Planning to buy a front tine tiller but don’t know where to start? You’re in the right place!
In this post, we’ve looked at a lot of front tine tillers and curated a list of the top 5 options for you to make your own decision, as well as a buying guide to help you narrow down what your gardening and tilling needs are.
How to Choose a Front Tine Tiller: A Buyer’s Guide
Manually preparing your soil for planting can be extremely strenuous. Choosing the right front tine tiller increases your efficiency and reduces the effort required to complete the job. For this reason, we’ve put together this post to help you find the best front tine tiller for you.
This article discusses how to choose a front tine tiller, including the best tiller brands, features to consider, and everything in between.
Front vs. Rear Tine Tillers – What’s the Difference?
Front tine tillers and rear tine tillers are often used interchangeably by new gardeners and farmers, primarily because they’re both used to prepare the soil for planting. It’s an honest mistake; they look relatively similar and operate more or less in the same manner!
However, seasoned gardeners and hobbyists understand just how different these tillers are and why some people prefer one instead of the other. Let’s compare the two to help you choose which model is most suitable for you.
Front Tine Tillers
Front tine tillers are often used for tilling closed, small spaces. Their tines are positioned in front of the machine’s wheels, right above the engine or motor.
Although they’re lighter and smaller than rear tillers, they’re slightly more difficult to push around. This is primarily because the tines guide the machine along with them as they cut into the soil. Luckily, their small size makes them relatively light weight and easy to maneuver around obstacles.
It’s important to note that front tine tillers can only till a few inches down into the soil. This, therefore, makes them unsuitable for untouched earth or soil that has never been cultivated. They’re also not ideal for farmers with a lot of ground to cover since they’re small.
The good news is that front tine tillers cost less than rear tine tillers, typically between $100 and $500. They also require less maintenance since they have smaller engines.
- Lightweight and compact
- Can till in tight spaces
- Relatively inexpensive
- Requires a bit of elbow grease to guide the tiller
- It doesn’t work as well with uncultivated soil
- Forward tilling only
Rear Tine Tillers
Compared to front tine tillers, the engines of rear tine tillers are positioned at the front and their tines, as you might have guessed, are situated at the rear.
Rear tine tillers are an optimal choice for large, open spaces. Unlike front tillers that use their tines to pull the device along, rear tillers receive their operating power from their engines and wheels. In other words, when the engine is running, you don’t need to hold the tiller back from racing off on its own.
Another benefit to rear tillers is the fact that they can move in two directions: forwards and back. Higher-end models can even move in the opposite direction of the machine’s wheels. This makes completing the job faster and easier than front tine tillers.
With that said, rear tine tillers aren’t necessarily easier to control than front tine tillers. Keep in mind that rear tillers are almost twice as large as front tine tillers and a lot heavier as well. Therefore, they’re extremely cumbersome to use without the help of the engine. For this reason, these tillers are only used to till large plots of land.
When it comes to power, rear tine tillers take the crown. They cut with great force, tilling just about every type of soil under the sun regardless of how tough or compact it is.
- Tills deeply and quickly breaks uncultivated soil
- Can cover vast and large areas
- Engine-powered wheels
- More expensive
- Difficult to maneuver, especially in tight spaces
- Requires more storage space due to large size
Why Use a Front Tine Tiller?
Tillers with front tines are versatile and can be used to till plots of all sizes. While it’s true that they’re best used for small to medium-sized gardens, they can still quickly cover large spaces with a bit of extra effort.
On the other hand, rear tine tillers are big and bulky, preventing them from fitting into tight spaces. As a result, they’re relatively tough to maneuver and aren’t always readily available for purchase. Let’s not forget the maintenance expenses, too!
If you’re looking for a tiller that digs deep and cuts easily through compacted earth and soil, rear tine tillers are an ideal choice.
On the other hand, if you’re a beginner, a hobbyist, or a farmer who doesn’t mind spending a few extra minutes tilling the soil, tillers with front tines are perfect for you.
Types of Front Tine Tillers
There are two types of front tine tillers: electric and gas-powered tillers. Here are the differences between the two:
Gas-Powered Front Tine Tillers
Gas-powered front tine tillers are easily the most popular type of tillers, primarily because they don’t have a power limit. They’re heavy-duty, reliable, and come in various dimensions of plowing width and depth. They’re cheaper, too, giving you more power for less money.
With that said, gas-powered front tillers don’t come without their disadvantages.
For one, they’re pretty tricky to maintain. The engine should regularly be cleaned from ground residues, dirt, mud, etc., to keep them running optimally. Neglecting maintenance may lead to serious breakdowns and expensive repair costs.
They also produce emissions through their exhaust pipes, making them dangerous to use near and inside closed areas like greenhouses, as well as more environmentally damaging.
Gas-powered front tillers require constant gas and oil changes. If you’re using the tiller only once or twice a month, this wouldn’t be such an issue. But if you’re a frequent tiller, the expenses pile up.
To top it off, they’re loud. Tillers are generally noisy, but gas-powered front tillers take noise to a whole new level, and those with neighbors will particularly need to be careful. For this reason, gas-powered tillers, while still popular, aren’t often a gardener or a homeowner’s first choice.
Electric Front Tine Tillers
In the age of electric vehicles and machinery, electric tillers are quickly rising in popularity. They’re best suited for individuals who dislike the smell of oil and gas and generally prefer easy-to-maintain units.
Unlike gas-powered front tillers, electric front tillers are much less noisy as well as environmentally friendly. They don’t emit fumes or emissions, making them suitable for greenhouse use.
More importantly, electric tillers don’t require refueling of gas and oils. As long as you’re near a power output, electric tillers have near-unlimited runtime.
There are really only two disadvantages of electric front tine tillers — their lack of power and their dependence on power supplies. They’re best suited for lightweight tilling rather than powerful and extensive digging. Battery-operated electric tillers only run for a certain amount of time before needing to be recharged, and corded electric tillers can only operate a certain distance from a wall outlet or extension cable.
Features to Consider When Buying a Front Tine Tiller
To ensure you’re buying the right front tine tiller that suits your needs, you should consider the following factors:
The blades responsible for tilling the soil are called tines. Front tine tillers usually come with four tines, but it isn’t rare to find them with two or six individual tines. The more tines a tiller has, the faster its digging efficiency.
On top of that, some front tine tillers have three to four cutting depth settings, allowing you to adjust the tines for doing a variety of applications. For your convenience, search for a four-tine tiller with a width setting of at least three, unless you want a particularly narrow front tine tiller.
Front tine tillers come with two engine options: diesel engines (with internal combustion units) and electric motors.
Diesel engines operate with either two-cycle or four-cycle engines. Two-cycle engines are more powerful but noisy and less fuel-efficient. They also tend to emit more fumes.
Four-cycle engines, on the other hand, produce less sound and are a lot more eco-friendly. Likewise, they handle fuel better than two-cycle engines.
If you’re planning to buy a diesel-powered tiller engine, always go with one that’s equipped with four-cycle engines. The engine’s power is usually listed in horsepower (HP).
Conversely, electric motors express their power in amps or voltage. Corded tillers are usually rated between 2.5 and 14 amps, while cordless tillers have power ratings of 20 or 40 volts. As a general rule, the higher the power, the higher the yield and consumption.
Front tine tillers can come equipped with a range of wheel sizes, although some come without any wheels at all. Typically, larger wheels allow you to push through loose soil with little effort.
We would recommend buying a tiller that has wheels, as they will be more stable when gardening. Moreover, they allow you to push the tiller along your driveways and sidewalk when you’re finished using them.
Some front tillers come with adjustable drag bars. These bars usually run on the rear of the tiller, slowing it down so the tines can dig the soil more thoroughly.
Depending on the job required, you can adjust the depth of the drag bars by pushing them into the soil. This then guarantees consistent and even depth throughout your garden.
Front tine tillers can weigh as low as 20 pounds, and as high as 350 pounds. Naturally, machines with more tilling width, tilling depth, and horsepower are heavier.
Keep in mind that front tine tillers are propelled by their tines rather than their wheels. This makes them slightly more challenging to move around. While they can do work faster, they’re difficult to maneuver if you’re not strong enough.
Unless you’re buying electric rear tine tillers, try to stick with tillers that weigh no more than 200 pounds.
Front tine tiller prices vary depending on the machine size and power. Low horsepower tillers usually cost between $80 to $150. Larger and more powerful tillers can easily pass the $500 mark. High-quality front tine tillers cost an average of $350 to $450.
Best Front Tine Tiller Brands
There are hundreds of tiller brands in the market, but only a fraction of them are worth mentioning. Some of the best front tine tiller brands include the following:
Launched in 1960 in Cumberland, Wisconsin, Earthquake is one of the most well-respected brands of purpose-built power equipment for your home and garden. They’re known for their quality tillers, cultivators, and drills, all of which have received multiple positive reviews and awards.
The Sun Joe brand is relatively new, founded only in 2004. Despite that, it has quickly risen the ranks due to its excellent home, yard, and garden products.
It’s worth noting that the company’s official name is actually Snow Joe, but the manufacturers labeled their summer garden tool products Sun Joe. Tillers and other garden equipment are all under the Sun Joe brand.
Mantis products are a great addition to anyone’s garden. Although tillers are their flagship product, both gas-powered and electric, Mantis also specializes in composters, blowers, and trimmers.
They’ve been around for over 40 years, so they know their stuff, and their original Mantis tiller was incredibly innovative for its time and completely changed the gardening market, helping direct it to where it is today.
Reviews Of The Top 5 Front-Tine Tillers
#1. Sun Joe TJ604E 16-Inch 13.5 AMP Electric Garden Tiller/Cultivator
- Questions, Text 563563 to chat directly with a Sun Joe expert
- POWERFUL: 13. 5-Amp motor cultivates up to 16 in. Wide x 8 in. Deep
- DURABLE: 6 Steel angled tines for maximum durability and performance
The Sun Joe TJ604E 16-Inch 13.5 AMP Electric Garden Tiller/Cultivator comes in number 1 on our list of front tine tillers for your lawn or garden. Although Sun Joe is a relative newcomer to the outdoor and lawn tools market, they make great, top of the line products. The TJ604E boasts a powerful engine with a 13.5 amp motor that really grinds up all soil in its path, as well as any unwanted weeds and root systems from trees and vegetation.
The high powered motor helps the tines spin at a rapid 370 RPM. There are 6 tines on the TJ604E, each incredibly durable and made from high quality steel, with the teeth angled out to better agitate and till the ground. The 6 tines create a cultivation path that is 16 inches wide, as well as up to 8 inches deep, meaning it will take less time and energy than comparable models to till a large garden.
This model is stress free and easy and comfortable to use. It starts up easily and reliably every time with the simple push of a button, and there is a safety switch in the handle meaning you have complete control over the machine, and you can start or stop it instantly whenever you need to. It also has a comfortable grip handle that collapses in on itself, making for easy and compact storage in your garden shed or garage. Additionally, the rear wheels are adjustable to 3 positions and heights, meaning it can be used over uneven and rough terrain, as well as easily alternated with family and friends.
#2. Mantis 7940 4-Cycle Gas Powered Cultivator
- Comes with a handy carrying handle
- Entire unit weighs Only 24-pounds
- Handle Bars fold down for easy storage
The Mantis 7940 4-Cycle Gas Powered Cultivator is the highest rated gas powered tiller on this list. It is a very high powered tiller, and is strong enough to take on the toughest jobs you could have. The entire unit only weighs 24 pounds, but it comes with a Honda, 4-cycle 25cc engine that helps to spin the tines twice as fast as comparable models, with tine speeds of up to 240 RPM.
The tiller is easily controlled from the handlebars via a finger controlled throttle, which gives the user infinite speed control and makes operation very easy. The tillage path is 9 inches wide, allowing you to get into narrow nooks in the garden or to create narrow rows for vegetation. Additionally, the tines of the Mantis 7940 are unique and curvy in order to till down up to 10 inches deep, meaning you can aerate and cultivate not only the topsoil layer but also the deep soil underneath, as well as remove any deep roots and/or weeds that you don’t want. If you only want to work the topsoil, simply turn the tines around for shallow cultivation only 2 to 3 inches deep.
In addition to its power and heavy duty tilling capabilities, the 7940 is also very comfortable and simple to use. It has foldable handles to make itself compact and storage easy, as well as a carrying handle for easy and lightweight transportation. It has a kickstand to keep it upright when not in use as well as easy fueling, and comes standard with a 2 year limited warranty.
#3. Earthquake 20015 Versa Front Tine Tiller and Cultivator
- VERSATILE - Tool-less removal of outer tines and shields quickly turns Versa from a tiller into a cultivator
- EASY-TO-USE - Easy maneuverability - Light enough to turn on a dime with effortless control
- STABILITY - Lowest center of gravity available in any front tine tiller for ground-hugging stability
The next front tine tiller on our list is the Earthquake 20015 Versa Front Tine Tiller and Cultivator. This is a very versatile model because it can be used both as a tiller and a cultivator. All you have to do is remove the outer tines and shields – neither requires tools – and you can change from a heavy deep soil tiller to a lighter cultivator. This means you can do both jobs in your garden with only one tool, saving you time and money.
The Versa is straightforward and easy to use. It is highly maneuverable because it is very light, meaning it can turn in a very tight radius and fit into compact rows of vegetation or plants. It also has the lowest center of gravity available in any front tine tiller, which means it is very stable and you don’t have to worry about it tipping or getting away from you. Additionally, it has a smooth pull recoil for a quick and easy start.
The 99cc engine puts out 3.32 foot-lbs of torque, and the tillage path the Versa can cultivate is anywhere from 11 inches to 21 inches wide, as well as 11 inches deep. Lastly, it has an insanely long 5 year warranty, showing you how much faith Earthquake has in their products.
#4. Earthwise TC70125 12.5-Amp 16-Inch Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator
- Earthwise tiller with a powerful 12.5-Amp electric motor with superb run time and service life
- Corded electric tiller ideal for small to medium-sized gardens
- 6 tine cultivator long handle that can cultivate and till up to 16" wide and 8" deep
The Earthwise TC70125 12.5-Amp 16-Inch Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator is a great option for those with small to medium sized gardens. It houses a small yet powerful 12.5 amp motor that provides enough power for the tines to pulverize both the topsoil as well as the layer of soil underneath. It also has a very long runtime and service life, due to it being a corded electric tiller. As long as you have electricity, it will start very quickly and easily, and run without problems until you’re done with it.
The Earthwise TC70125 has 4 curved, durable steel tines that make tilling and cultivating a breeze. This model can till a path up to 16 inches wide as well as up to 8 inches deep, which is more than enough for most home garden needs. It is lightweight and easy to maneuver, so it simple to store and transport, and it can fit into tight spaces in your garden if needed. With a single lever switch, it can go from being a tiller to a cultivate, and then back again. The handle is made specifically to be ergonomic, meaning you can use it for longer than comparable models without getting fatigued or losing your grip, both of which could be hazardous.
#5. Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SFTT142 Front Tine Tiller
- Manual recoil easy start fuel delivery system
- Adjustable 11", 16" & 21" tilling width
- 11" Tine diameter/tilling depth
The final front tine tiller on our list is the Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SFTT142 Front Tine Tiller. This is a really strong machine that features versatility and power. It has a large 150cc engine that can handle the toughest garden work, such as hard clay or breaking new ground, as well as tackling weeds or tree roots deep under the surface. It also has a large tilling path, as it has a tilling width of 11, 16, or even 21 inches, as well as a tilling depth of 11 inches.
The 11 inch curved, sharpened, forward rotating tines work through any soil they meet, and they’re also self sharpening meaning they always stay like new, even after many uses. The Southland Outdoor also features a gear drive system that has a poly-v belt system that again helps prolong its working life and cultivating abilities. Additionally, it has a swinging tail attached to a drag stake, meaning you can easily adjust it from tilling mode to get ready for transport. Its manual recoil start is easy and requires less strength than other models, making it less hazardous to start.
The Best Front Tine Tiller For Your Garden – In Summary
This post has everything you need to know when searching for and purchasing a front tine tiller, and we hope you were able to find a tiller suitable for your home or garden.
If you’re still having some trouble deciding, if it’s an electric tiller you are after you can’t get any better than the Sun Joe TJ604E, which is also just the best overall front tine tiller available in general. On the other hand, if you specifically want a gas-powered tiller, the Mantis 7940 is the best you will find.