Last updated on November 28th, 2023
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I’ve used rotavators for over 20 years, from the large petrol Howard rotavator pictured below in my family nursery, which is a little overkill for most people. Still, it’s perfect for cultivating large areas before planting. These are also the sort of rotavators I learned to use in horticultural college back in the day.
There are now much smaller, compact rotavators, which have proven perfect for landscaping, garden maintenance, and maintaining beds on allotments and even garden beds.
You can now get some amazing rotavators powered by much smaller 25cc 4-stoke engines like the Mantis 4-Stroke Petrol Deluxe Tiller pictured below, although I’m a big fan of the Hyundai HY150 150cc 4-stroke Petrol Rotavator, which I talk about a little more further down.
Then, you have the option of a powerful, low-maintenance 1500w corded electric rotavator, with the Hyundai 1500w Electric Garden Tiller probably being one of my models, but I’m just not a fan of the power cords. Hence, I’ve mostly stick to petrol rotavators myself and, more recently, cordless rotavators, as discussed here. You could even go the cordless route with a cordless rotavator, such as the Einhell Power X-Change 36V Cordless Garden Rotavator which has proven to be a great option with no petrol engine to maintain or cords to worry about. More on this model further down!
For me, petrol rotavators which I’ve also reviewed here include the Hyundai HY150 150cc 4-stroke Petrol Rotavator as well as The Handy 43cc Petrol rotavor are the way to go if you have compact ground to cultivate that has not been touched for a few years. The engine also helps add weight and power to drive the steel tines through the soil and cultivate the soil effectively. They are by far the best at cultivating compact soils.
That said, it’s still doable using a decent electric or cordless rotavator. However, I’ve found that if the ground is very compact, I usually have to go over it with a garden fork first to break up the soil a little and give the tines on the rotavator something to dig into to get started. If you maintain an allotment or work your beds a couple of times a year, you can usually go over it once with a tiller, and it’s ready for planting without needing to fork it over first. What I have found with alot of these smaller rotavators is that I have to go forward first to break up the soil and then pull it backwards, going over it again to turn it into a fine tilth.
Before I get into my detailed rotavator reviews and buyers guide further down, I want to quickly mention a few of what I think are the best rotavators for the average allotment or garden beds. Basically, it is the best choice for most people, depending on what you are looking for with a rotavator.
Personally, I would go with either a petrol or cordless rotavator. However, you can’t ignore that some of the corded rotavators are excellent machines and are super low maintenance compared to petrol. Plug them in, and it’s ready to use; clean them off with a brush, and it’s ready to store and their light weight and compact. If you have a smaller plot or even medium-sized garden, this Hyundai 1500w Electric Garden Tiller pictured above is one of the best options if you go with a corded rotavator.
Being Hyundai, it’s also super reliable too. I have a few Hyundai tools, including their self-propelled petrol mower and their petrol scarifier pictured above. Both are amazing machines, by the way! back to the rotavator
This electric rotavator is not the cheapest, but it’s definitely one of the most powerful, which is what I think is essential, along with reliability. It’s very well made and has a decent 450mm working width while most other electric rotavators only have a 30cm working width. It also has a reasonable 220mm working depth. Then it has a long 10-meter power cord, which is about as long as they come on these electric rotavators but you can always get an outdoor extension lead. Finally, it also has the transport wheels. Overall, it’s just well-designed, very well made, lightweight and more importantly great are tilling soil.
If you want something a little narrower, I would consider the The Handy 800w Electric Tiller, which is another good option with a smaller 300mm working width, perfect for smaller gardens.
If you need raw power, for example, if you have soil that has not been worked for years and is very compact, or you need the flexibility of being truly portable, then consider investing in a petrol rotavator. I love petrol rotavators in terms of performance. Nothing beats them. If you get a 4-stroke model, there is no petrol and oil to mix like on 2-stroke tillers and these days; they come with easy start reliable engines. They are also much quieter than they used to be, and reasonably compact. The engine’s weight also helps push the steel tines onto the soil much better than any electric or cordless model can.
For compact soil or larger plots, a petrol rotavator is the way to go for sure. My favourite is probably this Hyundai 150cc 4-stroke Petrol Rotavator pictured above. For the price, this is hard to beat when you take into account what this rotavator can do and its reliability. Not forgetting, the three-year warranty it comes with. To start with, it has a wider working width of 560mm, so almost 2ft wide. It also has an adjustable working depth of up to 260mm deep. This is handy because, on compact soil, you can start shallow and then go over a second time even deeper. This is something you cannot do with most other rotavators. Be warned, though. It’s around 30kg in weight, so it’s a heavy bit of kit. Because of this, it’s obviously not for everyone. However, this improves the overall performance as the weight helps push the tines into the soil. Overall, for a petrol rotavator like this, it’s well worth considering and similar, more expensive brands can be double the price. You can’t go wrong with a Hyundai, which is why I own several petrol-driven garden tools already by Hyundai.
Finally, I wanted to mention Einhell’s Power X-Change 36V Cordless Garden Rotavator as it’s an excellent option for the right situation, especially when you weigh its performance against its price. Priced around £220-£230 with a battery and charger included, it’s an absolute bargain for a cordless tool. Its build quality is pretty good, particularly for a cordless model, and overall, it’s a great machine for those who don’t want to use petrol models as not everyone does but need the portability of petrol but the convenience of electric without the cord. It has a working width of 30cm (1ft), so a decent width for smaller and medium size areas. Plus, its 20cm tilling depth is pretty good, too. To give you an idea, a meter-wide vegetable bed would require about three passes.
But let’s be realistic – if you’re after the power of a petrol rotavator, this isn’t it. But that’s a common trait with most cordless tillers and corded electric, for that matter. It’s critical to understand their strengths and, more importantly, their limitations. For example, they’re not cut out for turning over long grass or larger weeds with deep roots. The issue? These tend to wrap around the tines. But this is an excellent option for pre-planting cultivation a couple of times a year. If you’re dealing with long-neglected or densely-packed soil, you will need to go over the area with a garden fork to loosen the soil first, and I usually remove any larger deep-rooted weeds with a weed puller first. I’m a big fan of this Einhell’s Power X-Change 36V Cordless Garden Rotavator.
6 Best Rotavators Reviews
1. Hyundai 1500w Electric Garden Tiller
This Hyundai 1500w Electric Garden Tiller is a good option if you need a rotavator with a reasonable working width and don’t like the idea of dealing with a petrol engine or want to fork out several hundred for a cordless model. This really is the next best thing and is a good example of a corded electric rotavator. Not to mention, they offers excellent value for money.
It features an all-copper motor that delivers high power to the steel tines that rotate at 400rpm. And the construction of the motor is designed for a long life, basically being Hyundai you know you’re getting a decent bit of kit and to be honest, all things considered, Hyundai definitely offer the best value for money. The model also comes with a standard 10m power cable which is fairly long but you could also get an outside extention reel.
The tilling width of this Hyundai tiller is fairly wide 45cm, compared to most other electric models which are around 30cm. This is a generous width that suits a mid-sized to large plot of land. When it comes to cultivating depth, you can turn anything from the top few centimetres of soil down to 22cm below the surface by adjusting the tilling depth. So whether you want to churn in some compost or get at the deep weed roots, just use the depth adjusting control rod in the rear of the unit.
And the tines that do the work are all angled. There are six tines, each with four blades to cultivate the soil. The standard number of total blades is usually 16, so you have some extra cultivating power here.
I like that this model has an electric brake. Rather than taking your hand off the safety switch to stop, you actually use a brake. That sends a definite “stop” command to the rotavator. Also, the wheels are retractable for when you’re working and come down when you need to move the tiller to another spot. Plus the handles fold down for convenient storage and transport.
- Electric garden tiller with 1500W all-copper motor.
- Six angled tines, each with four blades.
- Tilling width is 45cm.
- Tilling depth is up to 22cm.
- 10m power cable.
- Controls (Start/Safety switch; Go) conveniently on right-hand handle.
- Electric brake.
- Handles fold for storage and transport.
- Retractable wheels.
- Weighs 11kg.
- Tiller speed is 400rpm.
- Three-year domestic warranty.
- No speed control.
This Hyundai 1500w Electric Garden Tiller is a good choice for an electric rotavator if you have a small or mid-size or even a large piece of land that needs tiling. You can go down to 22cm and each pass covers 45cm in width. That’s quite an area turned each time. I like the electric brake for stopping and the fold-down handle for convenient storage when the unit is not in use. Overall, it’s a great piece if kit.
2. Einhell Power X-Change 36V Cordless Garden Rotavator
This Einhell Power X-Change 36V Cordless Rotavator and actually one of my favourites as you don’t need to worry about petrol engines but you are also not tied down by the length of the power lead. This is a good piece of kit and surprisingly affordable for a decent cordless tool.
You can get one with two 18V 4.0Ah batteries and a faster battery charger for a little under £300 last time I checked which was amazing value for such a good machine. Always check when you buy a cordless power tool whether the batteries are included, as many times they are not, and you have to purchase them separately. Just don’t get caught out as batteries and chargers can be expensive.
it’s part of the Einhell Power X-Change ecosystem of tools. This means that batteries from other tools in the ecosystem fit this rotavator. So if you already have invested in other 18v Einhell tools, you can use their batteries as well and just buy the bare tool. You can switch out the original batteries when discharged and pop in some from other tools you’ve charged up.
The tilling width of this Einhell cordless model is 30cm. That’s not very large, so this rotavator is best suited to small to mid-sized patches of land. It’s small enough to be useful in vegetable and flower beds. The tilling depth of 20cm lets you get down to the roots of weeds and any stones hidden under the soil.
Its worth noting it also has a two-point safety switch needs to be held down for the rotavator to run. Releasing the safety switch instantly stops the tines from turning. And speaking of the tines, there’s four of them to churn up the soil, each of which has four blades. All of them breaking down your soil.
- A powerful cordless tiller which is convenient and effective at tilling the soil.
- Comes with two Lithium ion 18V 4Ah batteries and a battery charger. (check you but it as a set as also sold as a bare tool)
- Tilling width is 30cm.
- Tilling depth is 20cm.
- Four tines, each with four blades.
- Foldable handles with softgrip.
- Height adjustable wheels for transport.
- Two-point safety switch.
I really do like my Einhell Power X-Change 36V Cordless tiller and although it want breakup very compact soil with forking the ground first for 10 minutes, it does an amazing job when it gets hold. I find it works best when you go forward and then pull it backwards and do the row again slowly, does an amazing job.
If you don’t already have other Einhell power tools like I didn’t get the setup which comes with the two 18v 4Ah batteries and a battery charger. At 30cm, the tilling width is a little narrow, so this model is best used on small to mid-sized beds and borders. I like that the handles are foldable for compact storage. It really is a great machine.
3. Hyundai HY150 150cc Petrol Garden Tiller
This Hyundai 150cc HY150 Petrol Rotavator is one of two heavy-duty rotavators in my review. It has a four-stroke engine with a whopping 150cc of power, compare this to the Mantis 4-Stroke Petrol Deluxe Tiller and I think this Hyundai is maybe best pick of the two as its more affordable, both are excellent petrol rotavators though.
The width and the depth of this rotavator match up to this amount of energy. The tilling width is a impressive 56cm (just short of 2ft), the widest of the models in this review in fact. You can make short work of a large area of soil you need to turn with the four tines, each with four angled teeth, cutting this broad a stroke with each pass.
I also really like that the tilling depth is adjustable down to 26cm. You can just turn the top few centimetres or go right down and get any stones buried in the soil. Just use the rear depth control rod on the machine to make the necessary adjustments.
In fact, everything is placed conveniently on the ergonomic handle. The Start/Stop trigger is on one handle, and the speed throttle on the other – you’re in control of how this Hyundai rotavator tills your soil.
Of course, all this ability and power does come at the expense of weight. This is a fairly heavy tiller, weighing around 30kg. But when you’re faced with a large field of unturned soil, prepare to be thankful that you have this sturdy and strong cultivator along with you.
- Petrol garden rotavator with self-propelled Hyundai OHV engine.
- Powered by a impressive 150cc 4-stroke engine.
- Four rotating tines, each with four angled teeth.
- An adjustable tilling width is 56cm.
- Tilling depth is adjustable up/down to 26cm.
- Retractable front wheel for easy moving between jobs.
- Start/Stop trigger on right handle; throttle on left handle.
- Soft grip holds on handle for comfort.
- Three-year (domestic) warranty.
This Hyundai HY150 Petrol Garden Tiller is just the petrol rotavator you need if you have large stretches of unturned soil. It has a powerful 4-stroke 150cc engine (more powerful than some scooters!) and a generous tilling width of 56cm. Whether you need to just turn the topsoil or go far down, you can adjust the tilling depth up to (down to) 26cm.
The controls are ergonomically placed on the handles so that you know where to reach for them. With four rotating tines (each with four blades) to churn up the soil, you won’t be overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do.
Read next: Make planting easier – Check out my review of the best post hole and planting diggers
Look for a mini tiller for small gardens? Check my review of the best mini tillers
4. Mantis 4-Stroke Petrol Deluxe Tiller
The Mantis Deluxe 4-Stroke Tiller/Cultivator is one of four excellent models, which are manufactured by Mantis, a renowned company for quality garden machines. This model is powered by a 25cc Honda 4-stoke engine and produces plenty of reliable power for turning over even the most compact soils, including clay. This really is a great piece of kit but its expensive!
All models from this manufacturer have the Mantis patented serpentine tines that are virtually unbreakable. They even come with a lifetime guarantee again breakages for your peace of mind. They spin at up to 200 RPM which is twice the speed of most other tillers on the market. It will easily till to a depth of 25cm, at a width of 22.5cm, creating a very rich loamy soil.
Other features include a trigger-style throttle for a more precise and easier to control machine and a solid worm gear system transmission. This rotavator is engineered for controlled power and maximum torque.
An extra feature of this deluxe model is the adjustable height and ergonomic handles. Gardeners of all heights can use this tiller in comfort and with fatigue-free control. The rotavator is lightweight at only 12kg and has a front handle, making it easy to move, carry around and transport. The quick-release folding handles also make it easy to store, and it does not take up too much space.
One thing we do like about all Mantis tillers is that you can get attachments, purchased separately. Their attachments include lawn aerators, a plough blade for making furrows, a border edger, dethatcher, planter for digging planting holworking width is 22.5cm and depth is 25cmes or trenches and even an attachment for turning your tiller into a crevice cleaner for cleaning weeds out of cracks in patios.
- Petrol rotavator powered by a high-quality Honda 25cc 4-stroke engine.
- Patented Mantis tines come with a lifetime guarantee that covers breakage.
- The working width is 22.5cm and depth is 25cm.
- Precise control through trigger-style throttle and transmission system.
- Handles are height adjustable and ergonomically designed.
- Optional attachments for many other garden tasks.
- Weighs 12g.
Without doubt, Mantis produce some of the best garden machinery available and their tillers are up there with the very best models, which is what helped the Mantis 4-Stroke Petrol Deluxe Tiller win our Best Petrol Pick.
If you want to invest in a quality petrol-powered tiller that’s convertible to many other powered garden tools, then the Mantis 4-Stroke Petrol Deluxe Tiller is definitely worth a long look.
5. Einhell GC-RT 7530 Electric Garden Rotavator
The Einhell GC-RT 7530 Electric Garden Rotavator is a small rotavator with a 750W motor and a good alturniave to the The Handy 800w Electric Tiller. Its two-point safety switch needs to be held in for the tiller to be in use. The blades stop moving as soon as you let go of this switch. This is a good protective measure for ensuring that no-one accidentally (or otherwise) turns the rotavator on.
The tilling width of this Einhell rotavator is quite narrow, at 30cm(1ft), making it best for small to mid-size areas of land. You’d have to make many passes across a small-holding, for example, with this narrow working width. However, you can till down to a depth of 20cm. That’s deep enough to get at the rocks, stones and weed roots lurking under the surface.
The Einhell GC-RT 7530 Electric Garden Rotavator is a relatively lightweight at less than 8kg. Along with its small size, this makes it easier to move around in small flower or vegetable beds and gardens. It’s also easy to store and transport as the handle easily folds down.
- Ideal for small beds and borders, is compact and easy to store.
- Powered by a 750W motor to effectively cultivate the soil.
- Tilling width is 30cm.
- Tilling depth is 20cm.
- Four tines, each with four blades.
- Two-point safety switch to prevent accidental starting of the machine.
- Foldable handle for easy storage.
- Weighs 7.4kg.
- Three-year warranty (if you register online)
- Best for lighter soils.
The Einhell GC-RT 7530 Electric Garden Rotavator is a smaller rotavator that works well on small to mid-size patches or land and in flower and vegetable beds. Although the path it makes through the unturned land is quite narrow at 30cm, it can rotavate down to a respectable depth of 20cm. I like that it’s relatively lightweight at 7.5kg so that it’s easy to manoeuvre about the garden. And that the handles fold flat for storage in small places.
The Einhell GC-RT 7530 Electric Garden Rotavator is a good choice for the average domestic garden.
6. The Handy 800w Electric Tiller
The Handy produce some good garden machinery and this Handy Electric Tiller model really does offer value for money. It’s an excellent rotavator for small gardens and allotments, and is a great starter model for those new to this mode of gardening.
This little machine is powered by electricity and is ready to go within a few minutes after you receive it. It’s mostly maintenance free except for giving it a good brush off after use.
The tines are powered by a powerful 800-watt motor and till to a depth of 20cm with a width of 30cm. This narrower width makes it suitable for getting into smaller spaces and in between plants and down rows. Just make sure that you remove any large stones from this rotavator’s path as they can flick up and hit the plastic cover and damage it.
This model comes with a 10-meter cable giving you plenty of reach which you can increase with an extension lead if needed. As this is one of the smaller models we review, it’s not designed for extended or very frequent use.
- Electric rotavator with a 800W motor.
- Working width is 30cm with a 20cm depth.
- Power cord is 10m long.
- For small to medium gardens.
- Foldable handles for storage and transport.
- One-year guarantee.
The Handy Electric Tiller is a compact model that’s suitable for small to medium gardens and does it’s job well, all at an affordable price. I recommend it as a great starter rotavator or for those who only need to till their flower beds at the start and end of the growing season.
With many rotavators available, it can be confusing when trying to decide which model is best for you. The main differences between most models are the size (tilling depth & width) and how it is powered (petrol or electric). And, of course, the price.
How to use a tiller
The first thing you need to put some serious thought into is what size rotavator you will need to invest in. This mostly depends on what you intend to use it most for. Most gardeners really need a medium size machine – good for getting into smaller areas but large enough to rotavate larger sized beds. Our best pick is actually perfect for this situation. If you rotavate small beds and borders between plants, you will only need one of the smallest models, whereas if you have a large allotment or garden you will probably need a larger, more robust model with a wider cultivating width.
Or , select one of the models we review that offers both a narrow and a wide width. They usually accomplish this by removing the outer set of tines.
Electric vs Petrol
The most popular rotavators are powered by electricity and are usually the number one choice for home use and smaller allotments. They are generally much cheaper than their petrol counterparts and still do a great job at cultivating the soil.No products found.
Most electric models are lightweight. This may be of importance especially for gardeners who are not strong enough to lift some heavier petrol models which can weigh in excess of 30kg. Electric tillers also require less maintenance, no oil changes, refuelling, changing of spark plugs or servicing. They are also much quieter, making them less intrusive to use in home gardens.
Maybe a petrol model is more suitable – Petrol models do have their own advantages. Most dedicated gardeners, specifically allotment gardeners, often choose a petrol rotavator over an electric model.
The main advantage is that they are more portable so that ou can use them where there is no access to electricity which is often the case on allotments or in very large gardens. They are usually more powerful and better for cultivating more compact virgin soil. To till large areas efficiently, you may need a larger rotavator which usually means a petrol model
Some rotavators, which includes all Mantis tillers, have attachments for you to buy separately. The attachments include lawn aerators, a plough blade for making furrows, border edger, a planter for digging planting holes or trenches, a dethatcher, and even an attachment for turning your tiller into a crevice cleaner for cleaning weeds out of cracks in patios areas.
If you’re attracted by this feature, don’t forget to also cost out the total price of purchasing all these tools on their own and compare to the multi-tool.
Warranties & Guarantees
Are these important to you? If you purchase an expensive machine then they should be, and most rotavators come with some sort of warranty. Most models include at least one or two years warranty, with the exception of very cheap models. All Mantis tillers come with a five-years warranty for the whole machine and a lifetime guarantee on the tines for breakages for extra peace of mind.
How deep does a rotavator dig?
This will depend on the model that you choose to purchase. There are models that achieve around 5cm and others go deeper than 40cm. Depending on what you want to plant, make sure the rotavator’s tilling depth is adequate.
Should I remove grass before tilling?
Yes, it is advisable to remove the grass before tilling. By removing the grass you make the tines move more smoothly and you avoid the regrowth of the grass later on. If you need the grass to add nutrients to the soil, just collect the grass and create a compost that you can use later.
Should I rotavate before laying turf?
It is a good idea to rotavate before laying turf. This allows you to remove any rubble, stones and other forms of dirt that may obstruct a perfect turf.
Why do you rotavate a garden?
Rotavating a garden reduces soil compaction and it allows the soil to be aerated. Aerated soil receives water well and allows nutrients to get to the roots of plants. Rotavating a garden also allows the gardener to remove unwanted plant material like thatch and weeds from the surface of the soil.
Which is better, a front or rear tine tiller?
This depends on the size of the allotment. Front tine tillers are easier to manage on small allotments and they generally cost less than rear tine tillers. Rear tine tillers are more suited for larger and more open areas. They are relatively larger and may have more features to work with making them more expensive.
You have enough garden tasks to do by hand, so make the most of a powered rotavator to turn over your soil at the beginning and end of the growing season. Whether you choose an electric or petrol model for your small or large garden, all the products we review are well received for their quality and their features. Our Best Petrol Pick even has optional attachments that turn in into a multi-functional garden tool for many of the essential lawn care chores.
Last update on 2023-11-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API