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How to Use a Cultivator

By Meg Butler ; Updated September 21, 2017

A hand cultivator is a must-have gardening tool for preparing a new planting area. The cultivator's three-pronged head loosens the top few inches of compressed soil to improve air circulation and water absorption, and to deter weeds from taking root. Learn how to use this tool correctly, and it will quickly transform a patch of earth into workable garden soil.

Stand at one end of the area that you are working and dig the tines of the cultivator into the soil. You may have to break the soil up a bit to do this.

Draw the cultivator towards you, using your arm muscles (not your back) to pull against the soil.

Dig the tines into the soil and draw the cultivator towards you, keeping the head submerged, to loosen the soil.

Go over loosened soil repeatedly to break up any large clumps of dirt.

Amend the soil. Spread any soil amendments over the soil and mix them in by raking the soil with the cultivator, using the method in step 3.

Use the cultivator as a leveling rake to smooth the soil and prepare it for planting. Rake the planting area cross-wise, then length-wise and then diagonally.



  • Keep your back straight when using the cultivator. Bend your knees slightly to take the strain off your back.

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.