June 16, 2021

Tillers and Cultivators | Know the Difference

Tillers and Cultivators

Should You Choose a Tiller or Cultivator?

Tillers and cultivators basically do the same job, right? While they do have a similar form and operate very similarly, gardeners know that they actually accomplish different tasks. So, before you go selecting the wrong tool for the job, we thought it might be helpful to lay out the difference between the tiller and the cultivator.

10-Second Summary

  • Though similar in function, the difference between till and cultivator has to do with the tines of the machine
  • Use a tiller for breaking up rocky or hardened ground
  • Use a cultivator for mixing loose soil

The Difference Between Tillers and Cultivators

While tillers and cultivators are mechanically very similar, the main difference between the two revolves around the tines. These make up the business end of the tool; the motor of your tiller or cultivator turns a shaft that provides power to these sharp spokes. When you apply the tines to your soil, they turn over to dig into the soil.

Tillers and Cultivators

Generally speaking, tillers use heavier-duty steel tines to break up hardened soil. You would likely opt for the tiller when starting a new garden plot, as the tines have the structural integrity to break up rocky ground or sunbaked and hardened soil. The motor on your tiller will likely supply more power, allowing the tool to dig deeper into the soil.

Tillers and Cultivators

Cultivators, on the other hand, have thinner tines that work well for soil mixing applications in pre-loosened ground. For instance, if you wanted to work some fertilizer into your loose soil without slinging it hither and yon, a cultivator will likely be your best bet. It will also work well for breaking up weeds and grasses, preventing them from taking over your soil. A tiller, used in this application, could potentially overwork your soil mixture.

Start a Garden PlotX
Break Up Hardened SoilX
Loosen Rocky GroundX
Mix Potting Soil and Regular SoilX
Work Fertilizer, Manure, or Compost Into SoilX
Break Up Small Weeds and GrassesX

The Right Tool For the Job

Of course, some manufacturers make tools that pull double-duty, operating as a tiller and cultivator in one. These can certainly be viable options, particularly for smaller jobs. For bigger plots, you’ll likely want two distinct tools, as the all-in-one solutions tend to have lighter-duty tines.

In any case, understanding the difference between tillers and cultivators will help you pick the right tool for the right application, ensuring that you have the best garden possible.

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