Best Garden Cultivators – 2019 Top Picks Reviewed

Garden cultivators can make a huge difference when it comes to prepping your gardening plot for planting again in the spring. These tools strike a good balance between making your life easier, and not being big or powerful enough to completely break the bank.

Read on to learn more about these quality machines.

Comparison of the Best Garden Cultivators

Product

Rating

Price

Earthwise TC70001​

Earthwise TC70001 11-Inch 8.5-Amp Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator

Best Overall

BLACK+DECKER LGC120​

BLACK+DECKER LGC120 20-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Garden Cultivator/Tiller

Runner-up

TrimmerPlus GC720​

TrimmerPlus GC720 Garden Cultivator Attachment with Four Premium Tines for Attachment Capable String Trimmers, Polesaws, and Powerheads

Best for the Money

Sun Joe TJ603E 16-Inch​

Sun Joe TJ603E 16-Inch 12-Amp Electric Tiller and Cultivator

Best Electric Garden Cultivator

DeWit 3-Tine with Short Handle

DeWit 3-Tine Cultivator with Short Handle

Best 3 Tine Garden Cultivator

Yard Butler Twist​

Yard Butler Twist Tiller Heavy Duty Manual Raised Bed Garden and Flower Box Claw Weeder Cultivator Aeration Hand Tool With Solid Steel Shaft Unbreakable Tines - ITNT-4

Best Manual Garden Cultivator

What Does a Garden Cultivator Do?

Garden cultivators help to shake up the soil in your garden or plot. This process has a number of benefits: it clears out old plant matter from previous areas, gets rocks out of the soil, loosens up the soil to make it easier to plant in, and aerates the soil so that it is healthier and more beneficial for your plants. Cultivators have a series of blades, also called tines, that “chop” up the soil in order to accomplish this task.

What is the Difference Between a Garden Cultivator and Tiller?

In reading the above description, you may be thinking, but wait…is that not exactly what a tiller does as well? It is true that a tiller is also extremely effective at accomplishing all of what cultivators can do. 

The difference between a cultivator and a tiller is that a cultivator is typically significantly smaller and less powerful. This makes cultivators ideal for working in smaller spaces, with tighter angles to navigate and for areas that have already been gardened before and do not need the full disruption a tiller can provide.

How to Choose a Garden Cultivator

Because there are so many choices, we have compiled a list of some of the most important qualities you should be looking for in these tools:

Durability

Unlike tillers, which are often used once to break up the initial soil and then not needed again for an ongoing garden, cultivators are a tool you will use to work on your garden year after year. This means you want one that can actually last for you and stand up to a lot of use.

Weight

The nice thing about these is that they are simple to maneuver and easy to carry. You do not want to mess that up by going with a cultivator that is on the heavier and bulkier side.

Versatility

The best models are those that can work on a wide variety of different soils. Even if you plan on always using it in the same spot, you never know when you will have a particularly cold winter and the soil will be harder than usual. Find yourself one that is robust enough to till anything you throw at it.

Quick Take | Best Garden Cultivators

Before you move to the our full review of the best models, here is a quick take of the top 3 models:

  1. Earthwise TC70001
  2. BLACK+DECKER LGC120
  3. TrimmerPlus GC720

Review of the Best Garden Cultivators

Keeping in mind what you read earlier about rear tine tillers, let’s check out some actual products:

Earthwise TC70001 11-Inch 8.5-Amp Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator

PROS

  • Easy to set up
  • Good build quality
  • Easy to steer and to control
  • Has a large amount of power
  • Lightweight and easy to transport

CONS

  • Bucks easily when it encounters rocks
  • Included instructions are not the greatest

The Earthwise TC70001 is by far our best option, and you can easily see why! This is amazingly tough and will last you for a long, long time. It has one of the quickest tine rotation speeds you will ever encounter, which makes even the hardest soil no match for it.

And it is intelligently designed to operate in a super convenient way: when you are digging deep into the soil, the wheels will flip up and out of the way, and when you are at shallower depths, the wheels will remain in place for additional stability. Plus, its ergonomically designed handles are easy on the fingers for long, extended use.

Bottom Line


The Earthwise TC70001 is the premiere garden cultivator and the standout winner for best model we could find. Know that you may have to turn to the internet for setup instructions, though.

BLACK+DECKER LGC120 20-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Garden Cultivator/Tiller

PROS

  • Easy to set up
  • Excellent for planting annuals
  • Tills up to four inches deep in the soil
  • Quiet, will not make a large amount of noise

CONS

  • Heats up fairly quickly
  • Included directions are not particularly helpful

The BLACK + DECKER LGC120 20 Volt Cordless Tiller is a phenomenal model that comes in a close second place finish for best machine overall.

It is super lightweight, making it quite easy to transport, and to store when you are not using it. It is also easy to use, with its adjustable length, and it tends to be much quieter than many of its competitor models, so you will not blow out your eardrums when using this machine.

It has some added in safety features, including a safety button that you will need to press and hold in order to activate this tool, so no need to worry at all about your kids accidentally turning it on. Plus, it is incredibly efficient and effective – users report they do not need to put a lot of effort into pushing this tiller, as it is tough enough to get the majority of the work done on its own. What could be better?

Bottom Line

The BLACK + DECKER LGC120 Cordless Tiller is a phenomenal garden cultivator that is our runner-up choice for best overall. Do build in some time for breaks when you are using this though, as it may need to cool off.

TrimmerPlus GC720 Garden Cultivator Attachment with Four Premium Tines for Attachment Capable String Trimmers, Polesaws, and Powerheads

PROS

CONS

  • Not good at tilling in dry ground
  • Does not really do the work itself, so you will be worn out after using

If you want to find yourself a cultivator that will always get the job done for you, but will not wreck your budget in the process, you will find it in the TrimmerPlus GC720. This machine’s tines are treated with heat, so they are some of the most durable you will ever be able to find. If you have a garden with variably sized plants, this tool will come in handy for you, since you can adjust its tilling width so that it can cover a wide swath of ground, or be able to squeeze in between tightly planted rows.

Plus, this tiller has a convenient tine cleaning system, as you just undo the self locking lynch pins to release the tines and then wiping them down is a breeze. And you will not have to worry about getting filthy in the process of using this machine - its handy guard will prevent debris from flying from the tines up into your face.

Bottom Line


The TrimmerPlus GC720 With Four Premium Tines is a great little machine that is tough on all different types of soil, but really easy on your wallet. Just have some water on hand when you are using it, because it is definitely a workout!

Best Electric Garden Cultivator:
 Sun Joe TJ603E

Sun Joe TJ603E 16-Inch 12-Amp Electric Tiller and Cultivator

PROS

  • Easy to use
  • Has a lot of power
  • Feels sturdy despite its weight
  • Lightweight and easy to transport
  • Simple to assemble, with its three separate pieces
  • Our top choice for the best electric cultivator

CONS

  • Needs a certain kind of extension cord in order to work.
  • Can bounce when it hits rocks, thanks to its lighter weight.

The Sun Joe TJ603E 16 Inch 12 Amp Electric Tiller is an amazing option and the best powered by electricity. Although this is on the smaller side, do not let that convince you it is not as strong as its competitors. In fact, we believe that this will be able to change your mind about electric powered garden tools!

This can easily chomp through both rocks and hard soil, and it is durable enough to stand up to a lot of use and abuse. And, it is intuitive to use: if you want it to till deeply, move it more slowly, while if you want to just turn over the topsoil, move it quickly along. Plus, it is simple and easy to maneuver thanks to its smaller size.

Bottom Line

The Sun Joe TJ603E 16 Inch 12 Amp Electric Tiller is the very best option for electric cultivators. Keep in mind you will likely have to get a special extension cord in order to operate it, though.

Best 3 Tine Garden Cultivator:
DeWit 3 Tine with Short Handle

DeWit 3-Tine Cultivator with Short Handle

PROS

  • Metal tines will not rust
  • Handle is smooth and comfortable
  • Well made of high quality material
  • Durable enough to stand up to a lot of abuse
  • Our top choice of the best with only 3 tines.
  • Works especially well in clay soil, even clay soil as hard as concrete.

CONS

  • Handle is on the short side and may be difficult for people with larger hands to hold.

The DeWit 3 Tine with Short Handle is a wonderful little unit and the very best 3 tine cultivator we could find. It is a versatile tool with a lot of different uses – beyond tilling, it can also be rotated and used to mix fertilizers into the soil, and it can even spread soil around by flipping the cultivator upside down and using its back side.

It is easy enough to maneuver that it can be used to till around and between plants as well, and it also works great with raised beds. It is tough enough to be used even on gravel and to pull out embedded rocks, buried roots, and Bermuda grass. There is not much you will not be able to accomplish with this!

Bottom Line


The DeWit 3 Tine with Short Handle is a top notch option with some handy versatility and serious toughness. Just know that if you have larger hands, you may struggle with using the handle.

Best Manual Garden Cultivator:
Yard Butler Twist Tiller

Yard Butler Twist Tiller Heavy Duty Manual Raised Bed Garden and Flower Box Claw Weeder Cultivator Aeration Hand Tool With Solid Steel Shaft Unbreakable Tines - ITNT-4

PROS

  • Durable, will last a long time
  • Great for working with dense soil
  • Comes with a thirty day warranty
  • Our top choice of the best manual cultivator

CONS

  • Handle is not ergonomically designed and grips can slide off easily.
  • Tines are on the shorter side, so you may have to do more work to get them in deep.

The Yard Butler Twist Tiller is a phenomenal choice and the best cultivator you can work manually. While manual labor may not sound like the best time, we promise you will genuinely enjoy working with this. It is high quality and heavy duty, thanks to its all metal construction.

It is easy and efficient to use, with its included foot plate that users can use to help drive its tines deep into the soil. And, manual options are some of the best in the business when it comes to working compost into the soil, so if you have been storing up your winter compost, now is the time to bust it out!

Bottom Line


The Yard Butler Twist Tiller is a great little model that will give you a workout, but will leave you satisfied with its efficiency and skill. Be watchful of the handle grips as you are working with this tiller, though.

Conclusion

Garden cultivators are a phenomenal option if you are looking for a tool that can effectively overturn and aerate your soil, without shaking it up as much (or costing you as much money!) as a full blown tiller would. Make sure you take into account what you want your garden cultivator to be able to do for you, and then choose one carefully. We know you will not be making a wrong choice if you go with one from our list!

People Also Ask

Below are some frequently asked questions:

Can You Plant Immediately After Tilling?

You should not plant in your garden or plot immediately after tilling it. Tilling disrupts the soil, which in many ways in beneficial for planting (that’s why we even do it in the first place!), but you should give the soil some time to settle down, at least a week or two, before you go in and disrupt it again by planting in it.

When Should I Till My Garden?

As mentioned above, you should give your soil at least a week or two to settle down after tilling, so till no later than a few weeks before you plan to plant. You should also consider when your soil is ready to be tilled, as the soil needs to be somewhat warm and dry in order to be receptive.

Should I Wet The Ground Before Tilling?

Wetting soil is a common way to make the process of tilling easier, but it is not always the best choice. If your soil is too wet when you till it, it can actually cause damage to the soil, so make sure your soil is damp enough to pack into a ball, but not much wetter.

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