Are Tillers Good For Removing Weeds?

Approx Reading Time: 7 minutes

Removing weeds from our garden is something everyone hates to do. You may be wondering, why not take the easy route and just solve the problem with a tiller? 

So, what’s the truth? Can you really use a tiller to remove weeds?

Removing weeds with a tiller is generally not recommended. While it makes the job a lot faster, it can also spread the seeds underground, ensuring the quick return of weeds into your garden. That being said, it can still be a good option if you need to get rid of a huge amount of weeds.

While it can definitely seem like a good idea at first, there are some things you need to consider before doing so. 

What Happens When You Use a Tiller To Remove Weeds?

As I mentioned earlier, using a tiller for weed removal usually isn’t a good idea. This is because of three big factors that most people don’t even think about:

Weeds End Up Spreading Their Seeds

When you use a tiller to get rid of weeds, in many cases the weed itself gets torn to pieces. This means that the seeds on the plant itself get scattered all over the place. 

Even worse, the tiller will mix them with the soil, making it impossible to sort them out afterwards. 

Because of this, using a tiller can result in a quick victory – but it will ultimately cost you the war, because the weeds will grow in greater numbers than ever before.

For this reason, if the number of weeds in your garden or yard is manageable, I recommend pulling them out by hand. 

You should always wear protective gloves while doing so, because some weeds have small thorns on them to make the process as painful as possible.

If you don’t have any gloves at home, you can order a pack from Amazon. The gloves I linked to are perfect for this purpose, as the coating will prevent small thorns from getting through.

Additionally, you can check out this video to learn how to remove weeds the right way: 

Weeds Get Torn Into Pieces

Apart from the seeds being scattered around, this is the other main problem. Weeds are incredibly resilient – they can regrow from their roots alone, and in some cases the severed plant can grow new roots too.

I think you can see where this is going. The tiller will tear the weed into many pieces, and if not properly removed, those pieces can grow into their own plant over time.

This way, you will end up with more weeds in the long run than the amount you started out with. 

As you can see, using a tiller to remove weeds have a lot of downsides. But in some cases, it can still be a good idea to do it, and I’ll get into that in a moment.

The soil structure is compromised

The soil’s structure is very important for the plants growing in it. If left alone, it is full of microorganisms, worms, and other small creatures that are part of the great cycle that provides soil for your plants to grow. 

I’m not saying that all tilling is bad, but if you do it all the time for something as simple as weed removal, you can easily end up overtilling your soil. 

This not only disturbs the natural oxygen channels built by the worms and insects mentioned above, but it can also cause the soil to be overly loose. 

While many people think that loose soil is ideal for plants, in reality it compresses very easily, blocking out the much needed air from the roots. 

When is it Recommended To Use a Tiller To Remove Weeds?

While generally not recommended, in some cases using a tiller to remove weeds can be justified. 

I’m talking about those times when, for whatever reason, your garden or yard hasn’t been tended to in a very long time, and is completely overtaken by weeds. 

In these cases it would take an unimaginable amount of time to pull them all out by hand, and so, the use of a tiller can really save the day. 

Basically, you can use the tiller to quickly get rid of a large amount of weeds at once, then just pull out the new weeds popping up by hand.

Of course, you still have to do it the right way. Some people recommend just leaving the weeds to dry out in the sun after a tilling session, but it’s a bad idea, as dry weeds can spread their seeds more easily. 

Now, let’s look into how to do it properly.

How To Use a Tiller To Remove Weeds

The process itself is pretty straightforward – you fire up your tiller and keep going until all weeds are gone. But the key here is removing the weeds from the soil afterwards. 

As I explained earlier, if you leave them in the soil they will just regrow eventually. 

After you are done tilling, use a rake to break down the soil into smaller chunks. This way, the weeds become easily visible. You can also use the rake to separate weeds from the soil.

Collect all the weeds you can find into a grass bag or a bucket, and don’t leave them laying around on the ground. 

Smaller parts can be hard to pick up with a rake, so you will have to do it by hand. Remember, the more parts you collect now, the less weeds will pop up afterwards. 

If you want to see how it’s done, this video sums it up pretty nicely: 

What Type of Tiller is Best For Weed Removal?

Generally speaking, the best tillers for weed removal are the ones with large, slower moving blades. Most front and rear-tine tillers fall into this category.

The reason for this is that you don’t want to tear your weeds into more pieces than necessary. Ideally, the tiller should just turn them out of the ground in one piece as the blades are rotating. 

A counterexample to this are “cultivator” type tillers. These usually have smaller blades, and rely on fast rotation to dig into the ground. 

This will definitely cut your weeds into many pieces, so I wouldn’t do it unless you have no other options. 

To Sum it Up

As you an see, using a tiller to get rid of weeds has its ups and downs – the key is to analyze the situation and decide which method is best for you. 

A small amount of weeds does not warrant using a tiller, and you may end up doing more harm than good, due to the weeds spreading around more quickly. 

But in cases when you are dealing with an army of weeds, a tiller can really save the day. Just make sure to always remove the weeds from the soil after you are done, especially the roots. 

I hope this article was helpful – I’ll see you next time!

Peter Toth

Hi! I'm Peter, the owner of BackyardGadget. Working around the house has always been a big part of my life. I've created this site to share my experience, and to help people choose the right tools for the job. Thank you for stopping by!