7 Best Tillers for Clay Soil of 2020

Last update: Sep 21, 2020

I've been obsessed with garden tillers recently because I just moved to this new property with fairly hard ground. It was a challenge digging the surface using my old tiller collection.

So, here I am spending weeks and money trying more models to pick out the best tiller for clay soil. If you have enjoyed my other posts, you will do the same with this one.

Here are the best tillers for clay soil you can buy in 2020:

  • Best for Small Gardens (Battery Tiller): Earthwise TC70020 20-Volt 7.5-Inch Cordless Electric Tiller Cultivator
  • Best for Sandy Clay (Battery Tiller): BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Tiller
  • Best Overall (Corded Electric Tiller): Sun Joe TJ604E 16-Inch 13.5 AMP Electric Garden Tiller
  • Best for Big Clay Clods (Corded Electric Tiller): Earthwise TC70016 16-Inch 13.5-Amp Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator
  • Best for Large Gardens (Corded Electric Tiller): TACKLIFE Electric Tiller, 13.5 Amp Tiller Cultivator
  • Lightweight (Gas Tiller): Mantis 7225-00-02 2-Cycle Gas-Powered Tiller/Cultivator
  • Best for Hard Clay Soil (Gas Tiller): Southland SCV43 Cultivator
7 Best Tillers For Clay Soil
Best for Small Gardens
Earthwise TC70020 20-Volt 7.5-Inch Cordless Electric Tiller Cultivator
  • Battery Tiller
Best for Sandy Clay
BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Tiller
  • Battery Tiller
Best Overall
Sun Joe TJ604E 16-Inch 13.5 AMP Electric Garden Tiller
  • Corded Electric Tiller
Best for Big Clay Clods
Earthwise TC70016 16-Inch 13.5-Amp Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator
  • Corded Electric Tiller
Best for Large Gardens
TACKLIFE Electric Tiller, 13.5 Amp Tiller Cultivator
  • Corded Electric Tiller
Lightweight
Mantis 7225-00-02 2-Cycle Gas-Powered Tiller/Cultivator
  • Gas Tiller
Best for Hard Clay Soil
Southland SCV43 Cultivator
  • Gas Tiller

Best for Small Gardens (Battery Tiller): Earthwise TC70020 20-Volt 7.5-Inch Cordless Electric Tiller Cultivator

Earthwise TC70020 20-Volt 7.5-Inch Cordless Electric Tiller Cultivator
Earthwise TC70020 20-Volt 7.5-Inch Cordless Electric Tiller Cultivator
8.6Great
Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Super powerful

  • Functional tines

  • Easy to handle

Cons
  • Not for big jobs

  • Run out of battery fast

Don't judge this machine by how "skinny" it looks. It packs inside a powerful 20-volt lithium rechargeable battery that runs a high-efficient motor. I call it my secret weapon when I need to deal with clay soil and hard ground.

It cultivates down to 6 inches of earth. This cultivator will prepare the soil for you if you are to make a bed for flowers and plants. It took off like a rocket on my first hit as soon as I started it.

More than a breeze, this unit is super light, taking lots of bulkiness away from the tiresome of gardening.

On the side, the machine eats grass, weeds; it clears the soil and makes planting a piece of cake.

Now into the most important selling point.

If you garden frequently, you know that soil in summer air is hard. This tiller features four separate steel tines with supported geometry that will pry up dirt with ease.

On the top side, it's got a comfortable helper handle that you can loosen and slide down to achieve the perfect balance.

More than that, there is a safety switch that you need to press concurrently with the trigger to activate the unit. That ensures you are always going to be in control.

Earthwise TC70020 20-Volt 7.5-Inch Cordless Electric Tiller Cultivator Specifications

Weight

9 pounds

Motor

20-volt 2Ah lithium battery

Tilling Width

7.5 inches

Digging Depth

6 inches

Highlight Features

High-efficient motor with superior power.
4 durable steel tines.
Compact and lightweight. Safety switch

Verdict

This tiller really provides a seamless way to prepare garden soil so that you'll have great success in the garden.

Best for Sandy Clay (Battery Tiller): BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Tiller

BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Tiller
BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Tiller
8.6Great
Pros
  • Long battery life

  • Fast recharge

  • Dig hard clay soil

  • Comfortable grip handle

  • Compatible with batteries from the tools of the same brand

Cons
  • Take longer to cultivate dirt with weeds

  • A bit tricky to use at first

I would never skip a product from Black and Decker because it would make a huge hollow in my collection. And this battery-powered tiller didn't fail my expectations.

Also featuring a 20V battery, but Black and Decker has their technology to maximize its efficiency and lifespan.

Using this unit on sand clay, you'll see the magic. When I first applied the straight tines to the soil, it dug right in, breaking up clumps of clay dirt to 4 inches depth. These tines rotate back and forth, not in 360 degrees, to ensure no tangled weeds.

The design of the shaft is also an excellent point that sells.

It's got a comfortable handle with a soft grip. You can adjust to your most pleasant stance by shifting the shaft. When you find the right length, you don't have to bend over to operate the tiller.

About the battery life, like on most Black and Decker cordless lawn tools, it lasts. Per one charge, you can cultivate up to 325 square feet. And if you have another battery-powered tool from the brand, you can borrow the battery from that one to run this tiller.

BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Tiller Specifications

Weight

8.1 pounds

Motor

20-Volt MAX lithium-ion battery

Tilling Width

6 inches

Digging Depth

4 inches

Highlight Features

Longer battery life.
Fast charge technology.
Lightweight upright design.
Counter-oscillating tines prevent weeds from tangling

Verdict

The tool loosens dirt adequately beyond my expectation, not to mention its too pleasant price tag.

Best Overall (Corded Electric Tiller): Sun Joe TJ604E 16-Inch 13.5 AMP Electric Garden Tiller

Sun Joe TJ604E 16-Inch 13.5 AMP Electric Garden Tiller
Sun Joe TJ604E 16-Inch 13.5 AMP Electric Garden Tiller
9.2Outstanding
Pros
  • Powerful 13.5 Amp motor

  • Durable tines

  • Foldable handle

  • Easy to transport and storage

Cons
  • Roots get tangled

  • Short extension cord

Are you taking the old garden, tilling it all up and getting it ready for spring? I've got you something.

It's a 13.5 Amp plug-in tiller to work for my little garden. What's great is it definitely works on clay soil.

At the wheel, there are three positions adjustable for transporting. The power is just beyond my expectation. It took me 10 minutes to cultivate the whole area of around 25 feet long and 3 feet wide without an interruption.

I'm not saying this tiller is going to big up the hardest soil, but it's not a problem at all for clay.

This tiller is not super wide enough to handle a large area. So, you may want a gas-powered tiller then.

The only complaint I have for this cultivator beside it being corded is the tangled roots in the tines. But that's not a big deal because it happens to almost all tillers on the market.

Sun Joe also makes the unit incredibly easy to maneuver with the ergonomic-designed handle. More than that, it's foldable so that you can store the unit without taking much space.

Sun Joe TJ604E 16-Inch 13.5 AMP Electric Garden Tiller Specifications

Weight

27.1 pounds

Motor

13.5 Amp

Tilling Width

16 inches

Digging Depth

8 inches

Highlight Features

High-efficient motor for tilling up hard soil.
6 Steel angled tines.
3-position wheel adjustment.
Foldable handle

Verdict

It was quite hard finding an efficient tiller at this price that does the work can be parallel to a more expensive model.

Best for Big Clay Clods (Corded Electric Tiller): Earthwise TC70016 16-Inch 13.5-Amp Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator

Earthwise TC70016 16-Inch 13.5-Amp Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator
Earthwise TC70016 16-Inch 13.5-Amp Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator
9.2Outstanding
Pros
  • Easy to assemble

  • Plenty of power

  • Lightweight

  • Smart-design handle

Cons
  • It tends to move away from you

  • Thin sheet metal tines

I know dealing with large packs of clay is no joke. You're going to sweat your butt before getting done with under 200 square feet. But this Earthwise will cast a spell on those clods.

My first impression fell to the bad boy design. But what really makes the day is the 13.5 Amp engine rotates 6 adjustable steel tines, crushing lump plates of clay into pieces.

The one thing that really gets me into this tiller is the smartly designed handle that is incredibly easy and safe to use. On top of it is the retention cord hook so that you can just snap it in and get the tiller down the field.

And you won't meet any pain transporting this tiller thanks to the 6" flip-down rear wheels that allow seamless movement on the surface.

One good news for tiller-beginners.

You need no assembly skill to put together this tiller. It comes fully assembled for you. All you need to do is tighten the knuckles at the handlebar.

Earthwise TC70016 16-Inch 13.5-Amp Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator Specifications

Weight

34.8 pounds

Motor

13.5 Amp

Tilling Width

16 inches

Digging Depth

8 inches

Highlight Features

Ergonomic design in the handle and innovation in the motor.
Steel tines bite up soil pretty fast

Verdict

The tiller's got all the power you need to mash clay clods into humus-rich soil for your plants.

Best for Large Gardens (Corded Electric Tiller): TACKLIFE Electric Tiller, 13.5 Amp Tiller Cultivator

TACKLIFE Electric Tiller, 13.5 Amp Tiller Cultivator
TACKLIFE Electric Tiller, 13.5 Amp Tiller Cultivator
9.2Outstanding
Pros
  • Double safety feature

  • Adjustable width for larger tiller area

  • Adjustable wheels for easy moving and storing

  • Plug-and-go operation

Cons
  • Tricky to put together

  • Take a while to get used to

Though I'm not a big fan of corded power tools, it was not an issue with this tiller. It's a powerful option that can handle a large area, almost as effective as a gas-powered tiller.

The feature that will aid you in tilling a bigger space is the adjustable wheels and width. You can either have four or six times at 12.5 inches or 18 inches. More than that, the tiller digs down to 8 inches deep.

Coming along is the powerful high-performance 13.5 Amp that spins 380 rounds per minute. You just have what you need to get your large garden cultivated in a short time.

Furthermore, Tacklife has added safety buttons to make sure you don't trigger the unit accidentally. And when you feel the machine is out of control, there are brake switches to prevent the unit from getting away from you.

The little thing that is intricate here should be the assembly as the unit comes in pieces in the box. You will need to do the puzzle, but the manual will help.

TACKLIFE Electric Tiller, 13.5 Amp Tiller Cultivator Specifications

Weight

22.4 pounds

Motor

13.5 Amp

Tilling Width

Adjustable 18/12.5 inches

Digging Depth

8 inches

Highlight Features

Adjustable tilling width.
Powerful high-speed 13.5 Amp motor.
Double safety feature in the on/off button and brakes

Verdict

I got covered by this tiller cultivating my father's big yard without the hassle of fuel mixing, pull starting, and maintenance.

Lightweight (Gas Tiller): Mantis 7225-00-02 2-Cycle Gas-Powered Tiller/Cultivator

Mantis 7225-00-02 2-Cycle Gas-Powered Tiller/Cultivator
Mantis 7225-00-02 2-Cycle Gas-Powered Tiller/Cultivator
8.2Good
Pros
  • Compact design

  • Reliable 2-cycle engine

  • Patented reversible tines

  • Super lightweight

  • Compact design

  • Easy to steer

Cons
  • Tend to bounce

  • Can't stand on its own

Every avid gardener knows the power Mantis offers in their products. But for this tiller, they even make it less bulky to handle.

Better than all is the compact and minimalistic design that allows you to maneuver the unit without taxing much of your muscles. The small design lets this tiller get in tight space.

Also, thanks to this compact design, this tiller weighs only 20 pounds. An average adult won't get much trouble lifting the unit. So, that makes cultivating more square feet easier to handle.

And don't ever doubt this tiller's performance. It's a beast in a tiny body. The tiller is capable of tilling 9 inches wide.

It features a commercial-grade 2-cycle engine that utilizes push-button priming to get activated seamlessly. Specifically, it spins the steel tines 240 RPM to pry up dirt at ease to 3 inches of soil. These tines are reversible to avoid tangled roots and weeds.

Mantis 7225-00-02 2-Cycle Gas-Powered Tiller/Cultivator Specifications

Weight

20 pounds

Horsepower

N/A

Tilling Width

9 inches

Digging Depth

3 inches

Highlight Features

Compact design. Lightweight for easy storage.
Reliable 2-cycle engine.
Reversible tines

Verdict

You will like this Mantis as much as I do for those who are more familiar with gas-powered tools and need a tiller for light-duty work.

Best for Hard Clay Soil (Gas Tiller): Southland SCV43 Cultivator

Southland SCV43 Cultivator
Southland SCV43 Cultivator
8Good
Pros
  • Powerful Crankshaft engine

  • Adjustable tilling widths

  • Easy to start

  • Three-piece foldable

Cons
  • Consume fuel

  • A bit flimsy in the

This is probably the oldest tiller in my father's collection that still functions after 4 years. He mostly used the unit to beat up hard clay soil seasonally, and I got a chance to testify to his satisfaction.

The power is smooth and impressive in this unit. Indeed, it crushed packs of clumps at no sweat. I mean, you don't need to put much effort into pushing the tiller but positioning to let the tines do their job.

I also love the handle wrapped up with a kind of coordinated rubber grips, promising not to wear you out too fast.

And if you are aware of a struggling pull start system, that won't happen on this tiller with the manual easy recoil start.

Transporting is none of the concern with 2 rear 7-inch wheels. It steers well in a tight space and makes it easy to push the tines down to the earth.

When it comes to storage, you just have to fold the handle three times. The unit will turn into a compact piece to sit neatly in a corner.

Southland SCV43 Cultivator Specifications

Weight

41.7 pounds

Horsepower

N/A

Tilling Width

6-10 inches

Digging Depth

5 inches

Highlight Features

Pro Quality Full Crankshaft design.
Adjustable tilling width.
Easy manual recoil start.

Verdict

Love this tiller because it makes breaking up hard soil a breeze.

How To Choose The Best Tiller For Clay Soil?

Clay soil is tough to deal with. You need not only a tiller with a powerful motor but also a smart design. If you don't get to choose one, you'll never know what makes the best tiller for your need.

But I've got experience here hoping to help solve some of the aches.

Garden Size

Hard soil takes time to get unclogged. So, it makes no sense if you assign a 500-square feet plot to a cordless tiller. You need a gas-powered cultivator instead.

That said, measure the work in feet then decide. If you have a small garden, it'll marry a compact and lightweight cordless electric tiller. Even for clay soil, those machines can handle.

Gas tillers give you more power down the road and take the burden of gardening off your muscles. However, you need a decent place to store the machine and more cash for the fuel.

Your Application

Maybe you are breaking new ground for the season. This tough work requires a powerful tiller to tackle.

Re-tiling is less unrested, so you can leave the work for a smaller one which won't wear you fast.

Warranty and Guarantee

If any manufacturer is trying to sell you everything but not the warranty, don't buy it. Tillers handle the soil with lots of particles, including rocks, twines, and a bunch of solid objects that may break your tines.

You need the company to protect the unit so that your investment won't get wasted by your mistake.

Which Brands Make The Best Tiller For Clay Soil?

Earthwise

This American company has more than 120 years in development. No one can deny its reputation and quality of products. They began with producing the best lawn mowers in The States. Starting from the 1990s, Earthwise added garden cultivators to the market. And the growth of their collection has never stopped. Years of experience bring Earthwise the confidence in every tiller they are selling at the moment.

Mantis

For over 40 years, Mantis has never stopped improving technology in manufacturing lines of robust tillers. The brand has answers to most of the gardeners' needs for the tiller. What they highlight is the compactness, versatility, and performance of their products.

FAQs

Can you rototill clay soil?

Absolutely possible. Although clay soil is so sticky that it can be hard to break, it's nature is a bit soggy allowing the till to interfere. Using a powerful enough tiller, you can till clay dirt up to 12 inches down.

How do you break down clay soil quickly?

Why is clay soil so hard to till?

The nature of clay soil is it holds water, mineral particles, organic materials, and living organisms that add solidity into the packs of dirt. More portions of these factors make the soil's texture tougher.

This toughness obviously makes tilling clay soil a challenge unless you know how to improve it.

Will worms break down clay?

Using worms to aerate clay soil is possible as they burrow and leave their castings full of nutrients for the soil.

However, this technique takes decades if you solely apply it. Using gypsum aids the process faster, yet attracting more worms to make their cast.

Can you turn clay into good soil?

The capacity of holding on to nutrients makes clay soil a perfect foundation for planting. Using proper amendments to improve clay soil certainly makes clay a good type of soil.

You can till and mix clay soil with organic materials to turn it into humus-rich. Your plants will like it.

Conclusion

Tillers are a worthwhile investment because it takes off a bunch of burden off your gardening mission. Choosing the right one will save you lots of time, effort, and money.

I'll leave the rest of the battle of finding the best tiller for clay soil for you because you need to make your own decision now.

But don't worry.

I am right here to answer any of your questions if you haven't found what you want yet. Just leave your queries in the comments, and I'll get to them real quick.


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