A Sampling of Rear Tine Tillers

For gardeners who are thinking about purchasing a rototiller, here are reviews of four rear-tine tillers in a useful range of sizes.

| March/April 1981

  • 068 rear tine tillers - 1 yellowbird
    The 3-HP Yellowbird is the smallest of the tested rear tine tillers. It seems ideal for small gardens. Controls (inset) are positioned at the folding handle's joint.
  • 068 rear tine tillers - 4 Ariens
    The 5-HP Ariens stands up well on a strict "work performed per horsepower" evaluation. Controls (inset) are conveniently located.
  • 068 rear tine tillers - 3 troy bilt
    The Troy-Bilt is characterized by a practical design and quality workmanship. Controls (inset) are located close to the operator on a panel between the handles.
  • 068 rear tine tillers - 2 sears
    The largest at 8-HP, the Sears CRT Task Handler is well balanced and powerful. A clutch safety release (Inset) is on the handle.

  • 068 rear tine tillers - 1 yellowbird
  • 068 rear tine tillers - 4 Ariens
  • 068 rear tine tillers - 3 troy bilt
  • 068 rear tine tillers - 2 sears

A rototiller is a big investment. Many folks find that they can get along just fine renting or borrowing the machines when they need them, usually no more than once in the spring to till the garden and again in the fall to chop up crop wastes and expose belowground insect larvae, etc.

However, the more involved a person becomes with wholistic gardening, the more practical it often becomes to own a tiller. After all, the machines can cultivate between rows throughout the growing season (producing an orderly and weed-free garden without hand hoeing), retill areas as crops mature and are harvested (allowing for easy succession planting), and more.

But often just how much machine the potential tiller owner needs is a difficult decision. And the decision is important, because rototiller prices tend to rise in proportion to the power of the tools. Buying too large a tiller can result in unnecessary expense and inconvenience when maneuvering the big machine around a small garden. Purchasing too small a tiller can result in extra labor, and—worse yet—the need to rent a large model to break up soil before the "little tiller" can handle it!

There are any number of good tillers on the market, but in preparing this article we decided to limit ourselves to a sampling of rear tine tillers spanning the most popular horsepower ratings. The list of machines isn't complete, then, and isn't meant to imply that tillers not included are in any way inferior to those listed. It is, however, intended to give you an understanding of what you can expect from the four specific models tested and the potential of other machines with similar horsepower ratings.

The Yellowbird

The little Yellowbird (sold by Precision Valley Manufacturing Co.) is—as far as we know—the smallest rear tine tiller on the market. Weighing a scant 75 pounds without its blades in place and sporting a 3-HP Briggs & Stratton engine, the Bird is a fine tool for gardeners who have small plots and/or often need to till in confined areas.

Of course, the machine's light weight and limited horsepower may be disadvantages when one has a large garden or needs to cultivate unbroken sod. However, we found that even the latter task can be accomplished with the small tiller. In our tests the Bird was able to work a previously unbroken pasture to a depth of 4 1/2 inches, although eight passes with the machine were necessary to do so.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: October 13-14, 2018
Topeka, KS

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard
Free Product Information Classifieds