2. Gardening

Tiller vs. Cultivator: How to Pick the Right Farming Machine for Your Soil

Cultivators and tillers are often confused. Although they have many similarities, the two farming tools are designed for distinct tasks. If you are thinking about getting one for your farm or garden, keep reading to find everything you need to know about the tiller vs cultivator.

Tiller vs cultivator

Discover the similarities and differences between the tiller vs cultivator when it comes to the operation mode, tillage method, working area size, power, and blades.

You can also find out the pros and cons of cultivators and tillers, together with our recommendations for the best products on the market.

Tiller vs Cultivator: Similarities and Differences

Tillers and cultivators are two similar farming tools that can be very useful for people who maintain a garden or farm.

Although the differences between them may seem small, they actually have a huge impact on your work.

Here’s everything you need to know about the tiller vs cultivator when it comes to their similarities and differences.

Working Mode

Cultivators use a rotating metal disc with sharp edges to cut into the soil and remove weeds from the ground. Another vehicle usually has to pull it, which means it must go at the speed of the car. The speed should be slow and constant to maintain an even depth in your garden beds.

Tilling implements, however, are not confined by where a car can drive – they simply need to attach to the 3-point hitch on your tractor’s frame for power. The tiller (also called a rototiller) is able to move faster than the garden cultivator and gives you more precise control over your soil.

Tillage Methods

Cultivators leave the ground very rough with clods of dirt that need to be broken up.

On the other hand, tillers can go deeper into the soil, turning it over to make it even. Furthermore, there are no clusters or clumps of dirt for weeds to hide in. This makes soil cultivation less effective during the cold season when weed seeds are most likely to germinate.

cultivator vs tiller

Working Area Size

Cultivators are better suited for working in large areas quickly. It’s because they have bigger discs that cover more ground at lower depths in one pass.

Meanwhile, a tiller uses many attachments of different sizes, so it’s better suited for small areas where you have to be more careful. Plus, you have to give a tiller more time to do its job.


Tillers and cultivators both require a good deal of power but not the same kind.

Cultivators need a tractor with at least 18 hp because most models use an engine about that size. A tiller also needs a good deal of power since most of these vehicles run in the 20-30+ range, depending on how powerful your tractor is.

This means that if you want to use one or the other, you will probably need another vehicle to pull it along behind your primary machine – although some tillers can be attached directly.

Keep this in mind when you make your purchase, as it can save you money in the long run if you know what other vehicles (or machines) you already own.


Tillers come with several different types of blades, depending on what type of soil work they do:

  • Rotary tines – a series of metal rods with curved blades at one end, used for general turning of the soil to prepare a seedbed.
  • Disk/harrow coulters – short, slightly curved disks that create depth where needed. You use them for heavy cultivation, like cutting through the soil, breaking up clods, and covering the seed furrow with loose soil.
  • Chisel plows – have a V-shape with sharp edges that cut into the soil and turn it over, ideal for hard soils.
  • Spike shoes/tooth harrows – pierce the ground and loosen the soil, which is great for packing down loose soils.

There are also cultivators with different types of blades, but they all generally work in the same way: cutting into the topsoil to remove any weed roots or plant matter.

Tiller Buying Guide

Tillers buying guide

If you’re considering buying a tiller for your garden or farm, here’s what you need to know about this farming tool.

Tiller Pros and Cons

Tillers come with a lot of pros that cultivators don’t have.

  • The tines can go much deeper into the soil than any cultivating blade. It turns the soil over, breaks up any clods, and tears apart weed roots.
  • A tiller moves faster than a cultivator, allowing you to cover more ground in less time.
  • Various types of blades are available for tillers, so you can find the one perfect for your needs.
  • Tillers are much lighter than cultivators, so they’re easier to operate.

However, tillers also have several downsides that can make them a bad choice for certain tasks:

  • It can be challenging to operate a tiler if you’re not used to it. It may take some time to learn how to use it properly so that you don’t damage your soil.
  • The soil should be completely dry before you till it. Otherwise, you will damage the tiller blades.
  • There’s no attachment for gathering or moving rocks or debris, which can dull the blades over time.
  • A tiller requires more power to run than a cultivator, but you can use your primary tractor with it.
  • The engine needs the same type of oil as other farm machinery, which can be expensive if you don’t already have an account with a local supply store.
  • The soil should be loose so the tiller blades can move quickly. If the soil is too compacted, it will take longer to do its job.
  • The machine can damage the soil or kill your plants if you don’t use it properly, so you have to be very careful and leave no room for mistakes.
  • Their speed makes it difficult to work in small spaces safely.
  • Tillers tend to be more expensive than cultivating tools because of their attachments.

Best Tillers to Buy

If you want to hear our recommendations, here are the top 3 tillers that deserve your attention:

1. Sun Joe TJ604E

Sun joe tj604e

The Sun Joe TJ604E Electric Cultivator is an excellent choice. It has a powerful 13-5-amp electric motor that can till up to 16 inches wide x 8 inches deep, and it turns on instantly.

You don’t have to worry about durability, thanks to the 6 steel angled tines. Plus, you can easily store and transport the small tiller since it comes with handle folds. Furthermore, you can effortlessly adjust it by turning a wheel in three positions.

View price on Amazon

2. Greenworks 8 Amp 10-Inch Corded Tiller

Greenworks 8 amp 10 inch corded tiller

The Greenworks 8 Amp 10-Inch Corded Tiller is a terrific option for those who want to till their garden or farm. This electric tiller has an 8-amp electric motor with adjustable tilling width and depth.

To be more precise, it can till soil with a width between 8.25 inches and 10 inches and a depth of up to 5 inches, making it perfect for all the projects you have in mind. It’s necessary to assemble the machine, but no tools are required.

The Greenworks 8 Amp 10-Inch Corded Tiller comes equipped with four 8-inch forward rotating tines, a safety cut-off switch, folding handles, and 6-inch rear wheels.

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3. Earthwise TC70016

Earthwise tc70016

If you want to own an Earthwise TC70016, you should know that it’s one of the best hand tillers on the market. It has a powerful 13.5-amp motor and six adjustable tines, with a tine length of 16 inches.

With the help of this machine, you can till with a wide between 11 inches and 16 inches and a working depth of 8 inches. It’s lightweight and has a comfortable, ergonomic handle.

View price on Amazon

Cultivator Buying Guide

A cultivator can be ideal for your garden or farm. If you’re thinking about getting one, here’s what you should know about it.

Cultivator Pros and Cons

Cultivators have a lot of pros that tillers don’t have:

  • They’re smaller, so they’re great for working in tight spaces.
  • A cultivator requires less power than a tiller to run.
  • Its blades are effective at cutting weed roots and removing plant matter from the soil.
  • A cultivator is generally cheaper than a tiller.

However, there are some drawbacks to using a cultivator:

  • They can’t go very deep into the soil, which means they’re not as effective as tillers at breaking up clods or tearing apart weed roots. In other words, a cultivator is only suitable for light cultivation, not deep work like a tiller.
  • A cultivator can’t move as fast as a tiller, so it takes longer to cover more ground.
  • You can easily damage the soil if you don’t use the cultivator correctly.
  • The ground must be soft. If you try to cultivate hard soil, the blades will just bounce off, and you will end up with a mess.
  • A cultivator can’t go in reverse, which means you have to line up the target area before starting it.

Best Cultivators to Buy

We have a few suggestions if you want to learn more about the top 3 cultivators on the market right now:

1. Sun Joe TJ599E

Sun joe tj599e

The Sun Joe TJ599E Aardvark is a great choice if you’re looking for a corded electric cultivator, ideal for small gardens and flower beds. It has a 2.5-amp motor that can cultivate up to 6.3 inches wide and 6 inches deep.

The machine features durable steel tilling blades and a comfortable handle with an adjustable telescoping shaft. You can get it in green, blue, or red.

View price on Amazon

2. Mantis 7940

Mantis 7940

The Mantis 7940 is a gas-powered machine that is perfect for larger gardens. It has a Honda 4-cycle 25ccengine that doesn’t need a fuel mix (gas only).

The twine can speed up to 240 rpm. Furthermore, the cultivator has a carrying handle and foldable handlebars for easy storage. It weighs 24 pounds and comes with a 2-year limited warranty.

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3. Fiskars Telescoping Rotary Cultivator

Fiskars telescoping rotary cultivator

The Fiskars Telescoping Rotary Cultivator is a lightweight option if you’re looking for a hand cultivator that can do a bit of everything – it weighs only 2.4 pounds.

The cultivator has a 40-inch telescoping shaft that extends to 60 inches so that you don’t have to bend or kneel. It’s great for removing weeds and aerating soil. Plus, it comes with six rust-proof cultivating wheels made of aluminum.

It’s also possible to remove the center wheel if you need to safely cultivate around seedling rows.

View price on Amazon

Tiller vs Cultivator: Final Thoughts

So which is the right tool for you when it comes to the tiller vs cultivator? That depends on what you’re trying to do. If you have a lot of areas to cover quickly, or if your soil is especially hard, go for the tiller.

But if you’re only working on a small patch of land or your soil is relatively easy to work, the cultivator will do just fine.

Whichever implement you choose, remember that it takes power (and sometimes another vehicle) to run it. Make sure you have access to the right equipment before buying.

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