What is An Electric Tiller? Uses and Benefits

Last Updated on October 2, 2023 by Kyle Whitley

what is an electric tiller

If you are in need of turning soil over in your garden, lawn, or landscape beds, you need an electric tiller.  So you might be asking yourself, exactly what is an electric tiller?

What is an electric tiller?

Electric Tilers are pieces of gardening equipment that are powered using batteries or household electric power, used to break up compacted soil and get it ready to be planted.

They can be used in your lawn, garden, or landscaping beds to make the job of turning over the soil a much easier task.

How to Use an Electric Tiller

In terms of size, electric tillers are smaller than gas ones. Because of the fact that they’re less powerful, they’re more suitable for small areas. Tilling machines are mostly used to open up land. These tillers might not be as effective for very large gardens or large lawn renovation projects.

Wear safety goggles and boots to protect your eyes and feet while operating an electric tiller. Plan ahead before starting work. Be careful not to walk on freshly tilled soil, since you will compact the soil you just tilled up.   Don’t double back over areas already worked.

Limited Space?

Electric tillers are often the most efficient option if you’re working with limited space.  Often electric or battery powered tillers are smaller in size than traditional gas tillers so they are a little more maneuverable when negotiating small spaces.

If your electric tiller is battery powered you’ll need to be careful about how much battery you use.  You will want to have some spare batteries on hand to extend your work time.

When or When not to use your Electric Tiller

Tilling the soil in spring makes it fine enough to plant directly into the ground. Autumn tilling mixes spent plants and soil amendments back into the soil.

Don’t use an electric tilling machine if there is any chance of the soil being wet or muddy.

You should also avoid overusing power tillers if you want to maintain healthy soil. Excessive till can disturb insect populations and prevent the movement of air into the ground.

If you have weeds in your landscape, in order to prevent weeds from growing back, you must pull them out by hand.  You could also apply a weed killer to the area prior to till as well.

Staying Safe While Tilling

To avoid hurting yourself while working the soil, remove any large objects from your garden first. An electric tiller may be difficult to use on very rocky soil.

You will also want to wear proper protective gear, such as eye protection, hearing protection, close-toed shoes, and long pants.

Nothing ruins a day working in the outdoors like an injury.

Electric Tiller Operation – The Basics

Most tillers operate in the same manner, and here are a few steps for basic operation of an electric tiller.

Before using the tiller, make sure it is in neutral mode and not in gear. Keep it firmly gripped while moving it into the soil. Don’t let it jerk forward. Remove any large stones or other objects before starting the tiller.

Electric tillers come equipped with throttle control. Set the throttle to low speed, increase the speed to till at your desired pace, making sure you maintain control of the tiller.

If your tiller is a plugin model, make sure you are aware of the extension cords location at all times. Try to stay away from the power cord as much as possible.

When you get read to move in another direction. Put your tiller back into neutral. Lift the tines up off the ground. Then push the tiller forward again. You should now be ready to till another section of land.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Electric Tiller

Electric tillers come in many sizes. Some models are designed to work in wet or dry soil. Others offer more options than others. Consider your needs before you buy.

Corded vs. Cordless

Plug-in or corded tillers are generally less expensive than battery powered tillers.   They are limited how far and how long they can run by the length of your extension cord. Retention hooks prevent cords from getting caught up in the wheels or blades of the tiller.

Battery powered tillers gain you some mobility at the expense of runtime. Battery life depends on the size of the batteries used.  Having some spare batteries for your tiller is always a good idea.
Here are a few manufactures that make electric tillers:

Cordless and Plug-in tillers still have a lot going for them. Their smaller size makes them easier to move around, and they’re often less expensive than conventional models.


Electric tillers have a set of blades or rotating tines turn the ground beneath them. Most tillers include four tines, usually located near the back, middle, or front of the tool.

Battery powered and plug-in electric tillers are front tine tillers.

The most common type of tiller are front tine tillers.  They are usually less powerful than rear-tine tillers.  While they may be less powerful than rear tine tillers, the lower weight of front tine tillers makes them much more maneuverable than rear tine tillers.

Pros and Cons of Electric Tillers

The electric tiller quickly makes work of a garden bed. Being able to turn the soil over quickly,  allows you to get out there and plant your seeds right away.

Electric tillers are much easier than using a hand-powered implement. Having to turn soil by hand with a shovel and hoe is strenious work.   Using an electric tiller can make the process much faster and less physically demanding.

Electric power tools make gardening easier. Tilling requires both strength and stamina, and if your muscles get tired out, you’ll be done sooner than you expected.

Instead, you can use the machine to break up dirt into smaller pieces. You can also use the tiller to smooth out rough areas in your lawn as well.

Electric tillers are great tools for quick, small to medium-sized jobs around the yard.  If you have to till large areas which are remote (ie away from a nearby power outlet) then you might have to opt for a gas powered tiller or invest in a good many batteries to extend your runtime.

The Main Difference Between a Tiller and a Cultivator

Often tilling and cultivating are confused or used in conjunction with each other.  They are really two separate soil engagement tasks.

Tilling soil is the process of turning up the top layer of soil by plowing or spading. Cultivating means breaking up clods of dirt and loosening them into smaller pieces.


Are electric tillers any good?

Tiller models powered by higher wattages should still be able to perform most tasks but may need to be near an electrical source.

Battery operated tillers also require recharging but are more convenient than corded ones because there is no need to plug them into an outlet. You gain mobility for the sake of runtime.

What tasks can an electric tiller handle?

Electric tillers are great for many different tasks in your garden, lawn, or landscape beds.

  • Turning fresh soil on the surface of your garden
  • Creating new landscape and garden beds
  • Breaking up and turning over grass or sod for new grass plantings
  • Adding composite materials into your lawn, garden, or landscape beds
  • Freeing you from using hand tools to turn the soil.


Summing it Up

An electric tiller is a great addition to your outdoor tool collection since it can handle many garden, lawn, or landscaping tasks.   Tilling makes creating or maintaining your garden so much easier, but can also help you make your lawn better, while assisting in the beatification of your landscape beds.  Get out there and get that soil turned over with your electric tiller.