Front tine tillers

Front tine tillers are the best tillers to remove weeds, their high manoeuvrability makes them perfect for maintaining small to medium sized home gardens.

About front tine tillers

What is a front tine tiller?

A front tine tiller is a piece of garden machinery which breaks up soil to improve quality, drainage and nutrition ready for planting seeds, plants, and vegetables. The tines are mounted on the front of the tiller and rotate using an electric or gas-powered motor, these rotating blades churn up the soil and propel the entire unit forward.

What tasks can I accomplish using front tine tillers?

Front tine tillers are most suited to tasks such as maintaining the soil in-between rows of plants where the manoeuvrability and narrower width of the tines mean they can easily get around obstacles and into tight corners. These tasks for the tiller might include weeding or mixing compost, fertiliser, and manure into the soil into established beds. Front tine tillers are also capable of breaking up new ground if it isn’t too tough and rocky.

Who are the basic users of front tine tillers?

Due to a smaller engine and size the typical user of a front tine tiller is more likely to be the owner of a small to medium sized garden who wishes to maintain an established bed, this is reflected by a more affordable price-tag.

Do I need a front tine tiller?

If you are a home gardener who has time to establish a bed then a front tine tiller is perfect and will also allow you to maintain the soil between rows of plants and vegetables. For those work on much larger gardens, or soil that is thick and rocky then it might be best to go for a rear tine tiller.

What type of engine does a front tine tiller use?

Front tine tillers typically use gas powered engines but more recently electric powered tillers have become more popular. The engine is mounted above or slightly behind the tines, and the heavy weight of the tiller engine contributes to pushing the blades into the ground as hard as possible. Typically, the engine on a front tine tiller engine isn’t as strong as a comparatively priced rear tine tiller.

Where are the tines on a front tine tiller?

The position of the tines on the front tine tiller are at the front or underneath the engine.

What direction do tines rotate on a front tine tiller?

Front tine tillers use forward rotating tines which all turn in the same direction and drag the tiller forwards.

Type of ground

Are front tine tillers best for maintaining established beds?

Front tine tillers are perfect for getting in between rows of plants and vegetables to remove weeds, also being able to mix a top layer of organic matter into the soil without damaging the surrounding roots.

What are the best front tine tillers for breaking ground?

A model with a powerful motor will be the best front tine tiller for breaking ground. Front tine tillers are not generally suited for creating new beds in soil, it is best to use a rear tine tiller for a thorough job as these have increased depth, power and soil turning ability.

Can you use a front tine tiller to remove weeds?

Front tine tillers are most suited for removing smaller weeds in between rows of vegetables and plants due to the narrower width. If you are looking to remove tall thick weeds, grass, and nettles then these will need to be removed with a strimmer first to prevent reseeding and tangling in the axle of the tiller.

Can front tine tillers prepare soil?

A front tine tiller can easily mix in a layer of fertiliser, lime, compost, or manure into soil thoroughly in order to create a nutritious bed ready for planting seeds and bulbs.

Does a front tine tiller work on rocky ground?

You may get a jolt or kickback from a front tine tiller if it encounters a rock or other hard object hidden under the surface. Front tine tillers are not recommended for gravelly thick rocky ground, if you have a potentially large area of rocky ground we suggest using a rear tine tiller instead. Prior to using any type of tiller you should always remove visible lumps of rock, stone, concrete, and cement first as this prevents them being turned into dangerous projectiles if caught in the blades.

Can you use a front tine tiller to remove grass?

If the front tine tiller is capable of digging around 6 inches deep then it is possible given enough time, although typically a rear tine tiller is used to lay a lawn due to the wider larger width of the tines needing to cover a large surface area.

Is a front tine tiller good on tough ground?

Though not specifically designed for tough ground a front tine tiller with a powerful enough engine is capable of breaking up tough ground, it will take more preparation, additional time and effort in order to do so.

What sized area can a front tine tiller dig?

The tine width, the strength of the engine and the toughness of the soil are factors which affect how much ground a front tine tiller can cover in a set amount of time. A wider front tine tiller with a powerful engine in soft soil will easily be able to dig a larger area compared to a model with narrower tines and a weaker engine which is used in thick soil. Generally front tine tillers are more suited for small to medium sized gardens up to around 5000 square feet and would take a long time to dig anything bigger, for larger areas it is better to use a rear tine tiller.


How big are front tine tillers?

Front time tillers share a similar size and form factor to a domestic lawn mower, with the handles reaching waist height. The exact length, width and height will be unique to the make and model you chose and are generally much smaller than their rear tine tiller counterparts.

How deep can a front tined tiller dig?

On average front tined tiller blades can dig between 6 to 8 inches deep.

Can you alter the depth of a front tined tiller?

The depth of a tiller can be adjusted using the drag bar, any soil which is too thick for a front tine tiller to dig in a single pass can be turned with multiple passes.

Can you alter the width of a front tined tiller?

Some tillers have a variable width tines meaning the axle size can be extended or shortened by several inches by removing a bolt, pulling out the tines then reattaching the bolt. This is useful in situations where you may wish to have a very wide size for quickly covering a large area, or a narrower width to get in between rows of plants and vegetables.

What is the range of tilling width in front tined tillers?

Front tined tiller widths range from 8 inches to 16 inches, some models have a variable width tine feature meaning you can adjust the gap between the tines to make them narrow or wide.

Using front tine tillers

Are front tine tillers easy to steer?

Due to the lightweight build of the tiller and narrower width a front tine tiller is more manoeuvrable making it easy to guide around obstacles and between rows of plants. Because the tines are at the front of the unit it means they can be pushed into tight corners to do a thorough job in close areas.

Which direction do front tine tillers go?

Gas powered front tine tillers are propelled forward by the rotation of the tines, although some electric powered front tine tillers might allow that rotation to be reversed.

How easy are front tine tillers to maintain?

The motors on gas powered front tine tillers require more maintenance than electric powered front tine tillers, after each use we always recommend cleaning the tines on the tiller to remove soil and roots.

Buying front tine tillers

Should I buy a front tine tiller?

Although the higher cost of powerful gas powered front tine tillers can put off casual gardeners, the price of electric front tine tillers are becoming more affordable putting them in the reach of homeowners who want to save time weeding, reseeding lawns, creating and maintaining beds. Remember that tillers are subject to severe forces, vibrations, and pressure – buying a cheap tiller which sacrifices build quality and uses flimsy materials might break when encountering rocks or thick soil.

When should I not buy a front tine tiller?

If your soil is very hard or rocky, you intend on using the tiller frequently, you have a larger garden or work on multiple properties then a front tine tiller might not be a strong enough workhorse for these tasks compared to a rear tine tiller. Due to the lack of powered wheels on these tillers they are unsuitable for large areas unless you prefer manually pushing the tiller for long periods of time.

Should I rent a front tine tiller?

Hire companies with heavy duty machinery typically rent rear tine tillers rather than front tine tillers, so this may limit your options for hiring.

For twice the price of hiring a tiller for a day you could purchase a brand new front tine tiller, if you anticipate a job taking longer than one day using a smaller sized front tine tiller then it might be cost effective to purchase a new one. You will also need to factor in the costs of transporting the tiller to your property and returning after use.

Hiring means you don’t have to worry about storing a tiller, but compared to a rear tine tiller the handles on a front tine tiller should be capable of collapsing giving it a small footprint in a garage or shed.