Difference Between Tiller And Cultivator

Whether you’re gardening for fun or as a hobby, in both cases, it has no adverse and proves beneficial for human health in several ways. Gardening or farming leads to positive effects on the human body. These include exposure to vitamin D, boost in your moods, aerobic exercise decreased dementia risk as per a study, gardening lowers the risk of dementia up to about 36%.

While gardening might be fun and relaxing, it can be a considerable nuisance if you’re not equipped with the right equipment or tools. The basic tools include tiller and cultivator. However, gardening equipment isn’t limited to the two only. There are numerous other tools that you could benefit from. 

Whether you’re starting a new garden or working on a pre-existing garden, soil and plants require preparation and routine maintenance. This is where a tiller and a cultivator comes in handy. 

While they might look the same, but they both serve a different purpose. Here’s a detailed insight into both tiller and a cultivator.

Before we dive into the differences, let’s explain what a tiller and cultivator are.


Turning and breaking down the soil by hand can be a challenging task. This is where a tiller comes in handy. A tiller is specifically designed to break down tough and sturdy soil into loose and broken up dirt that is required for the ideal growth of plants. 

A tiller is often used for heavy-duty tasks. Moreover, they’re typically used for the digging and mixing of soil that supports the growth and development of plants.

Considering their usage, there are three types of tillers these include;

  • Front-Tine Tillers
  • Mid-Tine Tillers
  • Rear-Tine Tillers

To understand this better and help you pick the right kind of tiller as per your needs, here’s a detailed insight into each of them.

How to Choose Between a Cultivator vs Tiller | SawsHub

Front-tine Tillers:

A front tine tiller features tines that are designed at the front of the tiller. The front-line design enables it to dig into the soil and pull the tiller along. However, to make use of this mechanism, you will have to have a firm grip on the machine to prevent it from moving forward and make sure it breaks down the soil.

Front-tine tillers work best for small properties that have a soft soil rather than a tough soil. Moreover, front-line tillers feature wheels at the back of the machine to ensure ease of use.

Mid-tine tillers: 

A mid-tine tiller features tines designed at the center of the tiller, right under the engine.  The added benefit of a mid-tine tiller is stability and control. Moreover, it is easy to turn. 

While it might feature a more balanced design, it is rarely used out of the two front-tine and rear-tine tiller.

Rear-Tine Tillers:

A rear-tine tiller features tines that are designed at the rear of the tiller. The rear-tine design enables it to be used for larger properties. With the engine at the front and tines at the end, it makes it easier to dig into the soil for large properties.

Rear-Tine tillers are relatively heavier and expensive compared to the front and mid-tine tillers. The added benefit of a rear-tine tiller is that the engine powers the wheels, making it easier to use on large properties. 

Moreover, these feature a gear-based mechanism that ensures its ease of use.


Cultivators are compact in size and relatively easy to maneuver. These are often preferred for smaller tasks. A cultivator helps loosen the soil in a pre-existing garden and mixes compost into the soil. 

A cultivator can effectively get rid of the over-grown weeds and provide you with nicer looking yards. Cultivators are available in three different types. These differ only by the power source;

  • Gas-powered
  • Cordless 
  • Corded electric-powered

Mini Cultivator(Gas-Powered):

As you can tell from the name, these are compact in size and feature a gas-powered engine. Mini-cultivators feature over 3-tines and effectively loosen the soil and enable you to mix fertilizer and compost.

Mini cultivators work best for small to medium-sized properties and efficiently provide you with a ready to use the garden bed for planting purposes.

196cc 6.5HP Garden Gasoline Tiller Cultivator With Chinese Diesel Engine

Electric-Powered Cultivators:

Electric-powered cultivators operate on a corded supply or a cordless supply(Batteries). While they might be electric-powered, they still operate with the same efficiency as a gas-powered cultivator.

However, these are only suitable for small gardens considering the corded supply. Electric-powered cultivators are environmentally friendly, and you can efficiently prepare your soil for planting.

Tiller vs. Cultivator: Choosing the right one

While they both serve the purpose of maintaining your garden, they differ when it comes to the type of soil that requires mixing. 

For breaking down a tough and sturdy ground on a new or pre-existing garden, a tiller is what would provide you with ideal results. Tillers work best for large properties. However, they’re bulky and require more storage space.

In contrast, if you require breaking down loose soil and mixing fertilizer and the compost, a cultivator would work best. Cultivators are relatively smaller and compact in size, which enables easy maneuverability and requires less storage space.

You might think of using a tiller rather than a cultivator since it is much more powerful and works for both tough and loose soil. Using a tiller on a loose soil would result in more dirt than you anticipated, leading to an over-done garden bed.


Gardening is a relaxing chore. However, without the right equipment, it can be a challenging task. Whether you’re starting a new garden or you’re planning on working on a pre-existing garden, you require specific tools such as a tiller and cultivator. Read this buying guide to know more.

When it comes to picking one over the other, it can be a challenging task. Simply put, a tiller is designed for heavy-duty tasks, whereas a cultivator is more often used for small-medium sized pre-existing gardens. 

Breaking down tough and rigid soil is a one time process, whereas breaking down loose soil is a periodic process. Considering this, buying a cultivator rather than a tiller would work best in the long run.