How to Use a Rear Tine Tiller

Proper land preparation is crucial for any serious gardener to ensure they get a good harvest.

  • Whether you are preparing an existing seedbed or creating a new one, you need to have proper equipment knowledge. 
  • How to use a rear mount tiller? Before starting up the tiller, ensure you have protective gear on for safety.

Industrial boots, fitting clothing, safety goggles, and work gloves should keep you safe. You also need ear protection from the noise produced during the tilling process. 

Details: How to Use a Rear Tine Tiller?

Read and understand the operation manual and get to know the tiller in depth.

Use a dipstick to check oil levels before operating it. Find essential proponents of the tiller such as tine control, choke, the off/on switch, breaking and reverses levers, etc.

  1. Next, you need to find the tine height adjustment lever at the back end of the tiller. Remove the cotter pin to set the tines to your desired height. After that, put the cotter pin back and lock it in place.
  2. Before starting the tiller, ensure that the drive control and tine control are on neutral. Start the tiller as per your user manual as different tillers use different start mechanisms depending on manufacturers.
  3. Now you look set to go. Set the drive control to D (drive) then hold the handlebars and lift them upwards to lift the rear end of the tiller. The tiller’s handlebars perfectly fit into your hand like a glove ensuring that you handle and control the tiller with ease.
  4. Turn the tine control on to start the tilling and note that the tines rotate in the opposite direction to the one the tiller is moving. Adjust the throttle slowly as you walk behind the tiller and monitor how it works.
  5. Make sure that the tiller is lifting and diverting topsoil to both sides while maintaining your desired depth. Exert pressure upwards or downwards on the handles to maintain your desired tilling depth as you walk behind the tiller.
  6. Keep it simple by tilling straight lines running parallel to the longest width of the till area. Ensure that the tiling paths are free of rocks and other impediments like logs to prevent damage to the tiller.

What is a better front or rear-tined tiller?

Choosing the best tine tiller to work with depends on several considerations like:

  • The size of your garden
  • The condition of your garden, is it new or existing?
  • Your budget

You can choose the best tiller to do your work by evaluating what both tillers can do, putting into consideration the above factors.

Related: How to Till a Garden without a Tiller

Construction and design

The front-tine tillers (as the name suggests) have tines at the front end of the tiller, and their wheels occupy the rear end of the tiller.

  • The tines dig and pull the machine along, meaning the wheels are for support only.

The front-tillers are light, smaller, and look nice generally. Rear-tined tillers tines, on the other hand, are located at the rear end of the tiller.

  • The engine is located directly on top of tines which ensures that the tiller is firmly grounded.

The rear-tined tiller is bigger and meaner looking with a bigger frame. In terms of design, the rear-tined tiller is the winner.

Engine Power and Performance 

The rear-tined tiller has a big engine compared to the front-tine tillers making it powerful and ideal for digging vast tracts of land. 

Front-tine tiller tines rotate forward as they pull the tiller forcing you to hold down it down to prevent it from propelling forward.

  • If your ground is not new, standard rotation is the best to use for you as it works best in mixing the soil.
  • Mixing the soil ensures that it is properly aerated to support soil microorganisms, making it fertile.

The rear-tiller is ideal for tilling a hard or virgin ground making the rear tiller the winner here.

Wheel size and maneuverability

Rear-tined tillers have large wheels with more prominent trends compared to front-tine tillers with small wheels giving them better traction and stability.

  • The wheels pull the tiller forward as compared to the front tillers which are there for support only.

In terms of maneuverability, it’s easier to maneuver front tine tillers in tight spaces as compared to the rear-tined tillers that are hard to maneuver in tight spaces. Related: Front Tine vs. Rear Tine Tillers

Suitable areas

A rear-tined tiller is ideal for tilling a vast virgin land with hard clay soil since it is heavier and holds its ground better.

On the other hand, a front-tine, the tiller is ideal for small tracts of land with soft soil such as loam or sandy soil.


As you have noticed, the rear-tined tiller beats the front-tine tillers in suitable areas, power and performance, wheel size and stability, and efficiency in making the soil fertile.

Although the rear-tined tiller is expensive and hard to maneuver in tight spaces, I would still go for it as it’s the better tiller.

 Will a tiller kill weeds? 

The question every garden owner asks is whether a tiller will kill weeds and eradicate them permanently.

  • A tiller does not kill weeds. A tiller has tines or blades that are used to break up the soil in preparation for the planting season.

With a tiller, it’s easy for you to remove weeds as compared to uprooting them since you will take out the whole weed, including its roots.

  • A tiller also helps in aerating the soil, making it suitable for root penetration.

A tiller offers you a break from the back-breaking labor by automating the weed removal process for you. Don’t confuse that with killing the weed.

How deep can a rear-tined tiller dig?

The rear-tined

tiller has an adjustable depth of cutting blades with the most expensive ones having the most massive blades ideal for hard grounds.

The most expensive ones have a cutting depth of between 8-10 inches with cutting width ranging from 20-30 inches which is very commendable.

  • That is why many professional gardeners and landscapers prefer using them as they are excellent compared to front-tine tillers. 
  • You may optimize the tiller by fitting it with specialty tines. You can do this by buying forward rotating and counter-rotating tines.
  • Others are dual rotating tines that go both backward and forward, which gives you a lot of options while tilling your land.

The different types of tines ensure that you have an easy time farming your garden, whether it has soft or hard soil beds.


Tillers make your work easy as you work on your garden. They assist you to remove weeds that choke your plants.

  • They also play a significant role in ensuring your garden soil remains aerated and fertile.
  • As you may have learned, you need to consider factors like the size of your land, the nature of the soil, and your budget before deciding to buy a rear or front tiler.

If you have a humongous chunk of new land and want value for money, purchasing a rear tiller is a no-brain as it’s easy to operate.

Recent Posts