OK, since my idea of buying a chipper has been smashed, I'll ask about a
In recent years, I've been wanting one of those mini-tillers. This would
not be my main tiller. I picked up a good deal on a used Troy-Built Pony
model many long years ago and it is serving me fine in getting my garden
ready in the spring and (usually) cleaning it up in the fall after the
season is over.
I don't have enough room to space the rows so far apart that I can use
the big tiller between the rows. I keep thinking a tiny tiller would be
just the thing for keeping the weeds down until the plants get big.
However, I was on the Mantis site some months ago and they had a video
of theirs in use. The ground looked like it was already nicely tilled
and yet the little tiller was jumping all around like it would be hard
to control. So, who here has one of these (any model) and do you like
it? Any advice here?
PS I just went back to look at the video and they have a new one that
makes it look a lot smoother:
The video for their new 4-Cycle model shows what I was talking about as
far as jumping around.
I have a mantis, got it last year from Amazon. At first I had lots of
doubts such a mini could perform. When it arrived I was immediately
disppointed, what a job trying to figure out how to put it together,
but finally I figured out those fercocktah directions and it was time
for the big test. Gased it up and pulled the cord, vroooom... started
on the first pull. Brought it over to my garden and tried it out,
that thing was happy chewing dirt like a termite chewing wood in a
lumber yard. Oh boy was I surprised, I will never again pull out my 7
horse Simplicity behemoth to till previously tilled dirt. The Mantis
isn't designed to break virgin ground but once tilled that little
whippersnapper can go all day and so easy it's actually fun. Get one,
you won't be sorry, in fact you'll wonder how you lived without it.
They certainly do work, unlike some products you get 'em home and it was a
total waste of money. A Stihl will cut four inches into the ground which
can be disappointingly shallow but the soil's definitely fully turned. I
dunno if others would go deeper. It's also just a narrow strip of plowing.
I once used a wide tiller to turn up a substantial lawn, tiring but fast;
but if it had been a mini-tiller it would've taken a month. Mini-tillers
can be hard to start and can really get frustrating pulling and pulling,
so might be worth paying a little extra for a fast-start feature, and even
then figure on taking to someone to service annually.
I prefer to rent stuff or otherwise get a chance to use it before spending
money on anything expensive. I used to live near a neighborhood tool-loan
nonprofit organization but I moved from that neighborhood alas; you might
ask around to see if you have one of those neighborhood tool loan
organizations. Where I live now I got two pro-tool rental places and that
can be expensive enough to justify buying. But renting it once will answer
all questions about how easy to use and how useful it's really apt to be.
My other reason for renting is such machines do shake apart and need at
least an annual professionial tune-up -- very true of mini-tillers -- &
I'm not the least bit machine savvy so even doing the fuel mixes or
figuring out of the spark plug's okay is annoyingly complicated for me.
Too bad there's not an independent consumer report on a whole mess of
models. I have over time gotten a bad impression of most any brand
obtainable in Lowes or Home Depot, so have a prejudice against Honda
(though I have several smaller Ryobi tools and can't complain about those
-- just about every other brand I've gotten at Lowes and Home Depot have
turned out to be inferior and needed to be returned immediately -- I'd've
been stuck with some truly shitty garden stuff if Home Depot didn't have a
pretty easy return policy.
So if my prejudice holds true for mini-tillers it's worth going a little
further to find a stihl or mantis instead of brands the big depots carry.
I went through every brand of hand-pump sprayer Lowes and Depot had before
I gave up & sent away to have a good one that was made in Italy, the only
one still in manufacture without crappy-ass plastic parts. Gotta praise
those crappy outfits for letting me return their crap but I dunno how they
stay leaders in all this without selling stuff that's bound to work.
Gads, it only just occurred to me to google and see if there IS a consumer
report. And looky dat:
the page alas doesn't actually report on test comparisons but seems a
pretty good overview of what to look for to lessen chances of getting
-paghat the ratgirl
visit my temperate gardening website:
The Mantis works great on already tilled soil. I'm a fairly small
female and I have no trouble dealing with the Mantis in my rocky New
England soil, it does jump with the rocks, but as long as you know
it's going to, it's not a huge issue. I've got the four stroke Honda
engined Mantis and I love it - I had the two stroke and unlike many
others I had no problem getting it to start season after season, I
think I had it for five or six years before a tree landed on it and
killed it - thus the new four stroke. I don't think you'll be
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
It's the same exact machine except for the type of motor (only
advantage I can see is you don't need to mix gas), what else is better
I don't mind doing the two stroke mixture, I have other two stroke
equipment anyway... and two stroke engines have more torque and last
longer in dirty conditions. My two stroke mantis starts first time
every time, and tills its full 10" depth into previously tilled soil
like it was tilling through butter. I haven't started up my monster
tiller since I bought the Mantis last spring. The mantis is also far
easier to clean before putting away than my monster tiller.
Have you used each of these machines? I have the Honda FG 110 and
compared it side-by-side with the Mantis. The Honda FG 100 was
discontinued and has a smaller engine. The overall construction
quality differences are very obvious.
If you compare the Mantis 4 cycle tiller at
http://mantis.com/tiller4_features.asp with the Honda 4 cycle tiller
(note the wrap) I believe that you will find a number of differences.
Which is "better" I have no idea.
I would probably get the Mantis 4 stroke, all else being equal.
I want to buy it through Sears because I got 3 gift cards from there
totaling about $250. I was in Sears 2 weeks ago and they were selling
Mantis tillers. In stock was just one 2 stroke Mantis with no visible
I was just now browsing through the Sears Web site. I didn't find any
Mantis but I found this:
I wonder how that one would be? It's a pretty good price, at least for
the next few days. The tines look to be the same style as the Mantis,
different from the Honda tiller.
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