Tips for Using a Rear-Tine Tiller



A rear-tine garden tiller is a back-saving, hardworking wonder of joy for the gardener who really wants to dig in. Whether you're laying sod, putting in a new vegetable garden or working an established garden, setting the correct depth is vital to the health of the soil and your plants. 

  • To get a good feel for the soil's weight and the toughness of existing plants, start with a shallow depth and adjust as needed.
  • When breaking up sod that has a dense but shallow mat of roots, use a shallow depth.
  • For existing vegetable or flower gardens, a tilling depth of 4 to 6 inches is ideal.
  • If putting in a new garden, the depth should be between 6 and 10 inches.
  • To prepare a lawn for sod, till the top 6 inches.
  • For heavy soil, make two shallow passes–one lengthwise and one crosswise.

If you hit a tough section of sod or hard ground, don't lean on the handle as it shifts the weight from the wheels and reduces traction. Instead, lift the handle slightly and work through it, or set the depth stake lower.