Tilling the Soil: Breaking Down the Facts

Tiller, digging

In this blog, we take a look at:

  • Why you need to cultivate?
  • Top Tilling tips
  • Cultivator versus Tiller
  • Choosing the right garden tool for the job!

Why you need to cultivate? 

At a time when most of us are focused on getting fit and eating better, it’s also worth taking the time to think about our garden space and what we can do to prepare our soil to make sure it’s also healthy for the year ahead. 

Whether you’re creating a space for a new flower bed or sowing the seeds for a healthy new vegetable garden, tilling the soil is an important job that needs to be considered. Not only will this remove weeds and eliminate pests that can damage your plants, but it will also give your soil structure, allow air circulation, and promote water drainage so that your plants can grow and flourish.

8 tilling tips

8 Top Tilling Tips

1️⃣ Spring is the best time for tilling soil, but if you want to plant cool-weather crops such as lettuce or cabbage, you can continue tilling the soil until Autumn.

2️⃣ Avoid tilling soil that is very wet as this may damage the soils’ structure

3️⃣ Only till when you need to – to control weeds; to loosen or break hard soil for planting or water penetration, or to mix in fertilizer

4️⃣ To avoid damage to your tiller, remove/dig out any old roots, plants, twigs, large rocks

5️⃣ Use the right tiller for your ground – light duty tillers are suitable for ground that has been cultivated more recently. For hard ground, you may need a more powerful front-line tiller, designed for compacted and heavy soil type

6️⃣ Go across the soil one row at a time in the same way that you would mow a lawn

7️⃣ Make multiple passes across an area, rather than tilling to the full depth of your tines on the first go. This will make the ground more even

8️⃣ Don’t be tempted to set the tiller to its maximum depth on the first pass – start at the shallow depth

cultivator versus tiller

Cultivator versus Tiller

Firstly, let’s look at the difference between a garden cultivator and a tiller. Often assumed to be one of the same, a tiller and a cultivator do very different and distinct jobs. In simple terms, cultivating the soil refers to breaking it up and loosening it at ground level, to make the soil healthy as well as to remove weeds that can smoother plants. So, what is a garden tiller for? The tilling definition is a deeper form of cultivation because you’re reaching depths of around eight or more inches into the ground. So how can you make sure you have the right tool for the job? The only way to be sure is to ask yourself the right questions:

  • What kind of soil needs to be tilled?
  • How big is the area you need to till?
  • Will you be tilling existing areas, or breaking new ground?
  • What is your budget?
  • How much work are you willing to do?
the right garden tools

Choosing the right garden tool for the job!

Manually tilling the old-fashioned way is a labour-intensive task. When all you have is a fork and the strength of your body, it’s going to take a lot of sweat and tears to get the job done and for most gardeners, the beauty of a petrol or electric tiller lies in the speed at which you can prepare large areas of ground for planting, which is the best bit!

So, with that in mind, let’s look at some of the key points to consider:

20V Cordless Tiller 

When it comes to cultivating soil in small, defined areas in your garden, such as an existing flower bed or a vegetable patch, you might want to consider a lightweight, electrically powered mini tiller such as our Webb WEV20TIL Tiller. With a quick charge time of 90 minutes and a run time of 30 minutes, it’s perfect for smaller jobs. Weighing only 4.36kg, this lightweight model can be easily and conveniently stored away in a shed or garden storage unit.

36cm (14″) Petrol Tiller

For slightly tougher jobs on flower beds, vegetable patches, or allotment plots (where charging isn’t an option), you might want to consider a more powerful petrol-powered front-tine tiller such as our Webb WEPT360MM Petrol Tiller. Featuring an excellent 36cm (14”) working width and a powerful 161 cc OHV engine, this high-performance tiller will help deliver excellent soil preparation for your vegetable garden. Fitted with a fixed handlebar and a transport wheel, it’s simple to manoeuvre in all weathers. For tilling larger or more challenging areas you’ll need to carefully consider the size, weight, and speed of your machine. First and foremost, you’ll need more power to break up very hard or rocky ground over a large area – and speed, to eliminate the chances of unwanted physical side effects such as back pain and fatigue.

56cm (22″) Petrol Tiller

For jobs with more densely packed soil in an extensive garden or allotment, we recommend the Webb WEPT560MM. Weighing 30kg, this model is fitted with a very high-performance 161 cc OHV engine and boasts a generous 56cm working width. Designed to take virgin ground in its stride, it can operate down to 13cm, making it ideal for applications where aggressive cultivation is required; and it comes equipped with crop-protection discs for confidence when tackling inter-row tasks.

Whatever the size of the area to be tilled, if you have plans for your soil this year, invest in a good garden tiller that meets your needs and enables you to work safely, comfortably and with stability – it’s a small investment that will pay you back!

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