A rototiller is a gas or electric-powered lawn tool that uses blades called tines to churn and break soil. Rototillers come in many sizes and can be pushed, pulled or driven. The most common type is the push rototiller, which is similar in size to a lawn mower.
Most push rototillers have a set of large tires in the front so they can be pushed over soil while the tines revolve around the back axle. The tines can be set to till at specific depths ranging from a few inches to up to a foot.
A rototiller endures a great deal of stress as it cuts through the ground which can make it physically exhausting to operate, and can result in unpredictable movements at times. A protective shield guards the user from the tines to prevent sudden injury.
The simplest alternative to a rototiller is shoveling or spading the ground and turning it by hand. This, of course, is a labor intensive process that can be impractical in very hard ground or when a large area must be covered.
Since it may be impossible to get a farm tractor or even a smaller garden tractor into a city yard, rototilling is often the only choice for mechanically turning the ground. Rototillers are also much less expensive than any kind of tractor.
Although the term rototiller was once a trademark, that protection expired decades ago. The terms rototiller and rotary cultivator are used interchangeably for machines that cultivate land, no matter what company makes them.