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Published May. 20, 2019

You may not have heard of tilling but you have probably tilled soil before without even realizing it. Tilling simply means turning the soil over in your garden and many people do this for a number of reasons. Tilling a garden will loosen up hard compacted areas of soil, help you to control weeds that may be growing in the area and help organic matter get deep into the soil. Tilling (or cultivating) garden soil makes it easier to plant seeds and can aid drainage and root growth once your plants start to grow. Some people choose to hire gas tillers from a garden center but these can be cumbersome and not ideal for use on smaller gardens. Electric tillers offer a good alternative and are perfect for smaller gardens. There are lots of different electric tillers available to buy online and we have compiled a list of what we believe are the best. Keep reading to discover our favorite list and also to find out how gas and electric tillers compare, how to use a tiller and what tiller is the best for you: mini tiller, front tine tiller or rear tine tiller?

The Best Electric Tiller

Keen gardeners will know that certain garden tools can really hurt your hands and if you’re planning on taking on hours of work then you will feel the after effects for a long time. With the Earthwise Tiller they have taken this into consideration and have designed a comfortable ergonomic handle with soft grips. This electric cultivator works quietly and quickly to break up hard compacted soil. This landscaping toll is perfect for weeding, composting and preparing soil for planting and has an adjustable width between 11” and 16” and an 8” working depth. What we liked about this electric tiller was that it had 6 adjustable tines and was not only easy and lightweight to use, but convenient to store too.

Key Features
  • 6 x Adjustable Tines
  • Special Ergonomic Handle
  • Quiet Action
  • Adjustable Width
  • 8” Depth
Specification
  • Brand Earthwise
  • Model TC70016
  • Weight 29 lbs
PROS

Ergonomic Handle For Extra Comfort

Lightweight

Easy To Store

Fully Adjustable Width

CONS

Not Cordless

Not Great For Dry Hard Soil

Featuring a powerful 12 amp motor, the Sun Joe Tiller and Cultivator is powerful enough to pulverize your garden soil to aerate the earth to give the best base for planting seeds. This tiller promises to cultivate an area 16 inches wide and 8 inches deep in a matter of seconds and that’s impressive! The mini tiller has fold down handles which makes it easier for storage, another reason why this electric tiller is for everyday gardeners or professional gardeners who have limited storage space in their shed, garage or truck. The machine also comes with a two year warranty, should you encounter any issues during that period of time.

Key Features
  • Powerful 12 Amp Motor
  • 6 x Durable Steel Angled Tines
  • Handle Folds For Easy Transportation
  • 3 Position Wheel Adjustment
Specification
  • Brand Sun Joe
  • Model TJ603E
  • Weight 27.1 lbs
PROS

Powerful Motor

Rear Wheels For Easy Maneuvering

Slice Through Soil At 340 RPM

CONS

Not Cordless

The best electric tillers are lightweight and this Mantis brand offers no exception – at just 21 Lbs this tiller is one of the lightest we have on our list. Not only is this easy to use but it’s simple to store too as it folds away neatly. Another feature that we liked was that this was a quiet machine to use, so you’re not going to upset the local wildlife and also your neighbors! It starts instantly with just the push of a button and uses a 3-speed 540 watt motor, powerful enough to work through the toughest soil. The machine is super compact at just 9 inches which means that it can get into those difficult to reach spots no problem at all. The tines have been designed with special curves that are able to till the soil 10 inches deep. A nice feature of this model is that you can turn the tines around to shallow cultivate the topsoil just 2-3 inches deep.

Key Features
  • 3 Speed 540 Watt Motor
  • Lightweight Tool
  • Folds For Easy Storage
  • Digs Down To 10 Inches Deep
Specification
  • Brand Mantis
  • Model 7250-00-03
  • Weight 20 Lbs
PROS

Quiet Motor

Compact Size

Unique Curved Tines

CONS

Not Cordless

Width Not Adjustable

This electric cultivator may look small but it certainly packs a punch. There’s no need for gas with this electric machine as it runs on a powerful 8 Amp motor which starts instantly – making your soil tilling task easy work. This electric rototiller features strong 8” forward rotating tines which give a high performance when it comes to digging into the earth. We like that this tiller has an adjustable tilling width of 8.25” to 10”, which not only means that you can adjust the tiller to suit the size of the land that you’re working on but it’s fast and reliable too. There’s also a fully adjustable tilling depth of up to 5” which allows you to choose the right planting depth for your needs. This tiller is perfect for garden enthusiasts or professionals as the handles fold down for easy storage and transportation.

Key Features
  • Powerful 8 Amp Motor
  • Adjustable Tilling Width
  • Adjustable Tilling Depth
  • Handle Folds Down For Easy Storage
Specification
  • Brand GreenWorks
  • Model 27072
  • Weight 29.3 Lbs
PROS

Fully Adjustable

Strong & Durable Forward Facing Tines

Easy Storage

CONS

Heavy

Difficult To Assemble

The main reason we chose this GreenWorks electric tiller was because it was cordless. Many electric tiller are corded which can be a bit of a pain as you need extension cords and run the danger of tilling your cord. Cordless is easier as you can move freely across the land you are tilling and not have to worry about the cord getting tangled in your garden. This electric tiller uses a G-MAX 40V lithium-ion battery which promises fade-free power and no memory loss after charging. The tiller features 4 x adjustable forward rotating tines that are 8 inches long. You can adjust the tilling width from 8.25” to 10” and the tilling depth up to 5”. Whether you need an electric tiller for weeding or aerating your soil, this GreenWorks model can take on your jobs, giving you fast, reliable results.

Key Features
  • Uses G-MAX Lithium-Ion 40V Battery
  • Adjustable Tilling Width
  • Adjustable Tilling Depth
  • Battery Included
Specification
  • Brand Greenworks
  • Model 27062
  • Weight 21 Lbs
PROS

Cordless

Lightweight

Adjustable Tilling Width & Depth

CONS

Only Compatible With G-MAX Battery Models 29462 & 29472

Battery Needs Recharging After Use

This mini tiller offers fantastic value for the money. This is the perfect bit of landscaping kit for small to mid-sized gardens. Because of its compact size you can also use it on flower beds too, where it is perfect for breaking up tough soil, mixing organic matter into the soil and adding oxygen to aid plant growth. This electric tiller runs on a 6.5 amp motor and can cultivate up to 14” width of land and 7” deep. There are four strong steel tilling blades which provide maximum durability and performance. We like that this product also comes with a two year warranty and that is has been ETL approved.

Key Features
  • Value For Money
  • Powerful Motor
  • Lightweight Design
  • Up To 14” Tilling Width
  • Up To 7” Tilling Depth
Specification
  • Brand Sun Joe
  • Model TJ600E
  • Weight 18.7 Lbs
PROS

Super Lightweight

Easy To Use

Safety Switch

CONS

Not Cordless

Can Need Cool Down Period

This electric cultivator makes the perfect choice for a variety of different uses, both personal and professional. This is a powerful gardening tool that can take the hard work out of tilling earth. This GreenWorks model is a cordless design which means that you never have to worry about a long cord dragging across the garden. It runs on a 40V G-MAX battery which unfortunately is not included in the package.  The tiller provides 8 inch forward rotating tines which easily loosen up earth, fast. There is an adjustable tilling width of 8.25” to 10” and an adjustable tilling depth of up to 5 inches.

Key Features
  • Cordless Design
  • Uses Powerful 40V G-Max Battery (Not Included)
  • Adjustable Tilling Width
  • Adjustable Tilling Depth
  • 4 Year Warranty
Specification
  • Brand GreenWorks
  • Model 27062A
  • Weight 26.4 Lbs
PROS

Cordless

Easy To Use

Under Warranty

CONS

Battery Not Included

Only Compatible With G-MAX Batteries

Best Electric Tillers Buying Guide & FAQ

If you are looking for the ultimate tiller for your garden but are unsure which make and model to buy then don’t despair! We have created a buying guide of what to look for when buying an electric tiller, compared electric vs gas tillers and answered your most commonly asked questions below.

Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about garden tillers.  

What to Consider When Buying Electric Tillers

Anyone who has ever worked in a garden will know that tilling soil can be very, very hard work if you do it manually with a shovel. Doesn’t matter if you are a novice or a professional gardener, it’s always best to use the right type of tools to make life easier. If you have decided it’s time to buy an electric tiller then these are the things you might like to consider:

  • Cost

Electric tillers are generally much cheaper to buy than gas tillers but they still vary in cost. Before you take the plunge and buy an electric tiller, have a think about how often you will be using the tiller and on what type of ground. Also take into consideration the size of your land that needs tilling. If you are only looking for an occasional use tiller then you won’t need to buy the most expensive brand on the market, however if you’re a professional gardener or have extensive land then making a better quality investment makes sense.

  • Weight

Don’t overlook the weight of the machinery before you buy. Although electric tillers make the earth work easier, they can still be quite chunky and heavy to use. Opt for a lightweight tiller for an easier job.

  • Adjustable

Not all electric tillers are adjustable, but we think if you are investing in a good tiller then you should opt for a model that is fully adjustable so you can alter the width of the tilling to suit your land or flower beds, and also the depth of tilling for deep earth work or just top soil loosening.

  • Tines

How hard is the earth that you need to work on? Take a look at the quality of tines on the machine, are they strong and durable enough to take on the job? How many tines are on the machine?

  • Warranty

We always recommend buying a product that comes with a warranty of at least two years. This ensures that if anything goes wrong within that time frame, you can either get your machine fixed for free, get a replacement or get your money back.

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Man rototilling the ground

Different Types of Electric Tillers

There are quite a few different types of electric tillers available to buy but what are they and what does it mean?

Let us explain here:

  • Mini Tiller

A garden tiller has been specially designed to break up compact, hard soil. It loosens up the earth into smaller pieces so your beds are ready for planting. A mini tiller is a small-sized model which has smaller tines (blades) than gas tillers and a smaller width. This makes them perfect for use in private gardens and small areas of earth such as flower beds.

  • Front Tine Tiller

A front tine tiller is the ideal choice for most gardeners as it can take on moderately hard ground and will loosen up firm soil, breaking up the earth into smaller pieces, aerating the soil and creating the perfect base for planting. Front tine tillers are perfect for use in a small to medium garden. The wheels of a front line tiller are at the back which means that they are easy to maneuver. As they tend to be smaller than rear tine tillers it means that they are generally easier to store and transport too.

  • Rear Tine Tiller

As the name suggests, a rear tine tiller has its tines (blades) at the rear. These types of machines tend to be a lot larger than front tine tillers and therefore can be heavier to use. They can also be tricky to push or steer unless you can use the weight of the machine to gain leverage. These machines are better at tackling large gardens that are new. For example, if you have earth that has already been worked on but is just a little chunky then a front tine tiller is the right machine for you. Rear tine tillers are for fresh, hard ground. These machines can break up very hard or rocky soil and are perfect for large gardens or small farms.

Electric Tiller Vs. Gas Tiller

There is a big difference when it comes to electric vs gas tillers and it isn’t just about the fuel. A gas tiller is perfect for working on larger plots of land and can handle breaking up hard earth. A gas tiller will churn the earth into a workable garden bed using larger tines and much more power. Obviously with a gas tiller comes the responsibility and mess of changing fuel but you won’t have to worry about an extension cord dragging behind you or getting run over by the tines! You would use an electric tiller if you have a small plot of land or garden that has already been worked on and just needs breaking up further to aerate the soil and mix organic matter into the earth. An electric tiller uses power mains or can be cordless for ease of use. Electric tillers tend to be more lightweight and easier to use as they are smaller in size and less powerful. An electric tiller tends to be easy to store and transport too, again due to its size and weight.

Corded or Cordless Electric Tillers?

If you have several small sections to cultivate in your garden then a cordless electric tiller is going to be the best option as you won’t be restricted by an extension cord. Cordless electric tillers are easier to use as you won’t have to worry about the cord tangling behind you. They’re perfect for smaller areas and your only restriction is the life of the battery, so not ideal for larger areas of land unless you have several batteries.

If you have a larger area to cultivate or want to focus on just one main area then corded electric tillers are good because they will never run out of power. There are negative though as the cord can be restrictive and you will have to be extra careful not to run over the cord with the tines.

Best Electric Tillers FAQ:

Q: What is an electric tiller and how does it work?

An electric tiller is a piece of machinery that uses power mains or a battery to run. They operate by pressing a start button which sends power to a set of tines (or blades) that rotate. The tines of electric tillers will churn and stir earth that has been previously worked on to create a softer soil with less density. Electric tillers have small, tight tines that break and loosen up the soil so you can plant seeds and bulbs easier into your land. An electric tiller is perfect for use on smaller gardens with medium hard soil – these are not used to create new garden beds. The purpose of using an electric tiller is to create loose soil for planting as well as weeding and aerating soil and stirring organic matter into soil such as compost.
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Q: How do I use ​garden tiller?

There are several types of garden tillers available to buy, some which run on gas, some using power mains and some using battery power. They mostly all work the same way and are simple to use. The first thing that you will need to do before starting is to make sure that the area that you are working on is free of rocks, large pieces of soil and weeds. Dead plants can be left in the soil as these will be mixed in and added to the organic matter. Once you have completed this task you will need to put on safety gear – this piece of machinery can cause some serious damage don’t forget! Safety glasses are essential as rocks, soil and debris can fly into your eyes easily. Cover up your arms and legs with long sleeves and trousers to prevent debris scratching your skin and don’t forget to wear heavy boots (ideally steel toe capped boots) as toes and tines do not mix well! Once you have your safety gear on you’ll need to set the depth of your electric tiller – how deep into the earth do you need to go? You may also need to adjust the width to fit the area that you are working on. Different models have different modes so please refer to your user manual for instructions here. Once you have your safety gear on and all adjustments have been made then you will just need to press the start button (and check that you are plugged in if it’s a corded tiller) and you’re good to go.

Q: What’s the difference between a cultivator and a tiller?

Often people think that cultivators and tillers are the same but they are in fact, quite different. A garden tiller is used to break up hard ground and essentially turn compacted earth into loose, broken up soil, which is perfect for planting. There are several tillers available and they all differ slightly. Front tine tillers are easier to use as they have rear wheels and are generally more lightweight. These are used for small to medium sized plots of land with firm, not solid earth. Rear tine tillers are heavier and a little more difficult to operate but they are perfect for larger plots of land with hard, compacted earth. A garden cultivator isn’t suitable for breaking up compacted, heard ground, rather they are used to make the soil finer.

Q: Is there a need to plow the garden before tilling it?

This depends on your needs. Plowing is only used for large areas of land such as that found in farms and is different from tilling. Plowing is used to break up weeds and dig deep into the soil, turning it over to bury old crop residues. Whereas tilling is used to cultivate and prepare the ground for planting. If you have a large plot of land such as a farm then it is generally thought that you should plow during the fall and till during the spring for the best quality soil. If you have a small garden then plowing is unnecessary.

Our Top Pick

Our favorite electric tiller from the list was the Earthwise TC70016 Amp Corded Electric Tiller. We liked that this piece of machinery had been designed with comfort and practicality in mind and had special ergonomic handles with soft grips. This is a quiet machine which can break up hard compacted soil and has an adjustable tilling width and depth too.

Sources:

  1. 3 Best Uses for a Cultivator Tiller – Do It Your Self
  2. How to Use a Tiller – WikiHow

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