Got clay, rock or hard soil? 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 the best 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.
Best Rear Tine Tiller Comparison Table
Best Rear Tine Tiller Reviews
Troy-Bilt have a decades long reputation of producing the best tiller for the money 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. This combined with the powerful engine makes it the best tiller for rocky ground.
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 the best rear tine tiller for the money.
If you don't want to spend quite as much but still want one of the best rear tine tillers then the Pony is your best bet..
It's about half the price of the Big Red but you still get electric start and a really powerful 250cc Briggs & Stratton engine that delivers 11 ft-lbs of torque.
You need to plug the tiller into a power outlet using the supplied cord to use the electric start. It also comes with a regular pull start which is easy to use.
The bronze gear transmission is encased in cast iron and comes with a limited lifetime warranty. You get one forward and one reverse gear. The tines only offer forward rotation.
The forward rotating tines come in 3 unique shapes to deliver finely tilled soil. The tines are 12-inches long and will till down to 7-inches at a tilling width of 16-inches.
The tiller is really well balanced and the weight distribution allows for easy one handed operation. Adjust the choke to slow it down and then it simply powers through hard and clay soil.
The 208cc OVH 4-cycle engine develops 9.5 foot pounds of torque and shreds through any soil it comes into contact with at 190RPM. It’s a low emission engine and is CARB compliant.
The engine delivers power via a chain gear transmission. This is the best rear tine tiller under $1000. For the reduced price tag you sacrifice electric start and variable speeds so all you get is one forward and one reverse speed.
Shifting is a little stiff at first but it eases up once it's used a few times.
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 6.5-inches.
The machine is well balanced and the 13-inch x 5-inch tires are big enough to allow for good maneuverability. The single handed operation allows you to stand off to the one side so you don't end up walking through tilled earth.
That being said, the manual recoil starts really easily on the first pull and the forward movement is slow, but steady. You might need to use the choke a little if the engine is cold.
We like that you can disengage the tines while still engaging the forward gear. It makes transportation a lot easier. This transportation mode is engaged without having to remove any pins from wheels like on other tillers.
This tiller performs really well in rocky, hard packed soil and chews through even large roots without any trouble.
This great unit comes a close second for being the best dual rotating rear tiller for the money. It may not have the power of the Troy-Bilt but it still packs a punch at a fraction of the price.
Sadly they've discontinued this model and we just don't know why. It's one of our favorites. You can still find some for sale online so grab one while you still can.
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 and will 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.
This is the best rear tine garden tiller that Husqvarna produce. It's not surprising that this unit keeps featuring in Husqvarna tiller reviews.
If you’ve got a small or medium sized garden that needs tilling then this is one of the best rear tillers for the money.
The 208cc OVH engine provides sufficient power to the 10-inch tines to power through tough soil. At this price point you only get a pull start but it works well.
The tines are counter rotating and are great at tilling new ground. The tiller is 16-inches wide and has an adjustable depth of up to 6-inches. The tine shield does a good job of stopping that dirt from shooting up against your legs.
The handles are comfortable and allow for height adjustments to provide good maneuverability.
The wheels are a good size (13" x 5") 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 speed only. We would have preferred a reverse gear but the performance and lower price tag make up for this.
Assembly is pretty simple and from unpacking to tilling won't take longer than 30 minutes. Being a bit more compact it will store easily in a portable garage.
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 reviews keep rating highly.
Craftsman - Build great midrange tillers focused on no-fuss performance at an affordable price. Manufactured in USA.
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 home garden tiller reviews.
Husqvarna - Husqvarna manufacture all manner of power tools from the best 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 the best log splitters, snow blowers and some of the best rear tine tillers reviews keep listing. They’ve been around since the 50’s and have a hard earned, good reputation for producing quality products.
What Is The Best Rear Tine Tiller To Buy - Buying Guide
What is the best rear tine tiller to buy? Ultimately choosing the best tiller to buy comes down to your budget but there are a few other things to bear in mind when making your purchase. Rear tine garden tillers review most of these aspects listed below.
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. This is the same tradeoff you have when choosing the best commercial weed eater.
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.
Top rated 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. Most of your top rated tillers will have large pneumatic tyres.
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.
Front Tine vs Rear Tine Tiller
Deciding between a front tine and rear tine tiller really just comes down to the type of ground you're working with as well as the terrain.
If you have a large open space that doesn't have a lot of obstacles then a rear tiller is the way to go. This is especially true if you're dealing with hard soil, clay or if the ground has rocks and roots in it.
If you're working in a smaller home garden of flower bed then a front tine tiller would be a better bet. These are easier to maneuver, they're cheaper and will get the job done if the soil isn't too hard.
The best rear tine tiller for the money doesn't have to be expensive but it will cost more than the front tine versions.
Whether you’re busy with annual garden maintenance or breaking new ground on an unworked plot, any one of the top rated rototillers 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 home garden, get one that matches your budget and then just be patient while you get the job done.
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