Types of Tillers
The power rotary tiller is probably the power tool most commonly purchased by
gardeners. Whether or not a gardener needs a rotary tiller depends on the size
of the garden, the gardener's capabilities, and the intended uses of the tiller.
Most home gardeners will find it more economical to rent a tiller or hire someone
for those occasional tilling needs. However, for those who choose to buy, careful
selection of the tiller should be based on the nature of the work to be done,
the quality of the machine and ease of repair, as well as personal preference.
The tiller's engine powers rotating blades, or tines, which can make garden soil
loose and fluffy, ready for planting. It can also chop up plant debris and mix
it into the soil. Incorporating organic matter and manures into the garden is
easily accomplished with a tiller, reducing the tendency to procrastinate this
most necessary chore.
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What features and prices to expect
2 Cycle Tillers
Light weight, usually around 20lbs,
and thus very easy to maneuver. These Tillers require very little maintenance.
2 cycle tillers / cultivators are an excellent choice for established flower
beds and gardens. Light enough to be transported easily. Great for jobs with
very little room and handling in tight spaces. Affordably priced.
Front Tine Tiller
Mid-range tiller that can still handle confined areas
but requires a bit more work to maneuver. Wheels, for portability, are mounted
on the frame and can be moved out of the way when in use. Most have 3-5 hp 4
cycle engines. For some, the mid-range tiller is 'just right' - enough power
for tougher jobs but still affordable.
Rear tine tillers
From 4 hp up to 8hp +. Able to get the toughest of tilling
jobs done, with very little effort on your part. Requires more room than the
front tine tillers and of course a bit heavier. One of advantages of the rear
tine tillers, their weight helps a great deal with those extra hard jobs. Most
models have forward and reverse drive wheels that can drive to and from the job.
A helpful feature on some models is the ability to reverse tines. This feature
can help reduce time and effort.
BEFORE USING THE TILLER
Read the owner's manual completely. Learn the purpose of
all levers and controls. Be sure you can stop the machine quickly.
If purchasing a new machine or renting ask the salesperson
to demonstrate safe operation of the machine.
Never allow anyone who is not physically or mentally mature
or who has not been properly trained to operate the machine.
Always inspect the machine for loose, broken, or damaged
parts. Make needed repairs or replacements before using.
Be sure all shields and guards are in place.
Fuel the engine out of doors while stopped and cool. If
refueling wait several minutes for engine to cool. Do not smoke while handling
fuel. Wipe up any spills.
If using an electric tiller that is not double insulated,
you should plug it into a 3-socket, grounded outlet using a properly sized 3-wire
extension cord. Using a Ground Fault Interrupter circuit gives maximum safety
Dress properly for the job: Wear snug-fitting clothing
in good condition, safety glasses or goggles, hearing protection, safety shoes,
and filter mask if conditions are dusty.
Clear the work area of potential safety hazards such as
wire, stones, bottles, cans, sticks, etc.
Be sure there are no children, pets, or bystanders in the
Do not use the tiller near underground utilities, irrigation
pipes, trees, etc.
OPERATING THE TILLER
Never start the engine in a closed building. Deadly fumes
can build up.
Keep hands and feet clear of all moving parts.
Do not operate in wet or slippery conditions. This is especially
important for electric models.
Be sure the depth regulator is engaged before starting
the tiller. Failing to do this could cause the machine to lurch quickly away
Disengage the tiller and stop the engine to inspect for
damage if you hit an obstruction. Repair any damage before resuming.
Never leave the machine running and unattended.
Always disengage the tines when turning or transporting
Never attempt to lift the tiller by yourself if transporting
to a distant location. Drive the machine up secure ramps or ask for assistance
if it must be lifted. Tie machine securely to prevent rolling.