Whether you’re preparing an existing patch after winter or breaking new ground, having the best rear tine tiller will make your job go a whole lot quicker.
While regular rototillers may be fine on softer soil, if you’re up against clay, rocky soil and roots then you want to be using a rear tine rototiller.
Rear tine rototillers vary greatly in both price and features so it can be a challenge trying to decide which machine will fit your budget while still being up to getting the job done.
We’ve put together a comparison table and some rear tine tiller reviews to help you choose the best rear tine tiller for the money.
Rear Tine Tiller Comparison Table
Best Rear Tine Tiller Reviews
Troy-Bilt have a decades long reputation of producing great tillers and their Big Red Horse rear tiller continues that great heritage. The 4-stroke 306cc OVH engine produces plenty of power and once you start using it you quickly realize why they call it “Horse”.
It has a 20-inch tilling width and the 12-inch, forward rotating, Bolo tines tear through hard ground, roots and anything else it comes across with ease. The tilling depth is adjustable up to a depth of 7-inches.
The pneumatic tires are nice and big at 16-inches and make it surprisingly easy to maneuver despite being a really solid piece of equipment. It has 4 forward, 1 neutral and 2 reverse speeds that are fairly easy to select while tilling.
We really liked that the tiller can be operated with just one hand while walking next to it on untilled soil. It’s so well balanced that there’s no need to wrestle with it from behind to get it to do its job.
Getting it started is really easy too. The electric start means there’s no pulling on a cord to get it going. This tiller has the rock solid feel of some of the old Horse units from a few years back and the cast-iron encased bronze gear drive transmission comes with a limited lifetime warranty. This Troy-Bilt rear tine rototiller is not cheap, but it’s worth every cent.
This is probably the best rear tiller for the money. It may not have the power of the Troy-Bilt but it still packs a punch when it comes to tilling tough soil.
The 196cc 4 cycle OVH engine develops 9.6 foot pounds of torque and shreds through any soil it comes into contact with. It’s a low emission engine and is CARB compliant.
The 11-inch tines are counter rotating and self sharpening which saves you from having to remove the tines for sharpening. The 18-inch tilling width makes this a good choice for tilling large plots and the tilling depth is easily adjusted up to 10-inches.
The machine is well balanced and the 13-inch tires are big enough to allow for good maneuverability.
For the reduced price tag you sacrifice electric start and variable speeds so all you get is one forward and one reverse speed. That being said, the manual recoil starts really easily on the first pull and the forward movement is slow, but steady.
Transporting it means having to remove a pin and pushing the wheels in so that the tines disengage. It’s a simple enough process though. This tiller performs really well in rocky, hard packed soil and chews through even large roots without any trouble. There's a good reason this product features so often in Southland tiller reviews.
Husqvarna rear tillers have a good reputation and the CRT900L is no exception. With a tilling width of 17-inches it’s wide enough to use on a big piece of ground while still being a manageable size to move around without too much trouble.
It has counter rotating tines that are driven at a high rotational speed by a powerful 205cc 4-stroke engine.
The tilling depth has 7 adjustment steps but will only till to a maximum depth of 6.5 inches. For most applications this should be sufficient but this might be a deal breaker if you need to go deeper.
The transmission is chain / gear driven and allows for one forward and one reverse speed.
At 190 lbs it’s one of the lighter rear tine tillers we reviewed. Even in slightly wet ground the heavy tread on the tires provided good traction and the tines chewed through compact ground, roots and rocky soil with no trouble at all.
If money’s no object and you absolutely have to have the very best rear tine tiller then this beast is the way to go.
Besides being an amazing tiller, the tractor combines with a number of other attachments from BCS besides the rear tiller. It is compatible with the power harrow, snow thrower, V-Cultivator, log splitter and a bunch of other cool attachments.
If you’ve got a large piece of land that needs some tough new ground to be broken then this machine is pretty much the best we’ve seen. It has a tilling width of 20-inches and will till down to 8-inches.
The 270cc Honda engine provides loads of power while keeping fuel consumption and emissions very low. Despite the high power output this engine is surprisingly quiet so it’s easy on the ears even after hours of use.
It’s a pull start but it starts really easily and never needs more than one pull.
This tiller will break hard, clay soil where other tillers fail. The forward rotating tines provide a chopping action that makes them less prone to getting tangled with weeds and plant material. This rear tine tiller will be the envy of any farmer.
If you’ve got a small or medium sized garden that needs tilling then this is a great rear tiller for the money.
The 208cc OVH engine provides sufficient power to the 12-inch tines to power through tough soil. The engine has low emissions and is CARB compliant.
The tiller is 18-inches wide and has an adjustable depth of up to 6-inches.
The handles are comfortable and allow for height adjustments to provide good maneuverability.
The wheels are a good size and have decent tread making it easy to turn in a small turn radius. If you’re looking for a rear tiller that doesn’t require too much pushing and pulling to get the job done then this easy to use unit is a good choice.
It has one forward and one reverse speed. A pin needs to be removed to disengage the tines when pushing the tiller back to the garage. It’s pretty easy to do though.
Best Rear Tine Tiller Brands
Troy-Bilt - This is probably the most well know brand when it comes to rear tine tillers. Troy-Bilt, now owned by MTD Products, have been making the best rear tillers for decades and have a well deserved reputation for making tough, powerful rototillers that get the job done.
Southland Power Equipment - Southland, also known as METL (Matt Engine Technologies LLC) have been in the power tool business for about 100 years. They make a range of great power tools for garden use and have a good reputation for making quality products that feature in a lot of tiller reviews.
Husqvarna - Husqvarna manufacture all manner of power tools from snow blowers to chain saws and, of course, rear tine tillers. They combine great power sources with well designed accessories. They’ve standardized on Honda and the Briggs and Stratton engines to provide good reliability and plenty of power.
BCS - BCS make the kind of equipment we dream of at night. They’ve been making quality 2-wheeled tractors and agricultural accessories since 1942. The quality of their products and the versatility that their tractors and accessories offer are unparalleled.
Yard Machines - Like the name says, this company specializes in making equipment used around the yard. They make everything from log splitters, snow blowers and some of the best rear tine tillers. They’ve been around since the 50’s and have a hard earned, good reputation for producing quality products.
Rear Tine Tiller Buying Guide
Ultimately choosing between rear tine tillers comes down to your budget but there are a few things to bear in mind when making your purchase.
Engine - Rear tine tillers are powered by either a 2-cycle or 4-cycle engine. The 2-cycle (or 2-stroke) engines have more power but are noisier and have higher emissions. Because of this you’re better off choosing a tiller with 4-cycle engine. If you choose a 4-cycle OHV (Overhead Valve) engine in the 200cc to 300cc range then you’ll have plenty of power while generating less emissions and noise. Look for something that is CARB compliant or EPA certified. Choosing a 4-cycle engine also means you avoid having to mix oil and fuel, which is a must for 2-cycle engines. A 4-cycle engine also requires less maintenance.
Starting - The tiller engine will either be an electric start or a manual recoil start that requires pulling a cord to get it going. Electric start is always more convenient but it may not be worth the additional money if this is the only differentiator. Most of the newer manual recoil starters have clever designs that allow them to start easily on the first pull.
Tilling Depth - This really isn’t a case of “deeper is better” and you want to avoid excessive tilling. For good results you really shouldn’t need to till deeper than 6 or 7 inches. For certain plants you may even need to till a lot less than that. Besides the depth that the tiller can get down to it’s important to be able to adjust the tilling depth. For some really hard ground you may need to make more than one pass while gradually going deeper instead of trying to do it all in one pass. If the ground is very tough or filled with a lot of roots then you will more than likely need to make more than one pass. Set the tilling depth fairly shallow (around 2 to 4 inches) for the first pass and then go a little deeper on each subsequent pass.
Tilling Width - The wider the tilling width, the more ground you’ll cover in each pass. That being said, the wider the tilling width, the less maneuverable the tiller will be. You want to be looking in the 17-inch to 20-inch range.
Tine Rotation - The three main modes of tine rotation are as follows:
- Counter rotating tines (CRT) - Alternating tines will rotate clockwise and counterclockwise. This provides good stability when tilling but the tines are more prone to getting tangled with plant material.
- Dual rotating tines (DRT) - Tines can be made to rotate forward or in reverse. Can be handy if your tiller is getting stuck in some tough, uneven ground.
- Standard rotating tines (SRT) - Tines are forward rotating only.
Some rear tine tillers will have tines that are self sharpening. This means that at some point during the rotation they will come up against a sharpening surface. This is a great option that saves you the hassle of removing the tines to sharpen them. After a season or two you’re still going to have to get in there to replace the tines regardless of whether they are self sharpening or not.
Rear Tiller Transmission / Gears - Rear tine tillers will have at least one forward speed and, for the most part, a reverse gear too. The powered reverse option is great for when your tiller gets stuck and you need to manoeuvre it back a little before going forward again. Mostly tillers will come with a throttle option of the rabbit / turtle type for fast and slow. Some of the better units will have variable speeds for forward and reverse. The good rear tine tillers will also have a neutral gear where the tines disengage for transporting the tiller back to the shed. The cheap rear tine tillers require locking pins to be removed to disengage the tines when transporting.
Tires - Rear tine tillers with large, pneumatic tires make for for easy maneuvering in the dirt. Look for tires in the 13-inch to 16-inch range. Make sure that they tires have large tread for traction in muddy or tilled soil.
Handles - Handles that are adjustable will mean that you will be able to set them to a height that feels comfortable for you while allowing for easy maneuvering of the machine. Some of the better rear tine tillers will have handles that can be adjusted to the side. This allows you to walk to the side of the tiller rather than behind it. Walking on freshly tilled soil can be tough so this is a great option that allows you to walk on untilled soil to the side of the machine.
Whether you’re busy with annual garden maintenance or breaking new ground on an unworked plot, any one of the rear tine tillers above will be a great option. The trick is to buy a good rear tine tiller and then work at a slow and steady pace. Ideally you want to be tilling flat ground but if it’s a little uneven then a rear tiller will work way better than a front tine tiller will.
If your soil is very rocky then expect your tiller to get jammed up every now and then. No matter how strong your rear tiller is, a big rock is going to stop it. Make sure you have the best rear tine tiller for your budget and then just be patient while you get the job done.
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