How to Use a Garden Tiller


When you are tired of pulling weeds by hand and raking or hand-shoveling soil for your garden or landscaping projects, it is time to employ a garden tiller to save your back and reduce the amount of time you spend doing that hard work. As with any tool, it is important to understand the proper way to use and maintain your tiller, to ensure your personal safety and get the job done right.

Prepare the Tiller for Use

  • Fill the tank with fresh oil before using the tiller. Be careful not to overfill or under fill it, as either can lead to malfunctions and safety hazards.

  • Consult your tiller's manual to determine if you need to mix the gasoline with oil. Adjust the levels accordingly. Determine if you need to grease the transmission; do so if indicated in the manual.

  • Install fresh air filters or clean reusable ones. Check the tires and inflate them if necessary. Sharpen any tines that have become dull. Adjust the height of the handle to a comfortable level.

Using the Tiller

  • Prepare a garden with primary and secondary tillage by making a pass over the garden bed with the tiller set at maximum engine rotations per minute, adjusting speed as needed. If you are tilling an area with heavy vegetation, it may take more than one pass to churn up the soil. In cases of particularly heavy growth, till the area once, then till it again after it has rained.

  • Plant large-seeded crops with a tiller by placing seeds over the prepared seedbed, then making a shallow pass with the tiller, set at a high speed, to scatter the soil and cover the seeds.

  • Dig ditches or trenches with a tiller by repeatedly passing the tiller over the area and removing the loosened soil with a shovel. Repeat this process as many times as you need to create a ditch or trench as deep as you require.

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  • Photo Credit 現役の耕運機 image by kelly marken from
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