A Guide to Rototillers and How to Use Them

The Rototiller is an essential piece of equipment when you’re looking revamp your garden and give it a bit of a makeover. It helps to bring up the soil so that a planting bed is able to drain moisture well and you’re able to either make amendments to an existing one or use it to make a new one.


Before you get your hands a bit dirty, get yourself a bit clued up on how to use one so you can create the perfect bedding for your plants and give your back garden a bit of pizzazz alongside your fancy cane furniture and patio surfacing.

What are the Types of Rototiller Available?

Before using your rototiller, if you haven’t bought one already it may be worth understanding what tools you have available at your disposal when it comes to types of a rototiller. There are two types that you can look out for, each with their own different purpose:

Front Mounted Rototiller

Front Mounted Rototiller


This type of rototiller is a gasoline-powered tiller where the anchors can be found at the front. You can essentially look at a rototiller like a lawnmower as it operates very similar to one. It has different speed options available and you can use it going forward or backward.

Due to the weight and size of front-mounted models, they can be easier to maneuver around the soil so you can look to use this type when you’re either working on a bed that already exists or soil that’s already loose in the ground.

Rear-Mounted Rotary Tiller

Rear-Mounted Rotary Tiller


As the name suggests the tillers on this type of model are more located at the back. The majority of the time you’d expect that they would be equipped with speed controls and you’d be able to adjust the controls for the depth in which you wish the anchors to deepen in the ground.

Opposite to the front-mounted rototiller, the rear mounted type are heavier because they’re able to power their own movement across the ground. In which case, they’d be better equipped for harder ground.

Now you’ve had a bit of an overview of what types of tillers you have available, this should help when it comes to actually doing the work. Depending on the type of soil you have in front of you can determine the type of tiller you use and whether it’s suitable for the conditions.

If there’s plenty of moisture because of rainy conditions, the soil can easily bunch together, forming larger pieces of dirt that are harder to break up. This makes it difficult for water and nutrients to pass through to the roots of the plants so they don’t grow as well. On the flip side, if you have soil that’s too dry, it can become really hard to grind through with the rototiller.

Luckily, mentioned above is the rear-mounted tiller which is more suitable for the harder ground. Because it’s more powerful it can tackle firmer ground much better, but bear in mind these can be more expensive. It’s advised that a good soil temperature before tilling is at 60 degrees, which means it’s not too damp or dry and can be perfect for conditions.

Just be sure to remove anything lurking in the soil that can be caught up in the rototillers. Anything on the ground like rocks and large debris should be removed from the surface so it doesn’t flick up when you’re grinding through the soil.

Checking the Machine

Checking the Machine


After studying the surface, if you feel it’s got the green light to start the work, we first want to make sure that the rototiller is right to use.

Do a quick inspection of your rototiller like checking that the fuel tank, for example, making sure it’s topped up when you start your work to save stopping and starting again. Most importantly, the anchors are key to grinding through the soil so be sure they are in good condition or not damaged.

You also might want to check at what position the anchors are as they are adjustable. This determines how deep into the ground you want the tillers to go. If the ground is hard then you’ll want to adjust them to a shallower setting so you can grind out the top surface before getting to the softer part below the dirt.

Where Should You Start?


When you’ve positioned yourself correctly with the rototiller and it’s been prepped, you should now be ready to start using it. Be sure to have a firm grip on the handlebars though so you’re able to have some sense of control on it. Although they tend to pull themselves along you wouldn’t want it to go off on a different path than you were expecting.

With the front-mounted rototiller, it’s likely that you’ll need to manually control the anchors for them to be able to go into the dirt. You can do this by pulling up the handle which will consequently make the tiller move forwards or backward. If it moves too fast, there can be occasions where it doesn’t break up the soil properly so to help this hold back the tiller a little bit.

For a rear-mounted rototiller, as mentioned previously they can normally be maneuvered without too much effort from yourself. As it’s a heavier machine, the anchors will stay on the ground a lot better so you won’t need to control them like you would with the front-mounted rototiller.

Each time you work the rototiller, you should run them next to each other so that you can cover the whole bed and don’t miss any gaps. Once you’ve covered the full length of the garden, then do a second one which goes deeper into the soil to really break it up.

Adding Any Amendments

For any amendments, you’re looking to embed within the soil, try to do this after you’ve gone your first round of using the rototiller. As the soil’s been made loose from your first passing it should make it easier for any amendments you have to be put into the soil.

To make sure it’s evenly distributed try to stick to the pattern you were working with when you did the first pass to break up the soil.

About the Author Laura Bennett

Hello, I’m Laura Bennett. I love nature especially when it comes to flowers and different kinds of plants. I started a very small garden behind my house and I named it Humid Garden. So, I created this blog to provide aspiring and inspiring thoughts about gardening for gardeners and anyone who has the intention of keeping a garden.

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