Creating a deep, finely tilled bed to plant your vegetables, hedge or flowers in can be one of the most labour intensive, back breaking jobs a gardener will face. In this article i will show you how to pick the best rototiller for rocky soil. Don’t go through hours of back breaking work- it is not worth it, invest in a rototiller and enjoy your garden.
I have performed this task many times manually, before discovering the unbelieveable benefits of having a rototiller do the hard work for me.
There are many different types of rototillers available, but some will not be suitable for more demanding jobs- such a tilling soil with rocks or stones in it- These need to be robust machines which i have found out to my expense, through many years of using them.
In this article we will discuss the different features you should look for and keep in mind when deciding on which rototiller suits your needs best.
Why should you buy a rototiller?
There are lots of jobs which we need to dig the ground over at least 6 to 8 inches deep, such as when planting potatoes, cauliflower, peas, turnips, parsley and many more. Small tillers can also be used to till the soil in flower beds to get them ready for planting, or even to help weed them.
This breaking up of the soil can be done with hand tools, but it then needs to be broken into smaller pieces before you can plant anything into it.
The amount of physical labour and time involved with manually digging your beds is immense.
It is due to this fact most people never get their soil as well tilled with a spade as they do with a mechanical tiller.
Garden soil types change wherever you are in the country, from sandy silty soils, loams, and hard clays.
A major issue faced by gardeners when preparing soil, either if using a spade or a mechanical tiller is the stone content. Unless you are in a coastal area with sandy soils you will most likely have stones somewhere in your garden.
Hazards when using a rototiller
There are many hazards when using powered machinery but rototillers are especially dangerous. Read through the list below to become more aware of them.
Tillers can be hazardous to work with- especially if you haven’t used one before or if you have just bought a new one for yourself. I have listed a number of important checks you should go through before you start your tiller.
I have chosen a list of 4 tillers I feel will be most suited to working in soil with stones in them.
They have certain features which make them better equipped to deal with stones- such as..
- Easily replaceable strong tines
- Strong handles
- Cutouts on engines
- Easy to maneuver and control
They are not for working in soil with massive stones- as no-tiller should. These very large stones should be removed before you begin rototilling.
You may find that you uncover more stones as you till the ground- that is ok, you can remove them before you begin your next run of tilling.
Gather large stones before you begin
My advice to anyone who has a very rocky or stony patch that they want to rototill is to walk through the plot first with a garden fork and locate the large stones (anything 4 to 6 inches in diameter and larger).
I would put these into your wheelbarrow and tip for use later in drainage or paths etc.
Now you can then rototill your first pass at a shallow depth – this way you can help prevent uncovering a massive stone buried deep underground, and avoid the tiller kicking out of the ground.
You may find more stones after this first pass, you can remove those and set your tiller deeper and so on until the plot is tilled to your required depth.
I have included one front tine tiller and the rest are rear tine tillers. I don’t particularly like front tine tillers – they are jumpy and hard to control in compacted or stony conditions – but the Earthquake 20015 is a pretty good option with regard to front tine tillers.
1. Earthquake 20015 99cc Tiller
Best Tiller For Raised Beds
The Earthquake 20015 is the only front tine rototiller I have included in my list. This is a heavier machine, weighing in at 86lbs, and will be capable of most jobs in your garden and allotment.
Powerful 4 stroke engine
This machine has a 4 stroke engine which makes refueling simpler, will be easier to start and is quieter to use.
Adjustable working width
It is also adjustable in cultivatable width- from 11 inches to 16 inches out to a maximum of 21 inches.
I would recommend a rototiller like this for medium-sized gardens/allotments which have a mixture of medium to small sized stones throughout. This tiller is suitable for those with a tighter budget and especially for those who may not be sure about how often they will use it.
2. Earthquake Victory 29702
Best tiller for large gardens
This is the Earthquake Victory 29702 and it is the first of the wheel driven rear tine tillers i will review.
This model has a 196cc 4 stroke Kohler engine which will have plenty of power for all conditions.
- The tiller has two large rubber tyres in front of the tines which gives the machine plenty of traction in deep soil. A wheel driven rear tine rototiller is a pleasure to use compared to a non wheel driven front tine tiller.
- Like many wheel driven rototillers, this model has a reverse gear to back it up at the end of your run or in tight corners. You don’t have to engage another gear to reverse it, simple pull a lever. This is a major advantage as it is more operator friendly.
- It is also safer to use as it has a dead mans handle which will stop the tiller if you let go of the handle.
- For stones to be an issue using this tiller, they would need to be quite large (over 3 inches in diameter), which you should be removing from the soil as you find them.
- This tiller will chew through roots of trees up to 3/4 inch in diameter, thick sods and hard clods with relative ease.
- Some owners reported poor build quality issues.
- Drive belts wear relatively quickly
I like rear tine tillers like this one by Earthquake. It is quite well made and has many of the features of the leading brands such as forward and reverse but at a slightly lower price.
Have a look at the reviews on Amazon to hear what others feel about it.
3. Husqvarna CRT900 14″
Best rototiller for clay soil
The Husqvarna would be the tiller of choice for me – but it seems overpriced compared to the Yardmax and im not sure it offers that much extra reliabilty or build quality for the extra money.
This Husqvarna has the best build quality backed by one of the best brand names associated with quality and durability. This tiller was designed to be used in harsh environments such as stony conditions and features positive reviews from the majority of users.
- Bulletproof engine of all the tillers – Honda
- Nicest overall build quality
- Best for peace of mind
- Most expensive
Be aware that this model the CRT900 seems to have supply issues and may have ceased production in favour of a newer model- the TR317D.
There are few owner reviews on Amazon for this tiller but they are mostly positive.
4. Yardmax YT4565
Best tiller for hard soil
I had to include the Yardmax YT4565 in my list as it is a very good tiller.
Yardmax are an American based company- Illinois since 2015- and they offer pretty decent value for money and hard wearing tools.
- Strong frame and handle
- Strong tines
- Easy to operate
- Good Engine -Briggs and Stratton
- Some users had issues selecting forward and reverse gears
Have a look at some of the owners reviews on Amazon – there are lots and the majority are good.
Best rototiller for rocky soil
The last three tillers in this list are truly the best rototillers for rocky soil conditions and are all robust machines. For me the Yardmax and the Eathquake 29702 offer the best value for money, but if i was being offered one i would take the Husqvarna.
Let me know if you chose one of these three machines and how you feel they performed for you. Thank you!