I reviewed the best tillers for breaking new ground in this article because starting a new garden in a yard that hasn’t been broken into for a while can be daunting. Cultivating healthy plants and vegetables on such tough ground is usually a non-starter. Often, tough soil can be difficult to break through.
Tillers are fantastic for a ton of different things such as breaking new turf, aerating to promote root growth, or just mixing in compost or fertilizer to give the soil a nutrient boost.
There are lots of different options where tillers are concerned and choosing the one that is right for you can be challenging. In this guide, I researched dozens of tillers and reviewed my top choices.
I broke down the vital features and benefits of these tillers to see which might be right for you. It also includes a useful buying guide detailing what to look for when shopping for a good garden tiller and the answers to common garden tiller-related questions folks are asking.
Top 12 Best Tillers For Breaking New Ground: Reviews
We kick off this review with the Sun Joe TJ600E Electric Tiller that allows you to cultivate new ground up to 7 inches deep and 14 inches wide with its 6.5 amp motor.
Weighing just short of 19 lbs with a compact profile, this is surely one for tight spaces. Maneuvering or taking it to new locations isn’t an issue. It comes with 4 steel tilling blades that are angled just right to till grounds without requiring too much effort. All the controls are easy to use and the collapsible handle makes for convenient storage requiring little space.
While there is so much going for this compact, lightweight tiller, there are several reports of the auto-off mechanism malfunctioning making it hard to shut it down sometimes.
Up next is the versatile, 2-in-1 Earthquake Versa that can both till new grounds and also perform the job of cultivators. The side shields and tines can be detached in just a few seconds instantly transforming it into a cultivator. In the cultivator mode, the Versa can undertake gardening tasks like weeding, mulching, and breaking soil loose for better aeration.
Its 21″ wide tines powered by a 99cc 4-cycle engine easily break even hard soils in quick time making it perfect for medium to large gardens. Starting the gasoline powered tiller is quite easy with the smooth pull recoil. And despite the size, the decibel footprint is commendably low. If you are worried the 85 lbs weight might be a handful, the low center of gravity makes handling a breeze.
This impressive tiller cultivator combo comes with a couple of downsides though. The assembly manual isn’t up to the required standard so you might need some help to get it set up if your DIY skills are not great. And there might be some bolts missing so you’d have to purchase them to complete the assembly.
It’s quite easy to see why the LawnMaster TE1318W1 is gaining lots of positive traction among users. And it has little to do with the low price tag. You’d love the low noise and vibration when in maximum power mode transferring very little strain to the arms. This makes it a delight to work with.
The easy to start-and-easy-to-use tiller comes with 18” wide and 9″ digging depth tines that easily eats up the spaces efficiently thanks to the 13. 5 amp motor. The efficiency of the engine is enhanced by an anti-block mechanical clutch and 2-stage gearbox providing the best backup for the 6 steel rust-resistant blades to cut through even the roughest terrain.
This tiller though is not so efficient when the soil is very wet. And with just two height positions, using it might be awkward for people who are not very tall.
This beaut from Tazz is another tiller-cultivator combo powered by an impressive 79cc 4-cycle viper gasoline engine. It would set you back a few bucks but trust us, you’d be getting a good bang for the buck. With a maximum tilling depth of 11″ and a working width of 21″, combined with that engine, you know instinctively the toughest soils don’t stand a chance.
This model features easily removable shields and outer tines. With these out of the way, you can effortlessly turn what was once an 11″ cultivator into an awesome 22″ tiller. The inclusion of the variable position drag stake ensures that adjusting the tilling depth requires no extra tools. And The ergonomically-designed handle has 4 height positions to accommodate users of different heights.
This is a versatile tiller that can weed and mulch your garden in the cultivator mode. But keep in mind that it’s not cheap (it’s affordable though) and assembly can be overly complicated.
If Mantis’objective was to make a powerful garden tilling machine that is fun to use without sacrificing anything in terms of quality, you could confidently say they over-delivered with the 7940. It’s relatively fast to use, packing a premium 4-cycle engine that tills all kinds of soil and cultivates dirt easily with the uniquely curvy tines that can dig up to 10″ deep.
With just a casual flick of the tines, the tiller turns into a sensitive garden tool for tasks like weeding without hurting seedlings and fragile plants. Though it looks bulky, it weighs just 24 lbs making it easy to maneuver around tight spaces, while the ergonomic, slip-resistant handles that fold down easily for storage and relocation, also pitch in to enhance stability.
Though it does some really impressive work for such a lightweight tiller, it is not a substitute for heavy-duty tillers. Depending on the soil type, you might have to work on the land with bigger tillers or equipment first.
Sun Joe pitched the TJ604E Electric Tiller and Cultivator as, “The dirty little secret of great gardens, and great gardeners everywhere.’ You’d fully agree with them after taking it for a spin. To be clear, though, this machine isn’t really a secret as it seems every gardener with a small to a medium-sized garden is using one.
It comes with durable rust-resistance steel tines spinning at 370 RPM thanks to a super-strong 13 amp motor that can quickly and easily cultivate a patch of land 16 inches wide to a maximum depth of 8 inches. The corded tiller also comes with a 3 position wheel adjustment for easy handling in tight spots and corners, a collapsible handle for convenient storage and transport, an easy-to-use & access instant start button on the well-designed handle, and large rear wheels that enhance maneuverability on different types of terrain.
However, you don’t want to set your expectations too high with this tiller though the price makes it an absolute bargain. In the first place, the electric cable means you need to be near a power outlet limiting the space you can cover. Secondly, small stones tend to get lodged in the blades hampering the tines.
At just under 30 lbs combined with well-designed, cushioned, non-slip handles for a comfortable grip, the Earthwise TC70016 Electric Tiller promises reduced arm strain and effortless handling while working on difficult soils. The tiller/cultivator combo features a cord retention hook ensuring that halting work to untangle the cable isn’t part of your tilling routine.
The onboard 13.5 amp motor delivers enough power to easily breach even tough grounds. The heavy lifting team also includes 6 tines that can be easily adjusted to a working width of between 11 and 16 inches capable of digging ditches 8 inches deep.
The major drawback with this tiller is when trying to dig deeper. You’d have to drag the tiller backward or towards you real slow. Also, the design of the deadman handle means you always have to keep your hands firmly on the handle while going forward to keep it working. This can be tedious.
If you are looking for power and ruggedness combined with efficiency to till your substantial garden space, you can’t do better than this gas powered rear tine tiller by Champion Power Equipment. With the 13.8 inches super-strong steel tines, this is your long-term tiling solution for breaking new ground no matter how hard.
The tiller is equipped with a powerful 212cc engine that swiftly breaks new grounds via the 19-inch working width and 8 inches tilling depth tines. It also features a dual rotation tilling that allows users to switch from forward to reverse motion adding a flexibility that nullifies the lack of easy maneuverability due to the weight. The self-propelling 13-inch tires also enhance handling while significantly reducing the effort required to operate the tiller.
Aside from the steep price, users might experience some problems with tire bead damage when making sharp turns. The is mainly due to insufficient locking pressure between the rims and tires.
The second Earthwise product in this review of the best tillers for breaking new ground, the TC70001 is a very popular choice among gardeners who want an inexpensive but super-efficient tiller and cultivator for their yards or gardens. Made primarily from alloy steel for durability, it is just 11.6 lbs heavy making it superb for very small spaces and handling around sharp corners.
Designed with soft ergonomic handles for comfortable gripping, it is equipped with 4 powerful tines with a working width of 11″ and cultivating depth of 8″ cementing its reputation as an ideal tiller for small to medium-sized gardens. Other features of this compacts tiller include a single lever switch for easy and reliable starting, and a cord retention hook for non-stop power while tilling.
However, a speed control setting would have been awesome. Another downside is that it drags forward while tilting upwards making it hard to dip deep except you exert considerable downward pressure.
The Greenworks TL80L210 electric front tine tiller is built with cutting-edge technology to provide tilling speed, efficiency, and power in a compact body. The 44 lbs tiller comes with an 80V 2aH battery capable of providing a runtime of 40 minutes when fully charged. The fast-charging circuit ensures you can be up and tilling your ground in 30 minutes.
The eco-friendly brushless motor is delightfully quiet but delivers twice the torque of comparable motors for gasoline-like performance. Essentially, it generates more than enough power for the 4 forward rotating tines that have a tilling width of 10 inches and depth of 5 inches. The huge wheels take control of movement over uneven and even soft surfaces while the bumper guard is perfectly positioned to prevent flying debris messing your work clothes.
While this tiller comes with some jaw-dropping features, you might feel bothered about the cost. And most users complain it’s rare getting that 5″ tilling depth.
This compact beast, powered by a 99cc engine is everything you’d want in a tiller for breaking virgin ground no matter how hard-packed the soil is. The huge, wide, airless wheels, designed with aggressive lugs for ultimate traction, stand out instantly. They’ll never go flat on you.
The ‘Instant Reverse’ function is a dream. Just a simple flick of the shift handle is all you need to make it move backward and vice versa. Its dual-direction tines can seamlessly transition from breaking tough soils and sod to cultivating the land to a smooth bed instantly readying the soil for seeding or planting. The steel tines come with a 17″ tilling width that eats up space quickly. And despite the bulky size, the low center of gravity makes it easy to operate the tiller even one-handed.
However, for a premium-priced product, you’d expect at least a detailed manual to be included. That apart though, this is an awesome tiller on all fronts.
The best budget electric garden tiller for breaking new ground doesn’t come any better than this Hattomen electric-powered tiller with its 8.5 amp motor. Made of pure copper, the motor is the by-line for efficiency delivering 380RPM for efficient tilling operations.
This is a highly-simplified tiller designed with almost zero excess fat. The result is a very lightweight affair that is easy to maneuver and work with for long periods at a time. Its 16″ steel tines, with a tilling width and depth of 14″ and 8″ respectively, can effortlessly churn light soil making it ready for cultivating your favorite veggies. And the convenient safety switch on the ergonomic handle can be engaged swiftly to prevent accidents.
While this garden tiller is great for light work, it could get bogged down if the work involves tilling grass and weeds. Also, you might want to avoid using it on really wet ground.
Buying Guide: Best Tiller for Breaking New Ground
Sometimes, no matter how awesome a tiller for breaking new ground is, it might be the wrong one for you. To avoid picking a tiller blindly and regretting the decision, you’d need to consider certain factors first.
Some of these factors include:
Size of the garden or yard
How big or small the land you want to till is is one of the first things to consider. This can even be the deciding factor when choosing between a gas or electric powered tiller for breaking new ground.
Generally, you want to get a gas powered tiller if the land is relatively big. Though size can be subjective, a good estimation is to imagine how long it’d take to till the ground working at a steady space. If it’s going to take more than four hours, then your garden is probably large.
On the other hand, electric powered tillers are best for small gardens. Electric tillers are common among urban gardeners whose patch of land is usually on the small side.
That said, you might want to consider a battery-powered electric tiller. Though how long you can use one is linked to the size of the battery. It is more convenient since you don’t have to bother about electric cables limiting mobility and the space you can cover.
Basically, getting a gas-powered tiller for breaking new ground for a small land or garden is like bringing an automatic rifle to a pistol shooting contest.
You also want to consider the type of soil in your garden before making a choice. Hard soils like dried clay or rocky ground would require heavy duty garden tillers.
But if the soil doesn’t need heavy tilling, fine loamy soil for instance, then you can settle for tillers with smaller engines that are not designed for heavy lifting. These can be either gas or electric powered depending on the size of the land.
Type of tiller
There are different types of tillers. Most of them are classified based on tiller tines and power source
Tiller tines – These rotating metal blades are the fundamental components of any tiller that dig into the soil to cultivate it.
There are two types: front and rear tines.
All the best front or rear tine tillers for breaking new ground can execute their designated tasks effectively. There is a catch though.
You’d want to get a rear tine tiller for heavy-duty tilling jobs involving deep digging and dense or hard surfaces. These tillers are equipped with powerful engines and tend to be heavy .
On the other hand, if the new ground is not so tough and you don’t want to dig deep, the lighter front tines would be just perfect for you.
Power – Depending on the model, garden tillers for cultivating new ground can be powered manually, electrically, or with gasoline.
Of course, your choice would depend on what is convenient for you. If you don’t have access to electricity and also want to avoid gasoline expenses, a manual tiller is what you want. But they require much effort and take time to complete a task.
As already stated, getting a gas or an electric-powered garden tiller might come down to the size of the land. But this decision might also hinge on the cheapest or most accessible source of power.
Tiller portability and storage
You shouldn’t ignore the size of the tiller relative to the available storage space. Without an adequate and good storage space, the useful service life of the machine might be compromised.
What you want is a place that is cool and dry with adequate ventilation. It would be a great idea if you can keep it under lock and key especially if you have kids.
Comfort and utility
Whether you are getting a rear or front tine tiller for breaking new ground, certain features need to be top-notch to enjoy working with the tiller.
For instance, the engine needs to run smoothly whether you are pulling or pushing it. The tires should at least be relatively big and smooth-rolling to complement the operation.
Also, consider opting for a model with height adjustability and handles with excellent grips and an anti-slip design.
Your budget and payment options
Ultimately, your final choice might likely come down to how much you are willing to invest in the tiller. But to ensure you get the most bang for your buck (and to avoid low-priced mediocre options), invest time comparing payment options so you don’t incur hidden extra costs.
For instance, if you are ordering online, the shipping costs might shoot the final price beyond your budget depending on where you live. You can explore products that come with free shipping options but make sure it is actually free with no extra costs cleverly hidden somewhere. So do take time to read the fine prints carefully.
FAQ: Tiller For Breaking New Ground
Q: Can Mantis Tiller Break New Ground?
When it comes to breaking new ground, Mantis tiller models are among the best and are very popular due to their dependability. Made by Honda, Mantis Tillers are offered at different price points depending on the size of the engine and accessories giving gardeners a wide range of options.
Q: Can A Tiller be Used to Break Ground?
But for breaking ground to be effective, the right tiller must be used. For instance, grounds that are hard, or packed with roots require heavy-duty tillers which are often gasoline-powered.
For softer grounds without rocks or roots to be cut, a good, relatively inexpensive electric-powered tiller can get the job done.
Q: Can Electric Tillers Break Ground?
Yes, they can.
Whether you are planning to break new ground or ground that was recently cultivated, electric tillers can provide a fast and efficient way to do it.
Generally, you want to use electric tillers for jobs that are not considered heavy-duty. Essentially, this means a small to medium-sized garden with soil is not too hard. For hard soils and big gardens, you would be better served with a gasoline-powered, heavy-duty tiller.
Q: Which is Better? Front or Rear Tiller?
There is no straightforward answer with several factors swinging it one way or the other.
Basically, rear tine tillers are more expensive. So someone with a small budget is better off getting a front tine tiller.
Generally, in terms of power and performance, rear tine tillers are ahead making them gardeners’ default choice when the land is big or very hard with roots, dense grass, and rocks to deal with.
Conversely, an urban dweller with a small backyard garden would find it inconvenient to use a rear tine tiller despite the impressive specs. The huge size is the sticking problem making them unwieldy and tricky to maneuver in small spaces.
For a situation like this, the front tine tiller is the preferred choice. They are an inexpensive solution for comparatively smaller gardens especially if the soil is not too hard to till.
Q: Will a Tiller Breakup Roots?
Tillers are designed to break up roots; up to a point though. The size of roots they can cut is closely linked to the type of tiller. For instance, for bigger roots, tillers with big engines, packing more horsepower would be needed to do a good job.
However, there is a limit to the size of roots even the biggest garden tillers can breakup. Forcing a tiller to cut huge roots beyond the tiller’s capacity might damage the tines.
So while cutting smaller roots of even tress can be done by big tillers, larger roots of plants like bushes and trees need to be avoided. The wise solution is to remove these roots first with other garden tools before using the tiller to breakup the smaller ones.
Q: Do I Need To Remove Grass Before Tilling?
You don’t have to remove grass before tilling because your tiller can do a great job of turning grass over as long as the tines are set to a maximum depth of 6 inches and not less than 4 inches.
But if you desire an effortless operation, dense grass and other items like branches, rocks, metals, and debris should be removed first. Most importantly, removing grass helps control the growth of weeds.
Q: How Deep Can a Rear Tine Tiller Dig?
This is largely dependent on the type and model. Many rear tine tillers can carve ditches at least 8 inches deep.
Q: How do You Dig Deeper with a Tiller?
You can dig deeper with a tiller by adjusting the depth bar or depth regulator. But digging really deep is to be avoided when breaking new ground especially on the first pass.
Below are vital tips to keep in when digging deeper with a tiller:
- For the first passes, set the depth regulator to dig not more than 2 inches
- On subsequent passes, adjust the depth bar so the tiller digs an inch deeper
- Allow the freshly tilled ground to set for one or a couple of days before trying for a deeper tilling
- If the garden soil is hard-packed, water it a few days before tilling to soften it. This makes the task easier.
Q: Is Tiller Good for Digging?
Many tillers are designed with enough power, weight, and tines to dig ditches even on hard ground. Depending on the model, several passes might be needed before reaching the desired depth.
Q: Is an Electric Tiller Better Than a Gas Tiller?
Both types of tillers have their Pros and cons and deciding which is better depends on their applications.
For instance, for tilling small spaces, electric tillers are the preferred choice. they are typically less expensive, come with low maintenance costs, and are easier to use.
But gas tillers trump electric tillers in terms of mobility, power, and capacity to cover larger areas and till hardpacked soil.