For home gardening enthusiasts with large gardens to turn over for planting each spring, rototillers are a must-have item. Rototillers can be purchased at reasonable prices or rented from most full-service home and garden supply stores. The machines come in a variety of models and configurations, but they all use a set of spinning rotary blades to break down hardened patches of earth. Most rototillers are powered by small gas engines, though models equipped with electric engines are also available.
Before firing up your rototiller, be sure to clean the tilling area of branches, large exposed rocks, and other debris. Be on the lookout for old pieces of rope, as they can easily get caught in the tilling blades. If you are breaking new ground, determine whether there are any buried obstacles to avoid. A rototiller can easily damage irrigation pipes, gas lines, and electrical cables if you are not careful. Many cities have a safe digging office that you can contact for advice.
Position the rototiller inside the area you plan to till. First, disengage the tilling mechanism to ensure that the blades do not immediately begin to spin when you start the rototiller’s engine. Now prime the engine and adjust the choke as instructed in the operator’s manual. Move to a safe position next to the rototiller and start the machine. Gas engines usually require a pull-start, while electric engines typically have a simple electric starter.
Move to the back of the machine and, using the operating handles, tilt the rotary blades off the ground. Engage the tilling mechanism. Gripping the handles tightly, lower the blades into the soil. Be prepared for a small amount of jerking and shuddering. This is normal. As the blades cut through the soil, the rototiller will be drawn forward. To slow the forward motion, firmly pull back on the handles. As you approach the end of a tilling row, be prepared to reduce the throttle and disengage the tilling mechanism so that you can safely make a 180-degree turn to continue tilling the next row.