The Best Tiller For Breaking New Ground

Preparing a new plot of land for planting is hard work if you do it by hand.

Fortunately, excellent tillers are available to help you get the job done with a fraction of the time and effort.

The best tiller for breaking new ground is the EARTHQUAKE 31285 Pioneer Dual-Direction Rear Tiller.

This powerful and well-built machine provides an effective and effortless tilling experience. Easily breaking up hard and compact ground and turning it into fine soil.

Our top choices at a glance:

All links lead to Amazon, where you can find more information & customer reviews.

The Best Tiller For Breaking New Ground: Reviews

1. EARTHQUAKE 31285 Pioneer Dual-Direction Rear Tiller



Engine Displacement: 99cc
Engine Type: 4-cycle
Tines: Dual Rotating
Tilling width: 16”
Tilling depth: 10”
Drive Directions: Forward & Reverse
Weight: 160 lbs
Warranty: 5-Years

Our top selection is the Earthquake 31285. This compact and powerful rear tine tiller makes tilling almost effortless.

Whether you’re breaking hard soil, tilling soft soil, or plowing through clay soil this machine will get the job done quickly and with a minimum of fuss.

The 99cc Viper engine powers the dual rotational tines to a tilling depth of up to 10 inches.

And the highly efficient transmission design helps to give you the same performance as bigger models while allowing you to benefit from a lighter and quieter engine.

Some rear tine tillers can be top-heavy and difficult to handle. But not this one. The well-balanced design makes it easy to use.

And the smooth and stable control you have as you guide it around fences, up and down rows, and along curves is a big plus point.

It also has an instant reverse that makes it simple to move backward with just one pull on a handle. Allowing you to quickly get in and out of small spaces as you maneuver the tiller around your garden.

The large treaded wheels help you to navigate uneven or wet ground with good traction. And they’re airless, so you don’t have to worry about them going flat.

Dual grip handlebars allow you to operate the machine one-handed while standing to the side of the tilling path. So you can avoid walking footprints into your seedbeds as you’re preparing them for planting.

A drag stake helps with tilling depth consistency.

Customers report that it’s easy to start. Almost always starting on the first pull.

It comes with a 5-year warranty

  • Effortless tilling experience, even on tough soils
  • Well-balanced and stable design
  • Forward and reverse gears make it easy to maneuver
  • Standard rotating and counter-rotating tines making it suitable for shallow tilling of the topsoil or digging deeper to prepare new garden beds
  • Deep maximum tilling depth
  • Starts easily with one pull
  • Long warranty
  • No real cons

2. YARDMAX YT4565 Dual Rotating Rear Tine Tiller



Engine Displacement: 208cc
Engine Type: 4-cycle
Tines: Dual Rotating
Tilling width: 18”
Tilling depth: 6.5”
Drive Directions: Forward & Reverse
Weight: 205 lbs
Warranty: 2-Year Residential

The YARDMAX YT4565 offers great value for homeowners with its combination of power, durability, and ease of use at an affordable price.

It comes with a 208cc Briggs & Stratton engine and dual rotational tines. Use the forward rotating tines for simple cultivation of already tilled plots. And then switch to the counter-rotating tines for deeper tilling and for breaking new ground.

The tiller has a tilling width of 18” with a maximum depth of 6.5”. And you can adjust the depth to 7 different settings.

The 13” steel tines are self-sharpening and easily dig through hard soils.

The machine has both forward and back gears for easy maneuverability. And the handle design allows you to control the unit one-handed while standing to the side of the tilling path.

13” pneumatic wheels with an agricultural style tread make it simple to control when steering over difficult terrain. And a front counterweight provides stability and balance to the unit as you steer.

The YARDMAX YT4565 comes with a 2-year residential warranty and a 90-day warranty for commercial use.

  • Pros
  • Powerful
  • Standard tine rotation for cultivation and counter tine rotation for breaking new ground
  • Durable and well-built unit
  • Self-sharpening steel blades
  • Back and forward gears
  • CARB compliant
  • Easy to use with one hand
  • It can take some force to change the gear selector
  • Small rocks sometimes cause it to stall

3. Husqvarna CRT900 Counter Rotation Rear Tine Tiller



Engine Displacement: 205cc
Engine Type: 4-cycle
Tines: Counter Rotating
Tilling width: 14”
Tilling depth: 6”
Drive Directions: Forward & Reverse
Weight: 190 lbs
Warranty: 2-Years

Husqvarna is a premium quality brand when it comes to outdoor power tools. And if you have the budget to shop closer to the top end of the market, then the CRT900 is a great choice.

This heavy duty and high-quality rear tine tiller comes equipped with a 205cc Briggs & Stratton engine.

The 10” tines have a maximum tilling depth of 6” and there are 7 depth adjustments you can make down to a minimum of 3”.

This is a narrow and compact unit with a tilling depth of 14”. Making it a good option for tilling small spaces and narrow rows.

It features counter-rotating tines giving you deep penetration when breaking up new soil.

And 3 gears—forward, reverse, and neutral—make it easy to maneuver. Both while the machine is running, and when wheeling it to and from storage on its large 13” x 5” wheels.

This Husqvarna tiller comes with a 2-year warranty.

  • Premium quality
  • The counter-rotating tines dig deep into hard soil
  • Forward, reverse, and neutral gears make it easy to maneuver when tilling and when moving to the starting location
  • Narrow and compact—good for tight spaces
  • The tilling depth of 6” is enough for most jobs but is less than other available tillers

4. CRAFTSMAN CMXGVAM1144036 Rear Counter Rotating Tine Tiller



Engine Displacement: 208cc
Engine Type: 4-cycle
Tines: Counter Rotating
Tilling width: 14”
Tilling depth: 6”
Drive Directions: Forward
Weight: 164 lbs
Warranty: 2-Years

The Craftsman is another strong choice for preparing new planting areas and tilling previously tilled garden beds.

It has a gas-powered 208cc engine that powers the 10” steel tines to a depth of 6”. With an adjustable depth stake so you can set it to the right depth for your job.

The narrow tilling width of 14” makes it good for maneuvering in and out of tight spaces and between rows. But it will take more passes to cover a larger area of land.

The 11” X 4” pneumatic tires have an agricultural style tread to provide a good grip as you steer the unit.

And the machine is comfortable to handle with its padded Loop and Ball handle.

One drawback compared to the options above is that it only has a forward gear.

It comes with a 2-year warranty. And it’s also available in a slightly wider 16” model.

  • Counter-rotating tines for breaking heavy soil
  • Narrow tilling width makes it good for small gardens and tilling small spaces
  • Comfortable to steer with its padded ball and loop handle
  • Only has a forward gear
  • 6” tilling depth is less than some other models

5. Champion 19-Inch Dual Rotating Rear Tine Tiller

champion rear tine tiller


Engine Displacement: 212cc
Engine Type: 4-cycle
Tines: Dual Rotating
Tilling width: 19”
Tilling depth: 8”
Drive Directions: Forward
Weight: 160 lbs
Warranty: 2-Years

The Champion rear tine tiller is one of the biggest and most powerful machines on our shortlist.

The 19” tilling width means that it’s a good choice to consider if you have larger areas of ground to till.

With 13.8” dual rotation tines made from hardened steel, it can till to a depth of 8”. Hand controls make it simple to switch between counter-rotating and standard rotating tines.

And a depth gauge allows you to adjust the tilling depth so you can maintain a consistent depth. It also provides extra balance for the tiller.

The tines are powered by the 212cc engine, which also moves the self-propelled unit on its 13” agricultural tires over difficult terrain and around your yard.

This is a durable and well-built machine. With a cast iron and steel construction. But one small flaw is highlighted by the occasional customer report of the wheels coming off the rim when turning.

It comes with a 2-year limited warranty for maintenance and replacements and lifetime technical support.

  • Powerful engine
  • Good for large gardening and landscaping jobs
  • Dual rotating tines for all your tilling needs
  • Good tilling depth
  • EPA certified and CARB compliant
  • A small minority of customers have had problems with the wheels coming off their rims when maneuvering the unit

6. Poulan Pro PPCRT17 Rear-Tine Tiller

poulan pro


Engine Displacement: 208cc
Engine Type: 4-cycle
Tines: Counter Rotating
Tilling width: 17”
Tilling depth: 6.5”
Drive Directions: Forward & Reverse
Weight: 231 lbs
Warranty: 2-Years

The PPCRT17 is a powerful tiller that quickly reduces even the hardest ground to a finely tilled soil.

The 208cc engine powers the counter-rotating tines as they till to a maximum depth of 6.5”. An adjustable depth stake allows you to vary the tilling depth and control the forward momentum of the unit.

The machine is self-propelled as it moves over the ground tilling a 17” wide path. And it has forward and reverse gears that can be controlled from the handle.

The large 16” agricultural tires easily power over difficult ground while keeping good traction allowing you to complete the job quickly and efficiently.

The split loop handle is height adjustable so you can use it at a comfortable height and position. And it allows easy steering of the tiller with one hand while standing to either side of the unit.

It comes with a 2-year homeowner warranty.

  • Counter-rotating tines for powerful digging
  • Forward gear and power reverse for easy maneuverability
  • The height and position of the handle can be adjusted for comfortable steering
  • Some customer complaints about build quality

7. Southland SRTT196E Rear Tine Tiller



Engine Displacement: 196cc
Engine Type: 4-cycle
Tines: Counter Rotating
Tilling width: 18”
Tilling depth: 10”
Drive Directions: Forward & Reverse
Weight: 176 lbs
Warranty: 2-Years

The Southland SRTT196E is a well-built and reliable rear tine tiller that’s capable of tilling even hard and compacted soil.

The gas-powered 196cc engine is easy to start and CARB compliant.

It powers the counter-rotating steel tines up to a tilling depth of 10”. Easily chopping through tough ground and slicing through tree roots with few problems.

Forward and reverse gears make it easy to maneuver. And it’s simple to steer and control thanks to its folding pistol grip handles and 13” agricultural tires.

This is also one of the widest tillers on our list with an 18” tilling width. So it’s good for tilling large flower beds.

The main drawback?

Customers report that the wheels are locked when the tiller is not running making it harder to transport around. And at 176 lbs it’s quite heavy to shift.

In order to move it more easily between locations, you need to remove the wheel pins. While this isn’t too difficult to do, it can lead to the wheels sometimes falling off. A small annoyance in the big scheme of things, but it will require an additional amount of effort when using it.

The machine comes with a 2-year limited warranty.

  • Good for breaking up tough ground
  • Forward and reverse gears for easier operation
  • Deep 10” tilling depth
  • CARB compliant
  • Hard to maneuver when the machine isn’t running

8. Champion 22-Inch Dual Rotating Front Tine Tiller

champion front tine tiller


Engine Displacement: 212cc
Engine Type: 4-cycle
Tines: Dual Rotating
Tilling width: 22”
Tilling depth: 8”
Drive Directions: Forward & Reverse
Weight: 119 pounds
Warranty: 2-Years

This Champion model is the first of the front tine tiller options on our shortlist.

Generally speaking, front tine tillers are not as good as rear tine tillers at breaking new ground.

But powerful models like this one are capable of doing the job, albeit with more effort on your part. And they’re available at a more affordable price.

However, if you have large areas of new ground to till, or it’s particularly tough, you should go for a rear tine tiller.

This model has a powerful 212cc engine that churns the 13” hardened steel dual rotational tines through the ground turning it into fine planting soil. With a tilling depth of up to 8” controlled by an adjustable depth gauge.

The maximum tilling width is a very wide 22”. Which can be reduced by taking off the outer tines to give a narrower 16” width.

The machine has forward and reverse gears. But it will only till in the forward gear. 8” wheels provide easy maneuverability and balance on wet and uneven soil.

This tiller comes with a 2-year limited warranty along with lifetime technical support.

  • Wide tilling width means fewer passes needed to till an area
  • You can remove the outer tines to make a narrower tiller
  • Forward & reverse gears
  • CARB compliant and EPA certified
  • Occasional customer complaints about build quality and breakages

9. Troy-Bilt Colt 208cc Forward Rotating Front Tine Tiller

troy bilt


Engine Displacement: 208cc
Engine Type: 4-cycle
Tines: Standard (Forward) Rotating
Tilling width: 24”
Tilling depth: 7”
Drive Directions: Forward
Weight: 136 lbs
Warranty: 2-Years

The Troy-Bilt Colt is another front tine tiller for those who want a more compact, lighter, and affordable tiller.

It comes equipped with a 208cc engine. And features a chain drive transmission system and standard recoil start.

The steel tines have a maximum tilling depth of 7”. And they have a special bolo curve design that allows them to both slice and chop their way through the soil.

Tilling consistency is maintained by an adjustable drag stake. And you can adjust the tilling width of the unit between 13”, 22”, and 24” by adding or removing the outer tines. Making it good for quickly tilling large spaces, and for using in between narrow garden rows.

It’s easy to maneuver on its 8” wheels. And the comfortable grip on the plow style handle makes using the machine easier.

This is also a very compact unit, and the handle folds down when you’re not using the tiller making it easy to store.

It comes with a 2-year limited warranty.

  • Tilling width between 13”-24” allows for tilling narrow spaces and quicker work on large areas
  • Bolo curve tines for highly effective tilling
  • Compact and easy to store
  • May sometimes lack the weight and power to easily break hard ground
  • Only forward rotating tines make it more suitable for tilling previously tilled plots

10. Schiller Grounds Care 7940 Mantis 4-Cycle Tiller Cultivator



Engine Displacement: 25cc
Engine Type: 4-cycle
Tines: Standard Rotating
Tilling width: 9”
Tilling depth: 10”
Weight: 24 lbs

Tiller cultivators are not the first choice to go for if you’re looking for the best tiller for breaking new ground. They lack power and weight compared to rear tine and front tine tillers. But they are affordable, and if you’re working on small areas they can do a job.

The Mantis has a 25cc Honda engine that power the tines through sod and compacted dirt to a maximum depth of 10”. If you then turn the tines around the machine works as a cultivator, tilling just 2-3 inches deep and easily weeding around plants and seedlings.

It’s reltaively light and easy to maneuver. And a finger controlled throttle in the handle allows you to vary the speed of the tines depending on the job at hand.

The compact size and narrow 9 inch tilling width make it easy to use for tilling between rows. And into tight spaces that bigger tillers might struggle to get into.

The ergonomic handlebars make the machine comfortable to use. And you can fold them when you’re not operating the tiller to make it easy to store.

  • Easy to use
  • Versatile—can be used as tiller and cultivator
  • Deep maximum tilling depth
  • Narrow 9” width makes it good for tilling between rows and in raised beds
  • Lightweight
  • It can be hard work to break tough ground due to lack of power and weight

How To Choose The Best Tiller For Breaking New Ground

man using tiller

Not all tillers are well suited for breaking ground. Some are only designed for shallow tilling of previously prepared flower beds and vegetable gardens.

New ground can be very hard to dig into. And it often has a covering of grass and weeds. Not to mention old roots growing through it that can cause smaller tillers to stall. Or even break their tine blades. And then there are the bits of rock and stones that are sometimes mixed throughout.

So how do you find the best tiller for breaking new ground?

Let’s take a look at the most important things to consider before you buy:

Type Of Tiller

The 3 main types of garden tiller available are rear tine tillers, front tine tillers, and electrical tillers.

Rear tine tillers are the best tillers for breaking new ground and rocky soil. They’re the largest, most powerful, and heaviest of the options.

They’re also the most comfortable to use. Once you start them they move themselves along the plot of land you’re tilling. You only need to steer and set the appropriate depth.

But as well as being the best they’re also the most expensive.

Front tine tillers are usually a step down in size and power. But they also usually cost less money.

They can still provide good tilling depth and width. But with less weight holding them down they can sometimes struggle to dig into hard soil.

An electric tiller is smaller and lighter than a front tine tiller. And less powerful. This makes it the least suitable if you want to break new ground.

Although the better models can till hard and compacted soil, it requires more physical effort on your part as they often jump around. If you have a large plot of fresh ground to till it will be hard work.


There are 3 types of tines commonly found on tillers: standard rotating (or forward rotating), counter-rotating, and dual rotating.

Standard rotating tines are good if you only want to till to a shallow depth.

Counter-rotating tines dig deeper and harder into the soil than standard rotating tines. Making them a better choice for breaking new ground and preparing new plots for planting.

Dual rotating tines can be switched between standard and counter-rotating. Giving you the most versatility when taking on different types of jobs in your garden.

Tilling Width & Depth

How deep do you need to till?

Tillers come with different maximum tilling depths. And many have adjustable depth stakes that allow you to control the depth for tilling consistency.

Are you tilling a big plot of land?

A rototiller with a wide tilling width will help you to complete the job quicker with fewer passes.

Do you need to till in awkward small spaces in your garden, between narrow rows, or in a raised bed?

If so, the best tiller will have a narrower tilling width.

Other Useful Features

Some tillers have adjustable handlebars making them more comfortable to use as you can set them to the correct height.

Foldable handlebars are useful for making the best rototiller smaller allowing it to be stored more easily.

Drag bars/stakes help you to maintain a consistent tilling depth, improve balance, and control forward momentum.

Counterweights are sometimes found on rear tine tillers to improve balance and stability.

Some of the best tillers have a reverse gear that improves maneuverability helping you to get in and out of dead-end spaces.

Agricultural style wheels can improve traction on difficult surfaces helping you to control and steer the tiller.


So, what is the best tiller for breaking new ground on the market?

If you’re looking for the best performance and most comfortable tilling experience, then rear tine tillers are hard to beat. But front tine tillers are more affordable. And with a bit more effort can do a good job for you.

Our recommendation is the EARTHQUAKE 31285 Pioneer Dual-Direction Rear Tiller. It provides an effortless tilling performance even on hard and compacted soils. With dual rotational tines and deep tilling depth, it’s perfect for preparing any new plot of land.

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