Tillers - and breaking bermuda grass for a garden

I'm having the worst trouble finding a salesman who has the slightest idea about tillers.
I've had a few front tine tillers before and have never used a rear tine... do they have any advantage other than being easier to handle?
I need to tear up a 500 square foot area of bermuda grass and put in a garden, so I need one that is fairly rugged. with all the front tine tillers I've had before (all about 5 horsepower) breaking new ground was a chore, but definitely possible. Raking all the grass out afterward proved to be the most challenging part.
If anyone has any suggestions on where to find a decent, inexpensive tiller or which tiller is right for me let me know. Also, any tips on how to turn a patch of bermuda grass into a vegetable garden as easily as possible would be appreciated!
Thanks!
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As you noted a good front tine tiller will do the job, although a 5 HP model is a little light for breaking up Bermuda sod. The rear tines jobs are a bit more stable and easier to use. To tear up sod or till any ground that has debris, the forward rotating tine models are superior. The counter rotating tine tines run smoother, but they tend to pack the debris up under the drive axle clogging up the machine. If you are only going to do 500 square fee, you will be way ahead to hire someone to plow/till for you. You will not need much size in a tiller to maintain a garden once it is broken up. Another alternative would be to rent a tiller in the BCS, Troybilt Horse class.
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If you only need the tiller for one project, the best (and cheapest) tiller is no tiller. Hire a landscaper to do it. Once your vegetable garden is established, you don't need to till again unless someone's walking all over the soil, which is against the rules.
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Kill the grass first... glyphosate, occlusive mulch, solarizing... take your pick. I'd solarize if you can get good temps early enough in the season to satisfy you.
Then hire someone with a garden tractor or a good commercial tiller to do the initial work. The better the tillage, the easier the gardening. Tilling through sod just isn't one of the more fun things to do with your leisure.
Kay
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Kay Lancaster wrote:

You're on the right track, except solarizing won't work with bermudagrass. Some of the rhizomes go a foot deep, and it loves heat. You might kill 80% of it eventually, but the 20% that's left will quickly take over again.
Wait until it's warm enough that the grass is growing well, and spray it thoroughly with Roundup or your favorite glyphosate weed killer. Wait a week, and then start planting your vegetables over the top of the dead grass without tilling. (you might have to use mostly transplants the first season). Use lots of mulch. Dig out by hand any bermuda that comes back (or spot treat it again with Roundup, but digging is better)
You can till it next year.
You will never *completely* get rid of the bermuda.
Hope this helps, Bob
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Hear hear. I lived in Las Vegas for 15 years, and never won the battle against bermuda. If you live where bermuda grows well, you will probably never be rid of it unless you take drastic measures. Even if you clear the garden, it will be invaded from the sourrounding edges. You will have to sterilize the soil and install barriers around the garden to prevent outside plants from invading. And even then you will have seeds and stray rhizomes that somehow end up in your garden. One little rhyzome can spread very deep and very fast, and once it does it will be a constant battle against the invasion. Once the roots get into the ground, you will have a difficult time controlling it.
OTOH - anything that shades the ground is effective against bermuda, as it does not tolerate shade. Mulching can be effective, but your mulch has to be deep enough to keep the grass from coming through. Bermuda will easily grow through a 12 inch layer of mulch.
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