10 Best Small Garden Tillers for 2024

Buying a tiller for your small garden will help you to maintain it with ease.

Last Updated on May 30, 2024

When it comes to choosing the best small garden tiller for your small garden you have 5 options: 

Garden Tiller Types

  1. Handheld tiller
  2. Twist tiller (upright hand tiller with a long handle)
  3. Electric corded tiller (rototiller)
  4. Electric cordless tiller (rototiller)
  5. Gas tiller (rototiller)

In this article we’ll review 10 small garden tillers: two top choices for each type of tiller. 

You’ll also find out what you can do with a garden tiller, and learn about the difference between a tiller and a cultivator.

As a result, you’ll gain enough knowledge to be able to pick the best mini tiller for your small garden.

If you’re curious (or in a hurry)

✅ Most Amazon customers are choosing  this specific electric cordless tiller for maintaining their small gardens.

If you need to break new ground with a small tiller, Mantis 7940 gas mini tiller,  or Mantis 7250 electric corded tiller are your best options.

*This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase any of the products I have recommended, I may receive a commission at no cost to you. 

Let’s get started!

Best Hand Tillers 

If your garden is tiny, a hand tiller might be all that you need, because it gives you precision where soil is disturbed, especially if you use it for weeding between plants, or in tight places.

There are two basic hand tiller varieties on the market: handheld and upright (long handled)

What is a garden tiller for?

A tiller is used for:

  • preparing garden beds for planting 
  • loosening compacted soil to allow water, air, and nutrients to reach plant roots
  • wedding
  • breaking up roots
  • mixing compost, fertilizer, peat moss, perlite, and other amendments with soil
  • trenching.

Handheld tillers 

A hand-held tiller with a short handle will be perfect to use in a planter or small raised bed.

Usually hand tillers have a hoe like side for breaking soil, and a side with 3 prongs for cultivating.

The advantage of these tools is that they can manage an accurate strike for precise cutting and turning of soil just where you need it.

The best products in the handheld tillers/cultivators category are Japanese handtiller/garden hoe by HACHIEMON  and Truper Rapid Tiller.

(Read more about high end HACHIEMON hand tiller in my 11 Best Japanese Gardening Tools article).

Japanese Hand Tiller by HACHIEMON

Japanese gardening tools: hand hoe/tiller
  • length of the blade: 2.3 – 2.7 inches x 9.4 inches; 
  • total length: 16.1 inches;
  • weight: 1.5 pounds
  • 15.3 inches oak handle
  • hand forged
  • Made in Japan.


  • a hoe and a cultivator in one tool
  • sturdy
  • well made high end tool
  • will last for many years
  • reliable sharp edge
  • pleasure to use
  • works great for loosening up ground, weeding, removing deep rooted clumps of crabgrass, digging up sprinkler heads, transplanting plants, digging trenches for edging installation, creating furrows, cutting roots.

The downside 

  • expensive

Verdict: HACHIEMON Japanese hand tiller is well made, tough and gets the job done. This high end tiller is great for digging, weeding, and transplanting in your small garden.

Truper Rapid Tiller

hand tiller for small garden
  • Length: 14 inches
  • Weight: 1.85 pounds
  • Double injected fiberglass handle with grip guarantees no splinters and comfort
  • Head of the tool made of forged heavy steel
  • Made in Mexico


  • can tear through heavy red clay-
  • lightweight but very sturdy and well-balanced   
  • good for prepping a small garden for planting, breaking up soil clumps, getting stuff out from the cracks in sidewalks and between bricks, perfect for planting bulbs.

The downside 

  •  unlike most cultivators where  tines (claws) are round and pointy, this handheld tiller has  square and flat tines. As a result, the claws are not that sharp and do not penetrate the soil deeply
  • wet soil and small pebbles get stuck between flat tines often, which requires frequent clearing of debris caught in between. 

Verdict: Truper Rapid Tiller is great for digging, not so much for cultivating.

Tiller vs Cultivator

What is the difference between a cultivator and a tiller?

cultivator is generally used to penetrate soil 3-4 inches deep. It’s good for maintaining an existing garden.

tiller penetrates soil 8-10 inches deep. It’s good for digging soil deeper in the autumn after the harvest and mixing it up with compost, and in the early spring to prepare a garden bed for planting.

Twist Tillers  (Long-handled Hand Tillers)  

The benefit of upright long handled tillers is that they require no kneeling or bending over.

This kind of tiller is better suited for in ground beds and slightly raised bed gardens, or tight spaces under bushes, shrubs, fences. They are perfect for heavy soils, including clay.

The top two products in this category are Yard Butler Twist Tiller, and  Garden Weasel long handled tiller.

Yard Butler Twist Tiller

Yard Butler Hand tiller
  • Length: 38 inches
  • Solid steel shaft 
  • Extra wide handle
  • Unbreakable six claw spikes
  •  No risk 30 day satisfaction guarantee
  • Ships free from Walmart.com


  • has a foot plate that helps to drive claws deeper in the soil with less effort
  • well made and sturdy
  • breaks hard compacted soil with ease
  • can be used for turning compost, mixing amendments with soil, weeding, aerating.

The downside 

  • rubber covers slip off the handles which can be annoying
  • spikes might bend
  • some customers reported poor welding
  • hard to twist after prongs are driven firmly into the ground.

Verdict: Yard Butler tiller is a hand garden tiller that really works and offers exceptional quality and value for the money.

Garden Weasel Claw

Garden Weasel hand tiller for small garden
  • Length: 38 inches
  • Weight: near 2 pounds
  • Made from carbon steel
  • Four inch long spikes
  • Comfort grip handles


  • will work with clay soil
  • lightweight yet sturdy
  • loosens soil 4-6″ deep
  • good for prepping small garden for planting early in spring
  • can be used for turning compost
  • perfect for hard to reach places – under shrubs, in raised beds.

The downside 

  •  doesn’t have a foot bar
  • some customers report that the tool  broke due to weak welding
  • claws can bend after prolonged use

Verdict: Garden Weasel Claw is great for cultivating, loosening, aerating soil, and weeding your small garden.

How to use a long handled hand tiller ?

  1. Place twist tiller in desired position
  2. Place foot on the foot bar to push spikes deep in the ground
  3. Grip the handle and twist 
  4. If the soil is too compacted, rock side-to-side to loosen soil.

Gardening Tip

It’s better to wait a day or two after heavy rain before using a tiller, so the soil is not waterlogged. If you till soil that is too wet, it will dry into hard to break clumps.

Electric corded mini tillers

Electric mini tillers require less effort  on your part and are great for small in ground gardens, and for weeding under shrubs.

An electric corded tiller requires no oil, gas, or regular maintenance if to compare with a gas mini tiller. It is also environmentally cleaner – no emissions. 

The advantage of mini electric corded tillers  in comparison with cordless tillers is that there is no electric battery which might run out of charge while you are working in the garden.

But pulling a long extension cord while using a tool, and watching carefully not to damage it while tilling can be a clear disadvantage of electric corded tillers. 

The top performers in the electric corded mini tiller category are Sun Joe TJ604E and Earthwise TC70001.

Sun Joe TJ604E Electric Tiller/Ciltivator

best electric corded tiller for a small garden
  • 8″ cutting depth
  • up to 16” cutting width
  • motor: 13.5-amp, 370 RPM
  • 6 steel angled tines
  • weight: 27 pounds
  • handle folds for easy transport and storage
  • 3 position wheel adjustment
  • ships free from Walmart.com


  • easy to assemble
  • instant start
  • lightweight and easy to use
  • quiet
  • powerful and effective, gets the job done easily
  • praised by users and highly rated

The downside 

  • no variable speed

Verdict: Sun Joe TJ604E is a robust and attractively priced electric corded tiller with excellent performance.


motor-driven machine with rotating blades for breaking up or tilling the soil.

Earthwise TC 70001

earthwise electric corded tiller
  • 8″ cutting depth
  • 11” cutting width
  • motor: 8.5 Amp
  • 4 durable steel tines
  • weight: 27.4 pounds
  • durable lever switch
  • no side shield
  • American made
  • read user manual


  • sturdy and well made
  • easy to assemble
  • easy to start
  • easy to operate – has wheels, which makes it easy to maneuver
  • has ergonomic handle with safety switch and cord retention hook 
  • convenient to store
  • easy to hold lever down

The downside 

  • should be careful to not run over the cord
  • replacement tines are not readily available
  • some customers reported issues with transmission fluid.

Verdict: Earthwise TC70001 Tiller   provides quality performance and is great for prepping your garden for planting, and maintaining garden soil throughout the year.

Check out this YouTube video to see Earthwise TC70001 tiller performance.

extension cable for electric gardening tools

Iron Forge Cable heavy duty extension cord  on a reel

Offered on Amazon in 2 lengths: 30 feet and 50 feet.

If you do not own a heavy-duty extension cord at home, you will need to get one for your electric corded rototiller.

According to Askthebuilder.com, “the size of your extension cord is very important. If you undersize one you can start a fire or ruin an expensive tool.”

Any 16-gauge cord between 0 and 100 feet long should adequately handle tool loads up to 10 amps.

Related reading:

Safety Tips

Always wear eye, and ear protection, and work shoes or boots while using power tillers.

Before you start tilling, remove rocks, sticks, and pull large and thick weeds that might get tangled in tiller tines.

Electric cordless small garden tillers 

An electric cordless tiller is a clear winner for small garden maintenance. It doesn’t require gas or power cord extension. It’s easy on your back – no need to kneel or bend.

The only thing to keep in mind – do not expect cordless electric tillers to be able to break virgin ground, you will need tougher machines for this task.

I know that people complain about the battery running out of charge in the middle of gardening work. But you can get a spare battery and keep it charged for swapping when needed. And, usually the battery will fit to other power tools of the same manufacturer.

According to the customer’s reviews the best cordless electric mini tillers are Black & Decker 20V MAX tiller and Earthwise TC70020 tiller.

Black & Decker 20V MAX

best tiller for small gardens
  • 20 volt MAX lithium-ion battery
  • Energy Star qualified charger
  • lightweight: 8.1 pounds
  • compatible with Black & Decker 20-volt MAX line of tools
  • dual tines
  • warranty: 2 year limited


  • tines don’t rotate 360 degrees, they move back and forth. Counter-oscillating tines prevent weeds from tangling
  • takes 3 -9 hours to recharge a battery
  • you can cultivate near 400 square feet on one battery charge

The downside 

  • your hands are going to vibrate for a while after using this tool
  • does not work very well on hard ground. It won’t work on previously-unworked soil
  • has trouble going around the roots of grass.

Verdict: Black & Decker 20V Max electric cordless tiller   is great for maintaining an already established garden. An excellent weeder.

Watch Black & Decker mini tiller in action in the YouTube video

Earthwise TC70025

Earthwise cordless electric tiller for small garden
  • 20 volt 2.0Ah lithium-ion battery
  • fast charger Included
  • 6 inch cutting depth
  • 7.7″ cutting width
  • lightweight: 9 pounds
  • manufacturer: American
  • 2 year limited warranty


  • battery run-time of approximately 45 minutes, depending on the soil conditions
  • cultivates up to 325 square feet per charge
  • flip-down rear wheels allow you to easily walk this tiller through your garden, yard, or flower bed
  • Cuts through the roots with ease. Strong enough for tilling in cover crops

The downside 

  •  does not have a rock guard
  • If you’re hitting rocks and roots it can grab and bounce pretty hard

Verdict: Earthwise TC70025 electric cordless tiller  is lightweight and versatile. A perfect combination of power and convenience.

Mini gas rototillers

If you need a tiller for tougher jobs, then a gas tiller is your best choice.

The drawback of gas mini tillers is required maintenance: you will need to fill them with gas (Mantis) or gas and oil (for Earthquake and Tazz tillers). 

You will need to drain gas to prepare them for winter storage.

Unpleasant fumes are another issue with this type of garden tiller. When I think of gas rototillers, the phrase “powerful, yet stinky” comes to my mind. 😊

The best models in the gas small garden tillers  category are Earthquake mini tiller and Mantis mini rototiller. You also can consider Tazz gas mini tiller/cultivator as a less costly alternative to Earthquake gas tiller.

Mantis 7949 tiller, according to a consumer representative, is able to break sod and is suitable for starting a new garden.

As a Mantis gas tiller owner, I can tell from my experience that it will not be an easy task, especially if you are a slender woman-gardener. It will be hard to control this “bouncy beast” when you are breaking virgin ground. 

Earthquake 31635 Tiller

Earthquake mini tiller
  • cutting width: 10” for tilling and 6” width for cultivating
  • cutting depth: 6-8 inches
  • 33cc 2-cycle Viper engine 
  • gear drive transmission 
  • height adjustable wheels 
  • 5 year warranty
  • US based support
  • available in wheeled and nonwheeled versions 


  • height adjustable wheels allow for depth control
  • tines are removable, offering a larger 10” width for tilling and smaller 6” width for cultivating
  • forward and backward operation makes it easy to maneuver between established plants
  • wheeled version provides ease of operation which makes this tiller suitable for female gardeners


  • need to mix oil and gas  requires more  time for maintenance
  • need to drain fuel tank to store the tiller for winter
  • not good for breaking sod for establishing garden
  • difficult to start
  • tine replacements are very expensive

Verdict: Earthquake gas mini tiller, especially wheeled model, offers ease of operation, but for starting a new garden, look for another option in the gas mini tillers category.

Mantis 4 cycle 7940 Tiller

Mantis gas mini tiller for small garden
  • cutting width: 9”
  • cutting depth:10 inches
  • weight: 24 pounds
  •  25 cc 4-cycle engine powered by Honda
  • gas only, no fuel mix required
  • folding handlebars
  • variable speed
  • made in USA
  • 2 year warranty


  • will till through sod 
  • no need to mix oil with fuel
  • reversible tines can be used to till down 10 inches deep
  • turning tines around will let you shallow cultivate the top 2 to 3 inches of soil
  • finger controlled throttle
  • solid worm-gear transmission
  • motor is fairly quiet
  • has a kickstand that provides easy refueling

The downside 

  • no wheels make it hard to operate, especially for women
  • it bounces a lot, which is a problem if you cultivate close to plants
  • uses a lot of gas in comparison with Earthquake gas tiller
  • tines jam easily on shallow roots

Verdict: Mantis gas mini tiller is the best option on the market for a small tiller that will till deeply and can break virgin ground.


at   WALMART.com

Related reading:

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Final thoughts on the best small garden tiller

A garden tiller is a handy tool for every gardener to own to be able to cultivate, loosen, aerate, and weed the garden soil.

So, what’s the best small tiller for the money? Which one should you get?

It depends on the size of your small garden. 

For a container or flower bed a hand tiller may be all you need. Hand tillers cost less, but require more muscle power on your part.

Looking for a tiller to maintain your small garden or to start one? Here is a review of 10 best small tillers you can buy.

 Pin for later reference!

Electric and gas mini tillers, though more costly, will save your time and effort.

Remember that most small garden tillers on the market are suitable for light garden/yard work. Only gas-powered and electric corded Mantis tillers are able to till grass (which should be mowed before tilling) and are suitable for starting a new garden.

Another option for starting a garden will be to kill weeds and grass by covering the soil with heavy dark plastic or cardboard for a month and then use any of the electric or gas tillers to break the soil.

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