Best Tiller Reviews : 2 Cycle or 4 Cycle Garden Tiller?
Rototillers are amazing machines and once you’ve used one, you will wonder why you didn’t buy one sooner! They take so much of the hard work out of maintaining your garden from digging over new ground to create a new a flowerbed or vegetable plot, to easily weeding around your borders and veggies. We hope our best rototiller reviews help you to find a suitable model.
You may know these machines under a different name such as a tiller, rototiller, rotary hoe, rotary tiller or rotavator to name just a few. They all mean the same thing though and that’s a machine with a motor and a set of revolving blades called tines. These tines dig into the soil, turning it over and breaking it up at high speed.
The motor could be electric (corded or cordless) or gas (2-cycle or 4-cycle) and the tines will either be mounted at the front or rear of the machine. Front tine rototillers are lighter and more easy to maneuver in small spaces whereas rear tine tillers are usually heavy and have power driven wheels to help move them along.
There are variations on these themes of course but that’s the basic setup and we have selected five of the top gas powered models across the range from the lightweight Mantis 7920 right up to the big and powerful Southland SRTT196E. We’re confident there will be a model to suit everyone amongst our selection so let’s take a closer look at the models.
We have a full review of every model already on our site so this will just be a summary of each with a link through if you want to read more.
Mantis 2-Cycle Tiller and Cultivator
This mini-powerhouse was mistakenly thought of as a rototiller just for women when it first came out in 1980 but has proven very popular with all types of gardeners ever since. Tines mounted directly under the small but powerful engine make this lightweight marvel one of the most versatile around today. Here’s a quick summary of the main features:
- 2-cycle 21.2cc commercial grade engine drives the tines at speeds of up to 240rpm
- Solid worm gear transmission so no belts or chains to worry about
- Weighing just 20lbs this is one of the lightest tillers around
- Maximum working depth of 10” and a tilling width of 9”
- Easy change dual tine positions for either tilling or cultivating/weeding
- Lots of attachments for even more uses including lawn care and plowing
Versatile, light and easy to maneuver. The Mantis 7920 is now one of the most popular small tillers around and it’s easy to see why.
Great for small to medium sized plots, weeding and cultivating around plants and vegetables.
Not so good for large demanding jobs such as breaking new ground in a large plot.
Mantis 4-Cycle 7940 Tiller Cultivator
An upgrade to the original 7920 2-Cycle rototiller, this model comes with a Honda 4-cycle engine for more power and easier starting. It also has a kickstand as standard but apart from that is very much the same as the previous model.
The bigger engine adds 4lbs onto the weight but this is still a very light machine so is just as versatile and easy to use.
The Mantis tillers and cultivators are also well built and usually last for a long time, we’ve seen some still going after 20 years of regular use!
You can read all about it in our full review on the Mantis 7940 Rototiller, but for those wanting a quick rundown of all the features here they are:
- Honda 4-cycle 25cc engine powers tines up to speeds of 240rpm
- Lightweight at just 24lbs makes it great to handle
- Easy and reliable pull cord starting
- Kickstand to park your Mantis wherever you need it
- Attachments available for lawn care, plowing, edging etc.
Although quite a bit more expensive than the previous model, the Mantis 7940 is worth every penny in our view. More reliable starting, a kickstand, and the powerful Honda engine make this already great model even better.
Great for any garden or plot up to a medium size. Cultivates and weeds the soil even in tight spaces.
Not so good for those large jobs such as rotovating a large plot of land or very rocky soil.
Husqvarna FT900-CA Adjustable Width Front Tine Tiller
A step up from the Mantis rototiller models, the FT900-CA is a true front tine tiller with the blades sitting in front of the engine. This model does have wheels to help with transportation and stability but they are not powered, so the movement of the tiller is controlled by the tines and manually pushing or pulling.
It is a great model though and in our review, we found that it’s one that can cope with a wide range of rotovating jobs from large to small as it has an adjustable tilling width. There are three positions and it makes it very versatile. Check out our full review of the Husqvarna front tine tiller here or the summary below for more information.
- Briggs and Stratton OHV 4-Cycle 208cc engine provides 9.5lb/ft of torque to power through most soil conditions at speeds of up to 118rpm
- Adjustable tilling width can be set at 12 to 26 inches
- Height adjustable handlebars
- Easy starting with manual pull recoil
- Forward and reverse gears
Relatively lightweight for a true front tine tiller, this machine is one that can be used for more demanding jobs than the Mantis models. The adjustable tilling width is also a great feature not available on any of our other models.
Good for small to medium plots of land where there is a lot of rotovating to be done. Can be used in fairly tight spaces due to its reverse gear and adjustable width.
Might not be so good for really big tilling jobs such as clearing and breaking new ground on very large plots.
Husqvarna CRT900L 960930026 17-Inch Rear Tine Tiller
Rear tine tillers are traditionally the best machines to tackle large, demanding jobs and the CRT900L certainly ticks that box. It has power to spare and the large power driven wheels fitted with agricultural tires will keep you moving in the toughest terrain.
With a 17” wide tilling width this model is not too large so can till between planting rows if they are planned out. It can also be used to level out the ground after tilling using the rear guard as a plow which many people found useful. You can read our full review of this Husqvarna rear tine tiller for more details but here is a summary of the main features:
- Briggs and Stratton 205cc 950 series 4-Cycle OHV engine providing speeds of 210rpm and a torque of 9 lb/ft
- Several different gears including forward and reverse for comfortable handling
- Counter rotating tines really dig into the ground with the minimum of effort
- Multiple depth adjustments up to 6.5” working depth
The Husky CRT900L can certainly get through some serious amounts of rotovating and being a rear tine model, once you get it on course all you need to do is walk behind it and keep it on track!
Great for medium to large plots and frequent use. Tough demanding tilling jobs are no problem.
Not so good for small plots with tight turns as it can be difficult to maneuver this machine around.
If you like the look of a decent rear tine tiller then this one is very popular and is unlikely to let you down. Amazon has some of the best deals at the moment so check out their prices here.
Southland SRTT196E Rear Tine Tiller
Our final model is from Southland and this one boasts the largest tilling width at 18 inches. It’s also the most powerful although not the heaviest (the CRT900L gets that accolade!). Coming in at a much lower price than some of it’s more well-known competitors, the SRTT196E is a no-nonsense, get the job done, dependable type of machine that is the workhorse of a large garden.
The main features stack up like this:
- 196cc 4-Cycle OHV engine providing power of 9.6lb/ft of torque
- 18” tilling width and able to till up to 10” deep
- Self-propelled 13” wheels with forward and reverse gear
- Self-sharpening counter rotating tines
Not so easy to maneuver around a garden with tight turns, this solid performer is definitely one for the person with a large plot of land to look after. The power and drive of this rototiller mean it can tackle big, demanding jobs and can cut through a rock strewn and hard surface with comparative ease. Great value for money too compared to the bigger name brands. Check out our full review of the Southland rear tine tiller here for the full details.
Good for large plots and demanding jobs. Keeps going all day and is very dependable.
Not so good for small to medium plots or anywhere with limited space.
If the Southland looks the right tiller for you then we recommend you check out the deals on Amazon at the moment with free shipping on this model.
That brings to an end our round-up of some of the top rototillers on the market today and we hope this has given you a good idea of what’s available if you’re looking for something to help you dig and cultivate the soil in your garden.
Just to sum up what we found:
Small to medium plots with tough ground and/or a lot of tilling to be done – the Husqvarna FT900-CA is the best model to go for.
Medium to large areas of land needing regular maintenance with hard or rocky soil – the Husqvarna CRT900L is the best machine to cope with this.
Large to very large plots and any type of soil – the Southland SRTT196E can cope with most things and will keep going all day.
Whatever you choose, we hope that you have found our best rototiller reviews helpful.