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Tillers can be used in both large and small gardens in addition to small-acreage farming to prepare the ground for planting and to cultivate the growing crop. After harvesting, tillers can mulch refuse back into the soil.

Multi-use tillers can convert into snowplows or pushers for winter use.

Tillers are available in both front and rear-tined models. Front-positioned tines are driven by the engine and actually pull the tiller, relieving the user of pushing it.

Rear-positioned tines are usually found in larger units, which are more suited for multi-acre gardens than backyard gardens.

Front-tined tillers can plow to within one or two inches of a walk, foundation or other plants, but some rear-tined tillers need at least 8" clearance. Others, however, can till up to a walkway and within an inch or two of a wall.

Mini-tillers are excellent for homeowners with small gardens. They are relatively low-priced, lightweight and easily stored in a garage or basement.

Electric mini-tillers or cultivators are even smaller and are good to use around flower gardens close to the house.

Mini-tillers are powered by 2-hp motors, and are generally chain driven. Tilling area varies from 6" to 18" wide, while regular size tillers will handle areas up to 26" wide. Mini-tillers weigh under 80 lbs., with some tipping the scales at only 60 lbs.

Regular-sized tillers have 10" to 14" tines which are driven by 3- to 5-hp motors. Some are chain driven but many are gear driven, and the units may weigh as much as 300 lbs. Tining attachments can expand the tilled area well beyond 26".

Many models have reverse as well as forward drive, and a deadman control is a good safety device on models with reverse drive.

Tines are available in a variety of designs, but the most common has its cutting edge slanted upward, so it strikes the soil at an angle, slicing into the soil, which decreases root and vine entanglement.

Tine assemblies usually have four knives, and if tines are detachable, all can point in one direction or they can alternate. Tilling widths range up to 26", depending on tine directions and on whether two, four or more tine assemblies are used. The best tillers for backyard work will have adjustable widths, narrowing to at least 11" for passage between crowded rows. Top tine speeds are usually 75 rpm to 100 rpm.

Some tines merely scratch the surface while others pulverize dirt as deep as 9".

Transmissions in top-quality tillers utilize precision-fitted worm and ring gears, with two ball or roller bearings on both the drive and tine shafts. Some chain-driven models are available.

Higher-horsepower motors enable the user to till at slower speeds without stalling the engine, and this is important when the going is rough.

Chain-driven tillers have no ring and worm transmission, and producers claim this is an advantage because it eliminates transmission heating. Another advantage claimed is that since tines can be turned backward as well as forward when not in gear, no reverse gear is necessary.

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Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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