I have a 4' (1.2m) three point tractor roto-tiller which I've been using to prepare garden areas this year. I noticed that the tiller always moves soil backwards, and when at the end of the section it leaves a trench, as can be seen in the picture.

short section of tilled grass with a four foot wide trench on one end

The previous owners had a large garden, and I can tell the direction they always tilled in because they've created a ridge where they start and there's a significant dip where they ended. I'm working on reversing that to flatten the area better and avoid the mush in the low level area, but I'd like to avoid doing this myself.

Is there a technique I can use when tilling that will leave soil in the area where I intend to stop tilling?

I've tried lifting the tiller while still spinning, stopping right when I get to the end, and a few other things, but I'm still not leaving sufficient soil at the end. The closest I've come is slowly raising the tiller over the last several feet of the run. Still not great as it's tricky to perform, and leaves that section poorly tilled, all while not completely eliminating the trench/lack of soil.

Will I simply have to live with it as a consequence of the tiller I have, and move the soil by hand each time I use it?


Rake, shovel and wheelbarrow - or front-end loader and perhaps a tractor-mounted rake or harrow, or a drag behind the tiller, such as a section of chain-link fence that will help pull some soil forward - though I usually find resorting to a hand rake eventually is required if you want a "near-perfect job."

There's also tilling less - but that can be a hard point to come to when you have a tractor-mounted tiller handy. You could also try tilling in circles or ovals rather than end-to-end in a line.


If you were doing this by hand, you start by digging out a trench, and transporting the soil from that trench to the other end of the plot. Then you dig the next trench, putting the soil from it into the first, now empty, trench you've made, and continue until you get to the end, where you'll have an empty trench into which you put the soil you moved in the first place, from the other end of the plot.

I've never used a machine to do this, but it seems to me sensible to dig out the first trench by hand and move the soil from it to the other end, then use the machine for the rest, then by hand, filling in the trench you're left with when you've finished. I don't know if there's a way of working out how to do this using the machine for the whole process, but that's the method you need to adopt.

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