What Is The Difference Between Front Tine Tiller And Rear Tine Tiller?

By Ann Sanders | Soil Care

front tine vs rear tine tiller

A great tool for tilling a garden, a farm, unbroken new ground, or multiple flower beds is the tiller. However, which tiller should you use as a beginner gardener? You've probably gone to the store and found out that there are two types of tiller. One is called the front-tine tiller and the other is the rear-tine tiller.

​So how to distinguish the initial from the latter? Is there any difference between them? Let’s find out below.

​What Is A Tiller Anyway?

A tiller uses a metal blade in order to dig and till the ground. This is similar to a cultivator, which also has the ability to till soil but is small-scale in comparison. Therefore, cultivators are more for detailed work within smaller gardens.

​A tiller does large-scale tilling because it's the bigger and heavier duty tine. This heavy-duty piece of equipment is gas-powered or electric-powered. Its working width is much bigger and its motor has more power than the cultivator as well.

​Don't mistake a cultivator for a tiller, especially if you require huge tilling work for small-to-medium gardens or for farming purposes.

​What Are Front Tine And Rear Tine Tillers?

Front Tine Tillers

YARDMAX YT5328 Compact Front Tine Tiller

Via amazon.com

​The front-tine tiller pushes the tiller rather than pulls it. You can use it for various odd jobs in the garden such as composting, soil preparation, and weeding.

​This tiller type has tines that assist in moving the machine forward while digging into the soil, as opposed to manual tilling with a pick axe or the assistance of a beast of burden. Some front-tine tillers even have the option to engage the tilling tines in reverse or in forward.

​Rear Tine Tillers

Yard Machines 208cc Rear Tine Tiller

Via amazon.com

​The rear tine tiller pulls the tine rather than push it. With engine-driven wheels they are used for tilling large planting areas.

​They have forward-rotating tines that can till existing beds as it moves forward or rearward for the sake of working in compost, weeding, removing old or dead plants at the end of the season, or dealing with cultivation.

​These tillers can also possess counter-rotating tines that turn in the opposite direction of the wheels for a more thorough tilling job, especially when dealing with unprepared or untilled land. This makes such tillers more productive and multipurpose than even reversible front tine tillers.

​These tines work great at breaking new ground (as the turn of phrase goes) and can dig deeper into the soil compared to its front-tilling counterpart. You can even avail of tillers with dual-rotating tines so that you can shift from counter-rotation or forward-rotation to match the work you need to do.

​What Is The Difference Of Front Tine And Rear Tine Tillers?

best electric tillers

As a rough rule of thumb, front-tine tillers are medium-grade tilling machines in between the great strength and power of the rear-tine tiller and the small-scale cultivation capabilities of the compact cultivator. This tine-pushing tillers are the medium drinks to the rear-tine tillers' large drinks and to the cultivator's small drink. It's mostly a question of scale at first.

​However, as you dig deeper into the details, you'll quickly realize that front-tine and rear-tine tillers differ more than just the placement of their tills. The rear-tine's pulling action is just part of the story. It also has counter-rotating tines which a front-tine tiller doesn’t have.

​A front-tine tiller uses its forward-rotating tines to move it forward or rearward. Meanwhile a rear-tine tiller has the unique ability to move forward while pulling tines that rotate in the opposite direction, thus making this tiller type the strongest and largest tilling machine of the three.

​In Conclusion

Should you buy a front-tine tiller or a rear-tine tiller? It depends on the scale of your job. You might want to throw in a cultivator in the mix for the smallest of gardens out there. Their prices also reflect the size of garden they're capable of tilling.

​For people who have small-to-medium gardens instead, a front-tine tiller is usually enough to fill their needs. However, the heaviest duty jobs in the biggest fields of wheat or untilled land will benefit from a rear-tine tiller that's capable of moving forward with tines that can counter-rotate.


About the Author

With the endless passion for organic living, I - Ann Sanders has come up with the idea of creating A Green Hand. Being the founder and editor of A Green Hand, my goal is to provide everyone with a wide range of tips about healthy lifestyle with multiform categories including gardening, health & beauty, food recipe,...