Whether you are an avid gardener or you are planning to start your first garden, you may have been advised to use a cultivator or rototiller to work the land. Although these tools have similar functions, their applications and features are quite different.
Here is a look at what sets cultivating and rototilling apart and when you should use each of these useful tools.
What Is A Rototiller?
A rototiller is a large machine featuring metal blades that rotate and dig down into the soil. It is designed to break up soil that is compacted or very hard to make it suitable for planting.
Rototillers are available in models with front tines or rear tines. A front-tine rototiller is appropriate for small to medium gardens; because their wheels are behind the tines, they are much easier to push and turn around in smaller spaces. They are also smaller than rear-tine rototillers.
Rear-tine rototillers are suited to working larger areas and those with very rocky or solid ground. They are also more powerful than rototillers with front tines. This means that the decision about whether to use a rototiller with front or rear tines comes down to the size of the land that needs to be worked.
What Is A Cultivator?
A cultivator is a lightweight tool designed to mix soil that is already loose. It can be used for mixing compost and fertilizer into soil to prepare a plot for planting. Although it is not appropriate for breaking up solid ground, it can be used to make loose soil finer. It will typically have a two- or four-cycle engine and run on electricity or gas.
The Main Differences Between Rototillers and Cultivators
Here is a look at the biggest differences between these two tools.
They Have Different Functions
One of the main differences between these tools is their function. Rototillers are large and heavy tools that can replace shovels and similar hand tools given their ability to dig deeply into the ground and break up hard soil. This means they are often used in the early stages of preparing a gardening bed. They are also suited to incorporating the leftover material of plants into the soil once the growing season has ended.
If you need to tear out a grassy area of a property but don’t want to remove the underlying soil, a rototiller that allows you to adjust the depth of its tine penetration can get the job done safely.
A cultivator can only be used on soil that has already been loosened or for working the soil around existing plants. While a rototiller can be thought of as a replacement for a shovel, a cultivator can be considered a replacement for a hoe. Its tines can grind soil into a very fine texture, making it appropriate for giving gardening beds a final touch before planting seeds.
They Are Used At Different Stages
Rototillers are generally used to create new garden beds, whether they are breaking ground or large clods, digging out stones, or giving clay soil a deep tiling.
Cultivators, in contrast, are better for working established garden beds with their ability to loosen the surface of soil and help prepare seed beds. They are also the right tool for getting rid of weeds without compromising the roots of plants that are growing nearby.
Many gardeners use cultivators to work the ground around their plants to promote deeper root development improving a plant’s ability to resist drought. A cultivator can accomplish this without damaging the plant itself and is much quicker than a hoe.
The Amount Of Power They Provide
Cultivators are generally less powerful than rototillers; in fact, smaller cultivators are powered by the operator rather than a motor. These models look similar to a combination of a rake and a hoe with curved, short teeth.
The motorized versions are bigger and heavier and may use a cordless electric motor; there are also models that need to be plugged in. They tend to have around the same amount of power as a cordless drill.
Even the smallest front-tine rototillers are about the size of a standard push mower, while bigger ones can be around the same size as a riding lawn mower and are suited for land without obstacles where it is possible to move them in reasonably straight lines. However, these bigger models are not suited to more detailed work.
Do You Need A Rototiller Or A Cultivator?
In short, a rototiller is the right option for breaking new ground, while a cultivator is the best choice for cultivating a plot that has already been broken or loosened. Many gardeners will need both of these tools at different stages in the gardening process, while others with established gardens may only need a cultivator for daily garden maintenance tasks.
Can You Use A Cultivator Instead Of A Rototiller?
If you already have a cultivator, you may be wondering if you can use it for tasks that are better suited to rototillers. Unfortunately, a cultivator lacks the power of a good rototiller to loosen up tough dirt. Using a cultivator for tilling is similar to using a hoe for shoveling; you may end up moving some soil, but it will not get the job done effectively.
Can You Use A Rototiller Instead Of A Cultivator?
Because a rototiller is more powerful than a cultivator, some people believe they can use rototillers gently to do garden work that would normally be performed by a cultivator. However, rototillers are likely to loosen significantly more dirt than you might expect, which could cause a major setback to your gardening plans and require significant work to correct.
Get In Touch With The Site Preparation Experts At Dirt Connections
Any time you need to work a significant amount of land, using the right tools and equipment is essential, but it is equally important to ensure these tools are being operated properly and safely.
The professionals at Dirt Connections offer a variety of soil preparation services that can help you save time and money while ensuring your garden is set up for optimal yields. Contact Dirt Connections today to learn more about our soil-related services.
Dirt Connections was started with one goal in mind: providing quality residential and commercial construction services to clients on time and on budget. Reach out for more information on how we can support your next project.
For your convenience our estimates are free and by appointment. Call 703-940-9949 for a free estimate today!