The Different Types of Garden Tillers

Do you have a garden that needs tilling, but don’t know which type of tiller to buy? Tillers come in all shapes and sizes, so it can be tough to decide which one is right for your needs. In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of garden tillers and what each one is best suited for. We’ll also provide tips on how to choose the right tiller for your lawn and garden.

So, whether you’re a new homeowner with no experience in gardening or an experienced green thumb looking for the perfect tool, read on for information about garden tillers!

What is a Tiller?

A tiller is a gardening tool that is used to break up the soil in your lawn, garden or flowerbeds. It has multiple spinning blades called tines that dig in to the soil and churn it up. It can be hand-held or come with a stand and is powered by a motor.

There are several types of tillers available, each one designed for different purposes and types of soil, and we will describe all of them in detail so you can make an educated decision about which tiller is best for you. There are front-tine tillers, rear-tine tillers, mid-tine tillers, and vertical-tine tillers, as well as mini tillers, hand tillers, tow-behind tillers, electric tillers, and cultivators.

What Are Tillers Used For?

Tillers are primarily used to prepare the soil before planting. You can use it to break up hard, compacted soil or weeds and prepare the beds for you to plant your flowers, vegetables, fruit trees and more! Tillers benefit the soil by creating extra air and reducing thick clumps, allowing fertilizer, sunlight, and water to better impact the soil and any plants within it.

Front-Tine Tillers

Front Tine Tillers are the most popular kind of tillers, and the one you would likely have pictured in your mind when you hear the word. A front tine tiller consists of a long metal rod with a cylindrical piece on the end. On this cylinder are multiple blades, called tines, which spin and dig into the dirt. Front-tine tillers can have between 4 to 8 tines, but most do not go above 6 or 7.

Front tine tillers are designed to dig into the soil and pull the tiller forward through the tine rotation, which is powered by a gas or electric motor. This type of tiller is great for working up small to medium sized gardens with soft soil. They’re also great for working in clay soil which can become hard when stepped on or walked over too many times.

Click here if you would like to check out our recommendations for the best front tine tillers available.

Rear-Tine Tillers

In contrast to a front tine tiller, and as mentioned in the name, Rear Tine Tillers have their tines located at the back of the tiller, behind the motor. Rear tine tillers are different from front tine tillers – they are typically larger, more powerful, as well as more expensive.

Rear-tine tillers are best for large scale tilling work, and are ideal for professionals or homeowners with lots of garden space to work with. They can till paths between 8 to 10 inches deep and 20 to 30 inches wide, and are useful in hard and compact soil.

Rear tine tillers are equipped with engine-driven wheels, so they can rotate in both forward and counter-rotating directions. Check out our post on the best rear tine tillers on the market if you would like to buy one.

Mid-Tine Tillers

If the tines aren’t located in the front or rear of the tiller, they can be located in the middle, such as with Mid Tine Tillers. These types of tillers are closely related to front tine tillers, and are roughly used for the same projects and work, although their design is slightly different.

The tines of a mid-tine tiller are directly beneath the engine, which means they are well-balanced and more easily maneuverable. They are more costly than front tine tillers because of this ease of use, but are still less expensive than any rear tine tiller.

Vertical-Tine Tillers

A relatively new and more unique type, Vertical Tine Tillers are not nearly as common as rear-tine, front-tine, or mid-tine tillers. These tillers are different because they have tines that, rather than cutting downward through the soil, cut forward. The tines rotate parallel to the ground rather than perpendicular to it. This forward motion dampens vibrations and reduces the strain on your arms and back as you work.

Vertical tine tillers are more effective and faster at their job than the other types mentioned above, but because of this, and the new technology that they employ, they are more expensive as well.

Mini Tillers

However, if you want something small but powerful enough to get through some tough soil or weeds in tight spaces around trees and other plants near your home’s foundation, then maybe consider a Mini Tiller. Mini tillers are still engine powered, and are small and effective machines, as well as much less expensive than other powered models.

When it comes to mini tillers, their small size and maneuverability give them a big advantage over larger and more expensive types of tillers. This is because they’re easier to use in tight spaces, as well as easy to store when you’re not using the tiller.

The downside of mini tillers is that their smallness and simplicity make it difficult for them to dig deeply into the ground. This means they aren’t ideal for larger projects, such as tilling up garden plots or weeding large parts of your yard. But if you only need a small plot tilled or your garden has already been worked on, purchasing a mini tiller could be best for you.

Hand Tillers

A Hand Tiller will also work well for smaller areas where there isn’t much room to maneuver larger machines like front-tine tillers or rear-tine tillers. Handheld tillers are not powered by any type of electric or gas-powered engine, and therefore have to be powered by hand. Because of this, we would only recommend hand tillers for small, miscellaneous garden work rather than large scale tilling.

Hand tillers are incredibly affordable, however, and are a useful addition in any gardeners tool shed. They’re perfect for adding one extra plant or vegetable to a garden row, or potting a single ornamental plant or bush. See our post for the best handheld tillers out there.

Tow-Behind Tillers

If you want to prepare a large area of land quickly with minimal effort, then consider getting yourself a Tow-Behind Tiller. They are bigger and stronger than other engine-powered tillers like front and rear-tine tillers, and therefore are the preferred choice of a landscaper or other professional that deals with huge square-footage of tilling work.

As their name suggests, tow behind tillers are attachable to lawn tractors and other riding lawn mowers, and they do all of the work for you as you drag them along.

Electric Tillers

If you are looking for a high-quality product with the latest technology that will make your job easier and more efficient without breaking the bank, then an Electric Tiller may be best. Electric tillers are generally front-tine tillers or mini tillers, but ones that are powered by electricity.

These tillers are generally better for the environment, quieter, and less expensive in the long run as you don’t need to keep topping them up with gasoline and oil. We have a post on the 10 best electric tillers if you find these are the best option for your lawn.


A Cultivator is actually slightly different from a tiller. It is smaller and the tines are less powerful and don’t reach as far underground.

If you need something to break up compacted soil or weeds, then a cultivator might not be right for you. However, if you already have tilled a garden, or it is very well aerated and healthy, then a cultivator could be used to mix in different soil or fertilizer.

Check out this post if you would like to know more about the exact differences between a cultivator and tiller.

Which Tiller Is Best For You?

Choosing the tiller that is best for you depends on a lot of variables. For example, before buying you should consider the size of your lawn, the budget you have for a tiller, how much gardening work you will be doing, the effort you’re willing to put in, and what other gardening and lawn maintenance tools you already have.

If you have a large garden area with different types of soil, then maybe consider buying a tow-behind tiller or rear-tine tiller. You can choose from either rear-tine or front-tine tillers if your garden is full of hard, compacted soil and very few plants to avoid damaging. An electric tiller could also work well for you if you’re looking for a high-quality, more affordable product that does its job efficiently and effectively.

If your garden is very small and on the other hand, has little to no soil but lots of weeds and plants around it, then maybe consider buying a mini tiller or hand tiller. This will be the most budget-friendly option. If you have already worked on your garden a lot and just need to quickly mix in some soil or fertilizer, a cultivator could work for you.


With so many different types of garden tillers to choose from, it can be difficult to know which is right for you, and the type you choose will depend on what your needs are. Whatever decision is made about which lawn care equipment to buy from this list should be carefully considered as each one has its own pros and cons depending on the individual situation at hand.

In conclusion, we hope this post helps answer some questions about the various types of tillers that are available. Which tiller is best for you? That’s up for you to decide! No matter which model you choose, however, make sure it’s made by a reputable company with good customer service so that when maintenance becomes necessary down the line there won’t be any surprises!