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What’s the Difference Between a Tiller and a Cultivator?

tilling_small_gardenHere at Rental Ranch, we have both roto-tillers and cultivators available to rent and we also sell STIHL cultivators.Tillers and cultivators are often mistaken for one another, but each serves a different purpose. Before buying or renting either piece of equipment, it's important to understand when you should use a tiller and when to use a cultivator.

What is a Tiller?

Tillers have strong motors and come in both front and rear tine models. Rear tine tillers have tines that are behind the motor. Rear tine tillers are relatively easy to maneuver, can dig deep and are great for tilling a large area. Front tine tillers have tines in front of the motor. They’re generally used for smaller gardens that don't have as many roots or weeds to contend with.

When Should a Tiller be Used?

Garden tillers are used to break up hard ground and prepare the garden bed for planting. Tilling is essential for new garden beds and should really be considered a requirement. Your soil health is greatly improved by tiling and it makes planting seeds easier. By turning over the earth, you bring fresh soil to the surface and increase the amount of moisture your plants will receive.

What is a Cultivator?

A cultivator has smaller tines and a less powerful motor than a tiller, so it’s not meant to break ground. Trying to till your soil with a cultivator would make for a long, tough day. Cultivators can be either gas powered or corded and cordless electric.

When Should a Cultivator be Used?

Cultivators should be used for mixing soil that’s already been broken up, such as when compost or fertilizer is added after tilling and before planting. Cultivators can also be used after planting to control weeds. Cultivating after your plants have broken through will also help the new shoots gain access to water and other nutrients as they grow.

Whether you need to buy or rent a tiller or cultivator, the Rental Ranch staff is happy to help you find the right tool and show you how to use it.