How to Use a Rotary Tiller


Rotary tillers can be used to break up soil for planting, cultivating weeds, aerating soil or mixing soil amendments into a garden for improving the production of your vegetables. Rotary tillers differ from a plow in that they are pushed ahead of a gardener much like a lawn mower, rather than being towed behind a machine such as an all terrain vehicle. Operating a rotary tiller is a standard procedure across tiller brands.

Step 1

Read your rotary tiller's operating manual to familiarize yourself with the equipment's parts as well as warnings associated with operating the equipment.

Step 2

Inspect your tiller before operating it to ensure that all fuels are at an acceptable level, safety guards are in place and that there are no loose bolts, wires such as the spark plug wire are firmly attached, wheels are positioned and locked out correctly, hoses are in place and there is no fuel or oil leakage and that the machine is free of engine damage or clogs caused by debris.

Step 3

Move the tiller to the starting point where you wish to begin breaking up soil.

Step 4

Move the choke lever to "choke" position and the throttle lever to the "start" position.

Step 5

Pull starting rope slowly outward once. Then rapidly pull the starting rope until the engine starts.

Step 6

Move the choke lever to "no choke".

Step 7

Adjust the depth regulator to the desired depth to break up soil.

Step 8

Move the throttle control to "fast" for effective tilling.

Step 9

Push down on the drive safety control lever until it is in "forward" position to engage the tines and wheels. To reverse the direction of the tiller, move the drive safety control lever into the "reverse" position.

Step 10

Push the tiller ahead of you to break up the soil. To break up large swaths of soil, pass the tiller over the land in strips.

Step 11

Stop the wheels and tines by moving the drive safety control to neutral position. Stop the engine by moving the lever to the off position.

Things You'll Need

  • Tiller manual


  • Louisian State University Extension: Use of a Rotary Garden Tiller
  • Manuals Online: Earthquake Operating Instructions
  • Louisian State University Extension: Rotary Tiller Safety and Maintenance

Who Can Help

  • Louisian State University Extension: Selecting a Rotary Garden Tiller
Keywords: using a tiller, rotary tiller operation, rototiller garden plowing

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."