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
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!
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.
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.
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
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,
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
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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