Rotavator Basics FAQ

rotavator in field

Whether you’re new to gardening or you’re a grizzled veteran with dozens of years’ worth of dirt beneath their green thumbnail, you’ll want a rotavator at some point. They’re incredibly useful and provide so much value in their purchase that I honestly can’t extoll their virtues enough. Now if you’re new, you likely have a lot of questions. What is a rotavator used for? Can you use a rotavator on grass? And why does your rotavator keep cutting out? Stay tuned for these answers and more, only on DreamyHome.

Today’s Topics Include:

  1. What Is a Rotavator Used For?
  2. What’s the Difference Between a Rotavator and Cultivator?

Now there are quite a few questions to hit today, so let’s just dive right in, yeah?

Commonly-Asked Rotavator Questions

Now it would be rude to not finish answering the first question we asked, so we’ll start there. Don’t worry your little head, though – we’ve got a lot of questions and quite a few answers, so we need to get going.

What Is a Rotavator Used For?

rotavator tilling dirt

As we mentioned above, rotavators are used to till soil and make the planting and growing of various seeds and bulbs drastically easier. In years past, you would have needed to turn over soil manually with a spade or gardening knife – that’s both painful and arduous work.

Enter the rotavator! Pictured above, you can see a rotavator in action. The spines dig into the soil and turn it over, allowing more air to make its way in. This does two things – first, it evenly distributes nutrients in the soil. And second, rotavators help break up hardened soil, making it more welcoming to new plants.

General best practice tells us that removing large stones, weeds, and other unwanted plant life will serve you quite well. In contrast, skipping this step will see those unsightly weeds spread across your whole property, and likely that of your neighbours, too.

In short, rotavators overturn and aerate soil, allowing you to plant various seeds and bulbs more easily. This process makes the soil more welcoming and nutritional, improving the odds of your crops’ survival.

What’s the Difference Between a Rotavator and Cultivator?

rotavator in soil and woodchips

And this is where most people get a bit confused when entering into the gardening niche. Luckily, the answer is actually pretty simple.

A rotavator uses several disks or teeth in a row, dragging them through the soil. This smooths land and breaks up the soil, allowing the planting process to begin more easily.

A cultivator, on the other hand, is more of a square vs. rectangle situation. “Cultivator” is a generic term for rotavators (a trademarked term, like Kleenex) or tillers. They can be manual or mechanical/motorised, and come in a number of forms – both “front-tine” and “rear-tine.”

In case you couldn’t tell, those two differentiators simply denote where the tines are on the machine. Front-tine tillers are used to break up ground that’s already been tilled, while rear-tine tillers are able to break up untilled lands like a lawn bed or hard soil.

In short, a rotavator is a slightly more specialised form of a cultivator. Think “square vs. rectangle.” In other words, all rotavators are cultivators, but not all cultivators are rotavators.


If you had a question about rotavators, whether it was technical or “basic,” this article should have answered them all. We’ve learned a lot today, from the difference between a rotavator and a cultivator to the best practices for maintenance and tilling with a rotavator. Now go get that garden up and running – I want to see it flourishing!