I assume you are reading this for a reason, you are looking to get a garden tiller. But with so many models available, settling on a model is nearly impossible without expert advice. We created a list of the best rear tine tillers, reviewing every individual model and making recommendations to fit everyone’s budget. This buying guide will cover the differences between different types of tillers, top rated brands to consider and essential features that make up for a good garden tiller.
In simple terms, a tiller is a must-have gardening tool that upends and prepares the soil for planting anything from flowers to vegetables. The reason behind is to clean weed-infested or hardened soil that can be problematic when trying to plant seeds. It is true that herbicides can help control your garden, but it can’t compare to this process. During the article, we will also refer to this tool as a rototiller or cultivator. Assuming one does not know how to use a cultivator, it is very similar to a lawn mower – you push the tool through the dirt.
Top 5 Rear Tine Tillers Reviews
I won’t try to bore you with useless information and list ten random products. Instead, I will provide an unbiased review concluding with the pros and cons of each model. These are among the top choices on the market, coming from brands with an excellent reputation in the field.
What makes this our top pick is its versatility! The Southland SRTT196E will be the perfect fit for those with large gardens, as well as houses with smaller gardens. This rototiller is powered by an OVH engine, packing just over 9 foot of torque. This will be enough to shred through the soil, regardless of how hardened it is. For those who are not completely aware of what an OVH engine is, I will do my best to explain it in simple terms.
OVH stands for overhead valve engine, which compared to non OVH of engines, this is more efficient in terms of energy and quieter when running. It’s strong enough to till soil that has never been tilled before, which is surprising for a rear tine tiller under $1000. Its 4-cycle makes even more efficient compared to similar models that are 2-strokes. As you can see already, this model ticks a lot of boxes and we didn’t even get to the main part: tines.
The Southland SRTT196E comes with counter-rotating tines of 11 inches wide, are the perfect size to work in smaller spaces too. Being counter-rotating, they have more power than conventional tines. Furthermore, they are self-sharpening which save a lot of time as they don’t need to be manually sharpened. The tiling process can be adjusted to a 10 inches depth, allowing for effective soil preparation before plating your seeds.
In terms of maneuverability, the 13 inches pneumatic tires will allow for easy turns even on uneven soil. Let’s see some of the advantages this rototiller comes with!
+ Great for corners
Unlike other models, this garden tiller is able to get in small spaces like corners due to its width. You have greater flexibility without sacrificing too much of the speed that comes with a heavy-duty model.
+ Moves forward and backwards
The Southland SRTT196E comes with forward and reverse action gears. In other words, this means you will have greater maneuverability, being able to go forward and backwards.
+ Digs deep
Being able to adjust the depth up to 10 inches, you get to dig deeper with this model. This is useful for those tilling rocky ground or need to plant seeds that require room for roots to grow deep.
– Manual start
When compared to alternative models, this one is cheaper. However, this means that you are loosing some of the features. The most notable one is the electric start. The recoil starts from the first pull, so this is not really a huge weakness.
– No variable speeds
More expensive models do allow for changes in how speedy the machine goes forward. However, this one has a decent speed and many people don’t even make use of variable speeds.
Overall, I strongly believe this model is the best bang for your buck! Suitable for those with smaller gardens, great maneuverability and a powerful engine that is quite and fuel efficient. This makes an excellent pick and for peace of mind, the product comes with a free two year warranty.
This manufacturer has a very long history in producing garden tillers and this model represents one of the most successful sold. It has an OVH engine, just like our previews review, which produces a lot more power, hence its name. With a 306cc 4-stroke engine, this is an absolute beast and will finish tilling large areas in no time. With its huge 20 inch tilling width, this machine can shred through hardened soil in no time. Unlike our previous review, this one has an adjustable depth of up to 7 inches only.
Being such a heavy machine, the producer threw in two 16 inches pneumatic tires, allowing one to easily control the cultivator. Furthermore, it comes with four forward and two reverse speeds for even greater flexibility. While using it, people find it extremely easy to operate and being such a balanced piece of equipment, you won’t have any trouble in getting it to stay straight.
Starting the Troy-Bilt Horse is a piece of cake, thanks to its electric starter. There is no cord you need to pull, making the things a bit easier. Does this justify its price tag? Probably not! However, one does get some extra perks for paying this premium. For example, the driving transmission is well protected by a cast-iron case. Furthermore, the producer offers a lifetime warranty for free. This is a more sturdy machine compared to our previous model reviewed, but bare in mind they are intended for different uses. While the Southland SRTT196E will do fine for larger gardens as well as smaller ones, this one is more suited towards large areas with a tilling width of 50% more.
+ Perfect for large areas
As discussed already, the tines allow for a 20 inches tilling width making things a lot faster.
+ Improved maneuverability
The Horse 306cc comes with a just one hand operation feature. In other words, one can operate the machine using just one hand and even though this might sound ridiculous given its weight, it is true. Despite the size, it is a very flexible machine.
+ Good engine protection
The model comes with a front bumper guard, aiming to protect the engine from roots or dirt that could get inside and damage the engine. You don’t get this with other tillers unfortunately.
All these great feature come at a price which not everyone might be ready to pay.
– Digging depth
Unlike the previous model which is a lot cheaper, this one is able to dig up to seven inches only. Some plants require more depth for their roots to grow.
For large gardens with hardened ground, this can be an excellent pick. Even though the tines are forward-rotating which are less powerful that counter-rotating ones, its engine will compensate for that. With a lifetime warranty for its transmission and a front bumper protecting the engine, this piece of equipment will surely last you for many years to come.
For those who have a large area to cultivate, this model can be an ideal choice. Apart from an amazing rototiller, you will get a snow thrower, power harrow, log splitter and other attachments. The machine has one of the widest tilling on the market, with a 20 inches width and 8 inches depth. The engine powering the beast is manufactured by Honda, a respected manufacturer in the field. The engine is a 4-cycle type, making it more reliable and fuel efficient. It outputs a power of nearly 8HP, allowing to take on even the hardest soil.
Due to its acquisition cost, the GX240 is intended towards those who run a landscaping business. The model comes with very strong tines, offering a 20 inches wide and up to 8 inches depth tilling. One will finish in less time thanks to the amazing tilling width. Unlike the previous two models we have reviewed, the GX240 comes with a ring and pinion gearbox. This means that the engine’s power will be fully used thanks to the gearbox.
What is weird for this price range is the missing electric starter. Yes, you will need to manually start the machine by pulling the cord. It is true, there are no problems in starting the machine from the firs pull, but some expect an electric start for such an expensive piece of equipment.
+ Amazing power
The amount of torque and power that this machine packs, is incredible! You won’t have any trouble in tilling any type of soil, even the rockiest. This allows for more flexibility, and as mentioned already, is aimed more at those running a business.
+ Improved tine design
The tines are able to cut a lot easier through all types of soil as a result of their design. A lot of work has been put into designing those, and unless you use, you will not know.
+ Drives forwards and backwards
This might be something you expect from a top rear tine tiller. This results in greater maneuverability, however some corners might be harder to get.
– Price tag
The only weakness of the GX240 is its price. It is more expensive when comparing to other cultivators, and some people with smaller gardens will not be able to justify such an investment. Hence my thoughts that the model is aimed at those with huge yards or business owners. There is no question regarding the quality you get. It is probably the best in the field!
Overall, the rototiller is close to perfection! The BCS GX240 Honda tiller is the must have choice in case you have a business in landscaping or perhaps have a very large area where the soil has never been tilled. It is true the investment is quite considerable, but it comes with a lot of power to prove you won’t regret spending this much.
In case you are searching for a sturdy real tine tiller, the CRT900L can be a solid choice. The machine is powered by a 205cc Briggs and Stratton engine, which is a 4-stroke OHV type. It is very nice to get amazing power while being fuel efficient at the same time. Unlike a 2-stroke engine, this one is less prone to failing and much more quieter. It outputs about 9 feet of torque, ensuring the tines will cut easily through any rocks.
Speaking of tines, these are counter-rotating ones, and by now you should know that they are more powerful compared to regular ones. You get to tile circa 17 inches in width and the depth can be adjusted up to 6 inches. It is true that it might not be the deepest, but it can surely get the job done. Unlike previous models, the CRT900L comes with two heavy thread tires. They are well known for their grip even in mud. Overall, they provide a greater control of the machine, allowing you to set up the garden on the muddiest grounds.
+ Able to go forward and backwards
Like previous models reviewed, this cultivator does come with forward and reverse gears making it easier to control. You don’t get to control the speed of the machine, but is good to have that reverse speed, which some of the products lack.
+ Will get the job done
The CRT900L will get the job done, regardless of how hard the soil is. The machine will get through any soil, regardless of how compact it might be. Having counter-rotating tines will ensure to chew quickly through any soil .
+ Superior control
Coming equiped with counterweights, this model is a pleasure to use. It is very easy to control and a lot safer at the same time.
– Digging depth
Not something to be proud of, the Husqvarna CRT900L manages to dig up to 6 inches. While some people are fine with this, cheaper models are able to get a lot deeper. For example, our firs recommendation manages to get to up to 10 inches deep.
– Manual start
While starting the machine is relatively easy, there is no electric start. It is a nice feature to have considering other models do have it.
For medium sized gardens, our last review can be a good fit. The width of the tiller might not be the greatest out there, but at 15 inches wide will surely make things quicker. The machine is powered by a 196cc viper engine, using a 4-stroke design. As discussed already, these engines are less prone to fail and are more efficient in terms of energy. The cultivator is strong enough to cut through rocks and any thick roots, and even soil that has never been tilled.
Like most products on the market, this one feature the counter-rotating tines which are the best. They move against the wheels, being amazing at shredding through hardened soil. Even though the width of the tilling is limited to 15 inches, the depth can be adapted up to 10 inches. Is perfect for those looking to plant seeds that require more space for the roots.
To aid in controlling the digging levels, this model is equiped with isovibe drag stake technology. Essentially, you control the machine easier when it comes to how deep you want it to dig. It is a nice addition to have, as some models can be frustrating when trying to keep the same tilling depth.
The Earthquake 6015V comes with large 13 inches wheels, offering forward directional control. This is useful especially when the soil has never been tilled.
+ Sturdy transmission
The manufacturer built this machine for heavy duty work and the transmission makes no exception. It has been designed to endure wear and tear like a champion, providing many years of use with no issues.
+ More adjusting
People have different heights and they might prefer the handlebar at different positions. Having an adjustable handlebar is a very nice feature, allowing you to control the machine a lot easier and making it more comfortable.
Unlike most garden tillers, this one does not provide the ability to go backwards. In my opinion this is a huge weakness, reducing the ability to control it and making the process harder. It is true you can finish faster due to its tilling width however.
– Not best around the corners
It is pretty difficult to control the cultivator around corners, but this is something to expect from a heavy-duty tiller. If your garden hasn’t got many corners, it is easier to do them by hand than trying with the 6015V.
Best rototiller brands
To provide a better overview of the subject, a few words about the main players in the field would be helpful.
Southland also known as METL, has been actively developing leading outdoor power equipment for longer than 100 years. They specialize in multiple gasoline-powered tools, mainly aimed at north american market. Their range of products include anything from blowers to garden tillers.
Troy-Bilt has been a top producer of all types of gardening tools since 1937. The company worked really hard to gain the reputation it has today, and even though it has been acquired by MTD Products, the quality is still the same.
Husqvarna is another top manufacturer focusing on different power tools ranging from chain saws to different models of rototillers. Unlike METL, their products are aimed to the entire world. When manufacturing their products, Husqvarna employ the best quality engines from Honda and Briggs & Stratton. This comes at a higher cost, but the reliability is top notch!
What makes a good rear tine tiller?
Being such an expensive product, the budget is probably one of the most influential factors when shopping for a rotary cultivator. However, you might want to consider some other features as well, especially if you are buying it for a landscaping business.
The width of the tiller is what is going to make the difference between a slow one and a faster model. The wider, the more ground you will shred with each pass. However, as you still want to be able to control the machine, the recommended width would be around 17-18 inches.
Every model will come with an adjustable depth, however some might be capable of digging deeper than others. It is true that some seeds require less depth, but that doesn’t mean you should get a model with limited tilling depth. Our first recommendation is capable of digging up to 10 inches, which is more than enough.
Electric or manual starting
This is not essential for many people, but is a nice feature to have. Being able to start the rotary tiller with a push of a button is better than having to pull the cord. However sometimes the price does not justify this feature. A few hundred dollars more just for this? It is definitely something not that important. A new tiller with proper maintenance will start from the first pull for its entire life.
This is the heart of the machine, playing a major part in how fast you will be finishing tilling the yard. There are different types, 2-stroke models and 4-strokes ones. The former are louder, less fuel efficient and less reliable. A 4-cycle one is better with the fuel, less prone to fail and less noisy. Furthermore, a 4-stroke engine does not require mixing oil and fuel, unlike a 2-cycle one. If you decide to pick one of the garden cultivators reviewed in this article, they all have 4-stroke engines so you don’t need to worry about this.
The way the tines rotate can speed up the process of aerating the soil. Counter-rotating ones are the most efficient out of all types and help in keeping the rotary tiller stable, allowing for better control. However, the standard rotating tines can also shred through compacted soil without hassle. Models on the upper spectrum tend to have self sharpening tines. If you can afford such a tiller cultivator, the money are well spent considering there is no need to take the tines out and manually sharpen them.
These can make the difference between a controllable model and one that is a pain in the ass to maneuver. Ideally, a cultivator should come equipped with pneumatic tires of minimum 13 inches. When tilling clay soil, tires with good tread will allow for better grip.
An ideal model will come with at least two speeds, one to go forward and one backwards. I strongly suggest avoiding those unable to reverse as there can be situations where the machine gets stuck and you are going to have a hard time getting it unstuck. Models with a higher price tag will allow you to control the speed, which is nice to have but not necessary. However, what is useful is a neutral gear which allows for easy transportation of the rototiller.
It would be nice to see that all models come with adjustable handlebars, but unfortunately that is not the case. This aspect can help one maneuver the machine a lot easier. The more versatile models allow for the handlebar to be moved to the side, allowing you to walk on compact soil while controlling the unit.
Regardless of your pick, any of the above models will work like a charm! A good amount of research has been put in writing this guide, so be sure that you make the right decision. From a casual gardener to a professional landscaper, this list covers the best garden cultivators. They have been selected to suit any budgets, with the first review being the cheapest.