An electric cultivator is a small garden tiller that runs on electricity instead of gas. Cultivators are generally smaller and less powerful than full-sized tillers, making them well-suited to smaller home gardens with soil that has been tilled in the past. An electric cultivator may be used for light weeding jobs and for loosening soil at the beginning and end of the growing season. They are unsuitable for large spaces, rocky or heavy clay soil, or for breaking up tough sod or native soil.
Also called a mini-tiller or mini-cultivator, an electric cultivator is relatively narrow, with a tilling swathe no wider than one foot (30.5 cm). The maximum tilling depth is also about one foot. Mini-tillers are generally front-tine tillers, which means the rotating metal tines that cut into the soil are located under or in front of the engine.
An electric cultivator works with two or four sets of curved tines on wheels. The tines point in opposite directions, allowing them to both cut into the soil, then slice the cut chunks of earth into smaller pieces. Front-tine tillers are propelled forward by the motion of the tines, while the user pushes down or pulls back to slow the machine and control tilling depth. Some electric cultivators have a set of wheels behind the engine that help to stabilize the machine and make it easier to move when the machine is not in use.
Although the engine of an electric cultivator is not as powerful as that of a gas-powered tiller, it is much lighter, quieter, and cleaner to use. The machine is generally smaller and easier to lift and maneuver. Electric cultivators usually start with a push button instead of a pull-cord, which many users prefer. Additionally, it is not necessary to blend oil and gas or drain a fuel tank when the tiler is not in use.
Some users may find the cord of an electric cultivator is difficult to work with, especially in larger spaces. There is a danger of running over the cord with the tiller. The cord may also become tangled around plants and shrubbery, which can damage the plants or create extra work for the user. On the other hand, the small size of an electric cultivator makes it easy to use in narrow spaces between plants. Because the cultivator is so lightweight, it is possible to pull weeds and break up soil around established plants without damaging their roots.