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How to Use a Lawn Tiller

By Kenneth Crawford ; Updated September 21, 2017

A lawn tiller can save you a lot of back-breaking work when the time comes to break ground for your garden. The lawn tiller will break up the ground and fold under the grass and weeds so that your plot is ready for amendments. Tillers use a set of blades to bite into and turn your soil over. When you use a lawn tiller correctly, you can prepare the garden plot in half the time it would take you breaking up the soil with hand tools.

Prepare the area that you will be using the tiller to till up the soil. Cut the grass and weeds as low as possible with a mower. This will help keep the weeds from clogging the tiller blades while you are tilling the soil. If the ground is hard or contains clay, water the soil to soften the ground prior to tilling.

Look over the tiller to familiarize yourself with the controls. There is a clutch lever on the left handle that you press in and out to control the tiller blades. Ensure that the clutch is in the disengage position prior to starting the tiller or placing your hands near the tiller blades.

Pull the pin out of the locking shaft behind the wheels and place the pin in the empty hole on the handle. The pin locks the wheel axle to keep the machine from pivoting when you store the tiller or while transporting the tiller. Lift back on the handle after removing the pin to pivot the axle.

Position the tiller over to the area you are tilling. Push down on the handles to lift the tiller blades off of the ground and roll the tiller to the area on its tires. Set the tiller blades down once the machine is in position.

Adjust the throttle to the start or run position, depending upon your model. Pull the pull cord several times to start the tiller motor.

Grab the tiller handles with both hands. Press the clutch lever in with your left hand and allow the tiller blades to start digging into the soil. Keep a solid grip on the handles because the tiller blades will skip on the ground surface before they start to dig.

Push the tiller forward at a slow steady pace, allowing the tiller blades to stay in the soil. Whenever you want to stop the tiller blades, release the clutch lever. Adjust the throttle speed if necessary.

Continue tilling the soil by walking the tiller slowly and steadily. Till one row and then release the clutch lever to stop the tiller blades. Push the tiller handle down to pull the blades out of the ground and turn the tiller around to start the next row. Set the blades back on the ground and engage the clutch lever to start the blades again. Continue tilling in this manner until the plot is complete.

Rinse off the tiller blades with a garden hose after each use. This will keep the blades clean and ready for the next tilling project.


Things You Will Need

  • Lawn tiller
  • Owner's manual

About the Author


Kenneth Crawford is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. His work has appeared in both print and online publications, including "The American Chronicle." Crawford holds an associate degree in business administration from Commonwealth College.