Every spring, I would rent a tiller to prepare our garden for planting herbs and vegetables. In the process, the tiller would remove last years plantings along with grass and weeds fighting for new breeding ground. I would then have to lay a tremendous amount of landscape fabric to keep the grass/weeds from competing with our plants. Last year, I found out that in the fall is when the weeds began to hunker down and establish their roots for the following spring. I thought to myself, its bad enough I pay $70 every year to rent a tiller, I can't imaging spending $140 to till it twice a year.
My assumption was that a sub $500 tiller would be more or less disposable after a few years. After hours of reading reviews, I was sold on the Husqvarna 26in. tiller. The unit was delivered mostly assembled, it took some time to decipher the poorly written manual and bolt on the handle and adjustable depth stake. Much to my surprise the tiller came filled with clean 5w-30 oil. Just added gas and like all of my Honda equipment, it started right up and ran perfectly smooth. The only controls near the motor are a fuel cutoff knob, a choke switch and a throttle off/slow/fast lever. Once started and warmed up, there is a hand control on each of the handle grips. One will begin turning the tines forward, the other will turn them in reverse.
There are two rear wheels that allow you to roll the tiller across pavement. If you need to move this across your lawn or garden, the easiest way is to start it and begin to squeeze the forward tine hand grip lever. This will begin turning the tines at a gentle forward speed to where the machine will walk with you with no effort.
I was pleasantly surprised at how this tiller performed in my garden. The results were similar to any rear tine tiller I rented from the home store. The real test was the rocks and bricks buried in my garden. The tiller would hop a bit to let you know it doesn't like what you are feeding it. You simply skip that area and move on. If you insist on fighting it, the tiller will unearth the rocks and leave them on the surface for you. The only flaw that I noticed was the spacing between the tines would allow some weeds to be left behind after a thorough pass. I don't think this is an issue because most of the time, you make several passes when tilling.
The tines are easy to remove and will allow you a narrow path to till between plantings. Because the unit is easy to handle, you can predict its forward path. I am confident I could get right next to plantings without harming them.
The reverse feature rocks! It will slowly turn the tines in reverse, essentially backing the unit up. This will allow you to make tight turns with minimal effort.
The payback on this machine will be just a few years when compared to renting. Your garden will also be a lot happier with the additional tilling. The tines are belt driven so there is no shaft to break. The tines along with the entire machine are very heavy duty. I do not anticipate an average homeowner needing to replace anything for many years.
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