Using a Power Tiller

by April Reinhardt
(last updated July 25, 2016)

Known also as a garden tiller, rotary tiller, roto-tiller, rotary hoe, and rotary plow, a power tiller is a motorized cultivator with rotating blades or tines that work the soil. They can be self propelled or drawn behind a tractor. Power tillers come in various sizes, and choosing the right size power tiller depends upon the size of land you want to till or cultivate.

For years, we owned a very large, self-propelled power tiller, and most of our neighbors borrowed it each spring, saving them the cost of a rental. While our power tiller was gas powered, some small power tillers are powered by electric. If your tilling job involves a large plot of land, it is best to use a large, gas-powered tiller. Follow these guidelines when using a power tiller:

  • Prepare the ground before you attempt to till it. Clear the site of rocks, wood, weeds, and very large clumps of dirt.
  • Wear protective clothing and eye goggles, and sturdy boots or shoes when using a power tiller. You may want to wear work gloves, as well.
  • Before you attempt to start the tiller for the first time of the season, make sure the blades and tines are clean, that they turn freely, the oil level is correct, and that it has fresh fuel. Check that the height adjustment action moves easily.
  • Take the tiller to the corner of the area you will work. With the engine in neutral and the blades locked into place, start the engine, drop the blades, engage the tiller, plant your feet firmly, and hold tightly to the handles.
  • Walking slowly behind the tiller, cultivate the soil to a depth of about five inches. If you are churning grassy soil, stop at the end of each row to remove grass clumps, and then recultivate the row.
  • When you reach the end of a row, place the gears into neutral and force the tines up, and then roll the tiller around to begin a new row.
  • Once you've completed tilling the entire plot, till it again crossways, and then again diagonally.
  • When you're finished using the tiller, blast it clean with your garden hose, picking off large clumps of dirt with a screwdriver or a soft brush. Make sure that you store the tiller in a covered area.

If you need to refuel the tiller, do so only after the engine and muffler have cooled. Take care to remove all dirt and debris from the tines before storing. Always check oil and fuel levels before using your tiller, and make certain that you mix the fuel properly. Check the manufacturer's recommendations for fuel mixing.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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