The Best Garden Tillers of 2023

The Best Garden Tillers of 2023

Top-Rated & Best-Selling Garden Tillers

Dale, the Lawn Mower Expert
By 
Lawn Mower Expert

If you truly want to discover the best rototillers on the market, you'll need to dig deep and learn the differences between cultivators and tillers, the different 'tine' orientations and their directions, as well as what types and features will work best for the type of soil you're tilling-because not all tillers are built the same.

We're glad you landed on this page, because here at Mowers Direct, we pride ourselves on giving you expert advice and knowledge that help you confidently choose the perfect tiller for your needs.

Spend some time reading through each of our categories, selections, and criteria for picking the best tiller in its class. Don't forget to click on the product links to view more features, specs, reviews, and other great resources about each selection.

The Best Tillers

Best Tiller Overall Best Electric Tiller Best Tiller for Breaking New Ground Best Front-Tine Tiller

Troy-Bilt Mustang™

Troy-Bilt Mustang™

Earthwise TC70040 Cordless Cultivator

Earthwise TC70040

Troy-Bilt Mustang™

Troy-Bilt Mustang™

Earthquake MC440

Earthquake MC440

Best Mid-Tine Tiller Best Rear-Tine Tiller Best Tow-Behind Tiller Best Cultivator (See Full List)

Merry Tiller IT950IC

Merry Tiller IT950IC

Troy-Bilt Mustang™

Troy-Bilt Mustang™

DR PRO 36T TT15036BEN

DR PRO 36T TT15036BEN

Mantis 7940 Cultivator

Mantis 7940 Cultivator


How We Picked the Best Tillers

When recommending garden tillers, we take five features into account.

Power

You want a tiller with the power to get through tough soil, clay, rocks, and anything else between you and your new garden plot. While horsepower was the standard, direct measure of power in the past, today many gas tiller manufacturers list engine displacement in CCs. The higher an engine's CC, the more power it has the potential to create. That's why, all things being equal, we'll often recommend tillers with a higher CC engine that gives you more torque for breaking new ground.

Durability

We like tillers that stand the test of time, so we look at things like the construction material of the tines and handles and how resistant they are to rocks or extended use. Hardened steel tines and sturdy transmissions are some features we love to see. We also consider whether the wheels are designed with ball bearings, hardened materials, or filled with air. Plus, we look at how these factors and others impact engine life that maximizes the life expectancy of your heavy-duty rototiller.

Usability

The best tillers need to be user-friendly. We look at comfort features, ease of maneuverability, and other added touches that make tilling your plots as simple and enjoyable as possible. What we look for here are features like 1-handed operation, self-propelled tine systems, power reverse settings, remote-control adjustment settings, and electric start.

Versatility

The versatility of a tiller is important when you need to change directions or switch the orientation of your tiller to suit specific plot sizes or other special limitations. We look at functional features like dual-direction tine operation, counter-rotating vs dual-rotating tines, hitch controls for pull-behind tillers, depth-adjustment options, and more.

Overall Value

We prioritize performance over price, so you won't find the cheapest tillers on our list. Instead of evaluating rototillers on price point, we look at the overall value you're getting for the price to give our final value rating. You might pay a higher sticker price for some of these recommendations. Still, they offer valuable features, power, and durability that most base models won't have, making your tilling easier and more enjoyable in the long run.


Best Tiller (Overall): Troy-Bilt Mustang (18") Dual-Rotating Rear Tine Tiller

Troy-Bilt Mustang

Taking the top spot is the Troy-Bilt Mustang (18") dual-rotating rear tine tiller. Boasting a 208cc 4-cycle OHV engine, dual-direction 13" steel tines, single-hand operation, and power reverse setting, this is the best soil tiller around and consistently delivers power, convenient features, and durability for years of reliable tilling.

This 269-pound heavy-duty gas tiller is sturdy enough to handle hard soil, rocky soil, and clay soil, and can break new ground with ease-while still being easy enough to operate with one hand. Its extra large 16"x4" pneumatic tires make rolling over uneven plots a simple task, and its dual-direction tines make it easy to reverse the direction of the tines by flipping a switch.

If you ever did get stuck, the power reverse feature makes it simple to back out of the challenging ground. Plus, the Troy-Bilt Mustang offers 5 depth-adjustment positions to 7.5" deep and 18" inches wide.

Overall, this tiller checks all the boxes. Although you'll pay a higher price for it, if you're serious about creating fresh plots of perfectly-tilled ground, this versatile tiller machine will be well worth your money.

Spec Details Rating
Power 208cc 4-cycle OHM Troy-Bilt engine. ☆☆☆☆☆
Durability 13" steel tines; heavy-duty 16"x4" tires. ☆☆☆☆☆
Usability Single-hand operation; 5 height adjustment settings; 7.5" multiple depth settings; 18" width; comfortable handle grips. ☆☆☆☆☆
Versatility Power reverse; dual-rotating and counter-rotating tines. ☆☆☆☆☆
Overall Value Premium pricing but has great features and performance as compared to cheaper models. ☆☆☆☆☆

Who It's For:

  • People who consistently need new plots tilled for gardens or large flat areas
  • People who need heavy-duty tilling but light handling (one-hand operation)
  • Gardeners who need harder soil plots re-seeded or re-plowed

Who It's Not For:

  • Homeowners who just want the basics
  • Farmers who need acres of ground tilled

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Best Electric Tiller: Earthwise TC70040 Cordless CultivatorEarthwise TC70040 Cordless Cultivator

The Earthwise (11") 40-volt lithium-ion cordless cultivator is perfect for those who want a quiet, emissions-free cultivator that can refresh the soil in your plots, raised beds, and flower beds each season. Powered by a 40-volt lithium-ion battery, this cultivator is light and maneuverable, and with its 4aH battery, you'll get up to 45 minutes on a single charge.

The 14-pound light profile of this battery-powered cultivator offers the most convenient option for small garden plots, flower beds, re-seeding, and general-purpose weeding. But don't let the lightweight frame fool you. This model also offers 4 steel tines with a width of 11" and a depth of 8," along with two transport wheels that flip easily for transporting anywhere on your property.As far as battery-powered small garden cultivators go, this mini tiller is hard to beat.

Specs Details Rating
Power 40-Volt, 4aH Lithium-Ion battery; 130 RPM idle speed. ☆☆☆☆☆
Durability 4 steel tines. ☆☆☆☆
Usability Lightweight; cordless; portable; a great replacement for a gas tiller; 45-min battery. ☆☆☆☆☆
Versatility Easy to move between garden plots and flower beds; 7"-11" width and 8" depth. ☆☆☆☆
Overall Value One of the best electric cultivators around for price, size, and performance. ☆☆☆☆☆

Who It's For:

  • Homeowners that need a lightweight and multipurpose cultivator
  • Those on a budget
  • Those who prefer battery-powered equipment to gas

Who It's Not For:

  • Those that have large garden plots that need to be deeply tilled
  • Those preferring the power of a gas tiller

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Best Tiller for Breaking New Ground:

Troy-Bilt Mustang (18") Dual-Rotating Rear Tine Tiller

Troy-Bilt Mustang

Also winning this category, the Troy-Bilt Mustang (18") rear tine tiller is truly the best for breaking new ground for a garden plot thanks to its dual-rotating capability. This, along with the tillers' weight and rear-tine design, allows for deeper penetration into new ground.

Dual rotation allows you to easily switch between forward-and reverse-rotating tines with the push of a button. On your first pass, use the reverse-tine mode to dig deep and aggressively break the ground. Then, do a second pass using the forward-tine mode to grind the soil into finer, smaller pieces. You can turn the unbroken ground into usable soil in no time-exactly what homeowners want when starting a new garden plot.

The Troy-Bilt also offers 5 depth-adjustment positions down to 7.5," making it the best candidate for tilling new garden plots. It really doesn't get better than this for heavy-duty powerhouse tines like this one.

Spec Details Rating
Power 208cc 4-cycle OHM Troy-Bilt engine. ☆☆☆☆☆
Durability 13" steel tines; heavy-duty 16"x4" tires. ☆☆☆☆☆
Usability Single-hand operation; 5 height adjustment settings; 7.5" multiple depth settings; 18" width; comfortable handle grips. ☆☆☆☆☆
Versatility Power reverse; dual-rotating and counter-rotating tines. ☆☆☆☆☆
Overall Value Premium pricing but has great features and performance as compared to cheaper models. ☆☆☆☆☆

Who It's For:

  • People who need new plots tilled for gardens or large areas
  • People who need heavy-duty tilling but light handling (one-hand operation)
  • Gardeners who need harder soil plots re-seeded or re-plowed

Who It's Not For:

  • Homeowners who just want the basics
  • Farmers who need acres of ground tilled

SHOP NOW


Best Front-Tine Tiller: Earthquake MC440 Gas CultivatorEarthquake Cultivator

This powerful but lightweight Earthquake front-tine cultivator has a powerful 40cc Viper 4-cycle engine and doesn't require oil and fuel mixing. It offers variable speed control for versatility when cultivating different soil types, and is quieter than some tillers of a similar size. It's light enough to be carried and transported between garden plots and flower beds, but heavy-duty enough to stay on the ground when cultivating tougher spots, with minimal kickback.

We like this front-tine cultivator best because, unlike other front-tine tillers, this one has the most powerful 4-cycle engine with a max 8" depth and 10" tine width, a durable bronze gear drive, and it's lightweight enough to carry around but tough enough to get small jobs done fast. Earthquake has been around for over 50 years and has specialized in making outdoor power equipment, so it wasn't surprising that this tiller stands up in its class.

Specs Details Rating
Power 40cc Viper 4-cycle gas engine. ☆☆☆☆☆
Durability Solid bronze gear drive; superior air-filter design for longer life. ☆☆☆☆☆
Usability Lightweight; ergonomic handlebar design for minimizing fatigue; standing-start operation; quieter than some competition; can't set depth. ☆☆☆☆
Versatility Adjustable lift-and-lock wheels; variable-speed control for different soil types; easy to handle on both flat and unlevel, rough plots and flower beds. ☆☆☆☆
Overall Value Great value for the price and conveniences of a 4-cycle engine. ☆☆☆☆☆

Who It's For:

  • Homeowners who need to cultivate small plots or flower beds
  • Homeowners with limited storage space in their garage

Who It's Not For:

  • Homeowners who need something heavier-duty for new garden plots
  • Those that want more features like adjustable speed or variable depths

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Best Mid-Tine Tiller:Merry Tiller IT950ICMerry Tiller International IT950IC

When you need to take it up a notch, the Merry Tiller International mid-tine tiller is a behemoth when it comes to giant, powerful tillers. It boasts one of the largest engines available on a mid-tine of its size (Briggs & Stratton 205cc 4-cycle OHV IC engine) and has a 12-gauge steel triple gear reduction roller chain for extra durability and safety for tough jobs. With a double v-belt drive system, the power load is split intelligently for longevity, and the slasher tires ensure they won't blow out and can be locked up during use. This tiller has a finger-tip clutch control for variable speed operations by pushing a lever to adjust to different soil types.

All the weight is in the middle of this tiller, giving you great depth when you need it during tilling projects and superior weight balance. With the optional extension kit, you can expand your blade arrangement from 14" to 26" to even 37" for faster tilling on larger plots.When it comes to powerful, heavy-duty wide tilling needs, this Merry Tiller stands up to its name.

Specs Details Rating
Power 205cc Briggs & Stratton 4-cycle OHV IC commercial-grade engine; 9.5 lb-ft gross torque; double V-belt drive system with multiple belts. ☆☆☆☆☆
Durability 12-gauge steel triple gear reduction roller chain; cylinder sleeves for dust protection; factory-lubricated gears; slasher tines hardened and polished carbon steel. ☆☆☆☆☆
Usability wheel and drag bar assembly for safety; finger-tip clutch control for variable speeds; swing away wheels. ☆☆☆☆☆
Versatility Multiple adjustable tine widths; variable speeds; wheel lock-up; multiple belts divide operating loads. ☆☆☆☆☆
Overall Value Higher price range, but you'll get a long life out of its durable construction and fantastic features. ☆☆☆☆☆

Who It's For:

  • Heavy-duty tilling needs on large garden plots
  • Those that want to till large plots quickly every season

Who It's Not For:

  • Those with small plot tiller needs
  • Those who want just the basics and a lower price point

SHOP NOW


Best Rear-Tine Tiller: Troy-Bilt Mustang™ Rear Tine TillerTroy-Bilt Mustang™ Rear Tine Tiller

Making the list yet again is the Troy-Bilt Mustang (18") dual-rotating rear tine tiller. It can't be understated that this tiller is a beast that we also consider the best rear-tine tiller, due to its specialized features that make tilling both new plots and re-tilling existing plots a breeze.The powerful engine, dual-direction 13" steel tines, single-hand operation, and power reverse setting, make this the best soil tiller around and consistently delivers power, convenient features, and durability for years of reliable tilling.

A rear-tine tiller has the advantage of carrying the weight at the back, so when moving forward, this 269-pound heavy-duty gas tiller really digs deep into hard soil, rocky soil, and clay soil, and can break new ground with ease-while still being easy enough to operate with one hand. You're already familiar with the other fantastic features of this tiller from our other category picks, so just remember that overall, this tiller checks all the boxes for the best overall tiller, best tiller for breaking new ground, and best rear-tine tiller around.

Spec Details Rating
Power 208cc 4-cycle OHM Troy-Bilt engine. ☆☆☆☆☆
Durability 13" steel tines; heavy-duty 16"x4" tires. ☆☆☆☆☆
Usability Single-hand operation; 5 height adjustment settings; 7.5" multiple depth settings; 18" width; comfortable handle grips. ☆☆☆☆☆
Versatility Power reverse; dual-rotating and counter-rotating tines. ☆☆☆☆☆
Overall Value Premium pricing but has great features and performance as compared to cheaper models. ☆☆☆☆☆

Who It's For:

  • People who consistently need new plots tilled for gardens or large flat areas
  • People who need heavy-duty tilling but light handling (one-hand operation)
  • Gardeners who need harder soil plots re-seeded or re-plowed

Who It's Not For:

  • Homeowners who just want the basics
  • Farmers who need acres of ground tilled

SHOP NOW


Best Tow Behind Tiller:DR PRO 36T TT15036BENDR PRO 36T TT15036BEN

When it comes to farming and commercial agriculture needs, there is no replacement for a pull-behind tiller. For this category, we chose the DR PRO 36T tow-behind rototiller because it's DR's top-of-the-line model and features a commercial-grade Briggs & Stratton 208cc engine with electric key start, 24 tempered steel tines, a large 36" width, remote control adjustments, heavy-duty steel frame, and a simplified hitch system that can attach to whatever you have for maximum versatility.

The belt drive system transfers the power from the engine to the tines, and easy attachment options make it simple to use on huge plots that need tilling season after season. You can attach it to a tractor or an ATV and get an entire field tilled in one afternoon. Its weight helps it break new ground easily over large distances, and large pneumatic tires keep the ride smooth.

If you want a heavy-duty tiller that can till twice as much and twice as fast as walk-behind tillers, then this pull-behind tiller is the best choice. It's simple to attach and use, and also offers remote control depth adjustments that make your job even easier while pulling it around on your favorite ATV or tractor.

Specs Details Rating
Power Briggs & Stratton 208cc XR950 OHV 6.5 HP 4-cycle engine with an electric key start; 24 steel tines rip at 230 rpm. ☆☆☆☆☆
Durability Cast-iron engine sleeve for extended life; baked/power-coated rust-resistant finish on heavy-duty 12-gauge steel frame; durable 14" tires; tempered steel tines. ☆☆☆☆☆
Usability Remote control depth adjustment from 1.5" above to 7.5" below ground; Smooth-Trak hitch; electric key start; 1-2 hours runtime on a tank of fuel; optional hilling attachment. ☆☆☆☆☆
Versatility Truly great on most terrain for large garden plots, whether they are re-tilled or breaking new ground; multiple attachment options. ☆☆☆☆☆
Overall Value Premium pricing but is a powerhouse for the features and conveniences it offers. ☆☆☆☆☆

Who It's For:

  • People that need heavy-duty tilling for very large plots quickly
  • Those that need to break new ground or re-till existing plots
  • Those that don't want to walk behind their tiller

Who It's Not For:

  • People who don't have an ATV or tractor to attach to
  • Those who need to till small plots of land
  • Those on a tight budget

SHOP NOW


Best Cultivator for Gardens:Mantis 7940 Mini Tiller/CultivatorMantis 7940 Mini Tiller/Cultivator

This Mantis 7940 garden cultivator takes our pick as the best cultivator for gardens because it's got all the power you need with the lightweight versatility you'd expect while re-tilling your garden plots and weeding between vegetable rows. Originally manufactured for professional landscapers in the late 70s, tens of thousands of these Mantis cultivator/ mini tillers have been sold to home gardeners. It's built to be strong when digging up to 10" deep into hard soil while being lightweight enough to carry around the garden with a convenient handle.

This cultivator/ mini tiller is easy to start, and quiet and the Honda 4-cycle engine means no fuel mixing is required. While cultivators are not designed for breaking new ground, this cultivator will still work well on new garden plots once it starts digging in, though it will take longer to get started. Once the ground has been tilled, re-tilling is a breeze and that's where this cultivator shines. Customers have told us they can clear an 8" deep 10'x15' plot in under 15 minutes.

The Mantis Model 7940 is a must-have tool for serious gardening enthusiasts. You'll dig through sod and hard (even rocky) soil with amazing ease. And all this power comes in a very lightweight package weighing only 24 pounds!

Specs Details Rating
Power 25cc 4-cycle engine with tines turning at 240 RPMs. ☆☆☆☆☆
Durability Heavy-duty cast housing with 1-piece gearbox, spring-steel serpentine tines. ☆☆☆☆☆
Usability 4-cycle engine; soft grip handles; carrying handle; throttle activated clutch; includes speed control. ☆☆☆☆☆
Versatility Tills down 10"; lightweight and can be carried to different plots. ☆☆☆☆☆
Overall Value More expensive than similar cultivators in its class. ☆☆☆☆

Who It's For:

  • Gardeners and homeowners that need seasonal garden tilling
  • Those that already have a garden plot and want to expand and maintain it
  • Anyone who wants a powerful, light, and fast gas cultivator
  • People who don't want to mix gas and oil ratios in a cultivator

Who It's Not For:

  • Homeowners who just want the basics for cultivating a small garden plot
  • Those who are on a tight budget

See All Best Cultivator Picks


Garden Tiller FAQs

What's the difference between a tiller and a cultivator?

Many people use 'tiller' and 'cultivator' interchangeably, however, they each have distinct purposes and are each designed for different jobs. A 'rototiller' or simply, 'tiller,' is meant to break new ground for new garden plots and flower beds when you need to unearth fresh ground and impacted hard soil, clay soils, etc. Tillers are built heavier-duty and are designed to rip apart and dig deep into whatever ground they're moving across. You use a tiller to create a new garden plot or other large areas of plotted land. A cultivator is meant to re-till existing plots and churn larger broken ground pieces into more finely ground soil needed for planting and gardening plots. A cultivator is a prime candidate for the second season of garden reseeding and onward. While tillers dig deeply into the soil and recycle the earth in larger chunks, cultivators finely grind up those pieces into the same soft soil consistency you'd purchase in soil bags at your local hardware store. These finer soil mixes are ideal for gardening and planting. You use a tiller to maintain the health of your existing garden plots, and for other utilities like weeding between garden rows. Learn more about the distinct differences and when to use each in our tiller vs cultivator buyer's guide.

What's the difference between front-tine, mid-tine, and rear-tine?

The orientation of where the tines are on your tiller/cultivator is what the front, mid, and rear types are referring to. The placement of the tines has several advantages/ disadvantages in each of those three configurations. Front tine tillers are typically cheaper and can be used for weeding and blending soil. Mid-tine tillers are the easiest type to use because the engines and tines are directly in the middle of the tiller, easily distributing the weight and making them a great choice for gardeners with larger plots to till. Rear tine tillers are the ideal choice for breaking new ground and plots that have heavy clay soil because most of them also include options for different tine directions for maximum impact. Read our rototiller buyer's guide for more information.

What's the difference between forward-tine, counter-tine, and dual-rotating tillers?

When discussing the rotation of the tiller tines, these distinctions explain whether the tines only move forward, are reversible and move forward or backward, or counter-rotate, meaning different tines are moving in both directions simultaneously.


About Dale

Dale has been involved with gasoline-powered engines, especially small engines since he bolted the first one onto his Schwinn bike at 12 years old. After high school, he spent 19 years in the automotive parts industry, working for retailers, distributors, and manufacturers.

In 1994, Dale entered the small engine and power equipment industry, offering product and technical assistance to power equipment dealers and their customers. Since 2016, he has been a full-time sales and product expert at Power Equipment Direct, where he largely focuses on helping customers select the best lawn and garden equipment for their needs.

In his off time, Dale enjoys working on his own cars and power equipment. He is a go-to resource for friends, family, and coworkers who need a hand diagnosing or repairing their broken lawnmowers or string trimmers. When not around engines, he is a drummer in a local Chicago-area band. Hockey dominates his TV time during the NHL season, and he enjoys relaxing on his pontoon boat during the summer months.

Dale, the Lawn Mower Expert
By 
Lawn Mower Expert
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