Rear tine tillers

These heavyweight soil churning machines are perfect for breaking new ground in large areas making them the best garden tillers for landscape gardeners.

About rear tine tillers

What is a rear tine tiller?

A rear tine tiller is a heavy-duty garden workhorse used to loosen soil of any thickness which improves the quality, drainage and nutritional value ready for planting. The tines are metal blades found at the rear of the machine which rotate to churn up soil, the strength of the engine and the large footprint of the blades make a rear tine tiller perfect for converting thick ground into a fresh bed.

Do I need a rear tine tiller?

A rear tine tiller can save a lot of time when breaking in large areas of tough new ground, unless you are a professional gardener or landscaper these are typically one-off jobs that you might perform with a tiller once or twice a year.

If you are a gardener with a smaller area of garden to till once and can afford to spend a little more time purchasing a front tine tiller is a cost effective solution that is easier to store.

What tasks can I accomplish using rear tine tillers?

The increased width and ability to turn thick deep soil makes a rear tine tiller most suited for creating new beds quickly no matter what the conditions of the existing soil are. Narrower models or those with variable width tines can maintain soil in-between rows of plants by removing weeds or mixing compost, manure, and fertiliser.

Who are the basic users of rear tine tillers?

Owners of large gardens, those who regularly create new beds such as community gardens, landscape gardeners and farmers are typical users or rear tine tillers.

The heavy-duty nature of a rear tine tiller puts these workhorses in the hands of those professionals who need to turn soil on a regular basis throughout the year and need to be confident that their machinery can quickly, effortlessly and dependably handle any unexpected soil condition.

What type of engine does a rear tine tiller use?

A rear tine tiller will be powered by a 2 or 4 stroke gas engine which is geared and capable of turning the tines and wheels on the tiller independently of each other.

Where are the tines on a rear tine tiller?

The tines on a rear tine tiller are at the back of the machine which are covered by a metal guard in order to protect the operator’s feet during use, looking at similar to an old fashioned lawn mower.

Type of ground

Are rear tine tillers best for creating new beds?

Rear tine tillers have a strong powerful motor which is able to quickly create a new bed regardless of the soil conditions, the longer counter rotating blades on a wider axle mean it can turn soil faster and more thoroughly.

What sized area can a rear tine tiller dig?

Rear tine tillers are the perfect workhorse for any sized property – typically 5,000 square feet, due to their large width and powerful engine they are capable of cutting through most soil conditions like a knife through butter.

However, unless they have a variable width tines they aren’t as suited for going between narrow rows of plants and vegetables, their lack of manoeuvrability doesn’t lend itself to small abnormal shaped areas.

Can rear tine tillers prepare soil?

Rear tine tillers can be used to distribute organic matter such as fertilisers, manure, and compost into the soil to enrich it with nutrients prior to planting seeds and bulbs.

Can you use a rear tine tiller to remove weeds?

Rear tine tillers can clear entire areas covered in tall thick weeds, however there is a risk of these dispersing their seeds back into the soil. Use a garden strimmer and rake to remove any tall weeds prior to tilling to prevent the regrowth of weeds and stop the tines of the tiller from clogging up.

Does a rear tine tiller work on rocky ground?

A rear tine tiller will be able to tear up tough ground containing smaller rocks. Remember to move larger rocks out of the way, wear safety goggles and keep the speed of the tines slow enough to prevent projectiles from flying out and causing injury.

Can you use a rear tine tiller to remove grass?

Due to their wider size, powerful engine and long tines a rear tine tiller is perfect for quickly removing large areas of grass ready to reseed or lay a new lawn.

Are rear tine tillers best for maintaining established beds?

Rear tine tillers typically cover a much wider area than the width of front tine tillers, capable of disturbing much more soil and are less manoeuvrable making them the wrong tool for maintaining an established bed.

Is a rear tine tiller good on tough ground?

A rear time tiller is designed specifically to dig thoroughly and quickly through whatever tough ground it encounters, making it a reliable tool for any type of soil.


How deep can a rear tined tiller dig?

The maximum depth that the blades on a rear tined tiller are typically capable of digging from 6 inches to 12 inches.

Can you alter the depth of a rear tined tiller?

Altering tine depth is one of the most important features of any tiller, all good tillers should come with the ability to manually adjust the tiller depth setting using the drag bar or adjustable control handle. A deep setting is ideal when creating a new bed whereas a shallow setting is more useful when removing weeds near the surface without disturbing the roots of established plants.

What is the range of tilling width on rear tined tillers?

The width of a rear tined tiller ranges from 8 to 36 inches with some models featuring the ability to adjust their width to suit the type of task being performed. 15 to 24 inches is more suitable for quickly tilling larger gardens whereas an 8 to 14 inch rear tine tiller is best for tighter spaces.

Can you alter the width of a rear tined tiller?

The working width of some rear tined tillers is adjustable, certain models allow you to extend the width simply by removing some bolts in the axle, pulling out the tines then replacing the bolts.

How big are rear tine tillers?

Wider tines coupled with a large engine make rear tine tillers one of the biggest types of hand operated garden machinery available. Unless you are digging in straight lines the large size makes them hard to manoeuvre without some effort to leverage them in the right direction, also bear in mind that the increased size will use up more storage space.

If you are a landscape gardener frequently transporting your tiller to multiple sites you’ll either need to use a model with collapsible handles or a suitable vehicle as the average sized rear tine tiller won’t easily fit in the truck of an average sized sedan.

Using rear tine tillers

Which direction do rear tine tillers go?

Rear tine tillers can go both forward and backwards as most good models have gears for changing direction, speed and torque. As well as forward rotating tines more expensive models have alternative dual rotating tines and counter rotating tines which rotate in opposite directions to turn the soil more thoroughly and faster. Rear tine tillers also have chunky wheels geared to the engine which can propel the tiller forward – this means it takes less effort to operate in straight lines but will sacrifice manoeuvrability.

Are rear tine tiller easy to steer?

Due to the large nature of a rear tine tiller they will struggle to get around tight corners and obstacles requiring leverage and effort to push the weight of the heavy tillers in the right direction. The tines at the rear of the tiller will be unable to get into very tight corners, leaving you to manually dig those areas.

What is a rear tined tillers drag bar used for?

The conditions of the soil can cause tillers to shake, vibrate, jolt or lean so the drag bar a tiller is used to adjust the balance and keep the unit stable during operation.

How easy are rear tine tillers to maintain?

The complexity of dual rotating tines and counter rotating tines, powered wheels and large engines adds to the number of moving parts, chains and gears which require regular maintenance through cleaning, oiling, and greasing. Those looking for tiller with simpler upkeep should consider a less capable but easier to maintain electric front tined tiller instead.

Buying rear tine tillers

Should I buy a rear tine tiller?

If you are responsible for developing a large garden, are a landscaper, a serious gardener or community garden owner then buying a rear tine tiller represents a good investment due to the constant use it will receive.

When should I not buy a rear tine tiller?

If you envisage that you will be creating a bed or lawn once, you have a small garden, lack of storage space for a tiller or the soil is soft then purchasing a rear tine tiller might be an overkill. Unless you have a larger garden, regularly need to create new beds for plants or vegetables then a front tine tiller might represent better value.

Should I rent a rear tine tiller?

If you only plan on a single job and do not have adequate storage space, then renting a rear tine tiller is more sensible and cost effective than purchasing one. Hiring a rear tine tiller for a day gives adequate time for medium to large jobs as these heavy-duty machines capable of churning through large areas quickly.

For homeowners with small to medium sized gardens another option is to purchase a front tine tiller for the similar cost of renting a rear tine tiller for a day. A front tine tiller will not be as powerful when creating new beds quickly, however you will be able to maintain those established beds all year round with a smaller unit that can easily collapse to use less storage space.

Should you chose to rent a tiller always ensure that it comes with full instructions, this is dangerous heavy duty machinery and you will need to understand how to start it and use the tiller safely along with any specific safety guidelines.