Gardener123
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Spend the $75 and rent a tiller? Or buy one?

OK, I have a guy coming with a backhoe and chainsaw to remove all my trees that were destroyed this winter.... he has awesome prices.... He is taking down 8 trees, and hauling them away for $400..... I asked him, since he was going to be here with his backhoe anyway, what he would charge me to bust up the ground for me for a vegetable garden expansion.

He said he charges $75 per hour for him to backhoe, and that he could have my garden area "broken up", as he called it, in about an hour..... I am looking at 8 feet by 20 feet. Maybe 12 x 20...... I need to mark it out to see what that does to my yard before I decide.

I have been wanting to buy a Mantis Tiller off and on for several years. This year I can afford it if I want to go that route. But then I started thinking maybe I should just rent a tiller to "finish" what he will do with his backhoe. I have no idea what a tiller will rent for per day. I imagine under $50. The Mantis tiller I want will cost $400. With the ground already broken up, I am sure the Mantis would do a great job. ( I was concerned about how it would do with a new garden, as the Mantis is so small and lightweight )

I think the $75 is well worth it...... do you agree?

And then, rent or buy a tiller?
Living the good life with my wife and 2 wonderful daughters!

Ohio Tiller
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Re: Spend the $75 and rent a tiller? Or buy one?

If you are going to pay 400 for a Mantis then just go find a good used TroyBilt walk behind.
Those Mantis are a giant pain when they run they are ok for small jobs but most of the time you spend trying to get the thing running! Get you a Walk behind and you will enjoy tilling instead of looking at it as work!
The mantis was not really designed for turning over a garden but more for turning over the top of flower beds.
If you are set on the smaller tiller and your close to electric then get the electric type they do a pretty good job and they don't stall out every 20 seconds!

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Spend the $75 and rent a tiller? Or buy one?

As OT said, the two stroke Mantis is not actually a tiller, it's a cultivator- not meant to till any depth.

If you can rent one, it will always be in working condition. At $50 a rental, if you till twice a year, it will take four years to pay back the cost of buying it. They don't always last longer than that. Read customer reviews on them.

Here's a couple things I found on-line:

The worm-drive gears and the internal centrifical clutch will be the first to fail. If you clog the tines with grass/weeds/debri - don't try reving the engine to clear them. You will cause the clutch to glaze ( become hard and slick ).
Here's a tip for you: Never store it with the gas tank empty. The carberator's gaskets are prone to drying out. Once that happens it won't run as it's carb. system relies heavely on vaccum for it's fuel flow. Also be very careful about the cleanliness of the gas can you are using: the ports in the carb. are very, very tiny. A grain of sand getting past the fuel pick-up filter will have you taking it to a shop to be re-carb.'d.

I've had a Mantis tiller since Spring of 2005. (posted in 2007) It's got a total use of about 3 hours.
This year, it won't run at all. I've taken good care of it, emptied the gas in the fall. Replaced the fuel filter, cleaned the air filter, made a fresh batch of fuel with the proper ratio.
It will idle, but as soon as I give it the throttle, it dies. So let's see, $100 per hour of use. I could have paid someone to do it.

The Mantis is like a helicopter....plan to spend 2hrs maintaining it for every 1 hr you use it. Its not for a gardener, its for someone who enjoys tinkering with engines.

Read more: https://davesgarden.com/products/gwd/c/1 ... z2yEHvlmpD

the davesgarden page has a whole lot of positive and negative reviews.

If you are going to buy one, the electric has a whole lot fewer possibilities of problems.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

Gardener123
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Re: Spend the $75 and rent a tiller? Or buy one?

OK, so let me ask, then..... since I don't actually own a tiller.... and I have a back issue right now, the $75 to "break up" my soil for a new garden would be well worth it? I don't think my back can handle me breaking it up with a shovel.
Living the good life with my wife and 2 wonderful daughters!

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JosephsGarden
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Re: Spend the $75 and rent a tiller? Or buy one?

Gardener123 wrote:OK, so let me ask, then..... since I don't actually own a tiller.... and I have a back issue right now, the $75 to "break up" my soil for a new garden would be well worth it? I don't think my back can handle me breaking it up with a shovel.
If the area that your garden is going to be in has a lot of tree roots (within 40 - 50 feet of where any tree has grown) then I'd consider $75 a bargain for breaking up the tree roots.

Gardener123
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Re: Spend the $75 and rent a tiller? Or buy one?

JosephsGarden wrote:
Gardener123 wrote:OK, so let me ask, then..... since I don't actually own a tiller.... and I have a back issue right now, the $75 to "break up" my soil for a new garden would be well worth it? I don't think my back can handle me breaking it up with a shovel.
If the area that your garden is going to be in has a lot of tree roots (within 40 - 50 feet of where any tree has grown) then I'd consider $75 a bargain for breaking up the tree roots.
It might..... this is a 9 year old development that was all trees before they built homes..... but I also know that the builders sold all the good topsoil to a nursery when they built the homes.
Living the good life with my wife and 2 wonderful daughters!

tomc
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Re: Spend the $75 and rent a tiller? Or buy one?

I'd go with the big power tools to break up tree roots.

Rototillers... I don't think my back could survive a mantis or a front-tine tiller. I would test drive either via rental before buying. For me its gotta be a rear-tine tiller or nothing.
Think like a tree
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Gardener123
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Re: Spend the $75 and rent a tiller? Or buy one?

I think my issue might be price..... I have $400 max budget..... I have checked craigslist, and there are some, but many need repairs and I have no idea if I can find a place to repair the model I might buy.

And, at least for right now, my back is an issue..... but I really want to expand this year, so hopefully I can get something done.
Living the good life with my wife and 2 wonderful daughters!

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tomf
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Re: Spend the $75 and rent a tiller? Or buy one?

Stay away from a front end tillers, your back will thank you for that. The rental tillers will be a real one and get the job done, so yes rent one. Do have him dig the area up for you as this will break it up and get the roots out, a tiller will only jump over roots; unless they are real small.
The things I do are an evolution and I am always learning. My way is not the only way of doing things, and I may and will change the way I do things as I learn better ways. So any advice that I give is in that spirit.

imafan26
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Re: Spend the $75 and rent a tiller? Or buy one?

I agree, I bought a 2 stroke tiller/cultivator from sears a few years ago. The maintenance contract was half the price of the tiller. It required maintenance after 20 hours of work and although it wasn't all that hard, it was a pain since Sears did not carry and parts so I had to order the filters from sears online. It just got easier to order three at a time. Then there was the mixing of the oil and gas for the two stroke engine and if you forget to put stabil in it the gas spoils.

It was light but if was hard to get started when it had not been used for a while and it isn't easy on your back. Small tillers are light and they bounce and buck and if you are not careful about rocks you or someone near you can get hit with a missile. Tillers also do not till weeds they just wind around the blades and you have to spend a lot of time untangling it. I haven't used my tiller in years, it is still out on the lanai. It is actually easier to use a shovel since I have a very small garden and I have been working it for years so it is nice and soft and deep.

If it would be hard for you to do the work, instead of going down, go up with a lasagna garden and raised beds 4 ft wide and 10 ft long or you can actually lasagna a larger area, but you will be walking in it and compacting it . Jal-ut has a garden I could fit my whole yard in and then some and he has a tractor.

I don't know about there, but here sometimes to do things I don't have the equipment or ability to do, and I only have to do it once, it was worth it to check out landscapers who had the equipment and manpower to do some of that work . They can also set up and irrigation system for me. They did lie because they did not connect my drip system up properly and a month later I had to dig it up and take out every one of the antisiphon valves they buried but I'm glad I installed it anyway. I have even gotten better at repairing it.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Gardener123
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Re: Spend the $75 and rent a tiller? Or buy one?

I would actually love to add more raised beds..... thing is my wife is pretty much against them because she hates the wood boxes.

I guess I never thought the front tillers would be an issue with my back since they were so light.
Living the good life with my wife and 2 wonderful daughters!

Ohio Tiller
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Re: Spend the $75 and rent a tiller? Or buy one?

Gardener123 wrote:OK, so let me ask, then..... since I don't actually own a tiller.... and I have a back issue right now, the $75 to "break up" my soil for a new garden would be well worth it? I don't think my back can handle me breaking it up with a shovel.

NO! and that mantis would KILL YOUR BACK but a good walk behind is just that a walk behind you just walk along as they till! at the turn all you do is lift the handles and swing it around.

Gardener123
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Re: Spend the $75 and rent a tiller? Or buy one?

Well, now, it gets interesting..... I called a place today and they rent tillers for $48 for 4 hours, or $96 for the day. I don't think 4 hours will be enough since that 4 hours includes travel time.... I would really only have about 3 hours. So, now I need to really consider trying to find a used one. Figuring I would use it twice a year, $200 for a used one, if I can find one, seems like a better deal.
Living the good life with my wife and 2 wonderful daughters!

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ElizabethB
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Re: Spend the $75 and rent a tiller? Or buy one?

Garsener123 - with you back issues it would be worth while to hire a laborer and a tiller. Don't hurt yourself. Unless you see many future uses for a tiller rent instead of buy. If you buy, buy new with a warranty. I would not buy power equipment off of Craig's List unless a warranty was included. IDK if you can get an enforceable warranty from Craig's list.

Spend your $$ on labor and rental. Spare your back. Been there, done that, got the Tee Shirt.

Good luck
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

PaulF
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Re: Spend the $75 and rent a tiller? Or buy one?

Even with the small space you are planning for your garden, after you get into it, that may increase. And then there is space for your or your wife's flowers and other things. A rear tine tiller is probably a good investment.

I bought a Sears tiller about 30 years ago (back when they were manufactured by Sears) and have used it several times per year for tilling, a number of times for weeding between rows (it has removable tines for smaller areas) and even helped neighbors with their tilling. I have no idea how much the original cost was, but it has been paid for many, many times over. In that thirty years I have spent very little time and money for repairs, belts, spark plugs, etc. Consider a tiller a long term investment with a quick pay back.
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Gardener123
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Re: Spend the $75 and rent a tiller? Or buy one?

The guy never showed up. But he called to say that his backhoe needed major repairs, and he will get back to me ASAP..... Anyway, I staked out the area I wanted tilled, and my wife freaked out saying it would take up too much usable space. So we compromised by adding 2 more raised beds. Well, there will be..... I plan to build them this weekend. While I was disappointed, in retrospect, the area I wanted tilled really would have taken up too much space that could be better used.

My back has felt slightly better so I have broken out my shovel and my Garden Claw...... I am going to direct plant some plants this season. I haven't done that in 20+ years! essentially.
Living the good life with my wife and 2 wonderful daughters!

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