The Best Garden Cultivators

Garden cultivators serve as an essential tool in the gardening arsenal. These handy tools can be human or motor-driven and break up the earth for soil preparation. Cultivators work like the eggbeaters of the garden world, stirring up dirt and helping remove weeds. Cultivation refers to the loosening the soil to allow for the addition of organic matter. This loosening allows the spreading roots to move easily beneath the surface of the garden. Cultivation also promotes water drainage and air movement around plant roots.


Garden hoes perform major cultivation work in the garden. These long-handled garden tools can be scraped along the soil surface to remove weeds or jabbed into the soil to loosen dirt. Hand-held hoes work perfectly in small spaces between flowering plants or rows of vegetables.

Three-Prong Tine Cultivators

These long-handled soil tillers look very similar to a hoe but with a different end attachment. These cultivators have three prongs that protrude from the end of the handle. The prongs bend downward at a 90-degree angle with spacing between to allow gardeners to easily turn over the soil.

Wheel Cultivators

This nifty tool features multiple spinning wheels with sharp spines that cut into the soil. The back portion of a wheel cultivator has a stabilizing bar that rests on the soil and plows as well. Wheel cultivators cut into the soil about 3 to 4 inches and work well in tighter areas. These tools help till between plants in an established garden and limit the bending necessary with a hand-held trowel or hoe.


Mantis tillers are a brand-name tiller considerably smaller and lighter than their larger-model cousins. Mantis tillers tackle the tough work of turning over soil to a moderate depth of 6 to 8 inches. These tillers work perfectly for garden bed preparation with limited compaction of the soil. Some models offer a variety of attachments for other garden uses.


Rototillers do the heavy lifting in the cultivator world. Tillers often feature gas-powered engines, thick metal tines up to 1 foot in depth and a plow feature for stabilization. Tiller blades rotate as the user pushes forward and backward through the soil. Gardeners use rototillers to turn over thick, compressed and compacted soil for creating a garden bed. Rototillers also work perfectly to incorporate additives such as peat moss, compost or fertilizers. Larger models have a self-propelling function to make use considerably easier.

Keywords: cultivators, tillers, garden cultivators

About this Author

Currently studying for her Maryland master gardener certification, Sharon Heron has written professionally since 2006. Her writing includes hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics including gardening, environment, golf, parenting, exercise, finances and consumer how-to articles.