Garden Tiller Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Option

1 man using a garden tiller

Garden tillers are a type of tool everyone should have in their garden. They can be of great help, from helping you maintain the consistency of the soil to breaking new ground and aiding with plant cultivation. Because there are so many garden tillers that you can choose from, there are some criteria you should keep in mind when deciding. In today’s article, we’re going to provide you with a garden tiller buying guide, so that you can make an informed decision.

How to Choose the Perfect Garden Tiller: A Comprehensive Guide

1. Decide on the Type of Garden Tiller

There are 3 types of garden tillers that you can choose from, each excelling at something else. Here’s what you should know about each of them.

a. Front Tine Tillers

The first type of garden tiller out there is the front tine tiller, which is similar to a cultivator, in that it’s not that strong as other tillers. However, it is stronger than a cultivator. As a result, you should use it for tilling already established beds or for stirring up soil which is already relatively loose. Although a front tine tiller does more or less the same thing as a cultivator, and it also operates the same, the former is not only more powerful but also bigger. As such, it’s better for larger jobs.

When choosing a front tine tiller, we recommend looking for one that has an adjustable tine width. This will make things easier for you, because the tiller will perform at maximum capacity in any given situation.

b. Rear Tine Tillers

If you’re dealing with compact and hard soil, you should choose a rear tine tiller. This type of tiller has large and rugged tires, which are perfect for all types of soil, including harder ones. The tires help with stability while you work. A rear tine tiller is different from all other tillers in that you can rotate the tine in different directions.

In terms of the rotation of the tine, there are three types of rear tine tillers that you can find: forward rotating, counter-rotating, and dual rotating. These multiple rotation options is what makes this tiller so powerful and allows it to break through any kind of soil.

c. Vertical Tine Tillers

Vertical tine tillers aren’t as widely used as the other two types of garden tillers mentioned above. This is a relatively new invention by Cub Cadet, and it is one that has made land tilling much easier. The vertical tine tiller is generally better than any other kind of tiller, because of the way its tines spin. If front tine tillers and rear tine tillers have a downward tine chopping motion, the tines of the vertical tine tiller spin in a fashion similar to an egg beater.

Because of their vertical position, the tines cut through the soil using a forward motion. They don’t chop downward, like the tines of the other two types of tillers. What does this mean for the soil, you ask? Well, it blends better and remains smoother. You can use this type of garden tiller on already established gardens as well as on brand new ones.

One final benefit of the vertical tine tiller we should mention is that you don’t need to go over the soil twice when using it. Due to its churning motion, it can both break and mix the soil in one pass, which saves you quite a bit of time.

2. Consider the Size of Your Garden

Another important criterion you should consider when choosing the perfect garden tiller is the size of your garden or backyard. For example, if your garden is small (less than 1.500 square feet), you can buy a mini-tiller. For a medium-sized garden, choose a tiller with a horsepower of 5 or 6. If you have a large garden (larger than 5.000 square feet), consider a tiller with an engine of at least 6 horsepower. However, these guidelines aren’t set in stone. Your choice should ultimately depend on many other criteria as well.

3. Keep in Mind the Type of Soil

One such criterion is the type of soil you have in your garden. For instance, even if your garden is small, if the soil is rocky or extremely hard, you’ll need a bigger tiller. Small and light tillers won’t be able to work the soil properly, often skipping the tougher spots instead of digging into them.

For hard soil, we recommend a bigger and heavier tiller. If you want to make the tiller’s job easier, you should plow the soil beforehand, especially if it’s extremely hard-bottomed. Using a plow to turn the soil in early spring or fall is going to help the tiller become more effective. This means you can afford to use a small tiller as well, spending less money as a result.

4. Consider Ignition

If you want to make sure your tiller starts perfectly season after season, you have to choose a resistant one and not skip the end-of-the-season care routine. One example of tiller care is allowing the fuel lines to be entirely free of gas before storing away the tiller. To this purpose, you have to first drain all of the gas left in the tiller, and then start the engine and allow it to run until the lines are dry.

Since the engine of a tiller is extremely important, we advise you to be careful when purchasing your tiller, especially if you decide to buy a used one. Make sure to check for shot clutches, worn-out bushings, and decrepit carburetors before making the purchase. Otherwise, you might have to repair the tiller and pay even more money than you would have paid for a new one.

5. Think about Renting One

Depending on how large your garden is, how often you’re going to need a tiller, and how much money you’re willing to spend on one, you also have the option of renting a garden tiller. There are rental houses where you can go for that. The great thing about renting a tiller is that you can rent it for as much as you want, from a couple of hours to a few weeks.

tilling the land with a garden tiller

If you want to find out how much that would cost, you should know an extremely powerful 12 horsepower garden tiller costs about $100 a day to rent, or $20 an hour, in the case of rear tine tillers. A front tine tiller costs half that amount. If you only plan on using the tiller for a couple of days or weeks, renting makes a lot of sense. If you’re someone who gardens on a regular basis and needs the tiller a lot, buying one that you can have around at all times is the better choice.

6. Check the Price

Naturally, the price of a garden tiller is an extremely important criterion. For some people, a high price can be a major con. The price of a garden tiller depends on the size and power of the tiller, as well as on the brand. However, you should expect the following approximate numbers:

  • $250 to $350 for a mini-tiller.
  • $500 to $750 for a front tine tiller.
  • $800 to $2,000 for a rear tine tiller or a vertical tine tiller.

7. Look at the Features

There are many features that can make a tiller right for your garden. That’s why we recommend looking at all of them before making a decision. Some features to look out for are:

  • Number of engine cycles: This determines the fuel you’re going to use for your tiller. For instance, a 4-cycle engine doesn’t require you to mix gas and oil.
  • Electric starter: Having a tiller with an electric starter means you won’t have to start it by pulling, but by pushing a button.
  • Tilling width and depth: These numbers are extremely important for your planting needs. You need to know how deep and wide the tiller can go.
  • Pneumatic tires: These allow you to maneuver the tiller easier.
  • Reverse drive: This increases the tiller’s mobility.
  • Power take off: This feature allows you to use the engine of the tiller to power additional attachments.

#Buy a Garden Tiller

If you want to look at a couple of garden tillers before purchasing one, here are some really great options:

Summing Everything Up

We hope today’s guide to choosing the perfect garden tiller will help you buy the tiller that best suits the type of soil you have in your garden and meets your tilling necessities. Since a garden tiller will last you for years, you should take your time before making a decision.

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