When should I use a Tiller? Do’s & Don’ts

Have you ever considered using a tiller for your garden soil until you realised that it can save you time and lots of back-breaking labour?

Often, tilling is the best way to accomplish your gardening goals. If it feels right to do it once or twice a year, you should put one on your list to purchase. There are many types of tillers on the market, and choosing the right one depends on your lawn conditions, budget, and gardening style.

Tillers come in various shapes and sizes to accommodate different-sized gardens and depths. The longer the tiller, the deeper it can dig. It is impossible to bury a metal tiller deep enough to produce adequate soil amendment, so only buy one that lists its tillage depth. Always check the shovel depth listed on the side of the tractor and machine it printed on its seat to determine if you need a long tiller.

This article will discuss some of the best tillers in the market. We will review some of the best tillers in terms of quality and value. We will also help you choose the best tillers for your needs.

Breaking new ground


It’s essential to begin a new field plot by tilling the area, as this will give your seeds a chance against what is already growing. When you do till up, use a wide tiller to get your crop into the ground in one pass.


If you have one, it is not the only method to use a tiller in a garden. While a tiller is an excellent tool in many situations, one can overuse it in the garden. When misused, it can ruin the character of the garden ecosystem.

Heavily compacted clay soil:

If you plan to till up heavy clay soil, consider a tiller with a deep tine layout. This will allow you to break through deep clumps of clay and improve the aeration of the soil.


Heavily compact clay soils are another excellent reason to use a tiller. It is essential to amend clay soils regularly with lots of organic matter.


Ensure the soil is dry without over-saturaturation before beginning any tilling operation. Attempt on a dry, unfurnished day and avoid bruising your tiller while tilling.

Before You Till

Before tilling, you will want to analyze the soil structure. You must understand the various factors that can affect your garden and what they can do. These can include the soil’s ability to retain water, nutrient content, and structure.

It is better to till than plow for wet soil for proper root penetration. You can tell if it is dry enough for tilling by touching a small amount of soil.

Tilling Don’ts

  • Keep the soil moist but not wet.
  • Water well the day before tilling.
  • Drain deep enough to plant and operate a new tiller in the field (driveways or streets pose a hazard).
  • Always wear eye protection when tilling.
  • Before you choose a garden site, contact your state’s Call Center to ensure that utility lines aren’t exposed before you dig. This will prevent you from accidentally running over a utility line and possibly being electrocuted.
  • Tilling too much during the year can cause compacted soil and poor gardening production.
  • It is advisable to keep sod out of the soil when temperatures rise. It may also become tangled, and you may need to remove it. As temperatures rise, grass may reappear.

Tilling Do’s

  • Before operating your tiller, read the manufacturer’s instructions first. All models are slightly different, so you must read the directions before using the tool.
  • Make sure you rotate at least half the soil in every successive pass so that the backside of the time is planted in fresh soil as well.
  • Ensure your tiller is sharp and free of any rust or other substance that would inhibit its operation. If it gets rusty or becomes coated with dirt and grass, you may need to sharpen it again before use.
  • You should create furrows which will help drain water from the soil and reduce compaction when planting seeds or plants later on.
  • It is vital to keep the tines clean with a brush or brushless tiller after every field is used so that the seeds can have maximum exposure to light and air. By doing this, your plants will grow optimally.
  • Remove any accumulated weeds after you finish tilling each field. Using a weed eater can be an essential tool.
  • If your tiller has a hitch, attach the bucket to it and use it to transport various agricultural tools and supplies from one field to another.

Types of Tillers:

1. Hand Tiller- For Lawn & Garden

Front Tine:

Tiller plants resemble the front tine a lot; that’s why they got this name. The front tines (metal pieces that turn and move into the soil) are functioning. Tiller blades are least powerful for smaller gardens and lawns and, therefore, the most affordable. Hand tilling requires more care than using a power tiller. But after turning the soil, it requires less power, resulting in better aeration and more manageable.

Rear Tine:

The rear tine tillers are more powerful than the front tine tillers. Back-tine tillers often have more tines than front-tine tillers. It is best for extensive gardens, small food plots, or very rocky or hard clay soils.

2. Rotary Tiller- For Food Plots

The rotary tiller is tillage for cultivating crops like corn, potatoes, and soybeans. The rotary tiller is smaller in size than most tillers, although the primary function of this kind of tillage tool is to cultivate the ground by moving it from side to side. This tool can be either manual or powered.

Although these two kinds of tillers are similar in design and work, they differ. A powered rotary tiller has an engine that runs during tilling of the soil. However, a manual rotary tiller requires no power and is more cost-efficient.

Important tips for using a tiller:

  1. Choose the tiller that is best suited to your gardening needs.
  2. Consider the types of soils you are going to till and ensure the tiller is suitable for those soils.
  3. Learn how to use the tiller properly.
  4. Spend time practicing on your property or at a friend’s house to understand better how the tiller works.
  5. Start small and make a few tilling turns in different yard areas.
  6. A powerful rotary tiller will work better on lighter soils and vice versa.
  7. Increase the rate of speed as you keep turning so that the soil is moved by gravity more than by pushing out against the tines of your tillers.
  8. Try to till on a dry day when the soil is dry, because if it is too wet, a falloff on your garden may occur as you turn over the soil with your tires and wheelbarrow.
  9. Before cultivating, add in topsoil or compost where vacant spaces are or need to be filled for best results with the rotary tillers, like in between plantings or around trees and shrubs planted.
  10. Always do all you can to minimize exposure to chemical products.


In this article, we’ve covered choosing the proper rotary tiller, the tilling to do and to start and construct the suitable tilling areas in your garden. All these tips make rotary tilling easier for you and enable you to maximize the benefits of tilling. I hope you like this article and that it will be a helpful resource for you. If you have any questions about tilling in your garden, feel free to ask.