Front Tine vs Rear Tine Tiller – Which is Best?

Unable to figure out which type of tiller you should buy? Read the article and get the answer to your question; front tine vs rear tine tiller (which is best?)

If you are into gardening, you must be aware of the fact that not any plant can grow in compact soil. Thus, whether you are up to preparing your yard to establish a vegetable garden or thinking about reseeding your lawn to make the turf look fluffier and fuller, the very first thing you need to do is to till your garden soil.

Whenever you till the soil, it gets loose enough so the air can flow through it thoroughly. Also, the weed roots and seeds that are sleeping inside your garden soil, in the dormant state, are brushed out of it on tilling. If you are up to tilling the soil of a container or pot, you can get the job done by using a hand shovel but doing the same task using a hand tool will be extremely back-breaking.

Luckily, to till the wide areas, specialised tillers are widely available. These tillers are manufactured either in the walk-behind or tractor layout. Over the main housing unit, an array of steel tines are mounted which rotate in a circular motion to dig the soil deeply. However, the tillers differ from each other based on the position of teeth – either mounted at the front end or rear end.

Based on this difference in layout and tine position, they are classified into two types; front tine tillers and rear-tine tillers. Which one would be best for you and fulfil your gardening needs most perfectly, here in this article, I’ve written a detailed introduction of both types of devices so you can make the right choice regarding which tine tiller will be most useful for your garden.

front tine vs rear tine tiller (which is best?)

Rear tine tiller

If you are looking for heavy machinery to prepare a new and untouched landscape, then you better go with rear tine tillers. These tillers are used by professional landscapers and farmers since they are highly efficient and deliver robust performance. In these devices, the steel tines are mounted at the rear end and powered by a separate transmission system.

On the other hand, the times of forwarding tine tillers are powered by the main engine – the engine that provides power to the whole unit including wheels and that’s because front tine tillers are less powerful. Anyhow, since the rear tine tillers are designed for heavy-duty use, they are mostly gas-powered. However, you can also get the electrical rear tine tillers but they come with limitations regarding mobility and performance.

While purchasing the rear tine tillers, you’ll encounter many options regarding gear types; either forward or reverse. The reverse gear will enable you to move the device backwards so you won’t have to take a complete round to till a specific corner again. On the other hand, the less expensive rear tine tillers come only with forward gears that push the device only in the forward direction. And some high-end, professional-grade devices come with both types of gear.

Likewise, it’s totally up to you whether you want the metal tines to rotate either in a forward or reverse direction. Since they are heavy-duty tillers, you shouldn’t expect them to be storage efficient or compact. To deliver monster power, they also come with a monster body and to fit in that massive size, you need to make a huge room in your garage.

Due to being wider and bigger, a rear tine tiller can till more space in one round. And not only does it cover more area but these devices can also dig deeper than their counterparts.

Rear tine tiller

Forward tine tillers

If you want a tiller to prepare your already-established garden for reseeding or planting new plants before the growing season, front tine tillers will be the ultimate go-to option. These tillers, as stated before, are less powerful than rear tine tillers. The time head is mounted at the front end of the device and gets power from the main engine.

Since in these devices, the tines rotate in the forwarding direction only, the machine keeps on moving in the forward direction automatically. Thus, while using the front tine tillers, you have to maintain a strong grip over its handle so you won’t lose control.

As stated before, the front tine tillers are designed for light-duty tilling chores, their size is kept compact. At the same time, they weigh much lower than rear tine tillers. These user-friendly features make this type of tiller best to be used in small to medium-sized home gardens and manoeuvre the narrower corners and garden beds.

However, due to being smaller in size than rear tine tillers, these devices cover less space in a single swipe. You need to make more rounds to till the entire yard. And since the times share power with wheels, they are not strong enough to dig as deep as rear tine tillers can dig.

Merry Tiller RT1450IC 21-Inch 305cc Forward Rotating Rear Tine Tiller

Front tine tiller Vs. Rear tine tiller

Till now, we know that both types of tiller come with their perks and downsides. Still, if you are confused about which tiller you should get or how both devices are different from each other, here are some points of difference that would clear your concept even more.

Front tine tiller Vs. Rear tine tiller

 Tine’s position 

The first and foremost difference between the two major types of tine tillers is the position of tines. As the name indicates, front tine tillers possess times at the front and wheels at the rear end. On the other hand, in rear tine tillers, tines are mounted at the rear end while the wheels are present at the front end. To keep the user protected from dirt and debris, flew up during the tilling, the blades are covered appropriately from all the sides

 Size and width 

The size and tilling path of front tine tillers are much smaller than rear-end tillers and that’s why they are best to be used in small gardens, to prepare the garden beds, and manoeuvre tight corners. On the other hand, since the rear end tillers are bigger with wider tilling paths, they are best to be used in wider lawns.

 Engine power 

The power of the engine is transmitted to both the wheels and rotating blades in front tine tillers and that’s why their overall performance is of moderate level. On the other hand, the blades rotate independently to the wheels in rear-end tillers, they rotate faster and dig deeper. Also, since the engine is positioned right over the blades, its weight enhances the digging capacity of the device even further.


In front tine tillers, only the front gears are provided which ensures that the blades rotate only in the forward direction. This movement pushes the entire unit in a forwarding direction so controlling its movement becomes a little difficult. Thanks to its smaller size and lighter weight that make the whole process much easier.

On the other hand, rear-end tillers come with both reverse and forward gear. The best part is, even if you use forward gears, controlling the unit’s movement will not be difficult at all since the blades work independently of the wheels. However, since these devices are slightly heavier and bigger, operating them with your unprofessional hands could be problematic for you.

 Tilling depth 

The blades of rear tine tillers are stronger, more robust than front tine tillers, so obviously, they offer more tilling depth. And as mentioned before, the weight of the engine also enables the times to dig deeper into the soil, regardless of how compact or compressed the soil is.

The times of front tine tillers are not only smaller but not as heavy-duty as that of rear-end tillers. Also, they are not coupled with the engine weight which means they cannot offer tilling depths as remarkable as you can get from their counterparts. If tilling depth is your main concern, then you better go with a rear tine tiller, especially the one having adjustable tine heights.


Whether you purchase a front tine tiller or the rear tine tiller, you have to clean and maintain both devices to enjoy their lifelong services. Still, since the rear tine tillers are designed to perform more professional-level and tougher tilling, you have to give more attention and care to keep them going well.

Front tine tillers are compact and small so you don’t have to call a professional or go to a workshop to clean them thoroughly. If you have a few basic tools in your garage, you can handle all the maintenance-related work on your own.

front tine vs rear tine tiller – which is best?

When it comes to the question of which front tine and rear tine tiller, which one is best, there’s not a straightforward answer. Which types of tiller will be best for you mainly depends upon your needs, budget, and area you are dealing with.

In simple words, if you want a tiller for a small to the medium-sized yard and to tackle light-duty gardening chores in an affordable price range, front tine tillers are your ultimate best option. On the other hand, rear-end tillers are best for all those looking for a heavy-duty device, with plenty of advanced features.