Review the best garden tiller features

by teddletonmr

Before you buy the best garden tiller for your gardening needs, check out this review of the most popular big and small tiller features ..

As you already know, garden tillers come in a variety of sizes shapes and styles. For many master and newbie gardeners a tiller is an indispensable garden tool. In the spring, we use them to get our vegetable garden ready for planting. Mixing organic materials, such as manure and compost from our compost bins is a seasonal ritual. While for the landscaper in us all, there is the need to refurbish a lawn. Many times simply getting a healthy stand of grass to grow is a major undertaking for some of us. Tilling what poor excuse for grass that is growing, and the weeds that make up most of the greenery in our yard before starting over is just the beginning of our tilling and cultivating chores around the lawn and gardens. So what do you think, how about before you buy the best garden tiller, review flower and vegetable gardeners favorite tiller features that help us earn that coveted green thumb award

Master and Newbie Gardeners agree

BCS rear tine tiller Hey all you master and newbie vegetable gardeners, I believe it safe to say  there are those of us that simply want a garden tool that will make weeding easier. Say, weeding between the rows of green beans, sweet corn, tomato plants, bell peppers and let us dare not forget okra, squash, zucchini, occasional eggplant and pumpkin. I am going out on a vine here, but I believe you will agree that kind of talk makes you and me hungry for all our favorite summer time vegetable garden fruits and veggies.

On the flowery blossoming side of our inspired gardening world, many of us live for. We have creative flower gardeners, gardeners by the way as much artists as gardeners. These folks, you know who you are, have talents for arranging colors textures and scale. These landscape designers work in both large and small spaces. Mixing Pete moss, manure, organic compost, and other soil amendments, weeding and digging holes for plantings have their own special set of requirements. Roses, how many different Roses are there anyway, boxwoods, azaleas and holly bushes, then there are the hostas, violets, pennies and the list goes on. The important thing we should keep in mind, there is no one garden tool or especially a tiller for that matter that is perfect for every weeding, tilling or cultivating job.

Large and Small garden tiller
Large and Small garden tiller

What is the best garden tiller for your needs?

Large Medium Small and Mini tiller cultivators

I believe it is safe to say we are all aware. There are large heavy-duty rear tine tillers the equivalent of a small garden tractor. Medium sized rear tine tillers that are good for small to medium sized heavy-duty jobs. Front tine tillers that work well in small tight hard to maneuver around in spaces, and last but not least, the compact or mini tiller cultivators, light weight and easy to use in small hard to get to spaces, in-between bushes, shrubs, and ornamental trees or other landscape details. Things we may not be aware of however, the favorite features that make our tillers do all sorts of chores around our homes and gardens.


Large heavy duty tiller
Large heavy duty tiller

Large Heavy-duty Rear Tine Garden tillers

BCS 732 rear tine tiller The largest of the heavy-duty rear tine tillers, are of a modular design. Popular models like the BCS 700 series and the Troy Bilt Big Red tillers are equipped with, 8, 11, 12, and even larger horsepower gasoline-powered engines. Powering the all-metal gear drive transmissions providing several tilling speeds to the wheels in both forward and reverse direction. Equipped with a large set of pneumatic tires provide good traction, stability on uneven terrain, combined with a commercial duty gas engine making up the tractor. This configuration provides a wide variety of attachments available for use with the same tractor, engine and transmission assembly.

BCS quick coupler With the all gear drive systems they employ, there are no belts or chains to worry about when making a change from one attachment to another. Attachments that range from the 16-inch, 18-inch, 20-inch and the largest 26-inch Tiller attachments available only on the BCS, 26-inch rotary brush mower, large brooms, sickle bar mower, and a snow blower just to mention the more popular options. Coupled with the quick hitch option, changing from one attachment to another is quick and easy without the use of a toolbox full of  hand tools.

For the gardener who has a lot of large gardening and clean-up jobs around their place, and the garden shed space to store the BCS 732 tractor and all the optional attachments this is a great machine. Far less expensive to purchase and maintain than a small utility tractor and all the expensive farming implements. OK, I grant you, you cannot ride around your place looking cool and enjoying a frosty root beer, but that is what the golf cart or ATV is for, right. :)

BCS Garden Tiller is the best tiller for your garden

Popular medium size garden tiller
Popular medium size garden tiller

Medium Sized Rear Tine Tillers

The medium sized BCS, Troy Bilt and Honda rear tine tillers are the best choice for most vegetable gardening homeowners. Equipped with a five or six horsepower gasoline-powered engine and an 18-inch tiller attachment they do a great job. Whether mixing in soil amendments, breaking ground for a small flower garden or vegetable garden they are at home doing either.

I think it only fair to mention, there is an arguments centered around the direction a rear tine tillers, tines rotate. There is the foreword-rotating, counter rotating which turn opposite the direction of travel, and there is the Honda FR 750 rear tine tiller that has tines that do both all at the same time.

Troy bilt horse rear tine tiller Foreword rotating tines is standard on the most popular model tillers, front and rear tine garden tillers alike. Let us take a closer look at rear tine tillers features for a bit and there foreword rotating tines. Turning in the foreword direction, the tines turn much faster than the rubber tires that are responsible for propelling the tiller foreword when actually tilling the soil.

The cause of disagreement, the opponents hold with the opinion, when tilling in compacted soils, and the operator is too aggressive with the tiller, the tines will push the tiller foreword rather abruptly. Pushing down on the handle bars with too much force, puts more pressure on the tines causing them to dig more aggressively.

Think about it this way, the standard rear tine tiller has a set of tines that rotate in the forward direction. These digging tines rotate at 200 + revolutions per minute ideal for garden soil preparation.

On the other hand, the self-propelled traction drive wheels only turn in the same direction at 100 + or – rpm, depending on throttle setting etc. I believe you easily see where this is going.


 The tiller tine speed is faster than the wheels that govern the tiller’s travel speed. Subsequently, putting too much downward pressure on the digging tines via pushing down on the handle bars, make no mistake the rotating tines are digging. There by causing the forward rotating tines on the standard forward rotating rear tine tiller, jump forward making the tiller hard to control. The solution, do not push down on the control handle, set the depth gauge / drag bar, and let the tiller do its work at its own pace.


Troy bilt big red tiller A rear tine tiller with foreword rotating tines will jump foreword, quick fast and in a hurry. Now I understand, this can be quite entertaining, when watching some big ole 200-pound plus boy doing his best to manhandle one of these workhorses, but for most of us, it is a bit much. The solution, do not put a lot of downward pressure on the handle bars, which in turn puts pressure on the tines, let the tiller do the work at its own pace, so you do not end up feeling like you just had the fight of your life. They are after all a heavy-duty garden tool built for the heavy-duty jobs and work as such. On the other hand, select a tiller with the counter rotating tine set-up, like the Troy Bilt Super Bronco.

For those of us that prefer the all metal gear transmission arrangement the BCS 710 is your best tiller in this class, BCS uses absolutely no belts or chains on their tillers. Looking for a tiller that uses the chain drive option, the Honda Fr 600 is your best choice. Moreover, for the Troy-Bilt fans, there is the Troy-Bilt Bronco and super Bronco. The Troy Bilt and Honda use a belt delivering the power from the engine to the transmission, but do not hold that against them, they are still good tiller choices.

Troy bilt super bronco Counter rotating tine models like the Troy-Bilt Super Bronco rear tine tiller are easy to use and control. The tines turn opposite to the direction of travel. With the tines turning against the foreword movement of the tiller there is no way the tines rotation can cause the tiller to jump foreword, but the tiller is one speed only, slow. Working the soil into a fine consistency for planting radishes, onion sets, and other root crops, they work well, but for the routine weeding between the rows of corn and green beans, the counter rotating tine tillers are a bit too slow for my tastes. Even worse in my experience with the tines turning counter clockwise, they are less effective in mixing soil amendments like organic compost or Pete moss into the garden soil.

Then there is the Honda FR 750 that is a bit of both, if you can believe that. This machine has alternating rotating tines. The best of both worlds, I think not, but in a perfect world, anything is possible, more like say a Rube Goldberg design if you ask me.


The Best Rear Tine Tiller

Cub Cadet RT 65

18-inch counter & forward rotating tine design, the better idea
Cub Cadet RT65 (18") 187cc Honda Dual Rotating Rear Tine ...
Mini Tiller Cultivators
Mini Tiller Cultivators

Front Tine and Mini Tiller Cultivators

Mantis mini tiller cultivator Front tine tillers. With their engines setting directly above the tilling tines they are the best choice when space is limited and maneuvering limited at best, there are two different sizes. The smallest models generally referred to as mini cultivators until about 10-inches or so, and the larger of the two, which tills the same width as the smaller rear tine tillers ranging between 16-inches and 18-inches respectively.

The very thing that makes the small mini cultivators handy makes them a bit tricky to operate. Small and lightweight, they like to bounce around in hard soils, depending on the type of tines. The bolo tines are a bit friendlier to the operator in clay soils, but not much. In well-cultivated soils that are not compacted, the compact mini tiller cultivators work pretty darn well. Another thing worth mentioning, these handy little garden tools seem to bounce around much less when pulling them back and forth a couple of feet at a time.  

Electric mantis mini tiller cultivator Working in and around plants in the flowerbeds the Mantis is hard to beat, around the zucchini, summer squash and tomato plants as long as you stay away from the tomato cages works well also. Yep, you guessed it; I did get a little too close to a tomato cage, the Mantis 1, the tomato cage 0.

In a moment of weakness thinking about giving one of the 4-stroke powered mini tillers a go, I did pick-up one of the Honda FG mini tillers with the little Honda four-stroke gas-powered engine. The small four cycle engine is easy to start, has a lot of power and the Honda mini tiller cultivator tilled as well as both the mantis and Yard Boss. However, I do like the Mantis and Stihl yard boss more than the Honda mini FG tiller.

The Mantis mini tiller cultivator has been around longer than either the Honda or Stihl Yard Boss, and is lighter than both are. However, I got-a-tell ya I do like the angle of the handles, and laid back engine design of the Stihl Yard Boss best of all, they feel better in my hands and provide better visibility of where the tines are tilling than either the Mantis or Honda mini cultivators.

Troy bilt mini tiller cultivator There are less expensive models out there in the big box super centers to be sure, but then again you get what you pay for. It is like that old sales pitch used by outdoor power equipment servicing dealers. There is price, quality and service, pick any two. I would like to remind you of something important, we got-a-get away from that throw it away and buy another one mentality. Buy the best you can afford, keep, and use it a long time. When you have no further need of it recycle, sell or give it to someone just getting started gardening, getting him or her started out on the right gardening path.

Besides, the name brand tiller cultivator manufactures have gone to all the trouble of engineering a whole line of extremely useful accessories that make our gardening experiences more enjoyable. Making the little machines the multifaceted lawn and garden tool any master and newbie gardener should be proud to own and use.


Mantis mini tiller cultivator

120-volt electric motor, 2-cycle gas, and 4-cycle Honda engine make the Mantis a great garden tool
Mantis 7225-00-02 2-Cycle Gas-Powered...Mantis 7250-00-02 3-Speed Electric Ti...Mantis 7262-00-02 4-Cycle Honda Gas-P...
Updated: 04/14/2014, teddletonmr
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