Rototiller Buying Guide
What is a Rototiller?
There are many reasons that a rototiller is a great purchase for someone who gardens on a regular basis to make. Once you start using one, you will truly wonder what you did without it. The ease in which it helps create flower beds, garden plots and more will make yard work even more enjoyable.
Rototillers are used for weeding as well and can even be used to re-seed certain sports in your yard. Whatever your reason is to get a rototiller you can rest assured that you will be very glad you purchased one; it will change the way you do gardening.
Types of Rototillers
There are several different types of rototillers that you can choose from. One of the factors that will determine the type of tiller you purchase is what you want to use it for. Below we’ll describe the types of rototillers available and the tasks that they are best suited for.
- Front-Tine Tillers – A front rototiller has two tines that are directly under the engine and also in front of the machine’s wheels. The tine depth on a front tine tiller can be adjusted which allows the gardener to decide how deep into the soil they burrow. You need a lot of strength to use a front tine tiller due to the design that has the tines rotate forward. Front line tillers are good for small gardens and landscaping areas that are less than 1000 square feet. They are great for soft soil areas and they are more affordable than some of the other choices. If you choose a front tine rototiller, look for a four stroke design which is better for the environment due to emitting fewer exhaust fumes.
- Mid-Tine Tillers – If you want a rototiller with a little bit more balance, look for a mid tine tiller. This is perfect for gardeners that are dealing with back or knee problems. This design is much easier to maneuver and push because of that balance and it is reflected in how much simpler and easier on the body it is to use this rototiller. The engine is placed right over the tines which is what balances the machine. The cost of a mid tine tiller is a bit more pricey than front line and they are the most maneuverable of all the rototiller design.
- Rear-Tine Tillers – In a rear tine rototiller, the tines are behind the machine’s wheels. They are available with either standard or counter rotation. Some models have the capability to have the digging direction reversed which makes the ground breaking process even easier. The tine depth is usually adjustable on rear tine tillers as well. This rear rototiller design is great for large gardens and works great in hard soil; much better than front tine tillers. They are easy to control and steer in hard soil as well. Another benefit to using a rear tine rototiller for hard soil is that the machine isn’t going to compact while using it. They are more expensive but many gardeners feel they are worth the extra cost. A rear tine rototiller can also be used for other tasks with the right attachments.
Rototiller Power Types
Make sure that you think about the fuel requirements your rototiller has when you are looking at the different models available. The different motor types will also have different power options. We’ve outlined them below.
- Gas – There are some benefits and drawbacks to a gas powered rototiller. They are definitely very powerful which means they will till the ground at a very good and steady rate but they are also the noisiest of the power options. They also require moiré maintenance than other choices.
- Electric – If your selected garden spot is close to your home or to another electric power source, you can plug your electric rototiller in and get started softening the ground for your garden. Electric tillers are quieter than gas models but they are also not as powerful. Make sure that if you decide on an electric model that you look for styles that include hand mounted switches. This allows the engine to be shut off immediately.
- Solar – If you want to do something good for the environment, you can choose a solar powered rototiller. This type of machine uses the sun’s energy to run. If you have soft soil and a small garden plot, you will love the solar powered rototiller.
- Battery Operated – The battery powered rototiller is much more convenient than electric models. They are less powerful but don’t require electricity or gas to run. Before you purchase a battery powered rototiller, you need to read the reviews and see what customers are saying about battery longevity. Those with lithium-ion batteries will have longer battery life than those with NiCad batteries.
What is the Right Rototiller Blade?
There are three basic blade types that a rototiller has. Which one you choose depends on what you want to do with the tiller.
- Bolo Blade – This is a basic tine design and will be best used for burrowing deep into the soil.
- Slasher Blade – If you have a garden or flower bed that has become overgrown, a slasher blade design is best.
- Pick and Chisel – If you’re dealing with hard soil that has rocks, a pick and chisel blade can do the trick.
Common Features of a Rototiller
There are both basic design choices for rototillers and upgraded models that have a lot of features. Which one you choose will depend on the features you are looking for. If you want a rototiller that has a lot of features, you will need to look past the basic models.
- Adjusted tilling depth – Adjustable tilling blades allows the gardener to choose what depth the tines go into the soil. When you’re first using the rototiller, you will want a deep tine depth set so you dig deep into the soil. If you are just doing weed elimination, then you will want to be sure that you use a shallow tine depth setting.
- Convenient Access to the Tiller Controls – A rototiller is much safer to use and easier to operate when the controls are easily accessible. Control placement is very important. If you can, find models that have controls on the handle so you can stop the tiller quickly if necessary.
- Simple Start Option – Easy start features are always a plus to have on garden tools so you don’t wrench your arm trying to pull start it. Look for rototillers that have this simple start option can save a lot of problems when it comes to getting the machine started. You’ll spend more time getting the garden tilled and less time trying to get the tiller started.
- Consistent Motor – Consistency and longevity are both desirable features to look for when shopping for a rototiller. If you can, look for models that feature dual ball bearings. This feature extends the life of your tiller engine. Other features to look for include cast iron sleeves which hold up better under a lot of wear and tear.
- Adjustable Control Handle – You will be able to shift the blades side to side or up and down with an adjustable control handle. This gives the gardened much more control over the rototiller which makes it safer for them to use. It also helps avoid getting bogged down in strong roots or wet soil.
Caring for Your Rototiller
Rototillers get very dirty and they will need to be cleaned. Keeping your tiller clean will help extend the life of the machine and will keep it in great running order. Always plan on regular cleaning and maintenance of your garden tools and this includes the rototiller.
After you finish using the rototiller, be sure to take a garden hose and hose it off thoroughly. Inspect the tines and remove any roots, vines or other things that may have tangled around the tines. If the debris can’t just be pulled off the tines, be sure to cut the debris off carefully.
Another maintenance task you will need to do with your tiller the tines will become dull. With any of the small rototiller units, turn the machine over and use a metal file to sharpen the tines. Large tillers should not be turned over but you can remove take off the blades and secure in a vice to sharpen them safely.
Rototillers can be a very beneficial and useful garden tool that makes quick of getting garden plots ready for planting. With so many available, if you are not prepared with the right information, choosing one will feel like nothing more guesswork.
We’ve provided the information that will arm you with the tools you need to sort through the choices and find the right rototiller for your specific gardening and landscaping needs. Choosing a model to meet your particular needs will ensure a purchase you are pleased with and more importantly will provide you with the right garden tool that will help you have well prepared gardens for years to come.