Wear protective eyewear and consider using a dust mask if you're prone to allergies.

How to Use a Stihl Tiller

by Nicole Vulcan

You could spend hours tilling your garden by hand to prepare your soil for planting, but that's not quite as ideal as using a power tool to do the job in minutes. If you have access to a power tiller, including the Stihl brand tillers, give the kids something fun to do inside -- you don't want them around while you're doing the job -- and take note of how easy that previously back-breaking work has become. One of the common choices for non-commercial home use is the "Yard Boss" model, which comes with a tiller blade already in place.

Put on a pair of sturdy boots or shoes, a pair of safety goggles and a pair of leather or other work gloves.

Turn the fuel filler cap to the right to ensure it is on tight. Since tillers are moving around so much, the cap can sometimes come loose. The Yard Boss tiller operates on a mix of gas and oil at a 50 to 1 ratio -- meaning 50 parts high-grade unleaded gas to 1 part two-stroke air cooled engine oil.

Move to the area you want to till and place the tiller on the ground, setting it on its handle with the fuel tank on the "up" side of the tiller and the blades or "working tools" off the ground. Stand on one side of the tiller, well away from the blades. The Yard Boss comes standard with the "pick tines" attachment meant for garden cultivating, so unless you've opted to purchase another tool for edging or aerating, the correct tool for tilling should already be on the machine.

Pump the fuel pump bulb five times, priming the starter for starting.

Fold the handles of the tiller to the out position.

Press the throttle trigger lockout and then the throttle trigger, and then hold both triggers in a down position. Move the engine control knob to the "Start" line, which will look like two parallel lines with a diagonal line in between.

Hold the center loop handle of the machine with your left hand, pressing the machine into the ground. Pull up on the starter cable with your right hand.

Keep your right hand around the starter cable handle and guide the cable back into its housing. Pull it again if the engine has not started.

Move the choke lever to the "run" position, which will look like two lines that run parallel to one another, with another, shorter parallel line in between. When the engine is running smoothly, grasp the handles of the tiller.

Point the blades of the tiller toward the place where you want to till. As you move forward and allow the blades to churn up the ground, you'll notice that the tiller will be tipped backward toward you slightly.

Tip the blades upward slightly when you reach the end of the row, and then reposition the tiller into a new area.

Press the slider to the "Stop" position when you are done tilling and want to turn off the machine.

Items you will need

  • Work boots
  • Work gloves
  • Safety goggles


  • Till your garden once in the spring, just before planting time. If you plan to have a winter garden, you can also till again just before that second planting.
  • Clean the tines or blades of your tiller blade when you're done using it, to avoid spreading plant diseases from one garden bed to another. Spray the tines or blades with a garden hose, or even better, wipe them down with a cloth soaked in a mild bleach solution.


  • Never let kids or pets -- or even other adults -- within about 16 feet of you as you're tilling, as the machine may kick up rocks or other debris that could be dangerous.
  • Don't let kids anywhere near the machine when it's stored.

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images