Bruce owns a small farm and loves to grill since his early childhood. He’s a professional cook, but hiking and enjoying the great outdoors is his no less favorite part of life.
Last updated: April 11, 2022
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When preparing a garden for cultivation, a tiller breaks up the hard ground so the roots of what you will be planting can penetrate the soil and absorb nutrients. Besides loosening up hard soil, tillers also improve the soil by mixing in nutrients. The first step to it is choosing the best tiller for breaking new ground.
Regular tillers might not do the job due to slower work or less durable construction. We’ve picked the most powerful models that can work with tough solid and are more effective in breaking grounds and preparing them for cultivation. You will find tillers perfect for small and big gardens or farms. We’ve also considered tillers’ dimensions so you could get the model perfect for your height. Read on to learn more about the most effective tillers and choose the one that will benefit you.
More features: 79 cc engine, removable side shields, adjustable tilling width
A cultivator weeds, mulches and aerates soil. Tazz 35310 is a tiller that doubles up as a cultivator. To switch from tiller to cultivator, you remove the side shields and outer tines. This is a process that will not require any tools. The tiller features powerful features like a high performance 79cc Viper engine, tilling depth of 11 inches, adjustable tilling width of 11, 16 and 21 inches, and components made of durable material. They include bronze gear transmission, a steel handlebar and tines made of forged steel.
This is a front tine tiller that is powered by gas. Gas-powered models are recommended for large gardens because they typically provide more power than electric tillers.
Why is it special?
Tazz 35310 is a versatile 2-in-1 machine. The tilling width is also adjustable. This allows you to reduce the width to weed or maintain rows on your garden, or to increase it to level your seedbed for new plants. The tiller comes with other adjustable settings like a handlebar with 4 height options. It is easy to operate; start the 4-cycle engine with simple recoil, drag the multi-position stake to adjust tilling depth, and switch between a tiller and a compact cultivator on demand.
What are the flaws?
Several users recommend this product as the best gas tiller for breaking new ground. The main complaint regards the tedious assembly process and the inadequate instructions. It can take at least an hour to set it up because you might struggle to align the holes. A quart of oil is included with the tiller but there are no instructions on the quantity of oil you should put before starting the machine to avoid excess oil spilling on your garden.
More features: 99 cc Viper engine, dual grip handle, two drive mods, air-less wheels
Earthquake Pioneer 31285 has a tilling path of 10 inches in depth and 16 inches in width. It comes with a powerful 99 cc Viper engine and two drive modes selected by sliding the shift handle on the locator plate. These modes are CRT to break hard ground, tear sod and mix soil, and SRT to turn tilled soil and level the seed bed. The 4-cycle machine also features a dual-direction rear tine and a dual grip handle bar that allows for instant reversal and one-handed operation.
As a rear tine tiller, this product would be the ideal choice for heavy-duty gardening. Rear tines are more reliable and effective than front tines for such tasks.
What are our favorite features?
This model has a number of impressive features that qualify it as the best gas tiller for breaking new ground. It features a powerful engine, dual-direction rear tine, airless wheels that are extra wide for stability, and rugged lugs to optimize traction. The gas-powered machine comes with a bottle of engine oil and a limited warranty of 5 years. We also appreciate the dual grip handle and the two available drive modes for custom tasks.
What could be better?
This is a premium and powerful gas-powered tiller that can efficiently handle a variety of gardening tasks without breaking down. Its lower, wider body design and extra wide wheels ensure the tiller remains balanced and stable. However, rear tine tillers tend to be heavy, as evidenced by Earthquake Pioneer 31285 which has weight of 160 pounds. This is why this type of tillers usually requires an engine to power it.
More features: 1.3 Hp engine, thick steel handles, 7 in tires
Maxim Mini Max MTC35H features 7-inch wheels and a tool-free adjustable drag stake. A drag stake is a vertical bar that slows down a tiller so that it stays in position and digs deeper. It also helps to control the tilling depth. This product has maximum tilling depth of 8 inches and adjustable tilling width of 7, 13 and 16 inches to accommodate gardens of different sizes. It comes with a 35.8cc 4-cycle engine with 1.3 horsepower, thick handles made of Q195 steel and 6 tines made of forged steel. The maximum tine speed of this gas-powered tiller is 250 RPM. The carrying handle also serves as an engine guard.
This is a sturdy and durable model that we recommend as the best heavy-duty gas tiller for breaking new ground.
Why did it make our list?
There is a lot to like about Maxim Mini Max MTC35H. It boasts of heavy-duty gear drive transmission, large stable wheels and components made of steel, including 6 tines with speed of up to 250 RPM. You can adjust the tilling width to match the size of your seed bed and also adjust the drag stake without requiring any tools. The tiller comes with a limited warranty of 3 years.
What is not ideal about it?
Maxim Mini Max MTC35H is reasonably priced and it makes a durable investment with rugged construction that can withstand heavy-duty gardening without damage, as long as you adhere to the instructional guide and maintenance. The only minor fault we found with it is that it does not come with any accessories. This, however, should not be a deal breaker since it provides great value for money and you can use it as a tiller or a cultivator.
More features: 212 cc engine, 13-in tires, hardened steel tines
CHAMPION POWER EQUIPMENT 19-Inch Dual Rotating Rear Tine Tiller is CARB compliant and EPA certified; these bodies have set standards that protect the environment by limiting the maximum level of emissions by machines. It has tilling depth of 8 inches and a high maximum tilling width of 19 inches. The tiller comes with a powerful 212cc engine, 13-inch self-propelled tires and four 13-inch heavy-duty tines made of hardened steel, and gear-driven transmission in a cast iron case. The tines support dual-rotation tilling that lets you conveniently switch between forward and reverse movement.
Because of its sheer power and performance, we recommend this tiller for commercial ventures and extensive gardening and landscaping tasks.
What makes it stand out?
The tines are tough enough to handle large amounts of terrain and their bidirectional design makes the job quicker. The tires have large treads that offer great traction and you use less effort steering the tiller because the tires are self-propelled. The tilling width is adjustable to fit both narrow and wide rows. Other useful features include user-friendly handle controls, shut-off sensor for low oil and a depth gauge that is easily adjusted.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Champion’s 19-Inch Rear Tine Tiller is a workhorse that is one of the best gas tillers for breaking new ground. It has gasoline capacity of 0.9 gallons and oil capacity of 0.6 quarts. A number of customers report issues with the valve breaking when the wheel moves inside the tire or the tube rubs against the rim and breaks. Some fixed it by placing a file in the rim to prevent the tire and the tube from slipping in the rim.
Sun Joe TJ604E is among the most affordable tillers for breaking new ground. It is made by a reputable Company that also manufactures other outdoor implements such as snow blowers, trimmers and lawn mowers that will keep your home tidy. This particular model is an electric tiller that is equipped with a 13.5 amp motor and high speed of 370 RPM. Its tilling path is 16 inches in width and 8 inches in depth. You can adjust the height of the rear wheels to 3 different positions and collapse the handle for compact transport and storage. The 6 tines are angled and made of steel to optimize performance and longevity.
This tiller would be an excellent choice for a small garden or for individuals on a budget. It is also a good option for a woman because it is light and easy to maneuver.
Why are we impressed?
The low pricing point is a great selling point and the electric power source means that you won’t deal with messy fumes or spend a lot of money on maintenance. You simply press a button to start this tiller. You can reduce the overall storage size with the collapsible handle and move the wheel to a height that is comfortable for you and the kind of gardening you are doing.
What negatives must you be aware of?
Electric models are relatively low maintenance, but they are unsuitable for vast gardens because the tiller has to be connected to a power outlet and this limits its reach. The manufacturer recommends this cord length and sizes; maximum length of 14/3 extension cord should be 50 feet and maximum length of 12/3 extension cord should be 100 feet. Lastly, the placement of the switch could be better for a more comfortable grip.
More features: 25 cc 4-cycle engine, kickstand included, finger controlled trottle
Women usually have less physical strength and smaller hands than men. So, operating a bulky and heavy tiller would make gardening more strenuous and probably cause back pain and sore arms. If you are a woman looking for the best gas tiller for breaking new ground, Mantis 7940 will serve you well since it has small dimensions and light weight of 24 pounds that would be comfortable to maneuver. The handles feature an ergonomic flared design for proper grip, and the tiller has 25cc 4-cycle engine and curvy tines that run at maximum speed of 240 RPM. The handlebars fold to save space in storage. The machine’s maximum tilling width and depth are 9 inches and 10 inches respectively.
With dimensions of 29.25 x 13.5 x 9.5 inches and 24-pound weight, Mantis 7940 provides a less tedious way to till your garden, making it the best gas tiller for a woman and other individuals who prefer compact machines.
What are its best features?
We included this product in our review of the best gas tillers for breaking new ground is because it is excellent at breaking red dirt and will effectively pulverize the clumps. Besides that, it is easy to switch between tilling and cultivating, and to use and store it. It comes with a convenient carrying handle, foldable handlebars, a standard kickstand and a limited warranty of 2 years. It is also relatively quiet.
What could be improved?
Large stones and shallow tree roots will cause this gardening tool to jam and shut down. Grass and roots may also get entangled in the tines. The assembly process has been difficult for some customers. The issues are mainly related to attaching the kickstand. They report missing nuts, difficulty in tightening the nuts and receiving the tiller with broken components. Lastly, customer support should be more prompt in addressing such queries.
Scotts has several gardening products. They include pest solutions, grass seeds, lawn fertilizers and power tools such as Scotts Corded Electric Tiller TC70105S. It features a 10.5 amp motor, 4 tines made of tempered steel alloy with speed of 350 RPM, and 5.5-inch tires. Other convenient features include rear wheels that flip up for transport, a cord retention hook, push button start, and light weight of 25 pounds. The tilling width is 7 to 11 inches and the tilling depth is up to 8 inches.
As an electric tiller for breaking new ground, this model would be suitable for weed control or conditioning soil on a small lawn or garden.
Why are we impressed?
It is an eco-friendly tiller that does not generate fumes, is easy to carry and operate, and it saves you money on maintenance. The tines are durable and adjustable. Its size may initially make you skeptical but this electric tiller performs well on small gardening and landscaping projects, going by the numerous positive reviews. Also, buying from a Company that has made its name in that industry promotes buyer’s confidence.
What negatives must you be aware of?
The tiller struggles with large twigs, roots and rocks. The handle is not foldable but you can unscrew the top part of the handle. Apart from that, electric tillers are low maintenance but they have limited reach because they have to be plugged in to operate and you cannot exceed the required cord length without voiding the warranty. For instance, the manufacturer of this product recommends extension cord with maximum length of 50 feet.
More features: 8.5 Amp motor, ergonomic grip, 4 tines
Another compact corded electric tiller you should invest in is Earthwise TC70001. It tills to a maximum of 11 inches wide and 8 inches deep, and its 4 tines operate at a speed of 320 RPM. The maneuverable machine features a long handle with a comfortable ergonomic grip, an 8.5 amp motor, and a single lever switch for fast ignition. The handle includes a cord retention hook for uninterrupted operation.
This is a compact and lightweight tiller for breaking new ground on small gardens. It is also convenient equipment for the elderly and individuals with physical issues because it is easy to move around when cultivating.
What makes it stand out?
We really like how small and light the tiller is, only weighing 2.2 pounds and having dimensions of 1 x 1 x 1 inches. Despite the size, it comes with 4 tines and a decent motor that is easy to start with a lever switch. The handle is soft and comfortable to hold and the cultivating path is sizeable for minor gardening tasks.
Also, the tiller is covered by a 2-year limited warranty.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Although this is an eco-friendly machine that does not require oil or gas to operate, and you won’t have to worry about harmful emission, you must plug it in a power outlet for it to function. This can be inconvenient in case of power outage or in areas with no electricity. Its size and weight make it easy to operate, but this also limits its capability to till larger gardens or to perform difficult gardening jobs.
More features: 7 amp motor, 5-5/8 in wheels, 16 blades, overload protection
WEN TC0714 features 4 tines made of reinforced steel, and 16 blades. You can remove the outer blades to till narrowly. It also comes with two 5-5/8 inch wheels that are detachable for easy storage. The electric tiller for breaking new ground can till and weed at tilling width of 14.2 inches and tilling depth of 8.7 inches. It boasts of built-in overload protection that automatically stops the motor from running when the tiller comes in contact with concrete, hard rocks and immovable objects to prevent damage. The 7 amp motor operates at speed of 380 RPM.
This tiller is suitable for small and mid-sized planting and gardening. It can till and weed and you can remove some of the blades to fit a narrow tilling path.
What makes it special?
A major worry of tiller owners is hard rocks and other objects damaging their machine. WEN TC0714 protects your tiller and blades from that by turning off the tiller when that happens. Another feature we liked is the dual handle system which grants you better control when navigating or turning the gardening machine. Besides that, you can remove the wheels for compact transport and storage. The tiller comes with a 2-year limited warranty.
What cons did we find?
The tiller is not rechargeable. Instead, it is AC powered 120V that requires to be plugged in to a power outlet, and a heavy duty extension cord to extend reach. Also, you cannot adjust speed or tilling depth, and the machine hops if you move it too fast because it is light. An improvement we would like to see is a longer plate with downward deflection over the blades’ front.
The best gas tillers for breaking new ground tend to be more powerful than electric versions, and they also have extensive reach because they are not limited by cables and power outlets. However, we have featured a number of electric tillers that are well equipped to handle small and mid-sized gardens. LawnMaster TE1318W1 is an example of such machines. It comes with a powerful 13.5 amp motor, 6 rust-resistant steel blades, speed of 390 RPM, and a decent tilling path of up to 18 inches wide and up to 9 inches deep.
This corded electric tiller is ideal for small projects and new gardeners because it is easy to rotate and control.
Why is it special?
LawnMaster TE1318W1 weighs only 24 pounds. It is lightweight, foldable and easy to control and navigate turns. The tiller incorporates safety mechanisms in form of a safety locking button. To start the machine, you press the button and then pull the trigger lever upwards against the motor. Buyers receive a 2-year limited warranty to secure against unforeseen damage. We also like the 18-inch cutting width and the stainless steel blades.
What are the flaws?
The main user complaint regards the operational height. The product is advertised as having 3 adjustable tiller heights but the handle actually has two positions only. These positions are awkward for some buyers, and the included manual does not provide information on the third adjustable tiller height they claim. Additionally, there is no speed control and if the tines turn too fast, the tiller starts to bounce up and down.
We have reviewed the best gas tillers for breaking new ground that have high user ratings and multiple positive reviews. Now, let’s discuss the most important features you should consider before investing in a gas or electric tiller. This is because choosing the wrong tool for the task you want to perform can damage the machine or frustrate you because of the amount of time and effort it will take.
How to Break New Ground with A Tiller
You break new ground with a tiller by loosening and turning the soil, and then leveling the surface to form a stable bed for your new plants. Avoid breaking new ground on saturated soil to avoid clogging up your tiller, damaging the engine or motor or excessive soil compaction. Most people recommend tilling in early winter or in fall because it allows for a break of several months before planting since most gardeners plant during summer and spring.
How to Pick the Best Tiller for Breaking New Ground
When breaking new ground, you should factor in the size of the garden and the hardness of the soil. Below we have explained the other features you should keep in mind.
Rear or front tine?
Tillers are classified according to whether the tines are positioned at the front or rear of the machine.
Front tine models have their tines set in front of the machine under the motor with two non-powered wheels behind. Such models rotate in forward movement and they use the front tines to push the tiller forward. This makes them prone to bouncing up and down and harder to control. For instance, it can be difficult to hold the tiller back and in position when you want to dig deeper. However, they are easy to reverse and maneuver turns since the wheels are at the back of the equipment. Front tine tillers can loosen soil, and dig and weed small and medium-sized gardens.
Rear tine models have tines set at the back of the machine and two gearbox driven wheels located in front. Standard-rotating tines (SRT) rotate in the same direction as the wheels whereas counter-rotating tines (CRT) rotate in the opposite direction as the wheels. Rear-tine tillers are powerful and more effective at breaking hard ground and performing large projects. Because of their typically large size and heavyweight, they can be harder to push or steer, but you can leverage their heavyweight for additional power.
Another way of classifying tillers is by their fuel type. The main ones are electric and gas tillers for breaking new ground, and each type has its strengths and drawbacks.
Gas tillers are the best for extensive gardening and for breaking new ground on large areas with poor soil conditions that require the power of a rear tine tiller.
This is because gas tillers feature very powerful engines and heavy-duty construction to reduce jolting and bouncing. They are also not limited by extension cords, and they till more evenly. Besides that, they tend to have the longest lifespan because of their durable build, and they can easily be repaired in case of any issues.
The disadvantage of gas tillers is their noisiness, high pricing point and high maintenance because they require frequent refilling, which might necessitate mixing oil and gas. They also produce toxic fumes
Trusted SourceFossil fuel air pollution responsible for 1 in 5 deaths worldwide – C-CHANGENew research from Harvard University, in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, the University of Leicester and University College London, found that more than 8 million people died in 2018 from fossil fuel pollution, significantly higher than previous research suggested—meaning that air pollution from burning fossil fuels like coal and diesel was responsible for about 1 in 5 deaths worldwide.
which makes them harmful to the environment. Another issue some users have with gas tillers is the starter cord which you pull, as this can be strenuous for some individuals. Lastly, it might be difficult to maneuver a gas tiller because they typically have heavy frames.
The other type is electric tillers which are equipped with motors that are powered by electricity. They are eco-friendly since they do not generate exhaust fumes as they do not require oil or gas. Electric tillers are quieter, more affordable, lightweight, and relatively compact to fit in small spaces. They are more reliable in uninterrupted operation because you don’t have to worry about depleting gas or oil mid-job. Also, they are easy to operate and start by simply pushing a button. That is why they are the preferred choice for an urban setting or a small garden.
The disadvantage of electric models is their reliance on electricity. They require to be plugged in a power outlet, and a long extension cord in a proper gauge. This limits their area of operation, adds extra cost in purchasing the extension cord, and you have to ensure the cord is out of the way when tilling. Since electric corded tillers are smaller in build and lighter, they are likely to bounce if you move them too fast. This means it might take you more effort for deep tilling.
Consider the needs and territory to choose the size of the tiller that will be the most ergonomic for you
Whether you are choosing an electric model or the best gas tiller for breaking new ground, you must keep their size in mind. The size will determine navigation, maneuverability, transport and storage of the tiller. Generally, powerful gas models are larger and heavier than their electric counterparts as you will notice among the products we have reviewed in this guide. However, we have included gas-powered tillers like Mantis 7940 which weighs 24 pounds only and has a manageable size of 29.25 x 13.5 x 9.5 inches.
When tilling a large area, you need a heavy machine that can effortlessly dig deep and it should also be powerful to finish the job quickly. Powerful machines also tend to be large to accommodate the large engine, motor and other components.
Tiller depth and width
Before buying a tiller, you must consider the tiller path. Most tillers have adjustable tines that can till to a depth of up to 8 inches.
Front tine tillers have working width of 14 to 18 inches, and can be powered by a gas engine or an electric motor whereas rear tine tillers have tilling width of 16 to 18 inches.
However, you can extend this range with a model like Tazz 35310 which is our Editor’s Choice. It has adjustable tilling width of 11, 16 and 21 inches, and impressive tilling depth of up to 11 inches, making it the best gas tiller for breaking new ground.
Power and speed
We recommend having a powerful tiller to break tough grounds and stiff soils with the speed of 240 rpm at least
However, rear tine tillers would be overwhelming and difficult to navigate on a small garden. For small and mid-sized gardens with small roots and rocks, a front tine tiller would be a better option.
The speed will vary from one tiller to another, depending on the engine or motor. The products we have reviewed range in speed from 240 to 390 revolutions per minute (RPM). Some tillers will allow you to adjust the speed of tines.
The engine of a tiller for breaking new ground may either be powered by electricity or gas. Electric tillers can be corded or powered by battery, and gas models may use oil, gas or a mixture of both as fuel. We have already detailed the pros and cons of using the two main types of power source to help you make an informed decision.
Durability and warranty
Gas-powered tillers usually last much longer because of their heavy-duty construction that is designed to make them capable of tackling massive or difficult projects. They are also easier to repair than electric tillers. You can extend the lifespan of any tiller by choosing the appropriate product for your intended tasks and by maintaining it accordingly. Majority of tillers come with a limited warranty of 2 years although Earthquake Pioneer 31285 has a 5-year limited warranty.
Ideally, you should till once per season to prepare the soil before planting, and to avoid the effects of frequent tilling. It is important to add organic matter such as compost when tilling to increase soil organic matter and biological activity. According to USDA
Trusted SourceSaving Money, Time and Soil: The Economics of No-Till Farming | USDAFor farmers across the country, it comes as no surprise to hear that conservation tillage practices – particularly continuous no-till – can save time and money compared to conventional tillage. The potential benefits of no-till are well-documented, from improving soil health to reducing annual fuel and labor investments.
, tilling can also increase the risk of soil erosion and reduce your garden’s water holding capacity.
Tillers should be cleaned after every use to improve performance and durability. Remember to wait for the exhaust pipe to cool down, and disconnect the spark plug. Wear gloves and clean off the dirt and caked mud with a brush, and remove the grass, rocks and roots tangled in the blades. Check the manual for instructions on cleaning your specific model.
Tilling is essential for breaking new ground. Tilling also helps to loosen the soil in preparation for planting, eliminate weed, and reduce harmful garden organisms by disrupting their lifecycle. However, frequent tilling is bad for soil because it reduces the compactness of soil and increases the risk of soil erosion and reduces crop residue which shields soil particles from the impact of forceful raindrops. This clogs soil pores and causes ineffective water infiltration.
Tazz 35310 was an easy winner because it has top-notch features such as adjustable tilling width of up to 21 inches, 11-inch tilling depth, 4 adjustable height positions, and 2-in-1 functionality as a tiller and a cultivator. The front tine tiller comes with a quart of oil to get you started.
Our second choice is Earthquake Pioneer 31285 which is also our Upgrade Pick. It boasts of dual-direction rear tines with CRT and SRT drive modes that allow you to easily maneuver the tiller to perform a variety of tasks such as breaking hard ground, tearing sod, mixing and turning soil, and leveling the seed bed. It also comes with 5-year limited warranty.
Our choice for Best Value is a well-known brand in the industry. Sun Joe TJ604E is equipped with a powerful 13.5 amp motor, a collapsible handle, 6 steel tines, 3 height positions, and speed of 370 RPM. What also makes it the best tiller for breaking new ground is the low cost, eco-friendliness and light weight which promotes maneuverability.
Fossil fuel air pollution responsible for 1 in 5 deaths worldwide – C-CHANGE
New research from Harvard University, in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, the University of Leicester and University College London, found that more than 8 million people died in 2018 from fossil fuel pollution, significantly higher than previous research suggested—meaning that air pollution from burning fossil fuels like coal and diesel was responsible for about 1 in 5 deaths worldwide.
Saving Money, Time and Soil: The Economics of No-Till Farming | USDA
For farmers across the country, it comes as no surprise to hear that conservation tillage practices – particularly continuous no-till – can save time and money compared to conventional tillage. The potential benefits of no-till are well-documented, from improving soil health to reducing annual fuel and labor investments.