How to Use a Front Tine Tiller: A Step by Step Guide

Everyone that has a garden has spent time at one point cultivating or churning its soil. Doing this by hand is time and labor intensive, and is also just purely exhausting. Tillers are an excellent tool to help you manage your garden with less time and energy.

You might be wondering how to use a front tine tiller to help with your lawn and garden needs. It’s actually a very simple process, and let’s first look at what exactly a front tine tiller is.

What is a Front Tine Tiller? 

A tiller is a rotating tool that has spokes on it, called tines. These tines rotate into the ground and dirt in your garden, loosening and digging up the soil and grass or plants that you have there. 

A front tine tiller is a tiller that has its tines at the front of the machinery, and you stand behind it and walk with it, pushing it forward with a handle, like you would with a lawn mower. 

What is a Front Tine Tiller Used For?

A front tine tiller is perfect to help you till and cultivate your garden. It is larger than small cultivators, and a lot easier than digging up soil by hand. Front tine tillers are smaller than rear tine tillers, however, so it is most useful for smaller, home and backyard gardens. If you have an industrial or public garden to attend to, it might be best to use a rear tine tiller.

How Do You Use a Front Tine Tiller?

There are nine steps to using your front tine tiller to cultivate your garden:

  1. Wear good clothes and eye protection – Be sure to wear good, tough shoes that can handle walking through soil, as well as clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. Also, small debris such as rocks or sticks can sometimes shoot out from the tiller, so be sure to wear eye protection.
  1. Mark and clear the area in advance – This includes getting rid of all of the debris you see on the grass or in the soil. Also, check if there are any roots growing underground that might damage the tines.
  1. Determine the tilling depth – Most front tine tillers have a depth gauge and can adjust their working depth, so make sure this is set to your specifications before tilling. 
  1. Start the tiller – If you have a gas powered tiller, is done similarly to how you would start a lawn mower. Apply the choke, open the throttle halfway and pull firmly on the starting handle. Once it’s started, return the choke to open, and allow the tiller to idle for a minute or two to warm up.
  1. Start in one corner and work longways – Pick a corner and till in rows, working your way down to the opposing corner. If the area is not perfectly square, first do the tilling over the longer route.
  1. Engage the tines – Opening the throttle speeds the engine up, and using the tiller at a high speed is best, even if it is harder to control. Squeeze the engagement handle to engage the tines; be careful at this point because the tiller could lurch away from you if you aren’t firmly grasping the handlebars.
  1. Be careful and control the tiller – When pushing the tiller, it can be erratic or jumpy sometimes. Just move smoothly and keep it under control. If it stops moving forward, just wiggle it gently side to side while pushing forward a bit to get it moving again.
  1. Make multiple passes – Once you’ve done one full pass with the tiller, do another pass perpendicularly to your first one. Multiple passes really loosens up the soil and makes all of the remaining clumps of dirt smaller and smaller, which makes raking easier afterwards.
  1. Clean the tiller afterwards – Don’t forget to clean your tiller when you’re done, so it doesn’t rust and lasts longer.

Final Thoughts

Using a front tine tiller is very simple and straightforward once you get the hang of it. Tillers are large and heavy pieces of machinery that aren’t to be taken lightly, but with the proper precautions and knowledge, they are a useful tool that makes all of your gardening work much faster and easier.