Best Small Rototiller and Cultivators For Small Gardens

Last Updated on June 19, 2021 by Grow with Bovees

One of the best and simplest things you can do to improve the quality of your gardening is to till the soil. The tilling action helps remove weeds, decompact the earth and mix in nutrients. Loose soil makes for a bountiful garden.

However, it’s physically backbreaking work if all you have is a shovel and a rake.

Rototillers are designed to make the process of tilling the soil as effortless as possible. That being said, there are a lot of tillers out there, some designed for soil blending, others for digging new plots, and everything in between. There is also the question as to whether an electric garden tiller would suit your needs best or one of the gas models.

For this reason, The Bovees Research Team have done the tedious bit  for you, comparing features and analyzing tiller reviews to put together a list of the best garden tillers that money can buy.

In A Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks At A Glance;

Preview
Best Overall
Mantis 7940 4-Cycle Gas Powered Cultivator, red
Best Budget
Earthwise TC70025 7.5-Inch 2.5-Amp Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator, Grey
Best Lightweight
BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Tiller (LGC120)
Title
Mantis 7940
Earthwise TC70025
Black&Decker 20V LGC 120
Best Overall
Preview
Mantis 7940 4-Cycle Gas Powered Cultivator, red
Title
Mantis 7940
Best Budget
Preview
Earthwise TC70025 7.5-Inch 2.5-Amp Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator, Grey
Title
Earthwise TC70025
Best Lightweight
Preview
BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Tiller (LGC120)
Title
Black&Decker 20V LGC 120

The Best Small Garden Tiller Reviews (Top Picks)

Let’s start by taking a look at some of our small rototiller top picks.

Mantis 7940 4-Cycle Gas Powered Cultivator

The Mantis 7940 is a durable, compact, and lightweight mini tiller suitable for any size garden. We consider this small rototiller one of our top contenders due to its innovative design and functionality. It weighs 24 pounds (10.89 kg) and has a built-in handle for efficient transportation when not in use.

Given its compact size, the Mantis 7940 tiller allows you to work around tight spaces where larger rototillers can’t reach and in flower beds that may have shrubs close by that you wish to keep. This feature is also ideal if you need to till or weed near walls and fences.

Mantis 7940 4-Cycle Gas Powered Cultivator, red

Its curved tines allow you to till soil up to 10 inches (25.4 cm) deep and it also reaches a top speed of 240 rpm. Plus, when you run its 4-cycle Honda engine, it doesn’t make excessive noise that other small gas powered 2 cycle garden tillers make.

This mini tiller allows you to weed around your plants by shifting the position of the tines. The Mantis 7490 rototiller also gives you complete control over its speed through its finger-controlled throttle technology.

Pros:

  • Weighs only 24 pounds — easy on your back
  • Easy to assemble — reduces potential stress!
  • Tine speed reaches 240 rpm
  • 2-year limited warranty — for peace of mind
  • 9-inch width allows you to work near hard-to-reach spaces
  • Comfortable handle grips
  • 4-cycle Honda engine that spins its tines faster than other small garden tillers
  • It’s capable of breaking down thick compacted soil, sod, and clay
  • Its handlebars have a throttle feature with excellent speed control
  • It has a relatively quiet engine — less chance of upsetting the neighbors

Cons:

  • Some parts might become loose, but this is easily fixed
  • You might have to restart the unit if thick roots or grass disrupt its cycle
  • You might have trouble starting the device
  • Tines might crack or bend over time

Sun Joe TJ604E 16-Inch 13.5 AMP Electric Garden Tiller

Another contender we recommend for your gardening needs is the Sun Joe TJ604E, big brother to the Sun Joe TJ603E.

The Sun Joe uses a powerful 13.5-amp motor to cultivate yards and garden spaces up to 16 inches wide and earth eight inches deep within seconds.

It’s easy to assemble and runs on electric energy so you don’t have to purchase fuel like one does with gas powered tillers, making it ideal for people who want a small rototiller that matches their budget.

Sun Joe TJ604E 16-Inch 13.5 AMP Electric Garden Tiller/Cultivator,Black

The Sun Joe TJ604E has six steel tines angled for tilling deep soil. Due to its material, it should remain durable for a long time. It typically uses more horsepower than rototillers with two or four tines.

We also enjoy this model for its simple storage properties. Its collapsible handles allow you to save space and store it in your shed, garage, or house before or after using it. Its adjustable height allows you to accommodate your height.

Pros:

  • Maximum cultivating depth: 8 inches (20.32 cm)
  • Maximum cultivating width: 16 inches (40.64 cm)
  • Push button start — ease of use for those with arthritis
  • Safety switch — helps prevent injury
  • 13.5-amp motor runs at 370 rpm
  • Encourages easy assembly that doesn’t require spark plugs
  • It has six steel angled tines to ensure excellent durability
  • 3-position wheel adjustment allows you to tweak its height for any location
  • Excellent for tilling dry or grass-free soil
  • 2-year warranty

Cons:

  • It’s not suitable for breaking new ground or digging up spots with minimal moisture
  • Removing thick grass might be challenging for you
  • You might have issues adjusting it
  • It might occasionally leak oil
  • Unsuitable for tilling rocky material

Earthwise TC70025 7.5-Inch 2.5 Amp Corded Electric Mini Tiller Cultivator

The Earthwise TC70025 electric tiller cultivator is another mini tiller we consider to be one of our top picks. This corded electric tiller cultivator is an ideal eco-friendly option compared to a gas powered tiller. As long as you have a long enough extension cord and a functioning outlet, you can operate this machine uninterrupted, unlike gas rototillers that require fuel.

Earthwise TC70025 7.5-Inch 2.5-Amp Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator, Grey

This model is ideal for small to medium-sized gardens and yards. It can dig up to 7.5 inches (19.05 cm) wide and six inches deep.

Its ergonomic grip makes it essential if you want a rototiller that you can operate with one hand. It weighs approximately 11 pounds (4.99 kg), making it an excellent option for users who don’t want to use heavier equipment.

Pros:

  • The 2.5-amp motor gives you as much power as a gas engine
  • Cultivating depth: six inches
  • Cultivating width: 7.5 inches (19.05 cm)
  • It doesn’t require gas to function — eco-friendly! And saves on fuel
  • It weighs roughly 11 pounds (4.99 kg)
  • It runs at 280 rpm
  • Works well with loose soil
  • Setup typically takes about 10 minutes

Cons:

  • You need to clear its steel tines consistently to prevent jams
  • It might be more suitable for smaller garden spaces
  • Its trigger lock might not stay in place
  • Not suitable for breaking new ground or for very dry or clay soil
  • Mounting bracket’s holes might not align when adding screws

Black&Decker 20V MAX Tiller (LGC120)

The Black&Decker cordless electric tiller is another versatile mini tiller we consider as one of our small rototiller top picks. It has two small counter-oscillating tines best suited for preventing weed tangling and working between different rows of plants, which is excellent for removing weeds from your small rototiller.

BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Tiller (LGC120)

The Black&Decker is an ideal option if you want a lightweight mini tiller. It weighs eight pounds and alleviates tension and fatigue in your arms for extended use while cultivating your soil, although it works best with softer soil.

It’s also an excellent choice if you want an energy-efficient tool that doesn’t need fuel or an electrical outlet. As an Energy Star-rated rototiller, it charges in eight hours with a battery compatible with other Black&Decker cordless yard tools, such as the weed eater blower combo, allowing you to use it without getting separate batteries for each one.

Another characteristic of this model we enjoy is its cultivation range, reaching up to 325 square feet (30.19 m²) per charge. This feature, combined with the fact that it’s cordless, makes it an ideal tiller for small gardens.  

Pros:

  • Counter-oscillating tines for preventing weed tangling
  • Lightweight and upright design accommodates
  • It weighs about eight pounds
  • Cultivates up to 325 square feet (30.19 m²) per charge
  • 20-volt lithium-ion battery fully charges for eight hours
  • Adjustable soft-grip handle and telescoping tube is suitable for any user
  • It doesn’t require an extension cord while operating

Cons:

  • It might not be suitable for breaking up unworked earth

Earthwise TC70125 12.5-Amp 16-Inch Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator

The Earthwise TC70125 electric tiller is the perfect tool for tending small or medium-sized areas around your home. You can use this model to till the ground in any condition, including when it gets damp. It allows you to cultivate patches of land with a 16-inch width and an 8-inch depth.

Earthwise TC70125 12.5-Amp 16-Inch Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator, Green

It’s’ easy to use 12.5-amp electric motor allows the Earthwise TC70125 mini tiller to run longer without worrying about it overheating quickly. This feature might be ideal if you have a larger garden space to work in and need that extra time to till everything.

This mini tiller is a bit heavier than other options, weighing roughly 30 pounds (13.61 kg), but its power and broad range make it an excellent choice if you want to get more done. Like other Earthwise cultivators, it incorporates a simple operating switch and uses electric energy.

Nonetheless, despite its size and weight, it’s designed to maneuver using two hands, so it’s not as cumbersome as you might think. What’s more, it incorporates soft grips to keep your hands comfortable.

Pros:

  • 12.5-amp motor ideal for extended use
  • Cultivating depth: 8 inches (20.32 cm)
  • Cultivating width: 16 inches (40.64 cm)
  • Single lever switch for an efficient startup
  • It weighs 30 pounds (13.61 kg)
  • Ideal for medium or large-sized gardens
  • Six durable steel tines that can withstand small roots and rocks at the unit’s highest settings
  • Adjustable rear wheels to enhance transportation and lifting

Cons:

  • It doesn’t have counterclockwise rotating tines
  • It might be heavy for some users
  • Unsuitable for removing thicker weeds
  • The steel tines don’t adjust if you want to change the plowing depth

Mantis 7920 2-Cycle Tiller Cultivator

Another mini tiller we recommend is the Mantis 7920 2-Cycle Tiller Cultivator. One feature we enjoy from this model is its 10-inch cultivating depth. It’s Excellent if you want to dig through thicker layers quickly.

This lightweight gas tiller weighs 20 pounds (9.07 kg), making it possible to carry it around with one arm. Its design incorporates foldable handlebars ideal for storing and taking out the unit. Although this Mantis cultivator’s design isn’t too complicated, its simplicity allows you to operate the device efficiently.

It’s also capable of digging through 10 inches (25.4 cm) of soil with its durable steel tines. You might find this convenient if you want to remove shallow-rooted weeds from your flower beds or vegetable beds.  

Other standout features include a two-cycle gas engine that allows you to work on your yard for more extended periods and soft handle grips that provide comfort and incorporate speed control when you press them.

Pros:

  • Total weight: 20 pounds (9.07 kg)
  • 2-year limited warranty
  • Dimensions: 48 × 17 × 38 inches
  • Incorporates a carrying handle for more efficient transportation
  • Two steel tines suitable for tilling and weeding
  • Two molded grips with ergonomic speed control
  • 10-inch steel tine depth
  • The two-cycle engine that provides durability during cultivation sessions
  • Easy to clean
  • Foldable handlebars for easy storage

Cons:

  • Unclear assembling instructions
  • You might experience issues starting it up
  • Its engine might stop unexpectedly
  • The steel tines might bend out of shape
  • It might not cut through thicker roots

Honda 649680 25cc 9 in. Front Tine Tiller

The Honda 649680 is another mini tiller option we encourage you to consider. It’s durable, with a front engine guard to protect it from excess dirt and debris. This enhanced protection might be ideal if you want a long-lasting tiller for your cultivation routine.

Honda 649680 25cc 9 in. Front Tine Tiller

As a gas tiller, it’s heavier than most electric-powered models. However, this model weighs 29 pounds (13.15 kg), making it a lightweight option if you need to carry it to and from your garden using its front and back handles.

Its front-rotating metal tines are excellent tools when you need to till existing soil beds that need weeds removing or adding new soil. When you do a light tilling cycle, you can use minimal fuel and save it for the next session.

Other noteworthy features from the Honda Front Line Mini Tiller include its ability to till nine inches of space and reach a depth of eight inches.

Pros:

  • Maximum tilling depth: eight inches
  • Maximum tilling width: nine inches
  • Lightweight build measures between 29 and 30 pounds (13.61 kg)
  • Four metal forward-rotating tines for optimal functionality
  • Incorporates a front-engine guard to maximize its protection against natural elements
  • It uses 87-octane regular fuel for its engine
  • Cuts through ⅛-inch thick roots

Cons:

  • The engine doesn’t have a fuel line shut off
  • Not recommended for breaking untouched soil
  • Air filter might bring dust into the engine and clogs it
  • It might be difficult to operate it on harder soils and clay

Greenworks 8 Amp 10-Inch Corded Tiller

The Greenworks 8 Amp 10-Inch Corded electric tiller is another top pick of ours. This electric tiller is perfect for digging through tough soil thanks to its 8 Amp motor. At 29 pounds (13.15 kg), it’s on the heavier side as far as small electric tillers go, but its foldable handle makes for easy transporting.

Greenworks 8 Amp 10-Inch Corded Tiller, 27072

Additionally, the Greenworks 8 Amp 10-Inch Corded Electric Tiller uses electric power, mitigating any need for mixing gas and cumbersome recoil cords.

Another noteworthy feature of the Greenworks 8 Amp Electric Tiller includes the four 8-Inch forward rotating tines that ensure high-performance digging, even in tough soil. What’s more, it has an adjustable tilling width of 8.5 inches (21.59 cm) to 10 inches (25.4 cm), making it ideal for a variety of tilling tasks.

Pros:

  • 3 year limited warranty
  • Maximum tilling depth: 5 inches (12.7 cm)
  • Maximum tilling width: 10 inches (25.4 cm)
  • Foldable handle makes for convenient transportation and storage
  • 6-inch wheels make for easy handling
  • Can handle tough soil thanks to its powerful motor and tines

Cons:

  • The cord can get in the way, and larger gardens will require an extension cord
  • Assembly instructions can be confusing
  • May be heavy for some users

Buyer’s Guide (Knowing What to Look for)

Below you’ll find everything you need to know about garden tillers to help you narrow down your search.

Tiller Tine Location

Most garden rototillers are front-tine tillers, meaning you push them forward from behind, either manually or with the help of gas or electrical power. However, in some cases, if your soil is severely compacted, it may be necessary to use a rear-tine tiller.

Front-Tine Tillers

You can find front-tine tillers in the front of the rototiller, usually modeled with wheels behind them. This style is suitable for working on soil beds that you previously dug up. You might also find this tiller style useful for weeding or adding amendments to your soil to enhance its fertility.

To make these tillers work, you’ll need to push the tool forward, watch its tines dig into the soil, and time it accordingly with your upper body strength. In general, a front-tine tiller is the best choice for residential use.

Rear-Tine Tillers

Rear-tine tillers and cultivators have wheels located in front of a rototiller’s tines. In this way, tines are pulled forward, offering stronger digging. However, this style of rototiller is usually reserved for larger operations, designed to be hauled by a tractor, or other heavy machinery.  

Features of a Good Garden Tiller

When it comes to selecting the right small rototiller for you, it’s best to look at features and consider the size of your lawn or garden space. Below you will find some of the elements of a good garden tiller.

Power Source

If you only need to till a very small area, a rototiller that you push may be enough to get things done, but most of us prefer to have a decent power source to get the job done right. Models come in either electric or gas-powered.

Gas-Powered Rototiller

Gas rototillers aren’t restricted by draining batteries or power cords, making them great options for people with larger garden beds or yard space. However, they’re noisy, smelly, and their engines require upkeep. Plus, many of them are overkill for the average yard or garden.

Electric-Powered Rototiller

Electric rototillers tend to be lighter weight and more compact compared to gas rototillers, making them ideal for residential gardens. These tillers are available as corded tools, which are lightweight but with a cord that gets in the way, or battery-powered models, that are user-friendly but have limited run times.

Cutting Depth

This characteristic allows you to measure how deep your tiller can dig through soil. A cutting depth between four to six inches is ideal for pre-existing gardens, and cutting depths ranging between six to ten inches, with eight inches being the average.

Your soil’s condition might also affect the depths the tines can reach. Deeper depths might not be appropriate for thicker soil, weeds, and clay. As such, the safe bet is to get a tiller with an adjustable cutting depth.

Tilling Width

If you want to spend less time maneuvering through your garden as you amend soil or remove weeds, you might want to consider a tool’s tilling width. Many tillers have a minimum width of eight inches, but larger ones can have widths measuring around 16 inches (40.64 cm).

Larger widths might be more suitable for cultivating empty soil beds, and narrower ones might be more suitable when you want to work around garden edges and in between growing produce.

2 and 4 Cycle Engines

If you decide on using a gas tiller, you might want to consider what type of engine you would want in your model.

A 2-cycle engine rototiller requires you to mix gas and oil in its fuel tank. The ratio of gas and oil you use might differ based on the brand you purchase.

When working with a 4-cycle engine rototiller, you need to add gas into its fuel tank and add oil into its engine. Although you can add these to each of the separate chambers, they must not be mixed as with 2 cycle engines. 4-cycle engines also tend to be more complex, cleaner, and quieter than 2-cycle engines.

Weight

When selecting a small rototiller, it’s essential to consider the tool’s weight. Many compact electric tillers weigh at least 10 pounds (4.54 kg). Gas-powered rototillers tend to weigh around 20 to 30 pounds (13.61 kg), but are ideal for people who don’t want to move tools weighing over 40 pounds (18.14 kg).

Tine Rotation Capabilities

Some rototiller models might implement other features that enhance your tilling, weeding, and cultivation practices. Examples of these include counter-oscillating or rotating tines. Other models might have dual-rotating tines that allow you to switch between a forward or counter-rotation whenever you want.

Dual-Rotating Tines

Dual-rotating tines are an excellent choice for larger lawns and gardens. The dual tines offer greater cutting power for compact soils. They also help you to till faster.

Counter-Rotating Tines

By being able to switch the direction of the tines’ rotation, you can more effectively work the soil. Counter-rotating tines help your garden rototiller to cut deeper and more efficiently.

Energy Efficiency

Depending on the frequency you use a rototiller, you may want to search for energy-saving options. Electric-based tillers typically use less energy than gas tillers and don’t produce harmful fumes.  

Use

The tasks that your garden requires will play a big role in determining which tiller is best for you. Small tillers are usually best suited to established garden beds but, even so, there is a variety within the small tiller family. Some small tillers are surprisingly powerful and are able to dig through tough soil.

Depending on how many times your garden’s soil has been broken before, you may want to opt for a rototiller with a more powerful engine.

Conclusion of The Best Small Garden Tillers

The best rototiller for you is the one that suits the requirements of your yard. You can use a tiller to aerate your lawn to keep it healthy and for turning the soil in your garden before you plant for a healthy harvest.

There are a number of options on the market, but not all small rototillers are created equal.

Whatever you use it for, and however often you use it, our goal has been to provide you with some top-notch options and the information you need to make an informed decision. With the right tiller on hand, you can keep your lawn looking luscious and your garden bountiful.