdict too, but first, here is a question that most novice gardeners ask. How does one use a tiller/cultivator?
Well, learning how to use a gardener tiller is not rocket science. You only need a quick user guide and off you go to prepare the soil for planting season.
- You start, first of all, clear your garden. Remove weeds, sods, rocks stones, plants, and other obstructions. It will be easier tilling without any of these in the garden. You can use a shovel to do it effectively and faster.
- Set a tine depth adjuster. While most tillers are front-tined, rear-tined ones can still do the job.
- You should always wear protective gear when using these machines.
- Start your tiller/cultivator using an on/off switch on the engine.
- Open the throttle of your machine so that fuel gets to the engine. Now, engage the choke valve to let in/out air. Take care not to let in a lot of air into the engine as it could prevent it from starting.
- It is now time to start the engine which you should do by pulling a recoil start plug. With the engine started, disengage choke valve.
- When tilling, tines will not turn even after you start the engine. Thus, you must pull over the levers below the handles. Now direct the tiller forward and start passing it on alternating rows to the endpoint and back to the starting point. As soon as you finish cultivating soil turn off the machine by, first of all, releasing levers then switching off engines.
Q: What Is The Best Season For Using Tillers?
A: We recommend using your tiller during spring because, with the temperature somewhere around 60 degrees Fahrenheit and dry soil, cultivation is easy.
Q: Is There Anything Like Over Tilling And Is It Bad?
A: Yes, there is over tilling and it damages the soil. It could damage soil nutrients in the long run so always use a tiller sparingly.
Q: How Do I Use A Tiller To Remove Weeds?
A: It is easy to clear weeds on your garden using a tiller. First off, mow grass to the lowest height possible. It prevents weeds from tangling on tines.
In the end, elliotthomestead.com always wants the best for you. Having learned about tillers/cultivators, the big question is, did you find the best one for your garden? Well, we hope so.
However, if you ask us the best among our sixteen picks, Mantis 1622 Power Tiller Tines for Gardening is our top pick. The fact that it has a reverse gear and a powerful engine wins it for us.
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