The Best Rototiller

Husqvarna FT900-CA Adjustable Width Front Tine Tiller

Our Top Pick for 2016: Husqvarna FT900-CA Adjustable Width Front Tine Tiller
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $449.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

We decided to put our testing staff together and find the best rototillers in the market. There were a lot of models we sorted through—some good, lots bad, and some in between. We put together our criteria for greatness and started tilling. After some vetting, we came up with the top four products on the market. We have the top three- our gold, silver and bronze choice and our follow-up bonus buy to round out our list. Here is our official word on the best four rototillers available.

Table of contents

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139-cc OHV 5.0-Foot/Pounds Engine
208cc Briggs & Stratton Engine
Powerful 12-amp Motor
Adjustable Tilling-width Of 11, 16, And 21-inches
Adjustable Tilling Width – 12, 24 And 26-inch
Cultivates Up To 16 Inches
Tine-diameter Of 11-inches
Front Tines
6 Durable Steel Angled Tines
Built-in Manual Recoil
Includes Drag Bar And Counterweight
Maximum Durability And Performance
Easy Start Fuel Delivery
CARB Compliant
3-position Wheel Adjustment

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Husqvarna FT900-CA Adjustable Width Front Tine Tiller

Husqvarna FT900-CA Adjustable Width Front Tine Tiller Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $449.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerAfter research, our number one gold pick is the Husqvarna FT900-CA adjustable width front tine tiller. This is a powerful tiller that has plenty of great options that made it stand out to us. It is adjustable, so you can use it at whatever width you need to most effectively finish your job. It has a lot of motor power, but gives you enough control to harness that power and utilize it efficiently.

We loved the performance of the Husqvarna tiller. With this one it felt like a lot of power, easily controllable and harnessed by its design. This tiller is 100-pounds and its dimensions are 47.5-inches by 33.4-inches by 23.5-inches. It has an adjustable handle bar with easy-grips. This is particularly helpful if you have to work on bumpy land or very hard, rocky soil. It has a 208cc Briggs & Stratton engine that offers a lot of muscle to it. We liked the ease of directing it, despite the power.

This Husqvarna also is useful for a variety of areas. It can be adjusted to a tilling width of 12-, 24- or 26-inches. This makes it easy to decide what size beds you want to prepare and adjust for width. It also can be adjusted in till depth. There are six depts. To choose from at increments between 4- and 6 ½-inches. This is helpful because you can easily decide the depth you want to go and alter it for different crops you want to plant. It also is very helpful with shallow tilling for weeds at low depth, or deeper tilling for digging the proper space for roots. We thought the adjustable width was the perfect addition to this machine and the fact that it is easy to pick between widths is an added bonus feature.

It has an adjustable depth bar also that can be lowered or raised for convenience. On the model, you’ll find the tines at the very front, with powerful pushing of the wheels just behind. This is a great design that allows for maximum power to push the tines as they move and dig faster. There also is a drag bar that helps to provide additional weight for stability and balance. We also liked that this machine required minimum man/woman-power. It did most of the work with its own build, saving our team of tillers from physical strain.

This model is also CARB compliant, which is great news for California residents who need a reliable and efficient tiller. It has a ¾-gallon fuel tank that takes unleaded gas. The size of the tank allows for reasonable area coverage without having to refuel too frequently. It also has a recoil start, but we found that it was easily engaged every time we needed to turn on the machine. There is a reverse gear option also that helps if you have particularly compact dry areas to till.

The wheels on the Husqvarna are 8-inches, which we found is a good size to be effective in most tilling situations. On top of its effectiveness, it also offers a lot of user control. There are plenty of customizable features that will let you fix the machine to your exact specifications and for the purpose you need fulfilled.

In the end, this is a very good machine that we found to be highly effective in many different tilling situations. If you need a tiller, Husqvarna managed to create a machine with the perfect balance between power and control. For your next tilling projects, be sure to check out the FT900-CA adjustable width front tine tiller. It will handle just about any tilling situation you may have.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Southland SFTT140 Front Tine Tiller

Southland SFTT140 Front Tine Tiller

View it on Amazon for $367.12*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerOur silver pick for rototiller is the Southland SFTT140 front tine tiller. This tiller is hefty and robust. We loved that its power is easily harnessed by its design. It definitely stood up to our testing and here’s why we promoted it to our number two pick.

We loved the design of this rototiller. The company motto is “durable by design” and they live up to that with this machine. It comes out of the box with a 139cc OHV engine that is capable of 5-foot/pounds of torque to the machine. We used it in various settings and found that no matter where we were, it delivered durable and efficient results. It was definitely one of the top machines we tested out and we gave it our second-place nod as a result.

This Southland tiller weighs 109-pounds and its dimensions are 30.1-inches by 16.3-inches by 25.6-inches. What we loved about it was that it was particularly good at handling rough uneven land. It has sturdy 8-inch wheels at the back behind the tines that kick down for easy use. You can push it to wherever you need it easily with the tines elevated. When you’re ready to use them, you can set them into the ground and get the job done. The movement of this tiller is fluid and it is sturdy enough to handle just about anything. We loved how it had that durable by design build, but still was easy to use.

It has a folding loop-grip handle that was comfortable and sturdy. It was put to the test in multiple applications, this meant that it had to be strong. We found that the handles were the perfect match for its power and drive. They were easy to hold and long-term use would still be comfortable for the user.

A lot of times when machinery is built durably, it moves into the professional-grade model that just isn’t usable for the general public. If you have been doing a job for years, it works. However, people who are new to that machine may have a difficult time learning how to use it properly. That likely won’t be an issue with the Southland. It is strong, but it is also built for convenience. The tine width is 11-inches but can be adjusted to 16- and 21-inches which makes it perfect for residential yard use. Like our number one pick, having the adjustable tine option also makes it easy to use on a wide variety of layouts. If you have narrower flower beds and need a smaller width, the 11-inch setting can easily accommodate. On the other hand if you have a large area to till, the maximum width of 21-inches is perfect because it can cover a lot of ground quickly.

The Southland tiller has a manual recoil start that easily engaged the engine. Both the recoil easy-start feature for fuel delivery and the gear drive are armed with Poly-V best systems to extend their life. We appreciated that Southland added some extra care to features that would extend the life of the machine. It always earns more points during our evaluations when we feel a company not only wants to supply an excellent product to their buyers, but they also want to supply long-lasting products that will stand up over time. Speaking of extras, the tines are self-sharpening. This is another element of this tiller that will make it useful for years to come.

In the end, we are happy to award the Southland SFTT140 Front tine tiller with our silver title. It is a great tool that did everything we asked of it and more. If you need a tiller that truly is “durable by design” consider this one. After a few uses, you likely will be as big a fan of Southland as we are.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Sun Joe TJ603E 16-Inch 12-Amp Electric Tiller

Sun Joe TJ603E 16-Inch 12-Amp Electric Tiller

View it on Amazon for $124.32*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardOur bronze level product for best rototillers is the Sun Joe TJ603E 16-inch 12-Amp electric tiller. We loved the look of the Sun Joe—it’s black and bright green. It reminded us of the outdoors and growing fresh grass or flower beds. On top of the look though, it also performed outstandingly well for all the testing we did with it. Here are the details on our assessment of this tiller.

What we liked most about the Sun Joe tiller was its design. It has two handles to direct it. Though at first we questioned whether or not they would be effective, they worked well. We were used to the large-grip handles, or the loop-grip. Yes- these are huge reasons why our number one and two picks earned their placement, but the two separate handles on the Sun Joe faired exceptionally well. We found that even in difficult compacted earth, we were still able to maintain control of the machine with the dual handles. We thank the overall design for that. The weighty motor made it a sturdy machine that earned its third-place slot. The top part of the handles also fold down, making storage of the rototiller that much easier.

This is also another powerful rototiller. The Sun Joe comes to the market with a 12-amp motor at 340RPM. We found that this is a good power level- it allowed us to get all of our test gardens done quickly and efficiently. Some of our test gardens were easier but some were nasty weeded areas we wanted to face off against our rototillers. The Sun Joe managed to easily handle them. It has that powerful motor to push it along and the strong tines to break up whatever we needed it to. This rototiller weighs 27.1-pounds and its dimensions are 55-inches by 43-inches by 17-inches. Admittedly it is considerably smaller than our top two picks, but that doesn’t mean it can’t do the job. Everything we tested it on, it tore through quickly. Plus it still was able to reach a depth of up to 8-inches with tilling at a relatively easy pace.

You can thank its power partially to the motor, but some credit has to be given to its 6-steel tines at the front. They are set at 16-inches apart and can easily cover a lot of area. Even if you have a large yard to till and aerate, this is a machine that will take care of it no problems at all. We liked that the tines are so powerful and made for easier work. One thing we noticed however is that we had to put some of our own weight into it when pushing it along the hardest land we cultivated. With our number one and two models, we let the machine do all of the work. The Sun Joe needed some power, but not enough to pull it out of contention or to keep it out of our top three rototillers.

Manufacturers offer a full two-year warranty on the Sun Joe rototiller. This was a great extra because of how we feel about companies standing behind their products. Our goal is to always bring the highest quality items to the market and having one that comes with a great warranty is an additional benefit.

If you need a smaller machine to till a moderate-to-difficult area, consider the Sun Joe TJ603E. It is still a very powerful machine with a great delivery. Yes- you may have to use some of your own power more than the others, but if you’re prepared for it, that shouldn’t be a problem.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Earthwise 11-Inch 8.5-Amp Corded Electric Tiller

Earthwise 11-Inch 8.5-Amp Corded Electric Tiller

View it on Amazon for $85.00*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickWhen we do our vetting, we always come up with our top three first—the gold, silver and bronze pick. Then we go back and pick one more model. This is the one that is our budget product. It usually is lower in cost and features, but we believe it still has enough to offer to make it a stand-out product. In the case of rototillers, that choice is the Earthwise 11-inch 8.5amp Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator, model TC70001.

This Earthwise model tiller is our official budget pick because of its unique features. First of all, it runs with zero-emissions. This is a nice advantage if you are looking to keep your home and yard eco-friendly. It also has a switch to turn it on/off. You won’t have to work with a recoil-start and for some people that might be a huge advantage. This model runs with 8.5amps on 120v/60Hz. It has a 320 RPM idle speed. We found that as our budget pick, this is a great option. It has enough power and motor strength to get through most difficult yard work. We tested it out on our hardest ground and it was still able to cut through the soil and aerate it for use. Plus, it’s self-propelling so for users who are smaller or not as powerful, this is the perfect option.

This model is smaller than our top two picks but equitable to our bronze pick. It is 27.5-pounds and its dimensions are 20.5-inches by 14.8-inches by 14.8-inches. Like the bronze pick, this one won’t give you problems with transport or use. It is easy to push through difficult ground. It also has four steel blade tines at the front that do the work for you. They are set at a stationary width of 11-inches. This is a good size—it means that you can till between crops easily or you can use it multiple passes for larger areas. Overall, it performed very well in our variety of testing areas.

We also liked that with the Earthwise, you can till to a depth of 8 ½-inches. That is a huge benefit. Any gardener knows that seeds have to be completely covered to grow. By creating a till depth that deep, it means that just about any type of seed will be accommodated easily.

The one-bar handle on the Earthwise is ergonomically constructed with a soft-grip. Remember that if you are tilling, likely you will be pushing the machine for an extended period of time. Having a comfortable grip is critical. That’s why we put so much weight on it and time assessing it on every one of our models. This one stood up easily due to its design. It was comfortable to hold and easy on the back—even when finishing up more difficult compacted earth projects.

We are confident that as a budget buy, the Earthwise 11-inch 8.5amp tiller is great. It stood up to models much bigger and much more powerful, but still did the job. If you want a lighter-weight but still effective rototiller, consider this one. It has a lot to offer and gets large projects done in a snap.


Pre-purchase considerations

With every assessment we do, we first decide on what considerations we are going to focus on. We want the key deliverables that are going to separate machine quality. There were a lot of rototillers in the market but what would set them apart? We decided that the motor, the ease of use, the warranty and the extras were all things that would make the line between good and great that much easier to find. Here are the details on what we looked at with each consideration.

Motor

With rototillers our first consideration was the motor. We wanted motors that were powerful due to the types of gardens a tiller has to manage. Sure some are well-kept and manicured all the time, but what about those that aren’t? Or, what about the homeowners who want to turn an untouched area into a garden? We wanted to find the rototillers that would work equally as well with every type of application—new garden, old garden, soft soil or hard soil.

When it came to power, we wanted the great motor, but also coupled with the sturdiest of steel tines. Sure a good motor gets you somewhere, but the tines are what will get you the soil break-up you want. We looked for durable tines that “cut” into soil regardless of how compact it was and easily broke it up. With any tilling project, proper aeration is key. A good motor and the tines are what provide this.

We are confident that after our testing we have found the top four models that serve every purpose needed. Not only do our top four have the ability to power through anything, but they can easily stand up to use time and time again. We anticipate these machines lasting for years to come and serving a lot of homeowners with exactly what they want—beautifully aerated and soft soil to start their own planting projects.

Design

With any larger machine we always look for comfort of design. With bigger projects needing bigger machinery, it can take longer amounts of time to get the jobs done. This means that the person working on the job may be attached to the machine for extended periods of time. We want to be sure that what we promote will be easy to use and effective.

We looked at things like the handles—how they were structured, how easy it was to push them, how easy it was to grip them. We wanted to be sure that the designs played well to a wide variety of people. We always think of the 250-pound man who has to get a job done and the 115-pound grandma who wants to finish a job too. Universal advantages are key for manufacturers to win our allegiance. The rototillers we chose all can be used by professionals or by the novice. They take minimum maintenance and practice.

We also looked for a design in each tiller that would effectively break up soil quickly. This meant that the tines had to be placed in the right way. They had to be easy to maintain. Self-sharpening blades got a few extra points. We wanted the entire design to play well for the tilling purpose.

Warranty

With big equipment we are aware of how durable it has to be. We know that it should be able to stand the test of hard work. Because of this we always look at the warranty offered by the manufacturer. If they do their job the right way, they should have no problem with standing up for their products and their performance for years.

We want warranties that protect our customers and will support them long-term. Of course we are realistic; any machine that takes a beating will need some care. That doesn’t mean that manufacturers can’t offer service free-of-charge and one-, two- or even three-years of limited warranty service. We take it as a show of good faith. If they are willing to stand behind their products, then a manufacturer likely is confident that they put enough time and effort into creating a great one. Each one of our products comes with a warranty to make longer-term use of the equipment that much more reliable.

The Extras

With every piece of equipment we go through the regular things like motor, wheels, blades, etc. We make an assessment of what we will demand and what level of performance is non-negotiable. Anything that falls beneath it is quickly knocked off our list. We then look at how items perform in a wide variety of areas. Finally, we look at the extras. Many times it is the extras that are the tie-breakers for us.

With rototillers there are extras to be had. It can be a folding handle. It can be an extended warranty. It can be an adjustable till width. Whatever extras we noted, we quickly tallied them up into our metrics. We wanted to be sure to give each model and each manufacturer the proper rating so as to get the placement of our top picks right. The extras are what oftentimes separate lists for us and truly give us a picture of what models are deserving of higher (or lower) ratings. We carefully consider each extra and valuate it as a bonus element of the whole package.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

In the end we are more than satisfied with our final list. Our top four products are all great buys in the market of rototillers. They have exactly what you need to get any job done—motor power, great designs, hefty blades and ease of use. If you need a rototiller, of course you are going to do your own research, but our ratings are a great place to start. After all the tilling we did with different models, we’re happy to do the hard lifting for you and showcase our findings.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. Husqvarna FT900 Review. TopTenReviews.
  2. MRJOHNDEERE3720. Tilling the flower bed with the HUSQVARNA FT-900 TILLER. July 8, 2013.
  3. Doresoom Reviews. Southland 139cc Front Tine Tiller Review. March 27, 2016.
  4. Southland SFTT140 Front Tine Tiller. Lawn and Garden Unlimited.
  5. Sun Joe TJ603E 16-inch 12-Amp Electric Garden Tiller and Cultivator. Sam’s Club.
  6. Cameron Brown. Sun Joe TJ603E Tiller- Cultivator Review. January 12, 2016.
  7. TC70001 Earthwise 8.5 Amp Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator. EarthWiseTools
  8. Cultivator and Tiller Buying Guide. Lowe’s.

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