How to Use a Garden Tiller

How to Use a Garden Tiller image by S.F. Heron


Garden tillers offer the homeowner an easy way to prepare a flower or vegetable garden. These handy tools can be either gas- or electric-powered. Tillers turn over the soil of a garden bed, preparing the top 6 to 8 inches of soil for planting. This saves immeasurable time in the backbreaking labor of turning the garden dirt over with a shovel. Using a garden tiller requires safety precautions as well as care when tilling around existing plants.

Step 1

Take a walk through the area where you plan to use your garden tiller. Remove any weeds with a hand trowel or shovel, and discard with the yard waste. Tillers will simply chop up the weeds as well as the rhizomes (underground runner-type roots) and make a multitude of weeds that you'll need to battle in the future.

Step 2

Remove any rocks, and break up any large clods of dirt with a shovel. This will make the project of tilling your garden go much faster.

Step 3

Connect your garden tiller to the power supply or fill the tiller with gasoline. Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from flying dust and debris.

Step 4

Begin at the front corner of the garden. Turn the tiller on, and slowly move forward as the blades dig into the earth with a chopping motion. Avoid any nearby plants by a wide berth (2 feet or more) to prevent damage to spreading roots. Also stay about 1 to 2 feet away from the edge of the garden bed to prevent dumping dirt onto any grass areas.

Step 5

Work your way from front to back through the garden using a grid pattern. Make sure to break up any large clods with a shovel if necessary.

Step 6

Level the garden using the rake after you finish tilling.

Things You'll Need

  • Safety glasses
  • Shovel
  • Rake


  • Louisiana State University
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension
Keywords: garden tiller, using garden tiller, rototiller

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with over three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various websites and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.

Photo by: S.F. Heron