Front Tine vs. Rear Tine Tillers – Differences?

A tiller will help you in turning and aerating the soil in your vegetable garden or farm. So, for tilling a raised flower beds or new ground, a tiller has gained increased attention among DIY gardeners. Front Tine vs. Rear Tine Tillers

Therefore, I’ve made a comparison of the front tine vs. rear tine tillers. 

Summary: Rear tine tillers have more power – hence are appropriate for tilling larger and open gardens. However, they’re equally heavy and costly compared to front tine tillers. 

However, front tine tillers enable closer tilling for small spaces and around most obstacles. They are also cheaper than comparable rear tine tiller – considering power and size. 

Details: Front Tine vs. Rear Tine Tillers – Differences? 

– For new uncultivated Ground: You might want to consider renting or buying a rear tine tiller. Its counter rotating tines are just what you need to get started. 

For thoroughly worked soil: A front tine tiller is more ideal for thoroughly worked soil and maintaining gardening soil on a regular basis. The user has to hold the equipment back to get a thoroughly tilled garden – more physical effort is needed for hard ground surface.

Tilling depth

1. Front tined tiller

4-8 inches is considered the ideal tilling depth for front tined tillers. Its tilling width is adjustable, typically between 12 and 16 inches. You will need muscle power to control the tilling depth of the tillage and in propelling the machine forward.

The design of the front line tiller renders it difficult to operate in hard and uneven ground surfaces. As the tines pass over hard obstacles, they tend to jerk the tiller forward which renders it unsuitable for deep tillage.

2. Rear tine tiller

Rear tine tillers make it easy to till at relatively higher depths (8-10 inches) and width (20-30) inches in exceptionally hard ground.

The wheels rotate at a set speed in forward or backward motion which allow the equipment to stay in place as the tines dig the ground to the preferred depth. The tines of this equipment are designed to continue digging even after stopping the machine which allows it dig deeper. 

Rear tine tillers are relatively larger, heavier and pricier compared to front tined tillers of the same size. A rear tine tiller can be run single-handed as the user guides it along because the wheels are engine-powered.

Related: How to Till a Garden without a Tiller

Tiller Application

1. Front tined tillers

Suitable for odd garden tasks such as composting, weeding and soil aeration. Their ease of manueverability and light weight capacity allows them to work around tight corners and saves on storage space.

If you are a suburban land owner, you will find this equipment particularly useful due to its capacity of handling gardens of up to 2500 square feet. Several gears allow the machine to control the equipment on both hard and soft ground.

2. Rear tine tillers

They are more ideal for large scale gardeners and farmers. They are more expensive & more heavy than front tined tillers. Its wheels are powered by the engine which allows the tines to rotate independently.

The engine powered wheels allow the rear time tiller to be used in large planting areas. It is particularly useful in composting, removing dead plants, cultivating and weeding. The equipment’s is highly useful in untilled or unprepared land which makes it more multipurpose than the front tined tiller.

Tiller Cost

When making the buying decision, it is imperative to establish product description of the equipment that is best suited for your gardening needs.

Tillers are available in various sizes, with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars for smaller units to thousands of dollars for the larger units.  In addition to their affordability, smaller tillers are preferred for their ease of use and storage.

Tillers with four-stroke engines tend to be costlier but they produce less emissions, a major selling point in today’s green economy.  The size of the garden is a key determinant of individual tilling needs.

1. Front tined tiller

Mid-sized front tined tillers cost ranges from $500- $750. They are more suitable for individuals with a smaller budget and looking to work in tighter spaces.

Whereas renting seems the better option for those needing the equipment for a one-time job ($100 per day), an avid gardener might want to purchase the front tined tiller for long term needs.

2. Rear tine tiller

Given the additional features of rear tine tillers, they tend to be more expensive than front tined tillers. It is therefore important for you to do some research based on such factors as ease of use, the tiller size and comfort of using it.

Larger rear tined tillers’ cost ranges from $800 to $2000. Larger gardens spanning over 5000 square feet require larger rear tine tillers such as a 6 horse-power engine.

Which Is Best? Front Tined or Rear Tined Tiller?

Making the right choice when purchasing a tiller for your garden depends not only on the size of the tillage but also the type of soil in question. For compacted and rocky soil, a front tined tiller is more ideal.

As the rotating tines cut into the ground, the tiller is propelled forward, which in the process gets the garden ready. Front tined tillers are more suited for gardeners requiring little to moderate amount of tilling work.

The rear tine tiller is a heavy duty which is more ideal for landscapers and gardening enthusiasts. They can take on larger tracts of land and prepare the soil to make it easier for cultivation. Rear tine tillers are also easier to control which makes them for perfect gardening by making straight lines. 

When choosing the right type of equipment for your tilling needs, you might want to consider the model description to ensure it can meet the current gardening requirements.

Care and maintenance

Whether you opt for the front tined or rear tine tiller, it is imperative to take proper care of gardening equipment. The dirty nature of gardening work calls for the need to care for tillers through regular maintenance.

Keeping the machine clean is imperative, particularly by paying more attention to the tines. If this proves to be too time intensive or cumbersome, you can always call the company for servicing depending on the level of usage.

Pros and Cons of Front Tined and Rear Tine Tillers

1. Front Tined Tiller


  • Highly maneuverable in small spaces
  • They are lightweight and available in small and mid sizes
  • They are relatively cheap


  • Not ideal for rocky, uneven and hard ground
  • As the tines beat hard soil debris, the front tine tiller tends to be pushed forward
  • Guiding the tiller is energy intensive

2. Rear Tine Tiller


  • Relatively powerful
  • Fairly easy to steer due to their mode of propulsion
  • The wheels operate separately from blades
  • Heavy duty equipment suitable for cultivating pristine grounds


  • Relatively bulky
  • Expensive
  • Unsuitable for small spaces



I’m Taylor Yard – yard preparation and gardening is my life. I am expert in site and soil preparation using overturning, tilling, stirring, and digging.

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