Looking 4 the best tiller under $700

greenthumbnick(8b)January 11, 2008

Hi everybody,

The search function seems to be on vacation today so I guess I'll just post it.

Im looking for the best tiller I can get and stay under $700. My garden is probably about 800-1000 sq ft. of actual garden beds...ranging anywhere from 3ft to 5 ft wide and one 10 ft wide. Its a new area so I will need something that can break up new ground. The soil is mostly sandy.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



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fredbarber(z4 CO & z6 MA)

I won't give you a real specific answer, but I'll offer two thoughts:

1. Especially if your soil tends to be loose once it's worked, you may need a whole lot less tiller to maintain your beds than to establish them. Think about renting or hiring out the initial job. If you buy just enough tiller to do the maintenance, the establishment may be slow, frustrating and painful.

2. My first tiller was a used Ariens that I bought used for $150. I wasn't sure how much I'd actually use a tiller, so I didn't want to make a huge investment in it. It was a great machine and ran fine with no major maintenance for about five years before the frame broke. (I had it welded once, but gave up when it broke a second time.) I was very happy to have owned something cheap for a few years before taking the plunge.

Good luck,

PS: I replaced my Ariens with a mid-tine Honda machine, which I devoutly love. I've had it now for maybe 15 years.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 11:48AM
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Especially since you have sandy soil, I would recommend a mantis or one of the other similar small tillers.
In the future it may be more manageable in the smaller beds you describe.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 1:35PM
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maineman(z5a ME)


I agree with Fred that a mid-tine tiller would be appropriate for your mostly sandy soil. It might be advisable to rent a bigger tiller to do the initial tilling and then buy a smaller tiller for maintenance.

One candidate near your price range is the MacKissic - Merry Tiller Minnie Tiller. For a little more money, you could get considerably more capability with the MacKissic - Merry Tiller Suburban Tiller. The Suburban can also use the wide variety of accessories available for the more expensive International series.

The Honda mid-tined machines are also excellent, because the Honda engines are extra good and because their tillers are well designed. For just maintenance you might be able to "get by" with one of the little Mantis tillers. They come with several engine options, including a Honda engine and even an electric model.

I personally like to have a big mid-tined tiller available for extra tilling jobs at any time and to help expand the garden, so I went "whole hog" several years ago (prices were considerably lower then) and bought the top-of-the line Merry Tiller. I got the extra cost Honda engine option. This property is sloping and has quite a few rocks in the soil, so the slow tine speed and high tine torque are particularly appropriate. I rigged a homemade "dozer blade" to help level and expand our main garden terrace. I just bolted a board to my plowbar.

Our garden has grown steadily over the years. I'll be adding an extra 100 square feet or so of garden space this spring. I got a set of pick tines to deal with extra rocky places.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 1:55PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

Unfortunately MM, your Spring is almost our summer ;).

It looks like we will forego Maine this year for a trip to Minnesota but it is very likely we will be up the following year.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 2:35PM
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maineman(z5a ME)


"...your Spring is almost our summer..."

All too true! I won't be setting much out into our garden until June. Our soil freezes as hard as concrete during the Winter and it takes awhile for it to thaw enough to be workable. I will be doing some "earthwork" in April and May.

"...we will forego Maine this year for a trip to Minnesota..."

I imagine that Summer is mild in Minnesota, too.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 4:11PM
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Thanks for the replies guys.

What do you guys think about the more known brands like Troybilt, Cubcadet, Bolens, Craftsman, etc....

The stuff you can get at home depot, lowes, sears.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 6:37PM
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Hey Nick,

If you're patient and willing to keep and eye on craigslist, you can get a BCS 716 or 718. The advantage of BCS tillers is in the variety of tools available. They can till your garden, mow your lawn, blow your snow, and a dozen other things with one engine. I picked up a BCS 716 gardener plus with 18 inch tiller and sickle mower for $500. The 718 replaced it and costs around $3000 with the two attachments I have. Unfortunately, I let my F-I-L buy it off me since I already had a BCS 205. Now, I only have visiting rights to it at his place :-( Shoulda sold him the 205/

As far as new tillers under 700 at Home Depot or Sears, you get what you pay for. Anything rear tine at that price will be an MTD.

Here is a link that might be useful: BCS website - 718 model

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 5:06PM
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For that budget I'd be looking for a good used Troy Bilt Horse made by Garden Way Mfg. Anything new will be a toy by comparison.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 12:43PM
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Me and my wife have a roughly 75x50ft garden that we use a Craftsman 5.5hp 14" rear tine tiller. If I recall we paid somewhere around 550$ for. Its a mixed bag. The briggs intek has been trouble free (going on year #6). Its adequate for the tiller size but the actual frame leaves something to be desired. The problem with Sears/Husqvarna or any tiller made by AYP? is the the the frame is 2pcs and comes down the center of the tiller and usually dirt and other debris ride up and get lodged between the frame and ground. So you end up rocking it or backing up to get the debris out. I really would have rather purchased a Troy Bilt Hope that gives some imput on what to stay away from

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 6:58PM
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Although I just posted a note about a hard to start BCS tractor, I see these BCS tractors for sale for $400-700. They take a tiller attachment as well as many others.
Go to google put in "craigslist bcs tiller" and see if you can find something nearby. For example:


    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 8:31PM
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I bought a Poulan HDF550 front tine tiller for $299 from Amazon, very similar to the craftsman front tine for a bit over $300. I have no other experience on any other tillers, but it did the job for me. I am not a pro and I only have about 2000 to 3000 sqft to till, it worked. Tiller is not one of those that I use everyday, so it seemed to be good enough for me particular I got it so cheap. I would imagine that it is going to do the job faster than the Mantis. This is a 5.5 HP and weight at least 80lbs.

I re-till part of the yard 4 months later and was a whole lot easier, so if you do it regularly, you really don't need a very heavy duty tiller. Also I would imagin the small front tine tiller can get into smaller space and closer to the edge than the bigger rear tine tiller.

I also notice the Honda mid tine tillers lately, I think they have a 57cc one for less than $700, check into this, may be it is good enough for you. A good quality light weight tiller. But what do I know.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 3:51AM
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