11 Best Front Tine Tillers 2020 + Buyer’s Guide & FAQs

In this series, we’ve been looking at tools to help you get out into the garden to start growing stuff.

Because growing stuff is fun, and there’s been no better time to do it.

We’ve covered the best tillers for breaking new ground if you’ve never turned the earth in your yard before.

And we’ve looked at the best electric tillers if you prefer to avoid gas and want something a little more manageable.

Today, we move on to focusing on the best front tine tillers – as they are far and away the most widely available tiller type for residential use.

So, it’s time to dig in and get started. A buyer’s guide and FAQ section will follow.

Let’s see if we can make the earth move for you.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on YardThyme. For more information, read full disclosure here.

11 Best Front Tine Tillers 2020

Sun Joe TJ604E Electric Garden Tiller/Cultivator

Featuring more than once in our rundown of top tiller articles is this 16-inch model from Sun Joe, a company also pretty adept at making great electric hedge trimmers.

A hugely popular machine, it features a powerful 13.5 Amp motor which rotates the six durable steel tines that are angled for maximum performance. The three-position wheel adjustment makes it easy to transport across your lawn and dig down up to a depth of eight inches, while foldable handles ensure storage isn’t a problem when this lightweight unit is not in use.

Pros

  • Great price point.
  • Highly rated.
  • Name to trust.
  • Generous tilling width.
  • Safety switch and instant start.

Cons

  • Not as powerful as more expensive/gas-powered machines.

Conclusion

The most lightweight product in our review, this is a great little tiller to get you started, and ideal for raised flower beds and already established veg or flower patches. It makes a great weed eater, too, and at this price, you can’t go wrong.

Tacklife Electric Tiller TGTL02A

Up next is this 12-Amp tiller that also has a 16-inch tilling width and eight-inch working depth. The powerful copper motor offers stable performance and 400 RPM, to make short work of the soil in your vegetable garden or flower beds.

The six durable steel tines are great for deep earth turning, while the ergonomic handles and sturdy unit design assist with comfort and control.

Featuring a trigger start, a cable retention hook, lever clamps for storage, two-position adjustable wheels, and protective mudguard, there are plenty of features here to help you get the job done.

Pros

  • Good price.
  • Safety start.
  • Foldable handles.
  • Cable clamps.

Cons

  • Again, more powerful tillers are available.

Conclusion

Unless you’re looking for something with a bit more oomph, it’s hard to find fault with this tiller from Tacklife. It’s a great little machine for light to medium yard-work, and you could do a lot worse for the money.

Earthwise TC70016 Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator

Earthwise enters the fray with their version of the 16-inch, 13.5-Amp corded electric tiller that features six fully adjustable steel tines. Take them from 11-inches to 16-inches wide, with a maximum tilling depth of eight inches.

The wrap-around, ergonomic handle feels solid and is very comfortable to use, while the retention cord helps keep your extension lead in place and prevents accidental disconnects. Six-inch flip-down wheels make it easy to transport the unit, and the lightweight build allows effortless operation and storage.

Pros

  • Very highly rated.
  • Solid construction.
  • Push-button start.
  • Cushioned grip.

Cons

  • One of the heavier electric models on the market.

Conclusion

A well-built, durable front tine tiller that looks and feels quality. The motor is backed by plenty of power in a unit that has been very favorably-received from the green-thumbed community.

Greenworks Corded Tiller 27072

Another eco-friendly company gets in on the act with this 10-inch, 8-Amp corded tiller from Greenworks. Slightly smaller than the predecessors in this review, it’s nonetheless a powerful little machine that also eliminates the need for messy fuel and oil mixes for gas tillers.

It has four, eight-inch steel tines that rotate forwards for maximum performance when digging into the earth, and a fully adjustable tilling width of 8.25 inches to 10 inches for quick, reliable operation.

Tilling depth is also adjustable up to five inches, so you can easily reach down to the correct depth for planting your prize carrots.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Lightweight, compact unit.
  • Adjustable wheels.
  • Foldable handle for storage.
  • Comfort grip.

Cons

  • Assembly instructions could be clearer.

Conclusion

Greenworks add another quality garden power tool to their impressive range with this highly rated, easy-to-use, compact tiller that’s great for smaller yards.

Scotts Outdoor Power Tools TC70135S Tiller/Cultivator

Lawn care experts Scotts chimes in with their corded electric tiller, a 13.5-Amp, 16-inch machine bearing their distinctive and recognizable logo. Marketed for use in gardens of any size, it boasts six, tempered steel, fully adjustable tines that are highly durable and effective at shifting even the toughest earth.

Flip down rear wheels make it easy to transport the unit across your lawn and around your property, and the full ergonomic grip, bail wire, and safety start make it comfortable and straightforward to use.

Aesthetically, it’s a smart-looking unit that smacks of quality in an attractive garden-green livery.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Durable construction.
  • Cord retention hook.
  • Versatile tilling methods.

Cons

  • The unit is difficult to fault.

Conclusion

An excellent, all-round tiller from a reputable gardening company that offers more power and control than you might expect in a solid machine. And if it’s more lawn care you’re after, take a look at this article on lawn aerators to improve your patch of green.

Greenworks Cordless Cultivator 27062

Greenworks also offer this battery-powered cultivator that allows greater freedom than a corded model. Featuring a powerful 40 Volt G-MAX lithium-ion battery, it delivers fade-free power with no memory loss after charging.

With an adjustable tilling width between 8.25-10-inches and a maximum tilling depth of five inches, you have complete control over the ground you need to turn. The eight-inch steel tines provide excellent performance for digging and can give you up to 2000 strikes per minute for tackling the tougher jobs.

And with up to 40 minutes run time on a single charge, it’s ideal for tilling, weeding, and cultivating in small to mid-sized yards and gardens without the need of a backup battery.

Pros

  • Eco-friendly.
  • Battery and charger included.
  • Foldable handles.
  • Push-button start.
  • Battery compatible with other tools in the range.

Cons

  • The wheels are not adjustable.
  • It’s on the expensive side for what it is.

Conclusion

If, like me, you’re a stickler for eco-friendly, low-maintenance, cordless products, then this is an excellent tilling option for you and your garden.

Troy-Bilt TB146 EC Cultivator

Outdoor power tool stalwarts Troy-Bilt have been making chores easier since 1937. This is their four-stroke cultivator, with a powerful 29cc engine that doesn’t require the extra inconvenience of mixing oil and gas to operate.

Offering a generous 6-12-inch tilling width, there are six, premium steel tines that can dig to a depth of five inches. Featuring Spring-Assist jump-start technology that allows the engine to turn over without the need of a pull-cord, this is a practical and time-saving solution even if the starter is sold separately.

Although marketed as a cultivator, there’s enough power and control here for tilling even in a compact, tough soil.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Durable construction.
  • Lightweight for a gas machine.
  • Folding handle for storage.

Cons

  • Electric jump start sold separately.
  • Pull cord in an awkward position (probably to make you buy the jump start).

Conclusion

Another quality addition to the Troy-Bilt garden power-tool fleet, this is a tough and durable cultivator/tiller in a highly maneuverable, compact design.

Tazz 35310 Front Tine Tiller/Cultivator

Backed by a powerful 79cc, four-stroke Viper engine, this is a beast of a tiller/cultivator that offers high-performance and easy-start technology. With a large 21-inch tilling width, you can remove the outer steel tines without the use of tools for smaller areas and cultivation.

Switch between 11, 16, and 21 inches for a variety of jobs, while the low center of gravity ensures the unit is highly maneuverable and you’re in complete control.

The bronze gear transmission and durable tines will last for years, while the steel-constructed handlebars are fully adjustable and will accommodate any user. On top of all that, you can dig to a generous depth of 11-inches, making it a versatile machine for all your planting needs.

Pros

  • Rugged construction.
  • Ideal for larger areas.
  • 2-in-1 capability.
  • Rear-tiller comparable power.

Cons

  • Can take time to assemble.
  • On the heavy side.

Conclusion

A versatile, multifunction machine that is excellent for breaking new ground and cultivating larger yards and gardens. If you’re looking for a more heavy-duty front-tine tiller – this could be right up your street.

Earthquake 31635 MC33 Mini Tiller/Cultivator

Let’s dig into the first of our gas-powered machines now with this offering from groundbreaking company Earthquake. It’s a versatile machine for weeding, cultivating, and aerating, with a 33cc, two-stroke engine and gear drive transmission.

The durable, on-board wheels adjust for transport and tilling depth control, while the removable tines offer a maximum 10-inch width for tilling and a six-inch width for cultivating.

The machine allows for both forward and reverse operations, which offers maximum maneuverability while providing extra power and control for breaking new ground.

Pros

  • Quality name in tilling machines.
  • Durable construction.
  • Overhand grips for control.
  • Compact design.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • More power might be needed for clay-heavy ground.

Conclusion

A quality gas tiller from a company that specializes in earth-moving tools and equipment. It’s tough, durable, and well-designed for all your tilling needs.

Schiller Grounds Care Mantis 7940 Tiller/Cultivator

Boasting a 25cc Honda engine, this popular and highly-rated front-tine tiller/cultivator from Schiller is a powerful machine with premium quality parts. It’s also extremely lightweight considering it’s a gas tiller, weighing in at just 24 lbs.

The finger-throttle gives you up to 240 RPM for infinite speed control and easy operation, and the curved steel tines offer a cutting width of nine inches, allowing the compact machine to access areas that other tillers in this class might not be able to reach.

And with the ability to dig up to 10-inches down, this is quite possibly the best gas front-tine tiller available on the market – certainly for the size, weight, and price.

Pros

  • Excellent design.
  • Premium parts.
  • Foldable handles.
  • Useful kickstand built-in.
  • Ergonomic handles offer great control.

Cons

  • None that I could find, although it is a little on the expensive side.

Conclusion

Easily one of the best front tine rototillers out there, having a Honda engine is a real bonus, while the whole machine has just been very well-designed and put together. Top marks for Schiller, here.

Cub Cadet Front-Tine Forward-Rotating Gas Tiller

We close out our front-tine tiller review with a beast from another outdoor power tool household name.

This Cub Cadet machine is backed by a massive 208cc OHV engine for powerful, long-lasting performance. With plow-style handling and depth stake, the yellow monster offers rear-tine comparable tilling, breaking new ground with ease.

Although marketed at smaller gardens, a choice of cutting widths up to a maximum of 24 inches still gives you a generous tilling width for larger plots, as the 12-inch steel tines tear up whatever comes their way to a maximum depth of seven inches.

If you’re looking to take your tilling game to the next level, you’ve come to the right place.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Solid construction.
  • Foldable handle.
  • Very powerful.
  • Removable wheels.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • Very heavy.
  • A reverse option would have been useful at this price point.

Conclusion

Compared to other front-tine tillers in this review, this is a seriously heavy-duty machine that is for serious gardeners. The quality certainly justifies the price tag.

How to Choose the Best Front Tine Tiller

Close up of tiller

There’s a lot to consider when you’re narrowing down a selection of front tine tillers to find the one that’s right for you.

To help you out, I’ve included some tips, tricks, and advice on what you should bear in mind before making a purchase.

Front or Rear-tine Tillers?

Tillers come in two types – with front or rear-tines.

Front tine tillers are used more for cultivation and work best when the ground has already been broken up.

Rear tine tillers are designed for breaking up ground that hasn’t been cultivated before – they’re usually much heavier, bulkier machines.

Front tine tillers are more readily available on the market, which is possibly due to the fact that they’re often designed as hybrid machines and – with decent power – can break new ground as well as finely cultivate the earth.

On the other hand, rear-tine tillers are really only suitable for breaking new ground and are too cumbersome for delicate flower beds or vegetable plots.

Tiller or Cultivator?

The two are often confused – but here’s a quick guide to deciding which one you need.

Choose a tiller if you need to break up ground that has never been turned before – if you’re starting a brand-new growing section in your garden, or if you have tough, rocky, or clay soil that needs to be loosened.

Choose a cultivator for mixing soil together, aeration, adding fertilizer or compost into the ground, or breaking up weeds.

It can be a little confusing, but as mentioned above some machines are perfectly capable of doing both jobs (and are marketed as such).

Garden Size

Choosing a tiller that’s right for you will depend on your garden size – or the size of the plot you want to transform into a new vegetable garden or flower bed.

Front-tine tillers are nearly always smaller than their rear-tine counterparts – especially the corded electric versions. As such, they’re designed to suit small to mid-sized yards and gardens.

Larger front-tine tillers are available though – offering wider tilling widths to cover more ground in a single pass.

As a rule of thumb, smaller tillers are recommended for gardens of up to 25,000 square feet.

Power Source/Power

Electric tiller machine

The best front tine garden tiller will have one of two possible power sources – gas or electric.

And electric tillers can be either corded or cordless.

Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Electric tillers are more lightweight, eco-friendly, and cheaper, whereas gas-machines easily offer more power.

Everyone has a preference, and the one that’s right for you will depend on you and your requirements.

Working Width and Depth

Other factors you should consider before purchasing a front-tine tiller include the working width and depth of the machine.

How wide you would like the earth to be churned will be determined by the size of the area you need to till/cultivate – as mentioned above.

But the depth is also important – especially if you’re breaking new ground or the soil quality is poor. If that’s the case, look for a machine that can dig to a depth of between 8-11 inches, at least.

Smaller tilling depths are more suited to mixing soil, fertilizer, and compost.

Generally speaking, I would opt for something that’s as versatile as possible – so you have more control and the best of both worlds.

Cost

Front-tine tillers can be inexpensive, budget-friendly machines or they can cost a small fortune.

The most expensive products might not always be the best choice for your needs, however.

Follow the guide above, suit the tiller to the type and size of the job it’s required to do – and you are likely to never over or underspend.

FAQ

Person using tiller

Are front tine tillers good?

So long as you’re using a front tine tiller for its intended purpose – which is to cultivate already established flower beds and vegetable plots – then front tine tillers are an excellent tool to use in the garden.

They’re just not as heavy-duty as a rear-tine tiller, and as such people can get confused and believe them to be inferior.

Some good quality front tine tillers are still adept at breaking new ground, but if it’s going to be really tough going then for that purpose you need a rear-tine version.

How do you use a front tine tiller?

First, you need to make sure the soil isn’t too dry or too wet. I always like to use the analogy of a sponge that has been well wrung out.

Use one of these ingenious expandable garden hoses if you need to give the earth a refreshing drink – but don’t overdo it.

Next, mark out the area you wish to till, and then determine the depth and width you would like to till at – and adjust the machine/wheels/depth gauge accordingly.

Position the unit at one end of this marked out area – you’re going to be making passes over the ground, not unlike mowing the lawn.

Start up your tiller according to its type – and then ease the motor into action. Don’t go all-in too soon – allow the tiller to break the surface soil and warm up.

Once the earth is starting to turn, you can begin to allow the tiller to ease forward, using the tine’s forward momentum to propel the machine in the direction you want to go.

For a visual reference in using a gas-powered front tine tiller, watch the video below.

Which is better, a front or rear tine tiller?

It depends on what you’re using it for.

A front-tine tiller is designed to cultivate already established plant, vegetable, and flower beds, to prepare the earth for receiving new seed.

Rear-tine tillers are more powerful, designed for digging deeper into the soil and breaking up ground that has never been cultivated before.

Front-tine tillers tend to be easier to use, more lightweight, and a lot cheaper than rear-tine versions.

Essentially, there’s no winner here as they’re both designed to do different jobs.

Having said that, many front-tine tillers are hybrid-style machines and can break new ground if it’s not too compact – especially the heavy-duty gas-powered machines.

As such, they’re much more versatile than their rear-tine counterparts, the likes of which can be too heavy and cumbersome to cultivate smaller areas.

What is a tiller used for?

A tiller is used to churn up and displace earth and soil in order to get the ground ready for planting new seeds, plants, and/or flowers.

It can also be used to aerate the soil in order to allow nutrients and oxygen to flow freely through the earth.

Do you push or pull a front tine tiller?

A front-tine tiller moves forward with the propulsion of the rotating tines into the soil. As such, best practice is to push the tiller from behind, allowing it to do its thing as you guide it in the right direction.

Depending on the tiller, you might also be able to tilt it up and wheel it backwards if you need to go over an area several times to achieve the required depth.

Bear in mind that most front-tine tillers will rotate one way only, whereas rear-tine versions have a forward and reverse option.

How much does it cost to rent a front tine tiller?

Or course, renting a tiller is a perfectly viable option – particularly if you’re only going to need one once per year or less.

Expect to pay anywhere between $20-$50 per day for tiller hire, depending on your local rental store and the type of tiller you wish to hire.

Sure it might be less cash for a one-off, but it all adds up. You should just treat yourself to your own personal machine so you never need to hire one again – and any self-respecting green-thumb should have one in the armory anyway.

Summary

As the garden season comes around, growers of the world rush outdoors, eager to begin the exciting process of tending their flowers and vegetable plots.

And that process begins with using the best front tine tillers to prepare the soil to receive future new life.

I hope this review and article has inspired you to join us and grow your own plants and food. If I was to pick a new tiller, I would choose the Greenworks cordless model – but then I’m a stickler for eco-friendly power tools.

Let me know which tiller you would choose and why.

Happy tilling!