Cultivators are used to break up the surface of the soil and reduce it to a tilth fine enough for planting. Manual cultivators may be used in areas that are already planted, whilst powered versions are more suitable for larger, open areas.

Manual Cultivators

In general, manual cultivators are made up of a three- or five-pronged metal head on a long shaft, which is pulled through the ground to loosen weeds or break up compacted soil. There are also adjustable versions available that allow you to remove some of the prongs, which can be useful for tasks such as cultivating both sides of a row of seedlings or working in a confined space. Star-wheeled cultivators have a small roller with star points that dig into the soil and break it apart into a finer structure, suitable for seed sowing.

Powered Cultivators

Powered cultivators can be useful for dealing with large-scale arduous tasks such as turning over the soil in neglected ground. This breaks up the soil so that it becomes fine enough for planting. Cultivators with the engine placed at the front are easier to steer and less tiring to handle than rear engined cultivators, but are only suitable for shallow cultivation.

Petrol-driven models are generally more powerful and have more features than electric versions; however, they are also more expensive, noisier and tend to require much more maintenance. Electric cultivators are very easy to manoeuvre and are excellent for smaller tasks, although trailing cables may be a problem.