How to Choose between a Tiller and a Cultivator?

How Do I Choose Between a Tiller and a Cultivator

What are the differences and how do you choose between a tiller and a cultivator? Tillers and cultivators are similar tools, both have metal blades that dig into the dirt to loosen compact soil. However, they are not interchangeable. Likely, one is better suited to your plant and gardening needs. They are crucial tools and are great for any gardener. So that you can make an informed decision, the differences between tillers and cultivators are detailed below.

How to Choose Between a Tiller and a Cultivator: All the Key Differences Compared

How to Choose Between a Tiller and a Cultivator
Image Source: Pixabay


A tiller, or a rototiller, a gardening tool that breaks up hard soil into loose dirt. Plants cannot grow on hard or compact soil. Plants need oxygen and water to grow well, and tightly packed soil makes it harder for plants to get what they need to survive. Tillers break up and aerate the soil. Tillers have thick, L-shaped blades. The tines of tillers are used to dig deep into the earth and are strong enough to move rocks out of the way.

Tillers can be used for composting, weeding, and soil preparation. They are powerful tools that can be used to cut down off-season plants. It’s best to till your soil in the fall to mix dead plants into the soil so that they can break down for planting in the spring. Tillers are best for big jobs.

Types of Tillers

There are hand-tillers, which are small hand-held tools that are best for small gardens. Most tillers are much larger, gas-powered machines that can cover a wide area in less time.

There’s a front-tine tiller, which as the name suggests, is a tiller that pushed forward with the tine in front. There’s also a rear-tine tiller, which is more powerful and pulls the tine along with the front wheels. Additionally, the tine can turn in the opposite direction which increases the power. Tillers that can change the direction of their wheels have increased mobility over those that can’t. Rear-tine tillers are heavy-duty options. Some rear-tine tillers have Power take-off (PTO). This feature allows you to use select ground-engaging attachments with the tiller engine.

Tillers are often large, bulky machines that may need a lawnmower ramp or a loading ramp to transport.


A cultivator is used to till already loose or tilled soil. Just like a tiller, they mix and aerate soil. Cultivators are used primarily for maintenance as opposed to creating or starting something new. They have star-shaped blades and tines in the front of the wheels.

Cultivators are ideal for removing weeds because they are less likely to destroy the roots of the plants you want. Cultivators are useful for weeding during growing season but are good for regular seasonal use. They are good for detailed work because of how lightweight and easy to maneuver they are.

What’s the Difference?

Tillers are more powerful and have a wider working width than a cultivator. Cultivators are smaller and easier to use because they’re meant to till dirt that has already been loosened. Tillers dig deep while cultivators are more shallow. Front-line tillers and cultivators are most similar, although front-line tillers are still much more powerful. 

How to Choose

Before you start shopping, you should ask yourself the following questions. How deep do you need to go? Tillers go both wider and deeper than cultivators. So, if you need to dig deep into the earth, a cultivator is not the way to go. How much land do you need to cover? Tillers are far better suited to wide plots of land, but cultivators are better for small areas that need fine-tuning. Cultivators are also cheaper than tillers.

If you’re still torn between the two, it can be broken down like this: Buy a tiller for large spaces of land with compact dirt and buy a cultivator for maintenance or for smaller areas like gardens. Tillers can be unnecessary for smaller plots of land. They are larger and harder to store than cultivators, which can be tucked away neatly in a shed without taking up an excessive amount of room. Ultimately, whether you should buy a tiller or a cultivator is dependent on what you need it for.

Additional Features

Once you decide that you want a tiller or that you want a cultivator, there are a few other variables to consider. 

  • Cultivators usually operate on two-cycle engines, meaning they use a mixture of gasoline and oil to tun. 
  • Tillers usually operate on four-cycle engines. There’s no need to mix oil and gas on a four-cycle engine.
  • Cultivators can be gas-powered, cordless, or corded-electric.
  • Tillers are usually gas-powered.


How do I Choose Between a Tiller and a Cultivator?
Image Source: Pixabay

While tillers and cultivators have similar functions, one cannot necessarily replace the other. Hopefully, this article answered some of the questions you may have had about tillers, cultivators, and how to choose between them!

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