8 Best Rear Tine Tillers | Garden Rototiller

Over my years of home gardening experience, I’ve laid my hands on almost every type of gardening tool you can imagine. I’ve tested out several different makes and models of various equipment types and come to understand what makes a tool useful. 

Looking at a tiller’s abilities, design, and manufacturing quality tells you which one will accomplish the job you’re looking to complete.

So, join me, and let’s walk through the top pieces of equipment currently available to get your soil ready for planting. We’ll also discuss the features you should consider before buying.

Investing in the proper tools is essential for any gardener. Make sure you’re making an informed purchase by reading through and taking the advice in this guide. 

Best Rear Tine Tillers At A Glance

Toro Tiller Rear Tine 17" 127cc Briggs & Stratton

Best Rear Tine Tiller For the Money

Toro Tiller Rear Tine 17″ 127cc Briggs & Stratton

Premium build rear tine tiller powered by the exceptional 127cc Briggs & Stratton 4-cycle engine. Features dual direction tines

Champion 19-Inch Rear Tine Tiller

Best Rear Tine Tiller Under $1000

Champion 19-Inch Rear Tine Tiller

Counter-rotating tines to cut through tough sod. Self-propelled 13-inch tires. 212cc Champion 4-cycle engine. 8-Inch Tilling Depth.

Legend Force 20 in. 212 cc Tiller

Best Rear Tine Tiller Under $500

Legend Force 20 in. 212 cc Tiller

A powerful yet cost-effective tiller, with a 212cc engine, counter-rotating steel tines, with 6-inch tilling depth.

What To Look For When Buying A Rear Tine Tiller

Now that I’ve given you a few of my top picks, let’s take a deeper dive into the specific elements of each model. I’ll point out some additional features that are important to consider, plus why they matter in this type of equipment. 

Engine & Power

The higher the cc of a garden rototiller’s engine, the higher the capacity for pushing fuel and air through its cylinders. When you’re looking at an engine’s cc count, you can gauge its general power output and the amount of force it can generate. 

The size and level of difficulty of the landscaping projects you’ll be regularly using your tiller for will be a determining factor in the power of the engine you want to seek out.

2 or 4-Cycle Engine

Outside of the cc count, another defining feature of an engine is whether it categorizes as a 2-cycle or 4-cycle. The number of cycles associated with an engine equivalates to the number of piston strokes it takes for an engine to go through the combustion process.

2-cycle engines require only one upward and one downward movement of the pistons through the engine block’s hollow cylinder to complete fuel intake, air compression, fuel combustion, and exhaust cycle. 

4-cycle engines take four piston strokes to accomplish the same thing. Here is a more detailed breakdown of the operation of these engines: 

  1. Fuel induction – the piston makes its first downward movement to pull air and fuel into the engine. The gasoline enters when the intake valves open during this movement, and the exhaust valves close. 
  2. Compression – after both of the valves close, the piston makes an upward movement that compresses the new combination of air and fuel. 
  3. Ignition – as the piston makes its next downward motion, the engine power generates. This movement carries the nickname of “power stroke.”
  4. Exhaust cycle – the intake valve closes and the exhaust valve opens to release exhaust through the final upward stroke.

Make sure you’re using the proper oil formula for your engine.

2-cycle engines burn the oil in conjunction with the fuel. This means that the oil has to have a specific, lower level of ash content to prevent blockages from buildup in the opening of the exhaust valve. Keeping those valve ports clear is critical to the engine’s overall performance. 

4-cycle engines hold the oil separately in an internal infiltration basin. The formula for 4-cycle engine oil has to be precise to allow for proper flow into the necessary engine parts. 

4-stroke engines are also more environmentally friendly and don’t require the extra time and effort it takes to pre-mix the engine’s gasoline with its oil. 

Some benefits to 2-cycle engines include being easier and less expensive to repair, thanks to a simple mechanical design with fewer engine parts, and being about half the physical weight of 4-cycle engines. 

Tine Rotation

The tines are the extending metal parts of a garden tiller that do the physical digging up and turning over of the soil for planting or mixing in additives like fertilizer and pesticides. 

Dual

Any rear-tine tiller categorized as having dual capability possesses the ability to switch between standard and counter-tine modes. These models give the user a level of versatility and flexibility between different landscaping jobs that suits those with varied projects. 

Standard

Standard-rotating tines mean that the blades spin forward in the same direction as the tiller’s wheels. This standard rotation is best to use while digging up shallow weeds and other commonplace gardening work that doesn’t require achieving any meaningful depth. 

Counter

Counter-rotating tines turn in the opposite direction of the tiller’s wheels, which generates a high level of friction. This allows the tiller to break through the tough surface dirt with ease. 

Most rear-tine tillers come equipped with CRT, but you can find ones that are singularly SRT, which you would want if the only work you are doing is similar to reworking an existing garden. 

Working Depth and Width of Tiller

Rear-tine tillers generally support a higher depth and width capability in comparison to front-tine tillers. The depth refers to how far into the ground the tines can reach and the width refers to the amount of surface area the tines can cover. 

All tillers come with the ability to adjust the depth that the blades will reach. Each job requires a certain depth and it’s important to know what the optimal depth adjustment is before you get to work.

Wheels & Self Propulsion

The wheels on rear-tine tillers turn to direct the equipment forward and once you’ve secured it in the right position, you then can start to till. The wheels rotate independently, unlike on front-tine tillers. This ability makes the machinery very easy to maneuver despite its bulky sizing.

Transmission Type

The transmission in a tiller allows the equipment to operate at differing speeds and the ability to move both backward and forwards. There are usually up to three forward speeds and only one or two reverse speeds that the transmission provides.

Older versions of garden tillers carry gear-drive systems that require the machinery to come to a complete stop to switch the gear it’s running in. Newer, more sophisticated models have hydrostatic drive systems that operate very closely to the way that automatic transmissions do.

Certain models have belt-drive transmission systems that function with pulleys to change the drive ratio. Although this is a less advanced system from a mechanical standpoint, a major benefit that comes with belt drives is that the belt takes the brunt of the damage instead of the transmission itself when it comes into contact with a sharp object like a rock. 

It always pays to check out as much of the manufacturer information as you can. When you’re investing in landscaping machinery, it is critical to have a rich understanding of the product.

Speed and Controls

Certain models offer variable speed controls which amplify the user’s control and make handling more precise. 

Someone who lacks experience with this type of equipment might ignore the circumstantial capacity of the tiller and press forward through a project at full speed, which can easily overload the engine and potentially harm it to the point of burning out. 

Another interesting feature to consider is the option to go with a rear-tine tiller that has an electric start. This is a very different mechanical setup than the traditional gas-powered tiller that offers its own range of benefits. 

The start-up time is significantly faster with an electric start version versus a gasoline-powered one. Most of the time, all it takes is the press of a button and you’re up and running without any mess or preparation that comes with traditional fuel. 

These models are also more compact and sometimes foldable so they make great choices for homeowners with limited tool storage space.

Ease of Use & Weight

Something else to take into consideration is the weight of the machine itself. Rear-tine tillers most commonly weigh somewhere between 150 to 200lbs, but heavy-duty ones can weigh even more than that. 

You will need to decide how heavy a piece of equipment you can manage based on your size and strength. Someone with a smaller physical frame will have a much easier time maneuvering a tiller that falls in the lightweight category. 

People consider tiller models with fewer drive modes to be the easiest to use.

Safety Features

The majority of rear-tine tillers possess built-in safety features like an additional bar on the side and one or more shields on the back as protective measures for the user.  

Sometimes a tiller will come with a built-in counterweight system that helps to increase the balance and stability of the machinery. This enhances performance and also lowers the chance of accidental injury to the user or damage to the tiller itself.

Best Rear Tine Tiller Reviews

I have hand-picked some of my favorite rear tine tillers and categorized them based on price band. The Best Value For Money, the Best Under $1,000, and the Best Under $500. 

I have taken into account the build quality and design. The power output and performance. Ease of use and how suitable each product is for domestic and light commercial use. 

1. Toro Tiller Rear Tine 17″ 127cc Briggs & Stratton

Best Rear Tine Tiller For the Money

1. Toro Tiller Rear Tine 17" 127cc Briggs & Stratton
  • Engine Power: Gas, 4-Cycle, 127cc
  • Tine Rotation: Dual 
  • Tilling Width: 17-Inch
  • Tilling Depth: 11-Inch
  • Self-Propulsion: Yes

One of the best features of this tiller is its dual tine rotation. Dual-capable tillers best fit professionals and homeowners with more experience since it takes a little more finesse to switch between the two modes, depending on what the current soil you’re working with requires than it does to simply turn a piece of equipment on and go. 

The versatility that comes with its dual rotation capability is prime. I also love the smooth transition into reverse via its instant system that doesn’t require me to stop and shift gears, which can be clunky. 

The wheels have substantial width, which gives the equipment impressive traction, and for a tiller of this size to have this easy range of motion is a huge win. Professional or experienced landscapers will appreciate its 1-handed capability. 

2. Champion 19-Inch Counter Rotating Rear Tine Tiller

Best Overall Rear Tine Tillers Under $1000

2. Champion 19-Inch Counter Rotating Rear Tine Tiller
  • Engine Power: Gear Drive, 4-Cycle 212cc
  • Tine Rotation: Counter
  • Tilling Width: 20.9-Inch
  • Tilling Depth: 58.7-Inch
  • Self-Propulsion: Yes

This model comes in with a more powerful engine than the last one. That combined with the brute force of its tines is merciless. I’ve stripped down some tough vegetation with this one. 

19-Inch Counter Rotating Rear Tine Tiller with Self-Propelled Agricultural Tires (Overview 100380)

Its counter-rotation system is perfect for clearing out overgrown areas because of its specialized function for shredding rough terrain. I recommend this model for first-time planting projects where you’ll be turning up untouched ground. 

I also love that the self-propelled tires don’t require me to guide the machinery outside of especially challenging surface areas. An adjustable depth gauge also controls its balance, which is nice since it’s a heftier model. 

It comes with Champion’s top-notch customer service and lifetime technical support too, in case any issues ever come up.

3. Earthquake Victory 11-Inch Tiller with Viper Engine 210CC
  • Engine Power: Gas, 4-Cycle 212cc
  • Tine Rotation: Counter
  • Tilling Width: 16-Inch
  • Tilling Depth: 10-Inch
  • Self-Propulsion: Yes

This model’s engine power falls in between the Champion and the Toro. Its CRT works well with rough ground and features the same type of helpful instant-reverse system the Toro has. 

There’s an upgraded bronze-geared transmission housed in the durable main unit. I’d use this one for tearing up stubborn weeds since it has the strength and balance suited to that type of project.

4. Honda Tiller Rear Tine 8hp 20"
  • Engine Power: Gas, 4-Cycle 120cc
  • Tine Rotation: Counter
  • Tilling Width: 20-Inch
  • Tilling Depth: not listed
  • Self-Propulsion: Yes

Honda engines are great for their lowered carbon emissions and nicely quiet 4-strike start-up. The tilling depth easily adjusts and you don’t have to worry about switching gears, which both add to this tiller’s efficiency. 

I like the built-in protective shield on the tines because it brings a visual smoothness to the ground, as well as keeping other plants or fencing that’s around the working area from getting caught up. 

This is a great pick for those with less experience because it’s simple and low maintenance. 

5. Toro 37389 11 in. 4-Cycle 127cc Tiller
  • Engine Power: Gas, 4-Cycle 127cc
  • Tine Rotation: Dual
  • Tilling Width: 17-Inch
  • Tilling Depth: 11-Inch
  • Self-Propulsion: Yes

I love Toro for its use of a Briggs and Stratton engine and attention to special features. This one is compact and easy to handle, so I like it for working in tighter spaces. 

It has flat-free tires which are nice for long-term maintenance and it shifts gears pretty effortlessly. It has a 4-stroke engine that has better fuel efficiency than a 2-stroke engine. There is also durability present in this engine type that outshines some of the competitors. 

6. Troy-Bilt Bronco CRT 10 in. OHV 208cc Tiller
  • Engine Power: Gas, 4-Cycle 208cc
  • Tine Rotation: Counter
  • Tilling Width: 14-Inch
  • Tilling Depth: 6-Inch
  • Self-Propulsion: Yes

This is another CRT model, which means it’s perfect for larger-scale, more challenging projects. I like this one for digging up new gardens and clearing out tough overgrowth. 

This is another model with a bronze-geared transmission packing aggressive power. It also has great stability from handles that are wider than average. 

The one-hand-capable operating style works great for someone with more experience, and I never have trouble controlling the range of motion.

7. Earthquake Pioneer Tiller 99CC Viper Engine
  • Engine Power: Gas, 4-Cycle, 99 cc
  • Tine Rotation: Dual
  • Tilling Width: not listed
  • Tilling Depth: not listed
  • Self-Propulsion: Yes

This version has my favorite tires out of all the ones I list. The treads are especially thick for hardcore traction, which is great for CRT mode. 

Its transmission carries a natural balance and the full piece of equipment boasts a low and wide design that also ensures stability. Don’t let yourself be fooled by the 99 ccs of this one either, it has muscle. 

8. Legend Force 20 in. 212 cc Gas Rear Tine Garden Tiller

Best Overall Rear Tine Tillers Under $500

8. Legend Force 20 in. 212 cc Gas Rear Tine Garden Tiller
  • Engine Power: Gas, 4-Cycle 212cc
  • Tine Rotation: Counter
  • Tilling Width: 20-Inch
  • Tilling Depth: 6.5-Inch
  • Self-Propulsion: Yes

The Legend Force has a powerful engine for its price. It also has agricultural-grade pneumatic tires and hefty tires that can handle tough terrain.

I like the 20-inch tilling width on this one because I can cover a sizable surface area in just one pass, which is a big time-saver. This version works better for tough soil, but can also accomplish lighter-weight projects without tearing in too deeply.

Verdict: Best Rear Tine Garden Tillers

It’s not been an easy assessment and all of these products are very good and can be judged for slightly different qualities.

There will be many out there who are looking for a premium product.

Toro Tiller Rear Tine 17" 127cc Briggs & Stratton

Best Rear Tine Tiller For the Money

Toro Tiller Rear Tine 17″ 127cc Briggs & Stratton

Premium build rear tine tiller powered by the exceptional 127cc Briggs & Stratton 4-cycle engine. Features dual direction tines

The Toro Tiller Rear Tine 17″ 127cc Briggs & Stratton is built like a tank and features a Briggs & Stratton engine. Okay, it’s not as powerful as the Champion, but if you’re looking for the best build then this may be your product of choice. 

Champion 19-Inch Rear Tine Tiller

Best Rear Tine Tiller Under $1000

Champion 19-Inch Rear Tine Tiller

Counter-rotating tines to cut through tough sod. Self-propelled 13-inch tires. 212cc Champion 4-cycle engine. 8-Inch Tilling Depth.

But I have to say if I have under $1,000 in my pocket I would hand down go for the Champion 19-Inch Rear Tine Tiller my personal favorite. Outstanding value for money.

Legend Force 20 in. 212 cc Tiller

Best Rear Tine Tiller Under $500

Legend Force 20 in. 212 cc Tiller

A powerful yet cost-effective tiller, with a 212cc engine, counter-rotating steel tines, with 6-inch tilling depth.

Finally, bringing it back to where most of us live…at the budget end! $500 is a lot of money to spend on a garden tool, right? Well if you are in this camp you can purchase the Legend Force 20 in. 212 cc Tiller with confidence. However, I would just test you one last time…if you can find another 300 bucks, get the Champion 19-Inch Rear Tine Tiller, you won’t regret it.

Front Vs Rear Tine

The defining difference between these two types of tillers is the tine positioning. Tines placed in front of the tiller’s tires qualify a tiller as front-tine and tines placed behind the tiller’s tires qualify a tiller as rear-tine. 

Rear-tine tillers work best on harder surface dirt and offer much more maneuverability and versatility than their front-tine counterparts, which work best on small gardening projects that don’t require much muscle or movement. 

FAQs Rear Tine Tiller

Below are the most frequently asked questions about Rear Tine Tillers.