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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Troy-Bilt Electric Cultivator Review

Late May Troy Bilt asked me to test a piece of their equipment in my garden and I selected the electric cultivator.

Bottom Line:

Assembly: Any girl can assemble this thing in 15 minutes. No men needed! 

Ease of handling: Super easy in dirt with weeds, harder in sod covered dirt. Need a power cord but that did not cause me problems.

Power: Powerful enough to turn the dirt in established beds and even handle some sod.

Storage: Easy to store because it's narrow and not that heavy. I could probably be hung on a wall in the garage.  

One of my favorite things about Troy-Bilt lawn equipment in general is that it's super easy to assemble.  The cultivator was delivered in one box and it only took me about 15 minutes to put together.

The only experience I have with tillers is one time when I rented one of those gigantic ones (which Troy-Bilt also sells) because I had a about a 24 x 24 foot area that was covered with grass to till.  It was too much for me to handle so I ended up paying somebody to come over and till up the garden using that rental.  This Troy-Bilt electric cultivator is the perfect size for me.  It is lightweight and easy to manipulate.  Like most pieces of electric lawn equipment, starting it is super easy.  Just press a button and raise the starter bar.

The cultivator has 3 blades, two on one side and one on the other and they are close enough together to keep the unit rather compact. Personally, I think calling this thing a "cultivator" isn't really doing it service.  It's pretty powerful!  I tilled up part of a flower bed that was compacted and had quite a few weeds in it and it worked beautifully.  It seemed so powerful that I decided to try tilling right through the grass around that same flowerbed that I had decided to expand and although the cultivator did bounce around a little on the top of the grass, it did till up the entire area.  Eventually the grass got tangled in the blades but the bottom line is that it worked on the same scale of job you might think you need a huge tiller for.  So, if you're wanting to purchase a tiller but you're afraid of the size and strength you need to run it, consider this cultivator.  Trying to till up a huge grassy area with this thing probably wouldn't be too rewarding, but if you just need to expand a bed or turn the soil in your garden, this is perfect.  It's small and easy to store and powerful.

If I had to find something I didn't like about this cultivator, it would be that I wish it was a little easier to transport.  It's got rollers but in order to move it, you have to press the handle down really low so that the blades lift off the ground and by the time you are all bent over like that, it's sort of hard to walk.  It would be nice if it had a lift on the wheel/blade mechanism that you could activate that would lower the wheels down from their regular position when you are ready to transport it.  I would also love to see a rechargeable battery version of this thing.  I can get wherever I need to using an extension cord but I imagine those with larger yards would find it frustrating trying to string together extension cords.

On a recent episode of Fabulous Beekman Boys I saw Josh using a cultivator about this size to turn the soil in his raised beds before planting.  Now, I know that a lot of folks are against disturbing the soil in this manner, but if you're not, this looks perfect.  It's certainly light enough to lift up into the raised bed and you could turn the soil in a 4 x 8 foot bed in about 2 minutes with this thing.  This year was my second season with my new raised beds and I used a garden claw to loosen the soil and to mix in compost.  Next year I will likely use the Troy-Bilt Electric Cultivator.

I would definitely recommend this product and I'm happy to have it in my gardening tool arsenal.


  1. I was just thinking how much I could use a tiller the other day! This one seems nice. Pout. I mean, yay!

  2. Monica - If I still had mine, I'd send it your way. Great little tiller. Thanks for your review Gina! I second everything you said.

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  4. Way late to this post but here goes on tillers. A garage sale find, 8hp Horse tiller, low hours though 18 years old, with the engine guard bars, $2400 new, garage sale price was $100. Paint was hardly worn on the original tines.

    Same place same day, I bought a 4.5 hp Tuffy model for $50.

    I garden about 1500 square ft of raised beds, originally double dug and I mostly use a garden fork for turning in soil amendments and compost.

    I would never have purchased these at retail. I couldn't pass them up at the prices asked. Both machines, after checking fluids, belts, engines, both started immediately, first pull, and operate flawlessly. I did use the horse to open a new 250 square foot bed. Use the tillers as little as possible. If you are not careful and diligent with their use, they will pulverize your soil way too much in my opinion.

    The best uses for tillers such as these is to slowly turn in grown, green manures like buckwheat or rye grass or to begin new beds. These would also be good for working large quantities of organinc matter into clay or sandy soil in creating new beds. It is simply way too easy to destroy good soil by pulverization. You can wreck nice soil structure without extreme caution.

    I love the site. I am in rural WI, but am very excited to see the immense growth in suburban area gardening. Best wishes.