The 6 Best Tillers For Breaking New Ground in 2023

When you start tilling, you need a heavy duty and powerful tiller to make that initial break through the hard, top soil layer. This article will hopefully help you find the best tiller for breaking new ground.

Almost 1 in every 3 American households grow food in their backyard lawn or garden. Even if you have no previous gardening experience, you can still grow many different kinds of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and ornamental plants if you invest in the right tools. A tiller is an essential tool that you need to use to prepare the soil for the next planting season, as it mixes the ground soil and aerates it.

Although there are other tools that you can use for the same purpose, a tiller is fast and easy to use. So, how can you pick the best tiller for breaking new ground? What are the factors you need to consider before buying one? Keep on reading to find out more about this topic. 

How to Choose a Tiller for Breaking New Ground: A Buyer’s Guide

Gardening is a fun hobby with amazing rewards, and the past few years saw an increase in spending related to gardening tools and equipment. Almost 77% of Americans are currently participating in gardening activities, growing either ornamental plants or food, and spending more than $47.8 billion on gardening and landscaping supplies annually. 

Aerating the soil creates small holes that allow the air, water, and nutrients to pass through more efficiently, thus providing the plants with the needed food. When the soil is adequately aerated, the root system will have the ability to grow stronger and dig deeper, the chance of the soil oxidation will increase, and the soil won’t get waterlogged. 

Using a tiller will help you create these holes in new ground to reduce the compaction of the soil, thus setting up a good foundation for your planting activities. A tiller digs into the soil to optimize the conditions for healthy plant growth, allowing your veggies and ornamental plants to thrive. Tilling your soil also removes weeds and balances water retention.

With lots of tillers on the market, finding the right one can be a little tricky. This is why you need to be careful about the type of tiller to choose for your garden. 

Tiller Types

Although you can break new ground and mix and aerate the soil using a shovel, a tiller will be a better choice because it’s easier to use. As a result, finding the right type of tiller will help you keep your garden in the best shape.

Front-Tine Tillers

A front-tine tiller is one of the most common tillers to use because you can adjust the width of the tine. Some models offer up to 3 different width settings, so you can dig narrow areas as well as wide ones. 

Front-tine tillers rotate in the same direction as the wheels, but they often don’t dig too deep into the soil. This is why they’re most suitable for maintaining small gardens and removing weeds. Front-tine tillers are also ideal for beginner gardeners because they’re lightweight. 

Rear-Tine Tillers

Rear-tine tillers are larger and heavier than front-tine tillers, so they will work better for big gardens and farms. Nevertheless, they’re not that difficult to use because the wheels push the tiller forward while the tines work independently.

You can use a rear-tine tiller if you want to dig to a specific depth, and they often perform better in both rocky soil and hard clay soil. However, because of their weight, these machines are usually more challenging to maneuver. 

Mid-Tine Tillers

Mid-tine tillers are usually considered like front-tine tillers, although they have a slightly different design because the tillers are placed directly under the engine. As a result, they’re quite maneuverable, but they’re more expensive than the front and rear-tine tillers

Gas vs. Electric

Both gas and electric tillers do the same thing as they can mix and aerate the soil perfectly fine. However, there are some fundamental differences between the way these two types operate. 

Gas-powered tillers are typically heavier. They’re also noisier and need regular maintenance. Nevertheless, these tillers are usually more robust because you can choose between 2 and 4-cycle engines. You can use gas-powered tillers if you need a mobile tool that isn’t hindered by an extension cord or battery life, so they’re suitable for digging larger pieces of land. 

Electric-powered tillers are either corded or battery-operated. A corded tiller is easy to maneuver, quiet and doesn’t need regular maintenance. It doesn’t smell of gas and won’t release harmful chemicals in your backyard. Some of the models are even cheaper than gas-powered models.

However, a corded model is not as sturdy as a gas-powered tiller, and you need to be close to the house and extremely careful while you’re handling the cord because it might accidentally break.

If you need to work away from home, you can pick a battery-operated tiller. It’s noiseless, can be used anywhere, and doesn’t produce any fumes. 

Nevertheless, a battery-operated tiller is more expensive than a corded model. You’re also limited by the capacity of the battery. In general, electric tillers are only suitable for breaking new ground in small and medium-sized gardens.


Hand or manual tillers are suitable for small-scale gardening jobs. They’re less powerful than gas or electric tillers, but they’re easier to maneuver and use. 

You can use a hand or manual tiller in situations where a bigger tiller will feel too bulky. They can also work for raised farm beds and can efficiently remove the weeds between plant rows. 

There are different types of hand tillers on the market, and they look different according to their brands. However, most of them have three basic parts: a handle, a bladed wheel, and a set of prongs to mix the soil. 

Some manual tillers are bladeless, and they would still work to aerate the soil. You can simply insert the spikes in the soil and follow a twisting motion to mix the soil. These tools are suitable for small-scale gardening projects because they require manual power. However, using a hand tiller isn’t an easy task if the soil is in extremely bad condition.


Since they both work in the same way, it’s safe to say that cultivators are actually small garden tillers. A cultivator is a practical tool for loosening and weeding the soil during the growing season and is usually lighter and easier to maneuver than a tiller.

Just like tillers, cultivators are either gas or electric-powered. Most gasoline cultivators feature 2-cycle engines that require the mixing of gasoline and oil. As a result, cultivators don’t do a great job at loosening hard or new soil but can be used to mix loosened soil to make it more suitable for planting.

You can also use a cultivator to mix compost and fertilizer to guarantee that the soil is in perfect condition for growing different plants and vegetables. You can use a tiller first to break the hard soil and then use a cultivator for regular maintenance.

Features to Consider when Buying Tillers

In addition to knowing the different types of tillers, there are several factors that you need to consider to make sure that you’re buying an appropriate tool that is designed to fit your needs. 

Tine Rotation

Front-tine tillers use front rotation, while rear-tine tillers use both forward and reverse rotation. Front, or forward, rotation means that the blades are moving in the same direction as the wheels, while reverse rotation means that they’re moving in the opposite direction. 

Forward rotation tillers work in soil that was previously used as a garden because the land is already loose and doesn’t need to be aggressively broken. Reverse rotation allows the blades to dig deeper into the ground to achieve a better result in a shorter time. They will also work well for rocky or compact soil

Due to their power, using adverse rotation tillers might not be the best solution if the land is already loose, as the wheels might not be able to pull the tiller forward. They will work best if more power is needed. If you need shallow tilling, forward rotation tillers will work better. 

In general, forward rotating tillers are safer to use. The tiller will jump away from the person in case it accidentally stumbles upon a rock or a root system. Reverse rotating tillers are more suitable for experienced users and could be used on tractor-mounted tillers as an extra safety precaution. 

Attachments and Special Add-Ons

Before you choose a specific model, you need to consider the different attachments and add-ons that can make it more useful for your specific gardening situations. Some tillers are designed to be converted into other gardening tools like snow blowers, so they can be used all year round, in any weather.

Garden Size

For a large garden, you typically need a more robust tiller to be able to dig the land properly. In this case, reverse rotating tillers will work best because they’re stronger, and they also work for more challenging soils. A manual or mini tiller will only work if you have a small garden that doesn’t need much work.

Engine Type

When it comes to choosing your tiller, you can choose between gas-powered or electric-powered tillers. Gas-powered tillers are suitable for more challenging situations because the blades have the power to dig deep into the soil. Moreover, you can keep on working for longer periods. 

Electric-powered tillers are more portable and easier to maneuver. However, you’re always restricted by the length of the cord or the capacity of the battery. If you have a large garden, a battery-powered tiller will be easier to use, although you have to make sure that the battery is charged; you also could buy a second battery, though that would be more expensive. 

Other Features

You need to pick a tiller that offers some adjustability, so you can use it in various situations. A tiller that allows you to adjust the tine width so you can set them wider or narrower, depending on the nature of the soil, would be a great option. 

You should also pick a tiller where you can adjust the till depth, so you can mix the soil properly. If the soil is loose, you don’t need to go too deep, but it will be necessary if the soil is too compact. 

If you don’t have a lot of storage space, a collapsible tiller will come in handy. It will also work for you if you’re using a hand tiller that you can use to reach raised garden beds.


Gas and electric-powered tillers are available at different price ranges, depending on their power and what they can do. A powerful motor will definitely cost more because it can do more challenging tasks. You should also consider the cost of fuel, as you need to buy fuel to power your gas-powered tiller while you’re working on your garden. 

Reviews for the Top 6 Tillers for Breaking New Ground

#1. Sun Joe TJ604E 16-Inch 13.5 AMP Electric Garden Tiller/Cultivator

Sun Joe TJ604E 16-Inch 13.5 AMP Electric Garden Tiller/Cultivator,Black
  • [POWERFUL]: 13.5-Amp motor cultivates up to 16 in. Wide x 8 in. Deep
  • [DURABLE]: 6 Steel angled tines for maximum durability and performance
  • [EASY STORAGE]: Handle folds for convenient storage and easy transport
  • [ADJUSTABLE]: 3-position wheel adjustment
  • [WEVE GOT YOU COVERED!]: Your new tiller and cultivator is backed by the snow Joe and Sun Joe customer promise. We will warrant New, powered products for two years from the date of purchase. No questions asked. Contact snow Joe and Sun Joe customer Support at 1-866-766-9563 for further assistance.

The Sun Joe TJ604E 16-Inch 13.5 AMP Electric Garden Tiller/Cultivator is our number one choice for the best tiller to use when breaking new ground in your lawn or garden. This front tine tiller is one of the most powerful options out there, and especially at its relatively low price point. The engine features a strong 13.5 amp motor that makes quick work of any soil you are working with, whether it be compacted or uncultivated, or even hard clay soil. The tines rotate at a speed of 370 RPM, which means you can cut easily through weeds or root systems, as well as fully aerate your garden soil to make the seedbed perfect for planting. 

The Sun Joe TJ604E has 6 tines that are angled for an optimized performance, and made of hardened steel to keep them durable and long lasting. These tines can till a path up to 16 inches wide as well as 8 inches deep, and the rear wheel is height adjustable to three different positions, so it is easy to maneuver around any terrain and into any spot in the yard that it is needed. When it is not needed, the handle is collapsible so it can be stored in a compact space in your shed or garage, as well as transport safely to and from sites. Additionally, starting this tiller is a breeze with its instant start button and safety switch, simply plug it in and you’re good to go!

#2. CHAMPION POWER EQUIPMENT 19-Inch Dual Rotating Rear Tine Tiller

CHAMPION POWER EQUIPMENT 19-Inch Dual Rotating Rear Tine Tiller with Self-Propelled Agricultural Tires
  • Versatile - with a 19-inch tilling width and an 8-inch tilling depth, this Tiller features dual-rotation tilling, allowing a quick switch from forward to reverse for more flexibility in the garden
  • Powerful - the cast iron, gear-driven transmission is housed in a heavy-duty cast-iron case and powered by a 212cc engine
  • Efficient - 13-inch self-propelled agricultural tires power easily over uneven terrain, allowing you to accomplish more in less time
  • Dependable - four heavy-duty 13.8-inch hardened Steel tines with dual-rotation tilling are designed to tackle the toughest soil conditions with the least amount of effort
  • Champion support - includes 2-year limited Warranty with free lifetime technical support from dedicated experts

The Champion Power Equipment 19-Inch Dual Rotating Rear Tine Tiller is the top rear tine tiller you could find for breaking new ground. This tiller is as strong as they come; it has a 212cc engine combined with a gear-driven transmission in a hard cast-iron case. Combined with four durable 13.8-inch hardened steel tines, this means new ground is as easy to break through as freshly cultivated soil. This tiller additionally has dual rotation tilling, which you can adjust through convenient handle controls, and the bi-directional shredding design is very efficient and versatile, meaning it can handle a huge amount of soil in less time. 

The Champion rear tine tiller can till a path that is up to 19 inches wide, and it is fully adjustable so you can work between narrow rows of vegetables in your garden or against hedges, or widen it to cover lots of ground in the most efficient manner. Also, the 8 inch tilling depth means you have the option to do both top level cultivation and deep soil tilling. The tires are 13 inches and have large treads so they can be used on any and all types of terrain, and they are self-propelling so you don’t need to expend any energy as the tiller does all the work. An adjustable depth gauge runs right behind the wheels as well, providing a consistent working depth and additional balance. 

#3. Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SFTT142 Front Tine Tiller

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Next on our list of best tillers for breaking new ground is the Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SFTT142 Front Tine Tiller. This is a great gas powered front tine tiller, with a 150cc engine that rotates the tines at 165 RPM. It also combines a gear drive system and a poly-v belt system in order to prioritize durability and a longer life span, meaning you will be able to get many years of gardening done with this tiller. The forward rotating tines are also self sharpening, so they will last longer than comparable models.  

The SFTT142 has three different tilling widths, so you can adjust between them to suit any of your gardening needs. It can till a path either 11 inches, 16 inches, or 21 inches wide, depending on how far apart your vegetable rows are planted, and can dig down 11 inches into the ground for deep soil tillage. Additionally, it is a very simple machine to operate. It comes equipped with a manual recoil easy start fuel delivery system, and it can easily change from tilling mode to transport mode due to its swing tail with drag stake. It can maneuver around any landscape with its 6.5 inch wheels, and the folding loop grip handles allow for compact storage in any location.

#4. YARDMAX YT4565 208cc Dual Rotating Rear Tine Tiller

YARDMAX Dual Rotating Rear Tine Tiller 209-cc 18-in Rear-Tine Dual-Rotating Tiller (CARB)
  • 18" wide rear tine design with 7 depth adjustments and a 6.5" working depth to cover more ground quickly
  • Single hand operation allows user to stand and steer from either side of the tiller
  • 13" self-sharpening tines easily cultivate any soil type
  • Front counterweight on 13" pneumatic wheels

The YARDMAX YT4565 208cc Dual Rotating Rear Tine Tiller is another rear tine tiller that is highly effective at breaking new ground. Its engine boasts a 208cc motor, with a rotational tine speed of 190 RPM and 9.5 ft-lbs of gross torque, which means this is a very powerful machine that can easily break through any kind of soil, even hard clay or uncultivated soil. This is combined with 13 inch tines that are self sharpening, so they can last for many gardening sessions, and stay sharp in order to cut through any weeds or roots that can often get in your way. 

This tiller is also very good for a larger or commercial space garden, as its rear tine design is 18 inches wide. It also comes with a 6.5 inch working depth with 7 depth adjustments, so you can cultivate the topsoil layer as well as do deep soil tilling. It is also easy to maneuver; it has a front counterweight on 13 inch pneumatic wheels, so you won’t ever lose control of it. Additionally, it can be operated with only one hand from either side of the tiller, and the self-driving system means you don’t have to force it over any rough terrain. 

#5. Schiller Grounds Care 7920 Mantis 2-Cycle Tiller Cultivator

Mantis 7920 2-Cycle Plus Tiller / Cultivator
  • Comes with a handy carrying handle
  • Entire unit weighs Only 20-pounds
  • Handle Bars fold down for easy storage
  • 2-year limited Warranty

The Schiller Grounds Care 7920 Mantis 2-Cycle Tiller Cultivator is a great handheld tiller to use when you need to break new ground. This gas powered tiller is incredibly lightweight – it only weighs 20 pounds – and the foldable handlebars and helpful carrying handle make it simple to transport either to and from your shed or to a friend’s lawn or garden. However, although it is lightweight it still gives a heavyweight performance. The 2-Cycle engine is placed directly over the tines, ensuring that it gets the most out of its motor, and the innovative gear design helps to deliver more power with less weight, meaning it can till any and all types of soil, including hard clay soil and uncultivated ground.

The compact design of the tiller allows you to work in small rows or hard-to-reach places, so you can till or aerate or weed up close to a fence or to another row of plants or vegetables. The handles have soft and flared grips in order to provide more comfort while tilling, and it comes with a Mantis 2-year limited warranty. 

#6. Earthquake 31043 Badger Heavy Duty Front Tine Tiller

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The Earthquake 31043 Badger Heavy Duty Front Tine Tiller is a supremely powerful tiller that can break through new ground with ease. This gas powered tiller has a strong Kohler engine, a bronze gear drive transmission, and an all-steel constructed frame, so it is heavy and tough enough to fully pulverize very hard topsoil. It is also large enough to easily till a large or commercial sized garden. With a wide 11 ¼ inch wheel diameter, it has an adjustable tilling width of 11, 16, or 21 inches, meaning you can till in narrow, tight spaces but also cover a large area in little time. 

The Earthquake 31043 is stable due to the combination of its flip-out cast iron tail system and its long wheel-to-tine base, giving you and the machine the best weight distribution possible. This means perfect in-row control and optimal end-row maneuverability, so you can till and turn within relatively tight spaces. The wheels also flip in and out using a two-position tail system, making it as close to zero turn as possible.

Wrap Up

Choosing the right tiller enables you to best work soil and get it ready for planting. There are several types of tillers on the market, and this is why you need to be careful about choosing the right one. Regardless of the type you choose, your tiller will help aerate the soil and allow your plants to thrive. 

If you still are wondering exactly which tiller would be the best for breaking new ground in your garden, our recommendation is the Sun Joe TJ604E, because it compact but powerful and comes with a low price point.