Gardening is often described as an activity people enjoy. While it can be relaxing for some, this does not mean that it does not involve hard labor! Thus, efficiency is one of the most crucial qualities people desire when choosing equipment or machinery that is required for laborious tasks such as garden preparation. If you have never used a small garden tiller before, you may be feeling unsure about what specifications to look for, which can make the task of choosing a machine a bit daunting. The following should assist you in choosing the best machine for your needs.
Key Differences Between a Cultivator and a Small Garden Tiller
Many people tend to use the terms cultivator and tiller interchangeably; however, these are two different machines that do not serve the same purpose. A small garden tiller is primarily used for breaking up particularly hard soil in an existing garden bed, digging an existing garden bed deeper, or creating a space for a garden bed somewhere there had not previously been one. Tillers are generally more powerful than cultivators; and, therefore able to break up more solid soil. Alternatively, cultivators are better used for mixing soil in existing gardens, preparing soil by blending and aerating prior to planting, and helping to control the growth of unwanted weeds. In short, a tiller will break new ground while a cultivator will stir and/or mix up soil.
Choosing a Front Tine or Rear Tine Small Garden Tiller
Once you have made the decision to work with a small garden tiller, knowing whether you should use a front tine or rear tine tiller may be a bit confusing. Although, it doesn’t have to be if you are knowledgeable about your own needs and what type of tiller will best meet them. If you are working in a smaller, more compact area, a front tine tiller may be the better choice for you. Generally, it can be more easily maneuvered around obstacles as well. These will not be as beneficial for breaking new ground or harder soil but work great for weeding between rows or mixing soil. The tines are most often set to rotate in a forward direction. When you think of a front tine tiller, imagine it being the middle ground between a cultivator and a rear tine tiller in terms of power.
A rear tine tiller may be a better fit if you are working with a larger area, breaking new ground, or breaking up particularly dense or rocky soil. With a rear tine tiller, the tines will be positioned at the back of the machine and can normally rotate in either direction. If the tines are rotating backward while the machine is being propelled forward, this will allow for quicker and easier soil manipulation. A rear tine tiller will also allow you to more easily control the depth at which you are tilling the soil.
Why Soil Type Matters When Researching a Small Garden Tiller
As you’ve probably noticed, we talk a lot about the type of soil you will be working with when discussing a small garden tiller. Soil type will really dictate how efficient you are with the garden tiller you choose. If you have rocky, compact, unbroken, or clay type soil, you will be much better off with a rear tine tiller such as an Orec Gardenquake. This will equip you with the power you need to work with tougher soil. If your soil is on the rockier side, be sure to use a tiller that has protection from flying debris to prevent possible injury from any rocks that may be thrown while tilling. If your soil is decently soft and loose or has previously been tilled each year, a front tine tiller will work just fine.
Ease of Use Should be a Top Factor in Selecting a Small Garden Tiller
One of the qualities that should be of highest importance when selecting a small garden tiller is ease of use. Tending to a garden can be exhausting! The last thing you want to do is choose a tiller thinking it will make your work easier, yet end up putting in the same amount of labor just to operate the machine itself. Machines like Orec America’s Gardenquake have specific features that ensure easy operation. Features such as being self-propelled, having an adjustable handlebar, EZ shift change, on/off differential lock, depth adjustment bar, and EZ anchor tine set for keeping stability while breaking hard ground. Whether renting or purchasing a small garden tiller, you want to be sure you are working smarter, not harder!
Should you Rent or Purchase a Small Garden Tiller?
Now that you’re armed with plenty of information on what type of small garden tiller will work best for you, you must decide whether to rent or purchase. As with investing in anything, you want to be sure you are getting adequate use for the money you’ve spent. If you maintain a larger sized garden every year, purchasing may be advantageous in your case, as rental costs will begin to add up over time. In some instances, renting only three or four times can be equal in price to the amount spent on purchasing a new garden tiller. If you only till a couple times each year or have a smaller sized garden bed, renting may be a better option for you. If you decide to rent, keep in mind that during the busy season, many other people will also be renting tillers, which can put a damper on your garden maintenance schedule, should all the rental units be already reserved. It may be a good idea to make your rental arrangements a few weeks or ahead of time in order to avoid such situations. Happy tilling!