With gardening season in full swing, it’s important to keep your soil weed-free, nutrient-rich and well-aerated. This will help maximize your crop yield and have your flowers looking their best.
And one tool can help you do it all: cultivators are the most efficient multi-purpose tools for any gardener.
What is a cultivator?
While similar to a tiller, the cultivator is typically a smaller, less powerful machine; a tiller is designed to break ground, stirring and chopping it up, but a cultivator is all about finesse. Tillers can be effective at aerating and turning heavy soil containing clay or rocks, but they are too powerful and bulky for maintaining most soils.
That’s why you need a cultivator! These little garden powerhouses can handle a variety of jobs – and they come in many styles, shapes and sizes. They are typically lightweight and affordable, and most are hand-held or electric – though there are quite a few gas-powered models.
The most basic types of cultivators are typically used for weeding; they are hand-held and have tines for loosening the soil around the base of the plant – allowing you to pull it out with the roots intact.
Larger manual cultivators may have rotating tines that allow you to walk behind them to turn and aerate the soil. They can also bury weeds between your planting rows, adding nutrients to the soil as the weeds decay.
The smallest powered cultivators are powered by electricity – some are corded, but many are battery-powered. These are excellent for preparing the soil in smaller garden plots, but they can also handle many other tasks throughout the gardening season.
They are strong enough to loosen the soil – using either tines or disks to break it up for spring planting. You can also use a cultivator to add soil amendments, fertilizers, or organic matter to your planting beds.
The largest cultivators are almost always powered by gas engines. They are designed to maximize performance while being easy to use and manoeuver between garden rows and in tight spaces. A gas-powered cultivator is ideal for the gardener with a medium-sized plot.
Typically, the higher the horsepower of your cultivator, the more powerful and efficient it will be. Some of the larger cultivators can also be used for plowing and building rows. These machines have a wedge-shaped blade instead of tines or discs; the blade will create a planting furrow, and a second pass between rows will cover the seeds in their shallow trenches.
Best gas cultivator : The Mantis 7940
One of the best lightweight gas-powered cultivators has to be this powerful little Mantis 7940 model.
For decades, Mantis has been known for their high-quality cultivators and tillers. And the 4-cycle 7940 cultivator is one of their most popular models – with good reason!
This awesome little tiller weighs only 24 pounds, making it easy to carry and push around the garden – and at only 9” wide, it can easily fit into tight places, along fences or in raised planting beds – but its premium Honda engine supplies enough power to till small patches of sod or compacted soil.
Designed for comfort and performance
The 7940 was designed to be operator-friendly and easy to use. Its 4-cycle engine design is quiet and powerful – it also means that it’s not necessary to mix the fuel with oil.
It’s simple to start with pull-cord operation, and has been redesigned to make it even more ergonomic – a flared, fold-down handlebar with soft, Sure-Grip handles make this model easy to store or transport, and means that the operator can work far longer without fatigue.
The grips also feature a flush-mounted throttle, and palm-controlled switch with infinite speed control.
Specially designed tines
The Mantis has a uniquely curved tine that helps it dig up to 10” deep into many soil types without bouncing around like other mini-tillers – it can even tackle hard soil, which is an impressive feat for such a small cultivator. The tines rotate at up to 240 rpm.
And turning these specially-designed tines around changes your cultivator into a power-weeder, digging 2”-3” into the soil to remove weeds or layer in organic matter or fertilizer.
The best part is that Mantis offer a lifetime guarantee on these specialized tines – if your tines break, they’ll replace them – no matter how long you’ve owned your cultivator.
Another great feature of the Mantis 7940 is its compatibility with many of the Mantis line of tool attachments. In addition to border edge and crevice-cleaning attachments, you can use the aerating and dethatching attachments to improve your lawn.
For more efficient planting, Mantis also offers a plow attachment, as well as a planting and furrowing tool.
It’s even possible to add a set of wheels to your Mantis 7940 – making it even easier to transport and reducing operator strain even further.
Why buy a gas-powered cultivator?
These tools more than pay for themselves in the time saved doing back-breaking tasks like turning and mixing the soil, or pulling weeds. They are typically compact and easy to store – so they won’t take up a ton of space in your shed.
Many gardeners choose to rent tillers or cultivators once or twice per season – while this can be a more affordable option, you’ll quickly find that having these little marvels on hand at all times makes maintaining your garden a breeze.
And choosing the Mantis 7940 would also allow you to tend to your lawn with the aerator or dethatcher attachments – eliminating the need to rent these tools or pay a lawn-care company to handle the job for you. If you’re not entirely sure whether you need a cultivator for your garden, visit your nearest tool rental shop. But I bet that by next season, you’ll have seen all that these powerhouses can handle – and be ready to shop for a cultivator of your very own. Read the great reviews this powerful cultivator has got over at Amazon.
See how Mantis constructs their cultivator by looking at their Service Manual