What is a Garden Cultivator?

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  • Written By: J. Luper
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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A garden cultivator is a tool that is used to till soil and break up the top layer of dirt within a garden. Once the soil is cultivated, then a garden can be planted. Freshly tilling the soil leaves ample room for nutrients, air, and water to flow around the plants' roots. This is also beneficial for decreasing the likelihood of weeds, and fostering their removal from the garden. Garden cultivators are used to turn the soil and in doing so, loosen the hold weeds may have on the soil that is rightly there for flowers, herbs, or vegetables.

While a garden cultivator usually has the same function, there are many different forms it can take. A hand-powered cultivator often includes a long handle for use when standing, with several rotating blades at the end that makes contact with the soil. As the garden cultivator is pushed along the ground, the blades turn through the soil, giving it aeration and loosening dirt and weeds. Sizes vary, and some have wheels attached for ease of operation. Smaller hand-powered cultivators with shorter handles are available for use when sitting or kneeling on the ground.


If a garden cultivator that is powered by hand is not the best personal option, then there are numerous other possibilities. Electric garden cultivators are available in a range of prices. Many are battery-powered and some are rechargeable. The electric garden cultivator exhibits a similar structure to the hand-powered tools; however, the blades or tines turn the soil through electric power.

When a larger gardening area is in need of cultivation, another option is to use a gas-powered garden cultivator. These tools include an engine, can have longer and larger tines or blades, and may resemble a lawn mower. The gas powered engine rotates the blades as the cultivator is pushed along the limits of the soil, and has the advantage of tilling more deeply into the soil. The tines can be from an average of 6 inches (about 15 cm) long to over 21 inches (53 cm) long, depending on the need of the depth of soil aeration. In contrast, tines on hand-powered garden cultivators can average from a few inches to about 7 inches (about 18 cm) long.


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A good way to differentiate between the larger and smaller garden tiller/cultivators is to decide what the task is. There are small gas powered cultivators about the size of their electric counterparts. However, they accomplish just about the same thing, weeding, stirring soil, and tilling established beds. These smaller types of tilling equipment are referred to as cultivators or mini tillers.

Larger gas tillers that are capable of breaking new ground and digging deep into the soil are often referred to as "garden tillers." These are much larger and heavier, particularly the heavy-duty rear-tine versions.

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