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Cultivator Vs Tiller


Cultivators and tillers are great tools to have when you’re planning a garden or flower bed. They are the go-to alternative to hoeing or shoveling by hand. However, they are both different in that they perform different functions depending on the work you have. In this post, we’ll take a look at their features and capabilities to help you figure out which is the best equipment for your gardening projects.

Cultivator Description

A cultivator is the best choice if you want to loosen the soil on an already existing planting garden. Due to its small size, it’s easier to handle when compared to a tiller. Cultivators can be either gas-powered or electric powered. Electric versions are available with a cord while others come cordless. It’s important to note that most corded versions require an extension cord. This makes it easier for the user to cover more extensive ground if they happen to have a bigger garden.

Some gasoline versions need an optional device that’s bought separately to crank them up. This helps to eliminate the need of having to use a pull cord. Other versions come with a two-cycle engine that runs on a mixture of gas and oil. However, this is task that four-cycle engines try to eliminate.

A cultivator does not have as much digging power as you’ll find in a tiller. To be effective, it’s better to use it when you want to mix regular and potting soil; mix compost, manure or fertilizer into the soil; or need to break small grasses and weeds to prevent them from spreading all over the garden.

They are also great for doing maintenance works on vegetable gardens of about 1,500 square feet and raised beds. In short, they are not designed to take on heavy gardening work. Most electric versions do not even supply enough power for such kind of work. The good news is that cultivators weigh less and are easier to use. They also cost less when compared to tillers.

Strong Sides

  1. Lighter and more compact
  2. Best for turning and mixing soil
  3. Ideal for weeding between beds
  4. Great for adding compost to your vegetable garden
  5. Easier to push and handle
  6. Cost less

Weak Sides

  1. Smaller engine provides less power
  2. Can’t handle tough soils
  3. Can’t dig deep into the ground
  4. Most need to be pushed from behind and can be physically demanding
  5. Not ideal for gardens larger than 1,500 square feet.

Tiller Description

A tiller is best for gardens of larger sizes. Ideally, the garden should be between 1,500 square feet and 5,000 square feet. Tillers have a more powerful engine equipped to handle heavier jobs. Their heavy-duty tines work the soil harder when compared to cultivators.

A tiller is appropriate for you if you need to break hard ground, till into rocky soil that needs to be loosened first, or want to put up a garden plot for the very first time. There are mainly two types of tillers – front-line and rear-line tillers.

When it comes to doing general maintenance like composting, soil preparation, and weeding, front-tine tillers can do the job especially if you have a small to medium-sized garden. The smaller tines help to move the tiller as it digs into the soil. Some models have the option to drive the tines either forward or reverse.

Rear-tine tilers have wheels that are powered by a gasoline engine. They are a better alternative for larger gardens. They either come with forward-rotating tines that are good for weeding, composting, and cultivating existing gardens or counter-rotating tines that move in the opposite direction concerning the tiller’s wheels. The latter has more power and torque that helps to break new ground and dig deeper into the soil. Modern rear-tine tillers have dual-rotating tines that allow the operator to choose counter or forward rotation to match their needs.

Strong Sides

  1. Ideal for working on large gardens due to more power
  2. Can be used to break hard ground
  3. Have cleaner and environmentally friendly engines
  4. Have longer, wider, and healthier tines that reach deep into the soil

Weak Sides

  1. Heavier and bulkier than cultivators
  2. More challenging to handle due to complexity and extra features
  3. More expensive

Overview and Conclusion

Cultivators and tillers are good machines to have for someone who has a garden. Since they can complement each other, having both makes planting and gardening easier. Cultivators help to control weeds without uprooting and damaging new seedlings. A tiller is what you need if you want to dig deep, tear roots, and flip dirt.

If you’d like just to pick one, consider how small or big your garden is, how much you’re willing to spend, and the tasks you need the machine to perform.

When buying, check the machine’s available features and capabilities to help choose the best option for you. Such features include maximum tilling width and depth, wheel-driven or reverse-driven tillers for better mobility, pneumatic tires for traction and maneuverability, and power take-off features that allow you to power optional engaging attachments.


Is cultivator used for tilling?

A cultivator can be used to prepare the soil for the cultivation of seeds. It is designed for overturning, plowing, and digging the soil, otherwise known as tilling. It helps to uproot existing weeds and ensure proper mixing of nutrients.

Do you push or pull a tiller?

A tiller that comes with a bladed wheel needs to be pushed forward until land while it’s in the ground. This action helps to move the blades. For tillers without the wheel, you need to twist the tiller and at the same time pull it straight from the ground to till the soil.

Can you use a tiller to level ground?

A tiller is typically used to dig up soil. More powerful versions can be used to break new ground and level a large garden area. This helps to create an ideal vegetable garden or planting bed.

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