Gardening success starts with excellent soil quality. Plenty of aeration, good drainage, and weed-free seedbeds will give your plants the best possible start in life. But creating those conditions can be tough.
If you’re looking for a tool to help, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to look at seven of the best garden tillers to take the strain out of digging. And our buying guide will help you make the right choice for your circumstances.
Quick Glance: The Best Small Rototiller
The Best Garden Tiller on the Market 2021
1. SunJoe TJ603E Electric Garden Tiller And Cultivator (Our Top Recommended)
If you’re looking for an electric tiller with plenty of power, the TJ603E from SunJoe should make your shortlist.
The 12 amp motor has plenty of torque to power through even hard ground. It will send the six steel tines whipping around at 340 revolutions per minute.
Those tines will cultivate to a width of 16 inches in a single pass. And they’ll work through the soil to a maximum depth of 8 inches.
Stony terrain won’t bother this tiller. And you may even find you need to pull back a little to avoid it burying itself in a hole. Fortunately, the angled steeled tines are adjustable, so it’s easy to till to the right depth.
The power is impressive for an electric tiller, but it’s not the only thing that’s on offer here. As it runs on electricity rather than gas, there’s no need to struggle with a starter cord. Just press a button and you’re away. You won’t have to worry about fumes, oil changes or refueling.
The wheels can be adjusted manually to three different heights. And the handle can be folded down flat for easy storage. There isn’t much assembly to worry about either: all you’ll need to do is attach the handle. That takes under a minute.
So is there anything not to like?
Well, while this is a beast when it comes to rocky ground, weeds can wrap themselves around the shaft. Clean them out occasionally, or you may find they cut into the transmission seal. That in turn, can lead to the tiller burning out.
The handle connections are also a bit rickety. It’s worth tightening them with hose clamps, as that will make the whole thing much sturdier.
Overall, though, this is a powerful tiller that will make cultivating even stony gardens infinitely easier.
- Powerful 12-amp motor and plenty of torque will cope with even stony ground
- Adjustable cultivating depth, down to a maximum of eight inches
- Powered by electricity, so easy to start and needs little maintenance
- The rickety handle benefits from adding hose clamps
- Weeds can slow it down – clean the shaft occasionally to avoid burn out.
2. Greenworks 27072 Corded Garden Tiller
Another electric tiller, this model from Greenworks uses an 8-amp motor. It’s not as powerful as the SunJoe, but if you’re working a smaller area or lighter soil, it’s worth considering.
The tilling width here is adjustable, from a minimum of 8.25 to a maximum of 10 inches. It won’t go as deep as the SunJoe, but the depth is adjustable. The four rotating tines will till down to a maximum of 5 inches.
The 6 handle folds down flat too. That’s a big help when it comes to finding it a home in your garden shed.
And it has all the benefits of electric power. It’s simple to start up, runs quietly, and there’s no need for faffing about with oil changes or refueling. Remember, though, that you will have to take care not to run over the power cord!
This machine weighs less than 30 pounds, and the smaller motor will have its advantages for some gardeners. It doesn’t require as much manhandling to keep it on track as the SunJoe. And if you’re tilling a smaller area, with soil that’s not too hard or rocky, it will work well.
Be warned, though, that there is some assembly to do, and the instructions aren’t as clear as they could be. The pictures on the box provide some help, but expect to spend 15 to 20 minutes working it all out.
The ring pins attaching the tines are the peskiest bit of the process. They’re fiddly to attach. And if you get it wrong, it’s likely they’ll come off when the going gets tough.
- Easy to maneuver, making it a good choice for light use and smaller gardeners
- Adjustable tilling width and depth
- Fold-down handle for easy storage
- Assembly isn’t the easiest
- Not the most powerful, so will struggle with more demanding terrain.
3. TrimmerPlus GC720 Garden Garden Cultivator
If you’ve already invested in a gas-powered string trimmer, this cultivator attachment from TrimmerPlus is worth a look.
It’s compatible with a wide range of brands, including Remington, Yardman, Poulan, Cub Cadet, and Ryobi. The inner coupler tube has a diameter of 1.65 inches, and there’s a square, 0.2-inch female drive shaft connector.
So you’ve established it will fit your trimmer. Is it worth the investment?
You’ll get four steel tines that have been heat-treated so they’re extra strong. Each has eight blades to till the soil. It’s possible to adjust the tilling width up to a maximum of nine inches.
A plastic guard over the tines is designed to prevent you being sprayed with dirt and debris as you’re tilling. We’ve heard some complaints about it cracking during use, however.
Unlike standalone garden tiller, this is designed to work backward so that the tines dig into the soil. The performance will to a large extent depend on the power of your string trimmer motor. If you’ve got a powerful trimmer to attach it to, it can work very well, even on stony ground.
If you’re working very heavy ground, we’ve found that removing the outer two tines will give better results. They’ll dig deeper into the soil and put less strain on the motor. You’ll have a narrower tilling width, but it will still take less time than ploughing on with all four.
You’ll need significantly less storage space than with a standalone trimmer. And maintenance is straight forward.
The TrimmerPlus does, though, rely on a fair amount of muscle power. For big jobs, you’ll feel like you’ve had a real work-out! And this does mean it’s not the best choice for smaller or more frail gardeners.
- Great way to get more out of an existing string trimmer
- Needs much less storage space than stand-alone garden tillers
- Can deal even with tough terrain – if your trimmer motor is powerful enough
- Demands a fair amount of power from the gardener
- Performance will depend on the power of your string trimmer – don’t get this if you’re not sure your trimmer is up the job.
4. Garden Weasel Garden Claw Pro
If you’re looking for a garden tiller to loosen up the soil in a tight spot, consider the Garden Claw Pro from Garden Weasel.
This is hand operated, so bear in mind that you’ll be doing all the work. If you’ve got a large patch of ground to cover, look at other options. But if you want to loosen up the soil in an awkward corner, and can provide some muscle power, read on…
The Garden Claw Pro consists of four steel tines attached to a long handle. They’re adjustable, with three different settings. Use the largest setting for tilling, the middle one for cultivating, and the smallest for uprooting annoying weeds.
The carbon steel handle is 38 inches long, so you won’t have to do any bending. There’s a comfortable grip too.
It’s a simple gadget, and it comes fully assembled. You won’t have spend ages poring over a complicated instruction manual before you can get started. Maintenance is simple too – just clean off the tines with a garden hose after use.
And if you’re short on space, it’s a much better option than a standalone tiller. Hang it in your shed and it will take up hardly any room.
If you want to till a significant area – anything more than a small corner patch, or tight spot between two rows of plants – this won’t be for you. It will be far too much work, and your hands will be covered in blisters when you give up!
But for a simple, economical solution to aerating the soil in awkward areas, it’s a good option.
- Cost-effective option for light tilling of small areas
- Will get into the tightest of tight spots
- Takes up hardly any space in your garden shed
- No good for tilling any significant area
- The power here comes from your muscles alone – so be prepared for a workout!
5. GardenTrax 4 Cycle Mini Garden Cultivator
This mini cultivator from Garden Trax isn’t the largest machine on the block, but it has plenty of power.
The 38cc 4-cycle gas-powered engine will cultivate to a depth of about 4 inches. It’s easy to assemble and you don’t need to be a powerlifter to get it started. We’ve found it will get going on the second pull.
Make sure you follow the instructions for set-up. You won’t need a lot of oil here and adding too much will mean it just won’t work.
The build quality is good, and the tines will power through even heavy soil. For a mini tiller, the results really are impressive. Its modest dimensions mean it works particularly well in a small garden, or for cultivating between existing rows of plants.
If we had to find a fault, it would be the wing nuts that keep the handles together. The vibrations generated whilst cultivating can loosen them, and we’ve heard of instances where they’ve come off altogether.
And because it’s gas-powered, you will need to refuel and top up the oil every so often. It’s noisier than electric garden tillers too.
The really stand-out element of this cultivator, though, is the customer service offered by GardenTrax. They genuinely go the extra mile to deal effectively with any questions or problems. So if this is the garden tiller you choose, you can be sure you’re in safe hands.
- Lightweight yet powerful
- Convenient size for cultivating between rows of plants
- Excellent customer service from GardenTrax
- Gas-powered, so you’ll need to refuel and top up the oil every so often
- The wingnuts holding the handles together are prone to loosening up during use – keep an eye on them and tighten them up when necessary.
6. Earthwise TC70001 Corded Electric Garden Tiller/Cultivator
Earthwise offers a whole range of electric tillers, with motors ranging from 2.5 to 13.5 Amps. The 8.5 Amp version offers a good option for gardeners with small to medium-sized areas to cultivate. It’s particularly well suited for weed suppression.
The four steel tines will till to a width of 11 inches, and up to an impressive 8 inches deep. They rotate fast, so they’ll knock big clods of soil out of the way with ease. On the downside, that also means the machine is prone to bucking when it hits an obstacle.
Notwithstanding that issue, this is pretty easy to use. The electric operation means it will start with just a flick of the switch. And it’s lightweight, weighing in at just 23 pounds. For gardeners looking for a good balance between power and maneuverability, it’s well worth a look.
The handle has an ergonomic grip. And there are 6-inch wheels that flip down to help move it easily from place to place. You can also use them to adjust the depth of tilling. Flip them up out of the way to get down deep, or pull them down for shallower cultivating.
Unfortunately, the handle doesn’t fold down, which means this tiller takes up more storage space than it otherwise would. Check the dimensions and make sure you have the space to store it before you buy.
Overall, this is a good value tiller, with plenty to recommend it.
- Tills up to 11 inches wide and 8 inches deep
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- Comfortable handle
- Has a tendency to buck when it hits an obstacle
- Handle doesn’t fold down – check it will fit in your shed before you buy!
7. Mantis 3550 Electric Garden Tiller/Cultivator
If you’ve got a small to the medium-sized area to till, the Mantis 3550 is worth a look.
It’s powered by a 9 Amp motor, and you can choose from two different rotation speeds. Use the high speed for tilling, and the low speed for cultivating.
It has a 12-inch cultivating width, allowing it to cover a decent area in a reasonable time. The depth is adjustable, with the wheels capable of being placed in three different positions.
Position the wheels as low as they’ll go to cultivate of the top one to two inches of soil. When you want to go deeper, flip them up to reach the maximum depth of eight inches.
It’s small but powerful, and you won’t need masses of upper body strength to use it. There’s no tugging on a starter cord, as with gas-powered models. And it won’t produce fumes when you’re using it.
Bear in mind that, unlike the 7-series of tillers from Mantis, there are no optional attachments here. If you want a de-thatcher or edger, you’ll be out of luck. And if you want to cover large areas with challenging conditions, look for a model with a bigger motor.
- Variable speeds for cultivating and tilling
- Adjustable tilling depth of between one and eight inches
- Simple to use and easy to maintain
- The motor isn’t as powerful as some
- The 12-inch tilling width means this is best suited to small to medium-sized gardens.
If all these different options are making your head spin – don’t worry! Read on for our guide to the issues to consider when choosing the right tiller for your garden.
How big is the job?
Start by considering the size and characteristics of the plot you’ll be tilling or cultivating. Are you going to need to cover a large area? Is the ground stony or hard? Will your tiller need to cope with heavy clay soil?
If the answer to those questions is “yes”, it’s worth investing in a tiller with a large motor. The 12 Amp SunJoe is a good option, and gas tillers will be worth investigating too. Tillers with less powerful motors are usually cheaper, but it’s a false economy if they’re not up to the job.
If, on the other hand, you have a small corner that needs attention, a manual tiller might be appropriate. The Garden Claw will get into the tightest spaces, is easy to store, and won’t cost a lot of money.
But don’t fool yourself into thinking persistence will enable you to cover bigger areas with a manual tiller! It will be no quicker or easier than digging over with a fork.
Click here for guide on how to till a garden without a tiller.
What’s your preferred power source?
You’ll need to choose whether you want your tiller to be powered by gas or electricity. Both options have pros and cons.
Gas machines tend to be more powerful. If you’ve got hard or rocky ground, they will usually give good results. They do, however, require more user intervention.
You’ll need to pull a starter cord to get them going, and that can be tough. With an electric machine, you simply have to press a switch.
With a gas tiller, you’ll also need to pay some attention to maintenance. You’ll have to refill it with gas from time to time, and top up the oil. And at some point, spark plugs will need to be replaced.
On the upside, you won’t have to worry about an electric cord getting caught up when you’re tilling!
Gas tillers will emit some fumes, which can be smelly. Unless you’re particularly sensitive to the odor, however, this shouldn’t be a major problem. After all, you’re going to be working in the open air, where any nasty smells will dissipate quickly.
Last but not least, bear in mind that gas machines can be noisy. If you have a large area to cover, the quieter hum of an electric tiller may be more to your liking.
How much flexibility do you need?
Do you want a machine that can get down deep into the ground? Or one that will stay shallow, so avoiding underground pipes or other obstacles? Perhaps you need one that’s capable of doing both.
Tilling depths vary from machine to machine, so consider what you need before you choose. And if you need versatility, look for models with variable depths. These usually have wheels that can be adjusted to position the tines higher or lower in the soil.
The same goes for tilling width. Do you want to cover a large area as quickly as possible? Or do you need a narrower setting to cultivate between rows of plants? Again, some tillers allow you to adjust the tilling width for greater flexibility.
Don’t forget storage
Tillers can be chunky machines, so make sure you have space to store yours securely.
Some models have fold-down handles that reduce the room needed for storage. And if you want something to till an awkward spot, consider a hand-operated option like the Garden Claw. That can simply be hung on the wall of your shed without taking up any room at all.
Finally, consider whether you already have a garden tool that could double as a tiller with an attachment. If you’ve got a powerful gas string trimmer, the TrimmerPlus could be an excellent choice. It will take up far less space than a standalone trimmer, and offers good value for money too.
Ready to choose?
We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to the best garden tillers on the market today. Whatever the size of your job, there’s something out there to suit you. Before you choose, consider the conditions in your garden, your preferred fuel source, and whether you need particular features.
Our favorite is SunJoe TJ603E. This great tiller shows that electric machines don’t have to compromise on power. And you’ll get all the benefits of easy operation and trouble-free maintenance.
Whichever tiller you choose, you’ll find cultivating your garden becomes a far quicker and easier job. And that means you’ll have more time to enjoy the results!