Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Use a Rear Tine Tiller

By Meg Butler ; Updated September 21, 2017

Rear tine tillers are a versatile and effective tool for working large areas of land. They are easier to use and work the soil more deeply than front tine cultivators; models have forward and reverse action that is great for hard, tough-to work soil. And because a rear tine tiller’s tines work independently of the driving action, they can till in a stationary position and work small areas of soil.

Clear the land you plan to till. Remove any plants, weeds, rocks or other hard debris that may damage or dull the tines of the tiller.

Move the rear tine tiller in position. Your first row should run along the edge of the planting area, so pick one corner to start in.

Turn on the rear tine tiller's engine and set it to neutral. Then adjust the depth guide to the depth that you plan to till the soil. For planting areas, the soil should be tilled to the same depth throughout.

Set the rear tine tiller's engine to drive, engage the tines and guide it in a straight line to make your first row.

When you reach the end of the row, turn off the tiller's tines. Then position the tiller to make the second row, which should overlap the first by at least 4 inches. Engage the tines and make the next row.

Repeat Steps 4 and 5 until the entire area has been tilled.

Till the area a second time. But for your second pass, make the rows at a 90-degree angle to the first.



  • Do not use a rear tine tiller unless you are wearing closed-toed shoes, pants, gloves and safety goggles.

About the Author


Based in Houston, Texas, Meg Butler is a professional farmer, house flipper and landscaper. When not busy learning about homes and appliances she's sharing that knowledge. Butler began blogging, editing and writing in 2000. Her work has appered in the "Houston Press" and several other publications. She has an A.A. in journalism and a B.A. in history from New York University.