There are three basic designs used in creating tiller blades: the bolo, the pick and chisel and the slasher. Each style of blade provides a unique tilling aspect, with the bolo style of blade being the primary type of all-purpose blade available. Tiller blades are different in power tiller and manual tiller designs, however, the basic style of blade remains commonly named for each machine. Made of high-strength steel, tiller blades are able to withstand striking rocks and cutting through very hard soil for hours without requiring replacement or sharpening, in most cases. The individual blades can typically be changed by simply removing two or three bolts, making the process of changing from one style of blade to another a very quick and relatively simple task.
The garden tiller is used to break up the soil when first preparing a garden plot. It is also used for weeding or working as a type of hoe once the garden is beginning to grow. Different styles of tiller blades are intended to make the task of gardening much easier than compared to working the ground by hand.
Two types of tiller are available to the gardener: the power tiller and the manual version. The power tiller commonly uses a small, gasoline-powered engine to drive the tiller blades in a rotary motion. The blades chop and pulverize the ground as the tiller moves along its path. The manual tiller can also be gasoline-powered, however, in this case, the power is applied only to the drive wheels. The manual tiller is comprised of tines or blades that are simply dragged through the soil.
The most common type of tiller blades are bolo blades. These are multi-purpose blades used to turn up any type of ground and remove some weeds and vegetation. The pick and chisel type of tiller blades are designed to work best in very hard ground and can power through the tough soil, breaking it into smaller chunks. This commonly requires a second pass with a bolo-type tiller to finish the soil preparation for planting.
Preferred in heavy vegetation and weedy or grassy soil, the slasher-type of blade is short and sharp. The slasher cuts the vegetation into small pieces. It is not uncommon for a gardener to make several passes over weedy ground with a slasher-type tiller blade and then finish the garden with a bolo-type blade to work the soil deeper.