-Amperage (amps):
11
12
13
13.5
2.5
6.5
8
9

-Color:
Blue
Green
Grey
Lime
Red

-Cord Length (ft.):
1

-Cutting Width (in.):
12 (Grass Trimmer)
14

-Deck Size (in.):
18.9

-Mulching Capability:
No

-Power Source:
Electric

-Size of Yard:
1/4 - 1/2 Acre

-Telescoping:
Yes

Tillers + Cultivators

Tillers + Cultivators

Joe knows that tilling and cultivating gardens using a traditional shovel to churn the soil is back-breaking work. That’s why Sun Joe has developed a full line of top rated garden tillers, rototillers, and cultivators to make planting chores a breeze! If you’re looking to mix existing soil, opt for a high-quality, lightweight electric cultivator, like the Sun Joe 2.5 Amp Aardvark. If you need to break ground on a new garden, Joe has

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Articles           

Tillers, Rototillers, + Cultivators Buyers’ Guide

A lush landscape filled with bright, blooming flowers beds and green, growing gardens will make your house the landscaping envy of the neighborhood and will certainly boost your home’s curb appeal.  To achieve this, gardeners need the help of a cultivator and/or a tiller, two great garden hardware essentials that every gardener should own in his or her toolshed. But, what exactly is the difference between a tiller and a cultivator?  The two terms are often used interchangeably, but these two tools actually do very different things.  We’re here to set the record straight between tilling versus cultivating, and help you determine what ergonomic tools you’ll need to enrich your landscape’s soil with the nutrients it will need to foster optimal plant, lawn, and flower growth.

What is a “Rototiller”?

Rototillers are tillers with rotating tines or blades. In today's market, "Rototillers" and "Tillers" are synonymous. 

Tillers Versus Cultivators Versus Furrowers

If you need to tend to a residential garden, you’ll most likely require the use of a tiller and/or a cultivator.  Tillers come in front-tine and rear-tine (blade) configurations. Tines are the sturdy steel blades that rotate and churn the soil. Tillers are primarily responsible for breaking up solid ground, whereas cultivators are used for mixing loose soil, weeding the panting area during the growing season, and stirring in compost or fertilizers that are vital for optimal soil nutrition.  While both tools employ the use of metal blades/tines to dig into the ground, tillers plow new ground, whereas cultivators blend the soil in an existing planting area.  The difference between a tiller and a cultivator is almost analogous to the CRUSH ICE function on your kitchen’s Vitamix blender (tilling action) versus the BLEND or MIX function (cultivating action).

Tillers and Rototillers are built for:

  • Breaking moderately hard (front-tine) to hard (rear-tine) ground
  • Digging both small-to-medium gardens (front-tine) and large (rear-tine) gardens
  • Loosening soft (front-tine) and hard/rocky (rear-tine) soil

Cultivators are ideal for:

  • Blending soil in a pre-existing planting area
  • Mixing in compost and fertilizer
  • Controlling weed growth

Furrowers, which resemble snow-plows, are ideal for digging trenches and creating the mounds that are seen in cornfields.  Furrowers primarily have industrial applications and are only used for commercial purposes.

Combination Tiller/Cultivators

Many modern garden machines till and cultivate. These versatile power tools can be used to break ground and mix soil.

Choosing Between a Tiller and a Cultivator

The first consideration you will need to make when choosing the right piece of equipment is to assess the size of the planting job.  For light-duty work in smaller areas, cultivators are ideal given that they are lightweight, smaller, and easy to maneuver in tight spaces, especially in and around compact flower beds. 

Cultivators come in a variety of power sources: gasoline power, corded electric power and cordless electric power. If you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint and would rather save yourself the hassle of messing with fuel or pull-cords, opt for an easy-to-use corded electric or cordless electric model, like the Sun Joe Aardvark 2.5 Amp Electric Garden Cultivator. Such gas-free models start reliably with a simple push of a button, are safe to store in your garage or toolshed, and require virtually zero maintenance from one planting season to the next.  When using an electric cultivator, or any outdoor corded appliance, it’s important to follow all the manufacturer’s safety recommendations and use a proper outdoor extension cord compatible with the given tool.

For heavy-duty jobs in larger areas, tillers are more practical since they are typically more powerful, and feature larger, heavy-duty tines that can break moderately hard and deep ground. They can also cover a larger surface area in less time than a smaller cultivator.  Traditionally, the term ‘tiller’ has been applied strictly to gas-powered machines.  However, with the advancement in electric and lithium-ion battery technology, many corded electric and cordless electric models have been able to perform as well as, if not better, than their gas-powered counterparts to warrant being called a ‘tiller’ or a ‘tiller/cultivator’.

Rototiller Features and Options

Electric Versus Gas Tillers

Generally speaking, electric tillers are ideal for home use - plowing vegetable and flower gardens. Electric tillers are lightweight, easy to store, and require zero maintenance. Sun Joe is one of the leading manufacturers of electric rototillers, and the Sun Joe TJ604E 16-Inch 13.5 Amp Electric Garden Tiller/Cultivator is the top-selling tiller in the electric category, scoring top marks for price, performance and power.

Gas tillers are generally geared for commercial use, and are larger, heavier, and more powerful than electric rototillers.  Some gas tiller manufacturers include Honda, Husqvarna, Troy-Bilt, Cub Cadet, Powermate, Briggs & Stratton and Earthquake.

Corded Versus Cordless Tillers

Cordless tillers, like the Sun Joe iON 40-Volt 4.0 Amp-hour Cordless 12-Inch Garden Tiller/Cultivator, are perfect for small to medium gardening projects. Powered by 40 Volt lithium-ion batteries, cordless tillers are easier to maneuver, since you never have to worry about having to be tethered to a cord. Operation is simple: just insert your fully charged battery pack into the designated compartment, push a button, and go! Corded tillers, while they do require use of an outdoor extension cord, can be more powerful than their cordless counterparts, and can run endlessly without having to recharge a battery.

Tilling Power

Power is an important consideration when investing in a corded electric, cordless electric or gas tiller.  Generally, the more powerful the tiller’s motor or engine, the faster it will be able to complete the job. More powerful tillers are also better at digging into hard-packed soil or clay.

For gas-powered tillers, power is measured by the horsepower (HP) of the engine.  For electric tillers, power is measured by the Amp rating of the motor.  The greater the motor’s Amps are, the more powerful the tiller.  For battery-powered tillers, you will need to consider both the voltage of the battery and the amp-hours rating to have a better understanding of the battery’s (and thus the tool’s) power capacity.  Power capacity is a measure of how much energy is stored in the lithium-ion battery. This power is often expressed in Watt-hours (Wh). A Watt-hour is the voltage (V) that the battery provides multiplied by how much current (Amps) the battery can provide for a given amount of time (generally in hours). In simplest terms, multiply the voltage by the Amp-hours to determine the Watt-hours: the greater the Watt-hours of the battery, the greater the battery’s power capacity. 

Tilling/Cultivating Depth Control

Rototillers with wheels generally have the option to control the digging depth of the rotating blades, which makes the tiller more versatile. If you are looking for more precise depth control, select an adjustable rototiller that has more wheel settings. Also be aware of the maximum depth at which a tiller can operate. Tillers designed with a wider tine diameter can generally dig deeper.

Tilling/Cultivating Width

The width of the tiller determines how much dirt can be churned in 1 pass. Wider tillers require fewer passes to churn a plot of land.

Front-Tine Tillers Versus Rear-Tine Tillers

There are two types of tillers: front-tine tillers and rear-tine tillers. Tines are the large, rotating blades that churn the soil.  The type of tiller you choose will depend upon your digging plans.

Front-tine tillers are ideal for everyday planting chores in small-to-medium-sized gardens. These include breaking soft to moderately hard ground, weeding, soil preparation and composting. As their name conveys, these tillers’ tines are situated at the front of the machine body, which help to propel the unit forward as it works to overturn the soil. Front-tine tillers are easier to maneuver than rear-tine tillers, since their wheels are situated at the back, thereby facilitating quick turns and reverse motions.

Equipped with engine-driven wheels, rear-tine tillers are best suited for larger planting areas.  Such machines can have forward-rotating tines, counter-rotating tines, or dual-rotating tines.  Forward rotation works best for existing flowerbeds where you need to cultivate, weed or stir in compost.  Counter-rotation, where the tines rotate in the direction opposite that of the wheels, works best for digging deeper into the soil and for breaking up new ground. With dual-rotation, you can choose between forward or counter-rotation depending on your tilling needs.

Plotting Your Planting Plans

Now that the dirty little secret of great gardens has been revealed, the next time you look at your barren patch of turf or nutrient-deprived soil, consider investing in an easy-to-use and affordable garden tiller, cultivator, or tiller/cultivator and make your dream yard a reality.  These handy, garden tools, especially those that are electric or battery-powered, turn the exhausting and time-consuming task of shovel-churning the soil by hand into an easy, fun-filled exploration into what can be created from nature’s earth. Can you dig it? 

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