The reason for this is that people don't know there is a difference. Professional and newcomers alike seem to be misled into thinking that a the terms cultivator and tiller mean the same thing.
The truth is, while they do serve similar purposes, they are by no means the same. You wouldn't use a blender to chop vegetables, and you wouldn't use a vegetable chopper to blend a smoothie. Just the same, you shouldn't use a tiller to cultivate soil, and you shouldn't use a cultivator to try tilling land.
Cultivators are meant to be used on existing gardens and flower beds. These machines have less power but excel in speed and close proximity of their tines. This enables them to essentially blend the soil.
While they aren't powerful enough to break ground and create new gardens or flower beds, they are great for maintaining them and prepping the soil at the start and end of each season.
Cultivators are great for:
- Blending soil prior to planting
- Stirring in compost and fertilizer
- Controlling weed growth
Garden Tillers are essential for the serious gardener. These powerful machines can cut through fresh soil and loosen it into a brand new garden bed. The tines are further apart, and the engines in these offer more torque and power to dig and cut through some of the toughest land.
They come in a lighter-weight more maneuverable style called a front tine, and they also come available in a power-hungry heavyweight version referred to as a rear tine tiller.
Front Tine Tillers are great for:
- Breaking moderately hard ground
- Loosening firm soil
- Digging small to medium gardens
Rear Tine Tillers are great for:
- Breaking hard ground
- Loosening hard or rocky soil
- Digging large gardens
So now that you know the difference between cultivators and tillers, you have a better idea of what tool to choose for your next gardening project.