Rear tine tillers are a great help and a necessity in almost any lawn or garden. If you are here, you are likely looking for a good rear tine tiller to use.
We have researched and come up with a list of the best rear tine tillers to use for this year, as well as a buyer’s guide to help you choose which is the best rear tine tiller for your specific lawn or garden.
How to Choose a Rear Tine Tiller: A Buyer’s Guide
When it comes to tilling large plots of land, rear tine tillers are the ideal choice. They’re powerful, versatile, convenient, and will help save you hours of tilling time so you can focus more on the fun side of gardening, like vegetable or plant cultivation.
This article discusses the difference between front and rear tine tillers, including how to choose a rear tine tiller that suits your gardening needs. Let’s dive right in!
Rear vs. Front Tine Tillers
When it comes to tilling soil, you’ll be faced with two options: front tine tillers and rear tine tillers. While they both turn and aerate soil in preparation for planting, one is more suitable for certain jobs than the other. Let’s take a look at the difference.
Front Tine Tillers
Front tine tillers are best used for soil aeration, composting, and weeding. While not as powerful or as large as rear tine tillers, they’re popular among beginners, DIY gardeners, and hobbyists because they’re lightweight and easy to use. They’re also not as expensive as rear tine tillers, with some models costing as low as $50.
It’s important to note that front tine tillers don’t do well with new and uncultivated ground. This is primarily for two reasons. One, they don’t have enough power to dig through particularly compact soil. Two, their design makes it increasingly difficult to operate on hard and uneven surfaces because they jerk forward whenever they pass over hard obstacles.
Front tine tillers have the capacity to dig anywhere from 4 to 8 inches of soil underground. Their tilling width is also adjustable, and typically between 12 and 16 inches. For this reason, front tine tillers perform well in small yards or gardens with multiple tight spaces and obstacles.
You might find it surprising to hear that front tine tillers require more effort to maneuver than rear tine tillers, especially since they’re smaller and lighter. This is where the biggest difference between the two tillers comes into play: operation.
Front tine tillers depend on their tines to move the device along. To prevent them from racing off ahead or veering into the wrong direction, you’ll have to hold them in place. This becomes quite tiring after a while.
- Ideal for small-to-medium-sized gardens (up to 2500 square feet)
- Costs less than rear-tine tillers of the same power and size
- Small and lightweight
- Doesn’t require much maintenance
- Doesn’t cover a lot of ground
- Best used on soft, cultivated soil
- Only tills in a forward direction
Rear Tine Tillers
Rear tine tillers work best for large-scale tilling jobs. This is why they’re the preferred choice of professionals and individuals with a lot of ground to cover.
As you might have guessed, rear tine tillers have tines located in the rear. Unlike front tine tillers, rear tine tillers have self-propelling wheels that rotate independently, making operation relatively effortless despite their large and bulky size.
Rear tine tillers allow users to till between 8 to 10 inches in depth and 20 to 30 inches in width. Hard, uncultivated ground is no match for rear tine tillers; they’re powerful enough to cut through even the toughest of soils!
Apart from regular tiling jobs, they can also be used for cultivating, composting, weeding, and removing dead plants.
Thanks to their engine-powered wheels, rear tine tillers have the capacity to rotate in both forward and counter-rotating directions. They also be operated single-handedly, allowing you to cover more ground with the least effort and time possible.
With that said, rear tine tillers aren’t entirely hands-free. Since they’re large and heavy, they can sometimes be quite tricky to control. Moreover, they don’t work well tight spaces.
Regardless, the advantages of rear end tillers far outweigh the disadvantages. If you’re serious about gardening work and have a lot of ground to cover, rear tine tillers are a no-brainer.
- Tills in multiple directions
- Cuts through soil with great force
- Quickly covers large spaces
- Takes less effort to control
- Higher than average cost
- Large and cumbersome
- Unsuitable for small spaces
Why Use a Rear Tine Tiller?
Rear tine tillers are perfect for open gardens, particularly if there is rocky soil or large roots involved. They’re powerful and heavy-duty, capable of cutting through even the toughest kind of soil with relative ease.
Compared to front tine tillers, rear tillers are easier to maneuver since you don’t have to constantly hold the tiller back. Moreover, they have the capacity to till in any direction, which allows quicker soil manipulation.
Given the additional features of rear tine tillers and the fact that they’re more powerful and more robust than front tine tillers, it’s no surprise that they’re more expensive. Whereas front tine tillers cost between $200 to $500, rear tine tillers can cost double or even triple that — usually between $800 to $2000.
Even so, their efficiency, versatility, and convenience more than compensate for their high cost.
Rear tine tillers are premium gardening equipment for serious gardeners. If you only require light-to-moderate tilling, it’s best to go for front tine tillers. Otherwise, absolutely go for rear tine tillers!
Types of Rear Tine Tillers
There are various types of rear tine tillers, depending on their operation. The most popular three are as follows:
Forward-Rotating Tine Tillers
Also known as standard-rotating tine tillers, forward-rotating tine tillers (FRTs) have forward-rotating tines that turn in the same direction as the wheels. They’re best suited for tilling ground that’s less than 5 inches in depth because of their less aggressive digging action.
Counter-Rotating Tine Tillers
Counter-rotating tine tillers (CRTs) have a counter-clockwise rotation, and so they till in the opposite direction of the wheels. For this reason, they’re often dubbed as reverse-rotating tine tillers.
Combined with the wheels’ frontward pull, CRTs allow users to till compact soil with relative ease. This makes them ideal for breaking or loosening tough soil and ground and hard-packed clay. Compared to FRTs, CRTs create cleaner and deeper seedbeds.
Dual-Rotating Tine Tillers
Dual-rotating tine tillers (DRTs) are a combination of forward-rotating and counter-rotating tine tillers, making them the best of both worlds.
Since they can work in both reverse and forward motions, DRTs offer high-end performance and flexibility.
Although they’re typically the most expensive, they’re also the most popular. Their ability to switch between both forward and counter-rotating directions without much effort makes them one of the most sought-after tillers on the market today.
Factors and Features to Consider When Buying Rear Tine Tillers
To guarantee you’re buying the right rear tine tiller for your gardening needs, consider the following factors and features:
Rear tine engines come in two varieties: two-stroke and four-stroke engines.
Two-stroke engines, also known as two-cycle engines, are powerful and budget-friendly.
Theoretically, two-stroke engines produce double the power of four-stroke engines in a single revolution. However, they’re noisy and less fuel-efficient. On top of that, they emit dangerous fumes and smoke that make them unusable in closed areas like greenhouses.
Four-stroke engines, on the other hand, are valued for their relatively noiseless operation and thermal and volumetric efficiency. While usually not as powerful as two-stroke engines, they’re durable and eco-friendly.
If you can, search for rear tine tillers that are equipped with four-stroke engines. They’re safer for the environment and more fuel-efficient, thus saving you a lot of money in the long run.
Apart from the engine type, also consider the engine’s overall size. Usually, size is measured in cubic centimeters (cc). The general rule of thumb is the higher the value, the more powerful the engine. For medium to large gardens, the engine size should be at least 165cc to 200cc.
If you’re buying a gas-powered rear tine tiller, it’s worth checking its fuel capacity. Most rear tine tillers have a fuel capacity of about 4.5 to 5 quarts, which holds around 1 to 2 gallons of gas. The higher the fuel capacity, the higher the runtime.
Alternatively, consider buying electric or battery-powered tillers. Electric rear tine tillers have an almost unlimited source of power and would run as long as they’re plugged into a power source. Likewise, they’re eco-friendly, silent, and don’t require constant gas and oil changes.
The counterweight is a safety feature that prevents the machine from tilting, jerking, or tipping over as you till. This is particularly important when working on rough, uneven terrain as it keeps the tiller stabilized.
If your tiller of choice isn’t equipped with a counterweight, you can actually buy it separately and attach it to your tiller. However, it’s best to buy a rear tine tiller with this feature straight out of the box so you don’t have to spend more than you have to.
A rear tine tiller’s transmission is responsible for transmitting power from the engine to the axle. It’s what keeps your tiller running smoothly and assists with maneuverability. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why the durability of the tiller’s transmission system is extremely important.
As much as possible, buy a tiller with a sealed chain gear transmission system or a cast-iron transmission that features a bronze gear drive.
The drag bar is responsible for tilling soil in a consistent manner. It usually goes into the ground behind the tiller, allowing the machine to slow down and till the soil more thoroughly.
Most drag bars are adjustable, so it’s worth checking if the model in question has enough depth so you can adjust it accordingly while working.
Fixed or Adjustable Handle
Rear tine tillers typically come with two handlebar options: fixed and adjustable. Adjustable handlebars not only give you the ability to adjust the handle to match your height but also allows you to store your machine in tight, small spaces. However, this convenience often comes with a high price tag.
Fixed handlebars, while not as versatile, aren’t necessarily a big disadvantage to some. Closely consider your needs and select the handlebar design that you’re more comfortable with.
Depth and Width
Rear tine tillers usually have a tilling depth ranging between 6 to 10 inches and a tilling width ranging from 18 to 33 inches.
While it’s tempting to buy a tiller with the highest depth and width capacity, you must first consider your specific needs.
Tillers with high depth and width measurements are often difficult to use and manage. Ultimately, it’s best to buy a machine that balances both efficiency and functionality.
Search for rear tine tillers with large, heavy-duty tires with sizable treads so you can easily move through muddy or cultivated soil and sod.
Large wheels also allow you to drag the machine along your sidewalk or driveway with less effort when you finish the job.
The Top 5 Rear Tine Tillers
#1. YARDMAX YT4565 Dual Rotating Rear Tine Tiller
- 18" wide rear tine design with 7 depth adjustments and a 6.5" working depth to cover more ground quickly
- Single hand operation allows user to stand and steer from either side of the tiller
- 13" self-sharpening tines easily cultivate any soil type
The YARDMAX YT4565 Dual Rotating Rear Tine Tiller is the number 1 rated rear tine tiller on our list. It is great for any yard or lawn needs, for both a single homeowner and a professional contractor. The engine is Briggs & Stratton, and provides 9.5 foot-lbs of torque and rotates the tines at 190 RPM. You can also use this self propelled tiller in either forward and reverse gear, depending on your needs. It is also able to be operated by a single hand on the handlebar, meaning you can stand on either side of the tiller, as well as use your other hand to move items out of the way.
The Yardmax YT4565 has 10 tiller and 2 hammer tines, and they are all 13 inches and self sharpening, so they will last for the lifetime of your garden. These tines can be rotated in two different ways as well – you can use the forward rotation setting for easy ground cultivation and the counter rotation for deep soil tilling.
The tiller cultivates a path that is up to 18 inches wide, and it has 7 depth adjustments so it can till up to 6.5 inches deep. This allows you to cover more ground more quickly and to till both the topsoil as well as the deep soil beneath. Lastly, it is very safe and has both an adjustable side shield as well as a serrated rear shield for optimal protection.
#2. EARTHQUAKE 31285 Pioneer Dual-Direction Rear Tiller
- DUAL DIRECTION- Operate in CRT mode (counter rotating tines) to bust sod and till tough soils, then shift to SRT (standard rotating tines) to create a smooth seed bed for planting.
- FRUSTRATION FREE SHIFTING- Pioneer removes the guesswork from getting in gear with a shift positioning system that other dual direction tillers envy. No fuss, no cuss, no back and forth… easily find...
- COMPACT POWER- Designed for performance, the Pioneer uses a lighter and quieter 99cc Viper engine that is right-sized for the job reducing the weight and offering a smoother, less noisy and more...
The EARTHQUAKE 31285 Pioneer Dual-Direction Rear Tiller is a well built and easy to use rear tine tiller for your lawn or garden. The body of the engine is made to be wide and lower to the ground, providing a balanced and stable machine. It is also quieter and has a more efficient transmission than comparable models. The Pioneer also has airless wheels which never go flat and have great traction even in loose soil. The dual grip handlebars mean easy maneuverability and one handed operation if you need to.
Shifting between forward and reverse is never easier than it is with this tiller. Instead of worrying about manually shifting between the two gears, all you need to do is pull a handle to go into reverse, and release it when you are ready to go forward again. It also has a simple shifting plate that takes all of the guesswork and frustration out of shifting between tilling modes.
This model tiller is able to generate 3.7 foot pounds of torque and can spin the hardened sheet metal tines at up to 200 RPM. It’s dual rotational as well, meaning you can till with forward rotating tines for simple cultivation, or use the counter rotation setting if you need to till deeper into the soil.
#3. CHAMPION 100380 19-Inch Dual Rotating Rear Tine Tiller with Self-Propelled Agricultural Tires
- Versatile - with a 19-inch tilling width and an 8-inch tilling depth, this Tiller features dual-rotation tilling, allowing a quick switch from forward to reverse for more flexibility in the garden
- Powerful - the cast iron, gear-driven transmission is housed in a heavy-duty cast-iron case and powered by a 212cc engine
- Efficient - 13-inch self-propelled agricultural tires power easily over uneven terrain, allowing you to accomplish more in less time
Next on our list is the CHAMPION 100380 19-Inch Dual Rotating Rear Tine Tiller. This tiller is the largest model on this list – it has a tillage path that is 19 inches wide and up to 8 inches deep, meaning you can till your large garden or your entire yard in a shorter amount of time. It is also very versatile and adjustable to suit to your lawn’s specific needs. It has both forward rotation tilling and counter rotation tilling, meaning it is up to any task.
The tines on the Champion 100380 are 13.8 inches wide and made of hardened steel, meaning this tiller was designed to last a very long time and to perform at a high level for its entire lifespan. The tines employ a bidirectional shredding design, so even the toughest clay soil or large tree roots and weeds are not a problem to till through. It also has a very powerful 212cc engine that boasts a high RPM and high torque to ensure that the soil is completely aerated and ready for planting.
Additionally, it has large 13 inch tires that are self propelled, meaning that even on tough terrain you won’t have to push or pull the tiller, but rather simply guide it as it powers through itself. An easily adjustable depth gauge also runs directly behind the tiller, giving you a view of your exact tilling depth at all times.
#4. Craftsman CMXGVAM1144037 208cc 16-Inch Gas-Powered Rear Counter-Rotating Tine Tiller
The Craftsman CMXGVAM1144037 208cc 16-Inch Gas-Powered Rear Counter-Rotating Tine Tiller is Craftsman’s best rated rear tine tiller, which means high quality and craftsmanship. It has a high powered 208cc engine equipped with a recoil start and chain drive, so it is strong and durable enough to pulverize even hard soil or clay, as well as rip through unwanted weeds and pull out root systems.
The tines on the Craftsman are 10 inches wide and made of steel. They are counter rotating, meaning they are highly effective at breaking new ground more easily, as well as digging deeper into the soil. This model has a 16 inch wide path, and can till up to 6 inches deep. These tines and wide path make this tiller perfect for any garden or lawn need, like large planting areas or cultivating vegetation for end of the season work.
It has a large rear tine shield, which means it is incredibly safe and able to protect you during tilling from flying debris as well as the tines themselves. It has 11 inch X 4 inch pneumatic tires with great traction for easy maneuvering around, even in loose soil, and it is comfortable and simple to push with its Loop and Bail handle. Additionally, it comes with a 2 year limited warranty and is also available in a 14 inch model.
#5. Husqvarna TR317D 17 in. 208cc Rear-Tine Tiller
- Dual-rotating rear tines offer 6.5-inch tilling depth
- Forward and reverse gears make unit maneuverable
- Husqvarna engine delivers power and dependability
The final option on our list of rear tine tillers for your lawn and garden is the Husqvarna TR317D 17 in. 208cc Rear-Tine Tiller. This tiller is the most expensive, but also the highest quality product on our list. The 208cc, Husqvarna engine is very powerful and helps the tines cut through any and all soil types and underground debris, while the sealed transmission ensures that the engine will never corrode and be durable for a very long time.
The rear tines on the Husqvarna TR317D have a cultivation width of 17 inches and a tilling depth of up to 6.5 inches, which makes it a perfect tiller for a large garden or even a commercial sized lawn. The tines are also variable in their rotation, so they can be forward rotating when cultivation is needed and counter rotating when tilling is necessary.
Additionally, it has both forward and reverse gears, as well as high traction tire treads and an easy push handle, to make the whole tiller highly maneuverable for its size. If you have any problems or issues when using your tiller, Husqvarna stands by their products with a 3 year limited warranty, which is longer than comparable models.
In Conclusion – Which Rear Tine Tiller is Best For You?
That is all of the information you should know when looking for a rear tine tiller; the next step is buying one and getting to work in your garden!
If you still are on the fence about exactly which rear tine tiller would be best for you, we would highly recommend the YARDMAX YT4565 Rear Tine Tiller. It delivers a great performance at a great value and with lots of support from Yardmax.
We hope this post was able to answer any questions you might have had – and maybe some you didn’t know you had! – and if you would like to ask us anything feel free to contact us below!