If you are an avid gardener, then you know, that cultivating the soil beforehand, will help your plants grow.
You can, of course, do this by hand and just dig your soil over, but for big gardens or vegetable patches, this can be hard work and take a lot of time.
The good news is, there are tools out there, that can make your life easier!
A rotavator, or sometimes also called a cultivator or tiller, is an agricultural tool that will turn over the soil for you. Rotavators are machines, that will break up the soil, using rotating blades. Basically, they are small ploughs!
Cultivating your soil will aerate it, improve drainage and level up the ground, which will make sure your patch is perfectly prepared for planting fruits, vegetables or flowers.
Our Picks For The Best Garden Rotavators, Tillers & Cultivators:
There are quite a lot of different options out there, so choosing the right one is important. For example, you have to decide if you prefer electric rotavators or petrol rotavators.
Our experts have put together a list of the 5 best rotavators, tillers and cultivators to help you to pick the one for you. All our best garden rotavators are available on Amazon, so you can get your hands on them easily.
#1: VonHaus Electric 1400W Rotavator
- a powerful engine with a 1400W motor
- electric tiller, so lightweight (11kg) and environmentally friendly
- the 6 durable steel blades will make light work, even on large areas
- easy to keep a straight line with the two rear wheels, which can be folded away if needed
- Good safety features: overload protection & electric brake button
- 2 year manufacturer warranty
What To Consider:
- our pick for the best garden rotavator
- great customer ratings
- the power cord is 10m long
- the maximum working width is 40cm
- the maximum tilling depth is 22cm
- Length 110cm, width 40cm
- needs assembling, but easy instructions are provided
We consider the VonHaus electric tiller the best rotavator because it will cultivate your soil quickly and efficently and comes with a 2 year manufacturer warranty.
#2: BU-KO 52CC Garden Petrol Rotavator
- petrol garden rotavator with a high-powered 3HP engine
- 52cc petrol engine with a maximum speed of 9000rpm
- 4 sharp blades made of steel
- bike type handles for better grip
- safety guards will protect you from the blades and mud
- adjustable wheels
- lightweight (16.5kg) and easy to store
- comes with safety equipment: ear defender, safety glasses, gloves
What To Consider:
- needs assembling, but comes with tools
- 12 month return to UK base guarantee with in house technicians for repairs and queries
- maximum depth: 25cm
- tilling width: 28cm, aerator width: 29cm
- adjustable height through adjustable handles
- customer reviews are great
- Our second pick as the best rotavator for UK gardens
This garden tiller has made it on our list of best garden rotavators because it has the power of a petrol rotavator while it is still lightweight enough not to make it hard work.
#3: Garden Gear Electric Garden Tiller
- 1050W electric motor with 10m power cable and cable tidy
- safety features: 2-point safety switch and overheat protection
- easy grip handles to provent the machine slipping out of your grip
- 4 sturdy tines that will cut through the soil easily
- super lightweight (7.5kg), so no heavy lifting
- maximum cultivating depth: 22cm
- suitable for most types of soil
What To Consider:
- great customer ratings
- affordable price
- easy assembling
- comes with 24-month guarantee
- maximum working width: 32cm
We think this affordable priced electric cultivator is great value for money as it gives you a powerful machine that can deal with most soil types and makes you life easier.
#4: BMC Electric Garden Rotavator
- 1400w electric motor
- 6 tines with 4 sharp blades
- can dig small holes for planting seedlings
- safety features: automatic overheat protection, double insulation
- foldable handles for easy storage
- 2 wheels for stability
- 10m power cable
- working depth: 22cm
What To Consider:
- light assembly necessary
- the UK based technical support team is happy to help if you have issues
- adjustable tilling width between 16cm and 40cm
- heavier than other electric cultivators (15kg)
- great customer reviews
The BMC Electric Garden Tiller made it on our list of best garden rotavators because it gives you a powerful performance while not costing the earth.
#5: COSTWAY 1200W Electric Rotavator/Cultivator
- 1200W electric motor
- 10-metre power cord
- ergonomic handles for easy use
- 2 wheels for extra stability
- safety features: on/off trigger and press safety button, safety shield
- maximum working depth: 22cm
- 4 robust and durable blades
What To Consider:
- easy to assemble
- foldable for easy storage
- reasonable price
- good customer reviews
- adjustable height to suit your needs
- lightweight (8kg)
This model made it on our list of best rotavators because it is reasonable priced yet powerful enough to efficiently cultivate your soil.
Choosing The Best Rotavator For You
With so much choice out there, it is not always easy to find the right garden tool for you. When it comes to finding the best rotavator, you first have to decide what type you want.
There are three types of rotavators, each with their pros and cons:
As the name says, this type of rotavator is powered by you, which means they are very cheap to use, becasue you don’t need any fuel or power. They are also cheaper to buy and don’t need much maitainance.
However, you will have to put in a lot of work and effort. Depending on your soil, you might have to put in a lot of strength, which can make it hard work indeed.
If you have a big garden, or you want to cultivate your vegetable patches on your allotment, using a manual tiller can take a lot of time.
Petrol models tend to be powerful and can deal with compact and hard soils well. Because of their power, you can work big areas in little time, making them an efficient tool. Because they are more powerful, you can achieve a deeper maximum depth, which can be useful for some garden activities.
However, they will be more expensive, and you will need to buy fuel, which will be an additional regular cost. They also need to be maintained to keep them functional.
As they burn fuel, they will expel harmful fumes and they are also not environmentally friendly. Make sure you use safety equipment when using a petrol tiller.
They also tend to be heavier. So, while they make your life easier, you will still put some effort in.
Most petrol rotavators will need some sort of assembley, but most models nowadays, are fairly easy to assemble.
Electrical models are the environmentally friendly option, because you don’t need fossil fuels to power them and there won’t be any harmful fumes.
You can buy corded or cordless rotavators, however, the cordless options tend to be more expensive. But even the corded ones commonly come with long power cables, so you can use them even if you have a bigger garden.
Electric tillers are lighter, which makes it easier to operate them, so you don’t need to put in too much effort.
You will, however, need a power source in your garden or allotment and powering them does still cost money. Like the petrol models, electric models will need some assembling, but again, this is normally quite easy.
What You Want To Achieve
Once you have decided which type is most suitable for your needs, you should look at what you want to achieve.
If you want to cultivate compact, stoney soil, you need a powerful enough machine to handle this. You want good quality blades and a powerful motor. This might be more expensive, but it is worth it, if it reduces the work and effort you have to put in.
The best rotavator can also help with weeding large areas.
Weeds with shallow, thin roots should not cause a big problem for any tiller. But if you have weeds with deeper roots or thick and strong roots, you want a cultivator that has enough power to break the roots without breaking itself.
A less powerful, and most likely less expensive, cultivator can be used, if you have good quality soil, and you just want to turn it over, ready for planting your seeds.
Sandy soil also tends to be easy to cultivate, so a less powerful model can be used.
The tilling width is also important. If you have a big area, you might want a rotavator with a bigger working width, because you will need less time. So look for a rotavator with 6 rather than 4 blades. If you want to cultivate narrower areas, such as flower beds, borders or between vegetable plots, then you should look for a smaller working width.
With the best rotavators you can adjust the tilling width, which is ideal if you want to use it for both beds and bigger areas.
Another big consideration is budget. Manual tillers are the chepaest, you can get one from around £20. You can get electric rotavators from around £80, petrol ones start from around £150. You should try to get the best quality for the price you can afford, but remember, the cheaper they are, the less powerful. So, you want to make sure you get one that will meet your needs.
Depending on what you want to achieve, you also need to consider the tilling depth. If you are creating a new garden, you want to dig deeper. If you just want to cultivate your beds after harvest or flowering is over, a shallower cultivation is needed.
The best time to rotovate your garden
The aim of rotavating or cultivating your garden is to losen up your soil and increase areation. So the best times are autumn and spring.
In autumn, after your plants have stopped flowering or you have finished harvesting your vegetables, cultivating the soil will loosen it up, making it easier to dig into next year. It will also bring up the roots of weeds, which will die off in the cold, so there will be fewer weeds in spring.
In spring, before you start sowing seeds or planting bulbs or seedlings, cultivating will loosen the soil, that has hardened over winter. It will also improve the drainage. This will make it easier for the roots to establish themselves.
Rotavating in winter is not recommended (even with the best rotavators), because you may damage your crops by digging too deep. The soil becomes hard and frozen, making it difficult to dig into.
What’s the difference between a rotavator, a tiller and a cultivator?
The three terms tend to be used interchangeably, mainly because they all do the same, they break up soil, preparing it for planting and sowing.
Cultivator is the overarching term and includes both tillers and rotavators. Tillers usually don’t have wheels and are less powerful. The tilling depth they achieve is normally smaller.
Rotavators do have wheels, either on the front, which are also called rear tine tillers, or on the back, which are also called front tine tillers.
The above table includes all types and were chosen by our experts for the results they will give you.
Do you have to prepare the soil before using a rotavator?
Yes, is the short answer.
First, you need to check the moister level of your soil. If the soil is too dry, it will be difficult for the tiller to get through, which means it will be much harder work for you than it has to be.
If you find your soil is very dry, give it a good soak before you start.
Eqaually, if your soil is too wet, it will clump, which will also make it harder work. To check if your soil is too wet, dig a small hole and take the soil in your hands. If it is clumped up and difficult to break up, it’s too wet. If it is too wet, leave it to dry out for a day or two.
While a rotavator can be used to remove weeds, you have to make sure that they aren’t too big or thick.
If the ground you want to cultivate is covered with big weeds, you want to have a weeding session first. Alternatively, you can just go over with your lawnmower to cut them down a few days before you want to cultivate your soil.
However, be mindful that even the best rotavator blades could get tangled up with long and strong roots while you go over the ground. This can potentially break your rotavator.
So, if you know that there are thick long roots, dig them out to be safe.
Will a rotavator level my garden?
No, but it will help you to level your garden. You’ll notice that when you use a rotavator, the soil will become more even and flat. It won’t completely level your garden, but it will help.
You also can’t expect miracles, as a rotavator won’t be able to get rid of a hill.
But if your vegetable plot is a bit uneven, then going over with a tiller, can help to level the ground. It works because the rotavator will loosen up the soil and distribute it more evenly.
You can use a rake to help with the soil distribution if needed.
As you have seen, rotavators are very useful garding tools that can make your life much easier. There are different options available, so it is important to choose the right one for you.
Our expert picks of the best garden rotavators currently available should help you to decide which one is the best for you.
Cultivating your garden will make sure that your soil stays in tiptop condition to guarantee that your flowers, fruits or vegetables will thrive and make you happy.