Finding the best mini tiller for your needs can be tricky at first. There are lots of options to choose from, though they might not all be ideal for you.
In this guide, our gardening pros compare 5 of the best mini tillers and cultivators before taking a closer look at the key things to consider before making your choice.
Here’s what we found.
|Product & Features||Earthquake MC33 Mini||Earthwise TC70065 Corded||Schiller Grounds Care 7920 Mantis 2-Cycle||Sun Joe 24V-TLR-LTE||Greenworks 40V Cordless|
|Power||33CC||6.5 Amp||21.2CC||2.0 Amp||4.0 Amp|
|Dimensions||17.7 x 32.7 x 39.3”||52 x 12 x 17”||48 x 17 x 38”||43 x 6.5 x 4.5”||48 x 14 x 42”|
|Weight||29 lbs||15 lbs||20 lbs||6 lbs||38.9 lbs|
The Best Mini Tillers: Reviewed
- Forward and backward operation
- Adjustable depth control
- Adjustable tilling width
- Multi-purpose use
- Easy to maneuver
The Earthquake MC33 is an extremely versatile and compact tiller and can be considered a veritable jack of all trades in the garden. Not only does it function as a small gas tiller, but it doubles up as a cultivator, soil aerator, and fertilizer/mulch mixer. It’s the ideal multi-purpose tool that will ensure your flowers and veg can grow in perfect soil conditions.
The MC33’s versatility doesn’t stop there either. Height adjustable wheels allow you to alter the tilling depth to a maximum of 8”, while also making transportation much easier. Meanwhile, two sets of removable tines offer a 10” width that’s ideal for tilling or a smaller 6” that is great for cultivating smaller plots.
But there’s a lot more to love about the Earthquake MC33 than its flexibility alone. The powerful 33cc 2-cycle Viper engine enables you to make quick and easy progress and can plow through the soil with ease. With an overhand grip and throttle arrangement, paired with its lightweight and small size, it’s also comfortable to control. The MC33 can be used both forwards and backward, which makes it extremely easy to maneuver, particularly around more fragile plants.
Set up is a breeze, simply attach the handle with 4 bolts and wingnuts and you’re good to go. It starts up without issue time after time, though a generous 5-year warranty gives you peace of mind. Finally, should you wish to service your MC33, all the important parts are easy to access and remove/replace.
Overview: The Earthquake MC33 is the ideal multi-purpose tool for small to medium yards and is in its element tilling and aerating previously tilled soil rather than compacted earth. It’s a top choice for casual gardeners, and its lightweight, maneuverability, and simple controls mean anyone will feel comfortable with it.
- Extremely lightweight
- Comfortable ergonomic grip
- Easy start
- Corded electric motor
- 4 x durable steel tines
The Earthwise TC70065 is an easy to use, lightweight mini rototiller, powered by a hefty 6.5-amp electric motor. This gives you all the power of a more traditional gas engine, with none of the fumes and servicing issues. It is powerful enough to break new ground, though it functions best when maintaining previously cultivated soil. It may bounce a little on the first pass with harder soils, but should soon stabilize.
With a slim design, it’s lightweight and easy to maneuver through gardens, vegetable patches, and even raised flower beds. The ergonomic handle has a soft grip for added comfort, further improving handling. It’s also extremely easy to start, though you will need 2 hands to release the safety switch. Otherwise, simply plug in and hit the start switch to get to work.
The TC70065 boasts high-quality materials, with strong, durable steel tines that won’t warp or break when coming into contact with small rocks or hard roots. It tills to a maximum depth of 8” and a width of 11”, making short work of your soil. However, be sure to check the tines on this mini cultivator after use for roots and string that may have wrapped around them.
Overview: the lightweight and easy to use Earthwise TC70065 is an ideal choice for small to medium plots and yards. It might not be the best choice for harder, untilled soils as it may struggle to break, and it’s not suited for large plots due to potential cable limitations. Otherwise, it’s an affordable choice for the hobbyist gardener and is the ideal tool for maintaining larger flower beds and vegetable patches.
- Compact, lightweight design
- Powerful commercial-grade 2-cycle engine
- Multiple, easy to fit attachments
- Durable, patented serpentine tines
- Fold-down handles
The Mantis is among the most powerful compact tillers on the list, and while it looks like a small cultivator, it packs a big punch. With a powerful 2-cycle engine that delivers a whopping 240 rpm, it can smash through hard-packed soils and clay with ease. As such, it’s great for digging perfectly formed planting holes for new trees and shrubs, in even the toughest soil.
But it’s also extremely versatile and has many more tricks up its sleeve. The 10” tilling depth ensures you can transform hard soil into a well-turned planting bed in no time. By reversing the tines, you can transform this miller tiller into a small cultivator capable of shallow cultivating to a depth of 2 to 3”, ideal for speed weeding.
The engine is easy to use and maintain, with a starter rope and push-button priming making it simple to start each time. A handy kill-switch on the handlebars is an excellent safety feature, while throttle style speed control allows you to constantly adjust the speed. The strong serpentine tines can handle rocks and roots, and while the machine may bounce a bit, the steel will hold its shape, backed by a lifetime guarantee.
A carry handle makes it easy to move around the garden when you’re not tilling, while the fold-down handles ensure it packs away small enough to fit into anyone’s life. Optional attachments transform the Mantis into a multi-purpose tool that can manage your soil entirely.
Overview: The Mantis is a top choice for tackling tough soils, the powerful engine, and tough tines making short work clay and compacted earth. It’s also ideal for smaller jobs as well and is a great tool for maintaining flower beds and vegetable patches, speed weeding, and cultivating. Beginners may feel intimidated by its power at first, but the ease of use and maneuverability make it fairly beginner-friendly.
- Adjustable telescopic handle and ergonomic auxiliary handle
- Extremely lightweight
- Quick assembly
- 24-volt 2.0 Ah Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery (30-minute run time)
This small garden tiller from Sun Joe is a superb addition to your garden arsenal. Powered by a rechargeable, 2.0 amp battery, it offers 30-minutes of continuous use and can power through previously tilled earth and compacted soil alike. It uses the same battery as any other 24-volt Sun Joe tools, so if you have their other tools, you’ll no doubt have a spare.
The small size and extremely lightweight making it easy to use. With a tilling width of just 4.5”, you can easily get around your plants to ensure you till and cultivate every inch of soil. The 6-inch durable dual steel tilling blades have no problem slicing through weeds and loosening soil, though it may struggle with hard clay and extremely compact earth. The blades are easy to remove, with easy pull pins securely holding them in place, yet pulling off when required. This makes removing tangled weeds a breeze.
Comfort is prized in this battery-powered mini-tiller, with a telescopic pole that can be adjusted to a height that suits you, between 28.3 and 37.3”. In addition, an adjustable auxiliary handle makes working with this small cultivator comfortable and easy. All adjustments can be made with ease without tools, and the quick assembly ensures you can get started without delay.
Overview: This is one of the best small tillers for gardening tasks on our list, as long as you appreciate its limitations. It’s best suited for small areas, particularly flower beds and vegetable patches, where it can get into the nooks and crannies that larger tillers would struggle with. It’s not suitable for tilling large areas of untilled earth however and can struggle to break compact soil.
- Folding handles
- Push-button start
- 6” rear wheels
- 4 × 8” adjustable steel tines
- G-MAX 40V 4AH Lithium-Ion Battery (40 minutes run time)
This is the largest of the electric mini tillers on our list, yet it still offers good control and handling. The powerful GMAX 40V Li-Ion System delivers plenty of power and a reliable performance time after time, without worrying about maintaining a gas engine or tripping over extension cords. It’s also compatible with more than 40 other Greenworks tools.
The 8” tines can make short work of a variety of soils, transforming compact earth into nicely tilled soil down to a maximum depth of 5”. A robust drive transmission ensures that even the toughest spots won’t slow you down. There are 4 tines and by removing the outer 2, you can reduce the tilling width from 10” to 8.25” for those tighter spots. The depth is also easily adjusted, making this a versatile tool for both tilling and shallow cultivating.
Two 6” wheels make transporting this mini tiller a piece of cake, while the fold-down handles ensure it packs away small. The wheels also provide stability in case of hitting rocks or hard roots. The tiller is easy to start with the push of a button, while a safety catch prevents you from starting it accidentally.
Overview: This mini tiller is a good choice for medium plots rather than smaller flower beds. The powerful battery and strong tines mean you can till even tough patches with ease, cutting through hard earth like butter. It’s suitable for a range of tasks, ensuring you can keep on top of larger plots with ease.
Buying Guide for the Best Mini Tiller
Having looked at five of the best mini tillers on the market, it’s clear to see that not all little garden tillers are made equal. Indeed, there’s a wide range of shapes and sizes to choose from, as well as additional features that you may or may not need.
Choosing the right mini tiller for you isn’t necessarily about picking the most popular one. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the main things to consider before making your choice. In this way, you can make an informed decision as to which is the best mini rototiller for you.
Mini Tillers: Key Features
While most mini tillers share similarities, there are a number of key features that differ from product to product.
There are two main power sources for mini tillers, not counting manual power; gas and electric. Gas-powered tools tend to have more power than their electric counterparts, though this isn’t always the case. Indeed, with modern technological advancements, there are a number of powerful electric mini tillers that can more than stand up to gas versions. We’ll take a closer look at this in a bit.
Gas engine size is typically measured as cubic centimeters (cc), which refers to the total volume of air and fuel that is pushed through the engine’s cylinders. As a general rule of thumb, the larger the engine capacity, the more powerful your tiller will be.
Electric motors and batteries are generally measured in amps, and again, the higher the amperage, the more powerful the tiller will be. Generally speaking, little garden tillers don’t require huge amounts of power. However, for tilling hard compacted earth or clay, or covering large areas, a more powerful engine or the motor will be far more efficient.
– Tilling width
Mini tillers typically have a small tilling width between 4 and 12” or so. Tillers and mini cultivators with a smaller tilling width are excellent for turning the soil in smaller plots, where they can get into the gaps that larger tillers cannot. Meanwhile, a larger tilling width is preferable for larger plots.
Be sure to check the gaps between your plants or crops to be sure you choose a tiller that fits your needs. Some mini tillers, like the Earthquake MC33, have an adjustable tilling width, so if you need a more versatile tool that can fulfill multiple roles, seek these out.
– Tilling depth
Like the width, it’s important to consider how deep you need to till or cultivate your soil. This depends on your specific needs and plans. Tillers that are capable of digging deeper into the ground are great for creating planting holes for trees, bushes, and shrubs. They’re also best for turning larger areas, ready for planting crops or flowers.
If you only need a cultivator for weed removal, you probably don’t need to go too deep. Adjustable tilling height is available on many models, which is ideal if you need to turn the soil and later cultivate it. Be advised that on less powerful mini tillers, it may take several passes to reach the maximum depth, especially on harder earth.
When tilling, it’s inevitable that you’ll occasionally hit a hard patch — a rock, brick, or even tough roots. As such, it’s important that your tiller is able to stand up to such abuse. Tines must be made from strong steel that can take a hit without warping or bending. Lower quality materials are more likely to break down faster, whereas stronger ones are typically backed by a lengthy guarantee.
Also, consider the build-quality of your mini tiller. This is a tool that will vibrate a lot, and suffer occasional bumps. Therefore, it’s important that everything from nuts and bolts, to battery or engine supports, are strong enough to withstand the conditions they’ll be put under.
The best mini tillers on the market are capable of fulfilling multiple roles and performing an array of different jobs. Indeed, numerous models boast that they can take care of all your soil maintenance tasks with just one tool. Things like adjustable tilling width and depth are extremely useful and immediately transform a tiller into a cultivator.
Other attachments and adjustments can turn your tiller into a soil aerator, or fertilizer and mulch mixer. So, if you’re serious about maintaining your soil regularly, it’s worth looking at models that can do as many tasks as possible, rather than purchasing several different tools. Often, it’s a simple case of switching from one attachment to another and using the same motor or engine.
– Backward operation
This is a handy feature that not only improves maneuverability but also makes it easier to untangle roots and string that may have gotten caught up in the tines. When cultivating, it’s not uncommon for roots to get tangled, and with a reverse operation, removing them is easy, saving you time.
An alternative to backward operation for removing tangles is easy to remove and replace tines. Great tillers will enable you to remove the tine, untangle the mess, and securely replace it in less than a minute.
Gardening is hard work, but there’s no point in making it harder than it needs to be. The best mini tiller for you should be one that you’re comfortable using and that doesn’t tire you out needlessly. Tiller and cultivator manufacturers have numerous ways of increasing comfort and building a more ergonomic tool.
Here are some of the things to look out for:
- Adjustable handles: the more adjustments you can make to your tools, the more you can position them to suit you. Handles that can extend or shorten can be adjusted to suit your height and prevent stooping or stretching, allowing you to use your tiller more comfortably for longer.
- Wheels: many mini tillers are designed to rest on the tines and require you to lift them when you need to transport them. However, you can find a number of models that feature wheels. Not only does this make it easier to transport, but it also improves stability in case you hit a rock or hard root.
- Soft grips: prevent blisters and enable you to keep hold of your tiller with ease. This is especially important if you hit a hard patch and the tiller jumps or bounces.
- Carry handles: specifically included to make it easier to move your tiller when not in use, this is a considerate and handy feature in lieu of wheels.
Things to Consider When Buying a Mini Tiller
With an idea of some of the key features to look out for when choosing a mini tiller or cultivator, you’re hopefully closer to making your decision. However, there are a few other points to consider.
Let’s have a look.
– Type of soil
The type of soil you need to tackle plays an enormous role when choosing the best mini tiller for you. Loose, softer soils that have previously been tilled won’t need an overly powerful tool to keep them under control. On the other hand, hard, compact earth and clay will require a tool with more guts to break through it, at least initially.
Soil that is very rocky will also need a larger, more powerful mini-tiller to ensure it can break through without breaking down. It’s also important to remember that many smaller tillers will struggle with soil that is full of large, older weeds and roots.
– Plot size
If you just have a small vegetable plot or raised flower bed, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to invest in anything too big or powerful. In fact, in this case, a larger tiller will probably cause more problems, whereas a more compact tiller will be able to negotiate the gaps with ease.
Meanwhile, if you have a lot of soil to turn and cultivate, a wider tiller that digs deeper will vastly reduce the time it takes to turn the soil. In this case, a more powerful engine or the motor will also speed things up.
Gas vs Electric Mini Tillers
One of the big choices to make when selecting your ideal mini tiller is whether to go gas or electric. Both have their pros and cons, and while neither is better than the other, your requirements and experience might help sway your decision.
– Electric mini tiller pros and cons
- No emissions
- Less noise
- Easier to start
- Low maintenance
- More user-friendly
- Corded models are restricted by cable length
- Battery-powered models are restricted by battery life
- Typically less powerful than gas
- Expensive to repair or replace batteries
– Small gas tiller pros and cons
- Longer range than most electric models
- Typically more powerful than electric models
- Cheaper to repair
- Harder to maintain
- Fuel emissions
- Noise pollution
- Can be difficult to start for novices
Battery-powered mini tillers are great for smaller plots as well as raised vegetable or flower gardens, but won’t always function as well in large yards, as you might find the battery life isn’t up to the task. However, with quick charging stations and spare batteries, there’s no other reason why some of the best electric mini tillers cannot handle larger areas.
Corded electric mini tillers don’t need to worry about running out of juice halfway, but you might find that the cord restricts your range. So, be sure you have the required extension cords before you get started.
Gas mini tillers are excellent for mid-sized plots and tougher soil conditions, though larger, more powerful models may struggle with smaller plots.
Buying the best mini tiller for you depends on various factors, and it’s not just about buying the biggest, most powerful model you can find. Making the wrong choice can either cause a lot of damage to your plants and crops or result in taking far longer to till your earth than is necessary.
For us, the top choice for small to medium residential plots with tough soil conditions has to be the Schiller Grounds Care 7920 Mantis 2-Cycle Tiller Cultivator. While it looks small, the Mantis is a beast and can cut through the clay and compact earth like butter.
For small plots with tight gaps, you can’t beat the Sun Joe 24V-TLR-LTE Garden Tiller + Cultivator. It’s small tilling width and ergonomic design gives you full control, ensuring your plants remain safe as you maintain your soil.
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