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Best Hand Tillers 2020 – Manual Models Reviewed

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Hand Tiller GardenAsk any gardener, and they’ll tell you that their hand tiller is one of their most-used, must-have tools. Whether it’s preparing a small area of your garden by aerating the soil for planting seeds or seedlings, blending in supplements to enrich the soil, or turning under and removing weeds, you’re better off skipping the shovel and reaching for the easy-to-use hand tiller to evenly break up the soil into small workable clumps.

Hand tillers come in a range of shapes and sizes, which makes choosing one an unnecessarily confusing task. We’ve listed reviews for the top eight hand tillers, including details about their pros and cons. Read on to learn which hand tiller might become an indispensable tool in your gardening kit.


A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

ModelPriceLengthEditor Rating
Fiskars
small Fiskars 79906935J
Best Overall

Check Price
40 Inch4.90/5
Asano Japanese Claw
small Asano Japanese Ninja Claw Rake
Best Value

Check Price
6 Inch4.75/5
Garden Weasel Claw
small Garden Weasel
Premium Choice

Check Price
38 Inch4.70/5
DeWit 5-Tine Cultivator
small DeWit 5-Tine Cultivator

Check Price
16.5 Inch4.55/5
Yard Butler Terra Tiller
small Yard Butler Terra Tiller

Check Price
15 Inch4.45/5

The 8 Best Hand Tillers

1. Fiskars Handle Steel Tiller – Best Overall

Fiskars_79906935J

The well-made, heavy-duty Fiskars Long Handle Steel Tiller earns the top spot on our list. The welded steel construction on this hand tiller provides it with the durability and strength to break up tough soil and hard clay. Built to outlast wood-handled tools and fiberglass tillers that tend to flex and break, the Fiskars Long Handle Steel Tiller has a 19-gauge steel shaft and six arrow-tipped tines.

The long 40-inch handle saves your back from unnecessary strain and gives your sore knees a break. Plus, you can secure a strong two-handed grip on the padded T-handle and take advantage of the extra-large foot platform to gain plenty of leverage to break up hardened soil. This hand tiller is worth the price, is easy to use, and gets the job done effectively and efficiently.

Pros
  • Well-made and heavy duty
  • Durable construction
  • Long handle alleviates back pain and sore knees
  • T-handle with padded grip
  • Arrow-tipped tines
  • Effective on hard soil and clay
Cons
  • Handle not adjustable for taller people
  • Requires a certain amount of personal strength to use

2. Asano Japanese Rake and Cultivator – Best Value

Asano Japanese Ninja Claw Rake and Cultivator

Our choice for the best hand tiller for the money goes to the simplistic and elegantly designed Asano Japanese Ninja Claw Rake and Cultivator. This short-handled tiller is made with durable Japanese steel and has a solid wood handle. The Ninja Claw has five curved tines with sharpened tips to dig into the soil with a wide grip and break it up around plants. This hand tiller also works great for raking small areas of wood chips, spreading mulch around your flower beds, as well as mixing compost into soil.

If you’re looking for a sleek, smaller tool, the Asano Japanese Ninja Claw Rake and Cultivator is your best value buy. However, it’s important to consider whether a short handle might cause unwanted physical strain, especially if you don’t have raised beds. Also, the width of the full span of the tines may make it difficult in tighter spaces of your garden.

Pros
  • Best value
  • Durable Japanese steel
  • Strong curved tines
  • Small size for easy use and storage
Cons
  • Short handle may cause physical strain
  • Wide tines may not fit into tight spaces
  • Not as effective on hard-packed soils

5. Garden Weasel Claw Pro – Premium Choice

Garden Weasel

Adjustable tines, along with warranty-backed, rust-resistant carbon steel construction and comfort grip handles, make the Garden Weasel Garden Claw Pro our premium choice. This hand tiller is called a C.L.A.W. for good reason, as you can easily use a step-and-twist action to cultivate, loosen, aerate, and weed all types of soils, including clay.

The adjustable tines give you the option of going small for weeding tight spaces, medium for allowing you to properly cultivate, and large for having more impact when tilling. The long 38-inch handle with comfort grips add to the premium quality of this product.

It’s important to note that the extra options put this hand tiller at a higher price. Also, while weather resistant, this hand tiller lands in the third spot for lacking as much tine strength and durability as our top two choices.

Pros
  • Weather-resistant construction
  • Adjustable tines for more options
  • Comfort grip on 38-inch-long handle
  • Effective on hard soil and clay
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • More expensive
  • Tines may bend or snap

4. DeWit 5-Tine Cultivator With P-Grip Handle

DeWit 5-Tine Cultivator with P-Grip Handle

The first thing you might notice about our fourth choice is the ergonomic P-grip handle. This unique design allows you to use either one or two hands to give you much needed leverage for extra pushing and pulling power. This hand tiller has an extended handle, making it ideal for reaching around plants to aerate the soil, as well as for digging into tough soil to cultivate it.

Lightweight and strong, the DeWit Cultivator has five tines made of high-quality, Dutch-made, hand-forged, tempered boron steel. The ash hardwood handle combines strength, elasticity, and an environmental conscience, as the wood is harvested from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)-certified forests.

Sturdy and well-crafted, this hand tiller comes from a well-trusted name brand. All DeWit products come with a lifetime guarantee.

Pros
  • Ergonomic P-grip handle
  • Able to aerate and cultivate
  • Made of high-quality materials
  • Trustworthy brand name
Cons
  • Shorter handle may cause physical strain
  • Not as effective on hard-packed soils

5. Yard Butler Terra Garden Hand Tool

Yard Butler Terra Tiller TT-4T

This multi-functional hand tiller has a dual head to help you take on a variety of jobs, from planting, tilling, and digging to chopping, cutting, and hacking. On one side, three sturdy steel prongs allow you to cultivate, loosen, and break up solid ground, as well as till deep into the soil and rip out weeds with ease. The other side has a sharpened beveled edge blade, which is ideal for chopping and cutting roots.

The steel head is designed to feel well-balanced in your hand and is completely welded into the 15-inch handle, which is made of heavy-duty powder-coated steel. The cushioned grip adds an element of comfort.

This hand tiller is lightweight, so it may require you to apply extra physical effort to complete tasks. It helps to know that if you’re not happy with your purchase, Yard Butler offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.

Pros
  • Dual head for more gardening options
  • Sturdy, steel construction
  • Cushioned hand grip
  • 30-day satisfaction guarantee
Cons
  • Shorter handle may cause physical strain
  • Too lightweight for effective leverage

6. Radius Garden Hand Cultivator

Radius Garden

If you suffer from carpal tunnel, arthritis, or other painful hand issues, consider the award-winning, ergonomically designed Radius Garden Hand Cultivator. The natural radius grip made of non-latex, thermoplastic materials serves the purpose of both reducing hand and wrist stress while supplying extra leverage.

Considered a scratch tool, the three tines can dig through loosened soil, place mulch, and uproot weed seedlings at the roots. As it’s made of die-cast aluminum, it shouldn’t rust.

While the design is innovative, the handle may be awkward on uneven surfaces, causing your knuckles to brush the ground. Also, if you have limited hand strength, you may find this hand tiller a bit too heavy to use properly.

Pros
  • Ergonomically designed grip
  • Effective as a scratch tool
  • Made of rust-proof die-cast aluminum
Cons
  • Only used for light tilling and weed removal
  • Too heavy for people with limited hand strength
  • May be awkward to use on uneven surfaces

7. V & B Handy 2lb Mattock Tiller

V & B Manufacturing 85231

You’ll find several practical uses for the V & B Handy Mattock Tiller. The two-pound ductile iron head supplies extra leverage and momentum whether using the side with the three tines or flipping it to the mattock blade. The lengthy five-inch prongs effectively clear weeds and remove debris. On the opposite side, the 2¼-inch blade chops through roots, smooths excavated dirt, and creates furrows.

The long handle allows you to remain upright and have farther reach. At 36 inches in length, the handle might not be long enough for more arduous tasks and unfortunately, does not come with a padded grip.

Pros
  • Dual head with tines and blade
  • Long five-inch tines
  • Two-pound iron head
Cons
  • No padded grip
  • Handle could be longer
  • Blade could be larger

8. WOLF-Garten Weeder-Cultivator

WOLF-Garten Mini Weeder-Cultivator 2953004 (1)

This hand tiller made the list due to WOLF-Garten’s Multi-Star Interlocking Tool System, which allows gardeners the option to switch the handle on this mini weeder-cultivator from a shorter length to a longer one. The handles click in and out for an easy swap. However, this feature does have the drawback of a weak connection to the head, causing a loose, clunky feel when striking the ground.

The three sturdy tines get into tightly planted gardens to remove weeds and cultivate loosened soil. Unlike other hand tillers, the tines are not assembled in a straight row, which may not be as effective when removing weeds.

Pros
  • Ability to swap handle length
  • Sufficient weeding and cultivator
Cons
  • Weak handle connection with head
  • Alternated tines not as effective for weed control
  • Plastic handle
  • Not effective on hard-packed soils

Buyer’s Guide

Hopefully, these reviews of hand tillers have helped you find your next go-to garden tool. In this buyer’s guide, we break down the hand tiller’s main components and what to look for in a quality product.

Handles:

As you may have noticed in the above reviews, each product seems to take a different approach to the size, shape, materials, and design of the handle.

First, let’s compare the advantages and disadvantages of a long handle as opposed to a short one. The obvious perk of a longer handle is the ability to do the work from a standing position, or slightly hunched if you happen to be tall. You can avoid back strain and spare yourself sore knees. The longer handle also provides more leverage and power to dig into solidly packed earth.

Before you become completely sold on long handle models, however, take a moment to consider the benefits of investing in a short handle product. When it comes to spreading mulch, aerating tight spaces, routine weed removal, and cultivation of small gardens, you need a simple tool that you can grab and use as an extension of your own hand. In this case, the shorter handle and smaller size makes more sense.

We also reviewed several products with unique handle design features made from a variety of materials. From T-handles to P-grips, the shape of the handle can make a huge difference on the satisfaction you get from the product and how effectively it works in different types of soils. Certainly, ergonomically designed handles reduce hand and wrist strains and injuries, and a padded grip adds comfort and cushion. Beyond the handle’s designed shape, consider whether you prefer a solid wooden handle, a durable steel or aluminum shaft, or a plastic model with optional swap sizes. If you tend to leave your gardening hand tools outside, you’ll probably want a hand tiller made with weather-resistant features.

Prongs and Spikes:

Now let’s take a look at the other hardworking end of the hand tiller. Most of the products we reviewed have between three to five spiked prongs, while the two-hand tillers feature a dual head with the extra addition of a blade. When deciding between prongs-only and a dual head, consider the work you intend to complete. Small gardens in need of cultivating, aerating, tilling, and basic weed control generally don’t need the blade side on a dual head hand tiller. However, if you plan to tackle larger weeds and clear out an overgrown garden, you’ll be glad to have the option to flip over the dual head to its blade side.

More than any other part of the hand tiller, the prongs must be up to the job. Even if you have the most comfortable, ergonomic handle, you won’t get any work accomplished with dull, bent, or broken tines. Make sure the prongs have a reasonable length of at least three inches — ideally, five inches — so you can dig into the soil and actually make an impact. Also, the tips of the prongs need to be sharp enough to penetrate packed earth and clay. The number of prongs may vary from three to five or more, and the spacing between them can influence how close you can work around tightly placed plants. Finally and perhaps most importantly, make sure the prongs are made from sturdy material or you may find yourself regretting your purchase.

How to determine a quality hand tiller:

Finding a high-quality, great-value hand tiller should come down to your personal needs and preferences, along with how you intend to use it. It may be wise to choose name brands that take pride in offering consistently well-made products along with a manufacturer’s warranty. Above all, make it your top priority to choose a hand tiller that’s well-built and sturdy so it can last you many seasons and become one of your favorite go-to tools.

Conclusion

For an overall well-made, heavy-duty hand tiller, the Fiskars Long Handle Steel Tiller takes the first-place position on our list for good reason. Its durable construction won’t let you down year after year. Plus, its arrow-tipped tines can dig into even the hardest soil and clay. The 40-inch T-handle with a padded grip keeps you upright and working with ease.

Our second-place hand tiller, the Asano Japanese Ninja Claw Rake and Cultivator, earns its place for best value. With a sleek design, this hand tiller is made with high-quality materials such as a solid wood handle and durable Japanese Steel curved tines. Its smaller size makes it easy to grab, comfortable to use, and trouble-free to store.

In third place, our premium choice, the Garden Weasel Garden Claw Pro, offers adjustable tines that give you three width options. With this feature, you can go from narrow, tight spaces to tilling between rows and cultivating a larger portion of your garden. While you’ll pay more for the weather-resistant construction and the comfort of a padded grip and 38-inch-long handle, you will be able to cultivate, loosen, aerate, and weed (C.L.A.W.!) all types of soil and clay.

Hopefully, our reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you learn more about hand tillers and what to consider most when making a purchase. With a well-built, sturdy hand tiller that fits your needs and your budget, it just may become the most-used, must-have tool in your shed or garden toolkit.


Featured Image By: summa, pixabay

About the Author Adam Harris

Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!