When you need to turn up land for a new garden plot, there are few tools that are quite as effective as a cultivator. However, a gas-powered cultivator isn’t the right choice for everyone. What can you do with a battery-operated cultivator?
The short answer – just about everything you can with a gas-powered one! We’ll take a deeper dive in this article.
What You'll Learn Today
What Do You Use a Cultivator For?
A cultivator is just like a hoe – without all the blisters and backaches!
You can use a cultivator to pulverize weeds and their roots, aerate the soil, and improve the soil structure right after you’re tilled (usually by working in fertilizer or other amendments).
Cultivators can be hooked up to tractors and powered that way or they can be operated in a walk-behind design. Although they are technically different, you might hear cultivators referred to as garden tillers as well. They can also be sold by the names of two-wheel riding rotavators, rotavators, rotary tillers, and rototillers.
There are also large machines like row crop cultivators and field cultivators that are meant to be used on large plots of land, like commercial vegetable farms.
Most cultivators have adjustable settings so you can use the deeper settings on tougher weeds.
What Does an Electric Cultivator Do?
Electric cultivators work just like their gas-powered counterparts, but since they tend to be smaller, more lightweight, and simpler to use, they’re better for quick jobs or for areas you might need to work that are small and confined.
These pieces of equipment rely on compact electric motors instead of gas engines. Because of this, there’s no need to refuel or mix fuel and oil. This takes one inconvenient step out of the process of preparing your garden!
Plus, electric cultivators are smaller and therefore take up less space in storage. They operate more quietly as well. Because they have adjustable tines, you can vary how wide and deep you go in your cultivating. This makes them super versatile, even for small or medium-sized garden plots.
Battery-powered cultivators are powered with small rechargeable batteries (typically one 24-volt 2.0 Ah rechargeable lithium-ion battery per machine, though this can vary). You’ll have to recharge the batteries between uses, with one charge usually clearing around 100 to 200 square feet of soil (to a depth of around four inches).
These tools are perfect for preparing small plant beads, getting rid of weeds, and for aerating the soil. They’re lightweight and many have telescopic poles so you can reach further in tight spaces.
How Do You Use a Small Electric Cultivator?
Electric cultivators may not have quite as much power as gas-powered ones or tractor-driven machines, but they can still get the job done! Plus, they’re easier to use and easier to start. They’re also much quieter so you may not need hearing protection while you work.
To get started, make sure you’re wearing a pair of goggles and some tall boots. Although using an electric cultivator is pretty safe, you should protect yourself from pieces of sticks and rocks that might become airborne when the machine catches them.
Plan out where you need to work the soil before you get started. The beauty of using a battery-powered cultivator is that you don’t have to worry about an electric cord limiting your reach, as you might with other types of electric cultivators. Still, you need to make sure your battery has enough juice to reach all the areas you need to.
You also need to avoid overworking the soil, since this can disrupt beneficial insects and microorganisms. Try to till when the soil is moist, though not overly wet. The water can overwork the cultivator and you might compact the soil too much.
Start the machine in neutral, put it into the soil, and engage the forks. It will jerk forward slightly as it begins to work, so hold on tight. Push it in front of you like a lawnmower, using both hands to push down and prevent you from being pulled forward.
You might have to make a few passes if the soil is clumpy or compacted. Return it to neutral when you finish a pass and lift it out of the soil. These machines aren’t the best at making corners or turning, so you’ll need to stop, put the tiller in the right place, and re-engage the forks when you’re making a turn.
Here’s a helpful video that should walk you through the process of how to use a small electric cultivator:
Can You Use a Cultivator as a Tiller?
Technically, yes, because a cultivator and a tiller are more or less the same. The only difference between the two is the intended application. A cultivator is any kind of machinery that is used to till and cultivate the soil.
They can also be used to mix soil, to till the entire topsoil level to prepare for planting, and to rip up weeds.
When defined in their truest forms, cultivators are smaller tools that are meant more for lighter-duty tasks. Tillers can loosen rocky soil and be used to install new garden plots.
Garden tillers and cultivators are two distinct pieces of equipment with their own distinct functions.
However, most cultivators sold today are manufactured with the ability to till. The cultivators of the past had weak tines that weren’t heavy enough to loosen up hard soil, but for the most part, that is no longer the case.
You may find that a battery-operated cultivator doesn’t have quite the strength or stamina of a gas-powered machine or one that’s meant to be pulled behind a tractor, so some of your cultivator’s ability to function as a tiller may be reduced. Just keep this in mind as you’re shopping.
If you need to break land for a new garden versus preparing your existing garden for planting, you may want to opt for a heavier duty tool like a gas-powered cultivator (which you can then use for tilling).
Battery Operated Cultivator vs. Field Cultivator
The key difference between whether you should use a battery-operated cultivator or a larger field cultivator has to do with the size of the area you need to work in.
Battery-operated cultivators are much smaller and more compact than field cultivators. With a cutting swath that is typically only 9 to 12 inches wide, they aren’t quite as efficient for larger gardens.
A cultivator is made for finesse. It can stir up the soil so you can add fertilizer or to help with weeding. These tools are compact and lightweight, allowing for more precision. They can be less damaging to the soil because they mix it rather than break it up into pieces.
A battery-operated cultivator can be used to prepare an existing garden bed while a field cultivator can prepare many acres of land for planting. In short, they’re larger pieces of machinery that are better suited for larger jobs.
Should I Use a Battery Operated Cultivator?
Battery-operated cultivators are helpful tools that are more affordable and easier to use than many other types of cultivators and tillers. Most offer at least 30 minutes to an hour of runtime on a single charge, with durable blades that easily slice through weeds and loosen the soil.
While you might not want to use this kind of tool on a large chunk of land, it’s perfect for taking the stress out of yard chores in smaller areas.