How to Select the Best Rear Tine Rototiller

Whether you’re a professional landscaper, or you’re just serious about your home landscaping and gardening, a rototiller is a great investment that can save you tons of time and strenuous work.

While there are also front and mid tine rototillers available, a rear tine tiller is usually the most versatile and powerful of the three, and they’re favored by professionals and homeowners alike.

Since there are so many different rear tine tillers available, it can be difficult to find the best option for your needs. Today, we’ll take a look at five of your best rear tine rototiller options, and show you what to look out for when shopping for a rototiller.

Our FavoriteRear Tine Rototillers

First, let’s take a look at five of the best rear tine rototiller options you’ll find on the market. We’ve covered a variety of price points and features to help you select the best rear tine rototiller for your needs.

Champion 100380 Rototiller

If you’re looking to tackle huge plots in less time, this rear tine tiller from Champion may be a great option for you.

This tiller features a large 212cc engine which powers a heavy-duty cast-iron gear-driven transmission. Power is transferred from the engine to the wheels allowing you to tackle bigger jobs with less effort.

Large plots are no match for this tiller, thanks to it’s 19” wide adjustable tilling width. For smaller plots, you can easily restrict the width to provide more precise control. The 100380 tills at an adjustable depth up to 8”. The tines are 13.8” in diameter and made from hardened steel to efficiently till soil regardless of its composition.

Rounding out this machine are large 13” self-propelled tires which provide excellent traction and allow you to tackle tough jobs with less effort.

The 100380 is EPA certified, CARB-Compliant, and is backed by a 2-year warranty and lifetime free tech support.

What We Like

  • Affordable
  • Wide tilling width
  • Powerful engine

What Could Be Better

  • Poor quality valve stems on tires

Troy-Bilt Pony ES 250cc Rototiller

This powerful tiller from Troy-Bilt offers the reliability and performance of a genuine Briggs and Stratton engine.

At 250cc, this is one of the more powerful tillers on our list. The Pony ES features a Briggs and Stratton 1150 series engine with a patented Bronze Gear Drive transmission to make for a performance-minded rototiller that’s built to last.

Forward rotating bolo tines make quick work of your plot, and they till at a max width of 16” and an adjustable depth that tills as deep as 7”. Large AG tires allow you to work quickly and with less effort, and electronic start ensure that this tiller starts the first time, every time.

Troy Bilt stands by this tiller with a 2-year warranty should anything go wrong with your new tool.

What We Like

  • Powerful Briggs and Stratton engine
  • Electronic start
  • Easy to maneuver

What Could Be Better

  • Tines only rotate forward
  • Can’t till below 7”

Southland SRTT196E Rototiller

If you’re looking for an affordable counter-rotating rear tine tiller, the SRTT196E from Southland is one to take a closer look at.

The engine is a bit small at under 196cc, but thanks to the counter-rotating tines, the machine generates impressive tilling power. The tines are also self-sharpening, which ensures effortless tilling through the entire life of the tool.

The SRTT196E offers a gear driven transmission with forward and reverse, making it easier to go backward for a second pass on stubborn areas.

With a maximum tilling width of 18” and a max depth of 10”, this versatile tiller is ideal for preparing your plot to plant virtually anything. An easy to adjust depth lever ensures that you’re tilling at a uniform depth. 13” pneumatic tires round out this impressive tiller.

This rototiller is CARB compliant and backed by a 2-year warranty from Southland.

What We Like

  • Affordable
  • 10” maximum tilling depth
  • Counter-rotating self-sharpening tines

What Could Be Better

  • Small engine size

Husqvarna CRT900

Troy Bilt isn’t the only heavy hitter that’s offering a premium Briggs and Stratton engine, and the CRT900 model from Husqvarna combines the reliable performance of Briggs and Stratton with some head-turning features that are missing from some other premium rear tine tillers.

The CRT900 features counter-rotating tines which make it easier to break up stubborn soil in a single pass. The 14” working width makes this tiller easy to control and precise, but still wide enough to till larger plots quickly.

Unfortunately, this tiller loses points for only having a maximum tilling depth of 6”, but it can still till deep enough for most applications.

A reverse gearbox offers great control and maneuverability, and a counterweight installed below the engine allows you to get more done with less effort. This tiller offers powered forward and reverse as well as neutral.

A drag bar with seven adjustment steps ensures that you’re tilling the entire plot at a uniform depth.

What We Like

  • Affordable
  • Counter-rotating tines
  • Counterweight makes it easy to maneuver

What Could Be Better

  • Maximum tilling depth only 6”

Poulan Pro PPCRT17 208cc Rototiller

If you’re looking for a large and powerful counter-rotating tiller that can tackle large jobs with ease, you’ll want to take the PPCRT17 for a spin.

This tiller features a large 208cc LCT overhead valve engine which provides an extremely efficient transfer of power, which allows you to make quick work out of even the most stubborn plots.

The PPCRT17 features 12 counter-rotating tines which are ideal for handling all types of soil, including heavily compacted plots. Extra-large 16” pneumatic tires make this tiller easier to control, and powered forward and reverse modes allow you to move the tiller with far less effort.

The innovative split loop handle is adjustable, allowing you to tailor the handle to your height, and this tiller can be easily operated with only one hand.

The maximum working width of 17” allows you to quickly till larger plots, and it tills at a depth of up to 6.5” with seven depth adjustment steps. Like the Husqvarna model above, they do lose some points for the limited maximum depth.

The PPCRT17 is backed by a 2-year warranty from Poulan Pro.

What We Like

  • Easy to maneuver
  • Counter-rotating tines
  • Powerful and efficient engine

What Could Be Better

  • Maximum tilling depth only 6.5”

Rear Tine Rototiller Buying Guide

Whether you go for one of the tillers above or prefer to take a closer look at other models, you’ll want to consider these features below when deciding on the best rototiller for you.

Rotation Direction

One of the first considerations to make when shopping for a rototiller is the direction the tines rotate in.

You’ll find models that have forward rotating tines, reverse rotating tines, or hybrid models where the tines can rotate in either direction.

Forward (or standard) rotating rototillers have tines which rotate in the same direction as the wheels. These tillers are the best option if you’re tilling five inches or less of soil.

Reverse rotating tillers rotate in the opposite direction of the wheels. The action of the tiller moving in the opposite direction of the wheels provides a forceful digging action that’s ideal for tilling heavily compacted soil, and they work well in deeper ground.

Dual rotating tillers offer the best of both worlds, allowing you to use forward rotation for light tilling or reverse for breaking new ground.

Features to Look Out For

Once you decide on a standard, reverse, or hybrid tiller, you’ll want to consider some of the features below when deciding on the best tiller for your needs.


You’ll find tillers available with 2-stroke or 4-stroke engines. While 2-stroke engines provide plenty of power, they require you to mix fuel and oil; they’re louder, less fuel efficient, and prone to more issues than 4-stroke engines.

A 4-stroke engine doesn’t require you to mix fuel, and they’re more efficient and reliable, which usually makes them the best choice for a rear tine tiller.

Multi-Speed Transmission

A transmission with multiple speeds allows you to operate the tiller as quickly or slowly as you need to get the job done. Reverse speeds allow you to safely back up to retill soil you’ve already moved through.

A transmission with multiple speeds allows the tool to do the majority of the work for you so that you can work for longer periods with less fatigue.


The tires on a rototiller are a critical component of the machine, and they bear the weight of the machine as it’s working. Large tires with a heavy-duty tread will make it much easier to maneuver in freshly tilled soil, which will allow you to work with effort.

Adjustable Drag Bar

An adjustable drag bar allows you to set a uniform depth as you’re tilling the soil, which provides whatever you’re planting with a nice and even substrate.

Tilling Width and Depth

Tillers are available in a variety of sizes to suit every consumer’s needs. Tillers with a wider width allow you to till more ground in a single pass, but as they get wider, they tend to become more difficult to control.

Chances are, you’re looking for a tiller that allows you to work quickly without being difficult to control, and as a rule of thumb, a tilling width of 16-18 inches allows you to till a large area quickly while still being easy to maneuver.

Different models are also capable of tilling at a variety of depths. Depending on what you’re planting, you’ll need to plant at a certain depth for best results. So, you’ll want a tiller that’s capable of tilling deep enough to accommodate different species. A depth of 10” or greater is usually more than enough for most people’s needs.

Electric Start

Electric start is a handy feature that allows you to start the machine with the push of a button, instead of a pull cord. It allows you to start your tiller quicker and more reliably. It can be a pricey add-on, so if you’re operating on a budget, it may be a feature you’re willing to forgo.


Q: Is a forward or reverse rotating tiller best?

Depending on your needs, you’re likely to find that one style is better for you than the other. Forward rotating tillers are ideal for tilling ground 5” or less in depth, while reverse rotating tillers are best for handling deeper ground. You may also find that works in forward or reverse is best for you, if you plan on using it in varied conditions.

Q: What about front tine rototillers?

Front tine tillers can be very useful for tilling smaller plots of soil, especially if you’re working in an established garden bed that you’re turning over for a new season. However, they’re usually much less powerful, and they can’t till as deeply, compared to rear tine tillers. Rear tine tillers allow you to tackle the widest variety of projects, so they’re typically the best option for most people.

Final Verdict

While each of the tillers we covered above may make a fine choice for you depending on your needs, only one model has earned the title of best rear tine rototiller. That title belongs to the Southland SRTT196E.

While the SRTT196E may be a bit smaller than many of the models we’ve looked it, it provides an impressive maximum tilling depth, making it ideal for the widest range of applications.

The counter-rotating tines make quick work of the most stubborn plots, and a large tilling width allows you to quickly tackle larger plots with less time and effort. Forward and reverse drive allow you to easily maneuver the tiller with less effort.

Add to that the fact that the Southland SRTT196E is also one of the more affordable options on the market, and you have a perfect recipe for success. If you’re not as concerned with tilling depth, you may want to take a closer look at the Champion 100380 model. What rear tine rototiller will you choose? Leave a comment and let us know.

About Russ Thompson

Hey I'm Russ and I have been a contractor for over 20 years. I know what the cost of having the right tools and materials for the job. My passion for woodworking and helping others by workshops in my wood shop. I have beginner classes all the way up expert trade classes. Check out my bio for more.

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