What Is a Rototiller Used for?

Melinda Rizzo

A rototiller is a powered garden tool used to loosen soil prior to planting and to keep pathways and nonplanted areas aerated during the growing season.

Rototillers, because they will chew up just about anything coming across their paths, can be used for loosening sod in lawns prior to enlarging an existing garden or creating a new one.


To the home gardener, rototillers are an invaluable method of turning soil under quickly. They eliminate the need for spade digging, or hoeing, and are useful in keeping pathways between rows of plants clear during the growing season.

Rototillers are efficient weed controllers and will chomp through clods of soil or clusters of weeds with ease.


Rototillers are machines that turn up soil, generally fueled by gasoline-powered engines and spinning tines. They must be pushed through the soil to be tilled up.

Smaller electric-powered rototiller models are also available.

Rototillers prepare the soil for planting without spade digging or using a hoe by hand to loosen the soil.


Although all rototiller models perform the same function, there are different types of tillers available.

Some rototiller units can be mounted to a tractor for pull-behind use while those most commonly used by the home gardener and grower hobbyist are self-contained tools, powered either by gasoline or electricity, and must be "walked" or pushed over and through the soil. These may be front or rear "tine" rototiller units.


Match the size of the job to the size of the rototiller.

For example, small gardens and raised beds need a small model with less power than a large garden. A semi-professional or small-scale commercial grower would require a much larger rototiller.


Purchase a rototiller with the end user in mind.

Rototillers can be large, heavy and powerful pieces of lawn equipment. The user's overall strength, size (a short or tall person) and the ability to handle the machine both in and out of the garden, (care and maintenance) are important factors in selecting the right rototiller.

Frequency of Use

The rototiller should also be selected based on how frequently it will be put to use.

Some rototillers may only require use once or twice a season to prepare the soil for planting and to clean up the garden in the fall.

Other gardeners may choose to use the tiller as a weeding tool, loosening the soil and turning under new growth in soil pathways between rows of plantings.

In this case, the rototiller will be put to use several times throughout the growing season, as frequently as twice a month or more.


Follow all manufacturer's instructions for safe use, fuel storage, handling and tool storage.

For maximum lifespan, store the rototiller when not in use in a covered shed or garage area to keep it out of the elements.