Garden Tiller Buyers Guide

Every Earthquake tiller is designed to excel in its intended use. We've broken down the most common uses for cultivators, front tine tillers and rear tine tillers to give you a better idea of which is best for your application. 


A cultivator’s purpose is to mix ground that has already been broken. Cultivating compacted soil allows for more nutrients and water to reach the roots of the plant.
At the same time, a cultivator breaks up small weeds that may be starting to grow between rows or around your plants, reducing competition for nutrients. Another common use for a cultivator is mixing fertilizer into the soil. Many users find that pulling a cultivator towards you and then pushing it away like a vacuum cleaner achieves the best results.
If you attempt to break new ground with a cultivator, you will most likely be disappointed with the performance due to the small frame of the machine.
Many raised bed gardeners prefer cultivators because they are light enough to be placed in their garden beds and easy to maneuver so that they do not damage the outer structure. 
Pros: Cons:
  • Maneuverable
  • Lightweight
  • Fits well between rows and around plants
  • Shallow soil penetration
  • May take a long time to do larger spaces


Front Tine Tillers

A front tine tiller is designed, in part, to do the same job as a cultivator but with a larger frame, wider/deeper tilling capabilities, and more power.
The largest difference in function is the ability of a front tine to prepare a seed bed in the spring. Because of its larger tines and more powerful engine, a front tine tiller does a great job of mixing topsoil up to 11” deep and can prepare soil for seed with much less effort than a cultivator. However, the larger size makes them more difficult to maneuver in tight spaces.
The standard rotating tines (SRT) of a front tine tiller may be capable of breaking new ground, however this job is better suited for a rear tine tiller with counter rotating tines (CRT).  A front tine tiller can be a stand-alone machine for established gardens. However, for larger gardens or breaking new ground, you may want to consider a rear tine tiller. 
Pros: Cons:
  • Deeper and wider tilling than a cultivator
  • Still maneuverable despite its larger frame
  • Not made for breaking new ground
  • Slightly more difficult to handle than a cultivator


Rear Tine Tillers

A rear tine tiller is an extremely powerful machine. They are perfect for breaking virgin ground to create a new seed bed. The tines dig deep into the soil as the machine moves itself along with self-propelled wheels. All Earthquake models come with an instant reverse feature that makes transporting these large machines easy and convenient. Rear tine tillers come in three different configurations: CRT, SRT and DDT. CRT (counter rotating tines) are best for starting a new garden and tilling virgin soil. SRT (standard rotating tines) are designed to level a seed bed and create a smooth finish. DDT (dual direction tines) have the capability to switch between both CRT and SRT. The Earthquake Pioneer is a DDT configuration. Simply start with the machine in CRT mode to break up the soil, then switch to SRT to put an even finish on your seed bed. Many rear tine tillers can be a chore to handle since they are the most powerful and the heaviest of the tillers. However, Earthquake rear tine tillers are surprisingly pleasant to operate and can be run with just one hand. 
Pros: Cons:
  • Easily break virgin ground and start new gardens
  • Self-propelled
  • Great for large open spaces
  • Reverse
  • Heavier than front tine tillers
  • Not as easily maneuvered around small plants
  • More expensive