The best tillers do more than just look fancy in your garage, they provide you with the ability to break hard ground and do a considerable job of boosting your ability to garden properly.
If you have a tiller or have done any research, then you know that a tiller needs the right amount of power to do their job correctly.
Additionally, there are several different types of tillers, so how do you know which one to choose?
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Ideally, the tiller you choose should not only break up the ground, but also mix the soil exhaustively.
Also, you will want to choose a tiller that does the work for you, quickly, and with very little energy.
In this guide, we will walk you through what a tiller is, things you should consider when it comes to purchasing a tiller, and finally the different types of tillers.
After all, if your dream is to cultivate your land with ease, you will need a tiller to help you.
What Is A Tiller?
Have you ever wondered what those wonderful machines are that create those beautiful, raised garden beds?
What is a tiller? Essentially, and at its core, a tiller is a simple machine that is designed to break up hard ground so that you are able to plant fruits, vegetables, or other items.
A tiller also churns the ground bringing more nutrients to the surface or bringing nutrients that you place on top of the soil down further so that roots are better able to absorb them.
A tiller may be necessary if you have soil that contains higher levels of clay or is prone to becoming more compact with rain or too much water.
A tiller can also aerate soil so that fertilizers and sunlight are better able to reach the parts of the plants that are unable to receive them with compacted soils.
Considerations When Choosing The Best Tiller
If you are on the hunt for a great tiller, there are several considerations you must take into account.
It is important to consider the best machine that will be able to perform the tasks that you need it to correctly.
Also, you will want to make sure you are getting as much value for your money as you can.
As you go through the process of inspecting potential tillers for purchase you will want to take into consideration the fundamental issues that you are trying to solve when it comes to the soil in your garden.
We will discuss these factors below; this way you are fully prepared to know what answers you will need to the questions you will inevitably have.
Size Of Area Needing To Be Tilled
Our first consideration is the size of the area you need to till. Just because you have a smaller garden bed, doesn’t mean that you need a small tiller.
The size of your tiller is more related to power than anything else, and a larger tiller may be necessary if you have tough compact soils.
If the size of your garden is rather large, or perhaps you have a farm, then you will want a larger tiller, but if you have softer soil, a smaller tiller still may be able to get the job done, although more slowly than you would probably like.
Rear tine tillers are best for farming situations, they do an amazing job of breaking down the soil in a uniform manner, leaving the ground much softer than it was found in.
Soil Type – Rocky Or Compacted?
As previously mentioned, the type of soil in your garden plays a major role in the type of tiller you need.
If you have tough soil that is rocky, or compacted, or even clay-like, then you will want a bigger more powerful tiller.
You can also mix in some sand into your tougher soil to help keep it softer throughout the planting season. Mixing sand into your soil with a tiller can also help with all kinds of other issues.
If you have softer grounds, or more loamy soil types, you may consider a smaller or mini tiller.
Remember that big tillers work great in small gardens, and small tillers are simply designed for a softer soil type.
If you have a large garden with soft soil, you may still consider a larger tiller.
Power Source – Don’t Discount Manual Tilling
When it comes to the power source of your tiller, most people discount manual tillers as too much work, however, don’t make that mistake.
If you have a small garden bed and soft soil, you may not need anything other than a hand tiller – or an electric tiller if manual is not your thing at all.
Hand tillers are also very useful for mixing soil, compost beds, and seeding. The issue with manual tillers is that they aren’t fun for heavy jobs.
If you have an entire farm to till, a manual tiller isn’t your tool.
Otherwise, if you are tilling a large amount of very hard soil, then you may consider an electric tiller.
These tillers break up the particles into very small parts in no time at all, reducing your effort to almost nothing.
Otherwise, you may consider a gas-powered tiller for maneuverability.
Hand Tiller – Powered Manually
There isn’t a gardener out there that has bad things to say about hand tillers, just like other hand tools, they are manually powered by the human that is using them.
A hand tiller is designed much like a shovel, but instead of a shovel head, it may have bladed wheels, spikes, or prongs which are pretty straightforward when it comes to use.
Simply hold the handle, then push the tiller into the ground and either twist or drag it across the soil. The spikes are meant to be pushed into the ground with your foot, whereas the bladed wheels are meant to be pushed.
The drawback to a hand tiller is that it doesn’t cover much ground, and the spikes or bladed wheels must be maintained and kept sharp.
Cultivators – Not Quite Tillers, But Close
A cultivator is a small electric machine that is similar to a tiller, but not quite the same.
There are still many gardeners out there that can’t tell the difference between a cultivator and a tiller, so don’t worry if you don’t see much of a difference either.
The main difference is that a cultivator is much smaller than a tiller and is specifically designed to add compost and aerate the soil prior to planting grasses or help with the control the growth of seeds.
The biggest con when it comes to a cultivator, is that it only churns soil, it doesn’t do a good job of breaking it up.
Before a cultivator can do its job the soil must first be broken up.
Front Tine Tiller – For Small Or Medium Sized Gardens
Front tine tillers are the most popular choice among gardeners; however, their designs often offer limited functionalities.
The front tine tiller is most helpful in assisting with weeding, soil preparation, and composting.
These tillers have adjustable tine widths, and most often offer three different width settings. These settings are meant for differing soil types.
These front tine tillers are best suited for cultivating small or medium sized gardens. They do a great job at loosening the soil and breaking up firm ground.
The tiller depth control also does a great job smoothing out the soil after the tilling process.
The wheels at the back of the tiller allow great maneuverability, allowing you to turn around or go in reverse if necessary.
If you have a small or medium sized garden that needs routine maintenance and weeding then the front tine tiller is your best option.
Mid Tine Tiller – The Upgrade
A mid tine tiller is hard to differentiate from a front tine tiller, and both of these machines usually fall into the same category but there are some differences that we feel obligated to point out. The main difference is the position of the tines, a mid-tine tiller has tines that are located right under the engine.
In comparison to front tine tillers, mid tine tillers have great balance, and are considered an upgrade from a front tine tiller. The mid tine tiller does shallow weeding in medium-sized gardens, which is a great relief if you are doing small chores in larger spaces.
The downside to a mid tine tiller is that it isn’t really meant for smaller spaces, on the other hand the mid-tine tillers are usually more affordable, and they preform a variety of tasks, including loosening soil in a uniform manner.
Rear Tine Tiller – More Power
The rear tine tiller is one of the largest tillers on the market, and they have the most amount of power, making them perfect for larger gardens. If you are a farmer, or have gardens that span over large areas, then you may prefer this tool.
Rear tine tillers may come in handy for digging smaller plots of land, because they have large wheels and have comfortable handles that allow for an amazing grip. The downside to rear tine tillers is that these large rear wheels can prove to be a little more challenging to maneuver than front tine tillers.
You may need some time to get used to it, but as you learn how to maneuver the rear tine tiller it will get easier. The weight of this machine gives it more power, allowing you to cover more ground in a shorter period of time.
Vertical Tine Tiller – Unique And Advanced
As technology gets more advanced, so do our tools. Vertical tine tillers are one of the latest types of tillers and they are slowly but surely finding their way into the market. Gardeners and farmers find these tillers unique, more comfortable, and faster.
A vertical tine tiller doesn’t cut soil in the traditional way, much like the name implies, it cuts vertically whereas other kinds of tillers cut the soil in a more downward way. This tiller has a great design that makes them very comfortable to use, and much faster than other tillers, requiring less effort.
Since the vertical tine tiller isn’t as big as rear tine tillers, they aren’t as big and therefore aren’t as powerful, but are great for mid-sized areas or smaller.