My Tiller Test Drive

By JimRental

So, I took a spin on this piece of equipment to get a better idea of how it works. I have read quite a bit about rototilling and the controversy around it. I get it: the process can disturb beneficial bacteria and fungi and if done too often it can create a hardpan compaction of soil.

That said, sometimes you need a tiller. As I keep repeating, I have an enormous, very wild yard. After attempting to play hostess for Independence Day with quite a few turned ankles I used the Barretto Rear-tine rototiller on a small patch of my neighbor’s yard and I am sold.

I won’t be using it to turn every bed, or even my veggie garden. I will, however, be using it in conjunction with the high weed mower, the brush cutter, sod cutter and grader rake to tame and grade my back yard so I can actually enjoy it.

Okay, that said, here are the details… it is a large machine. I was quite intimidated by it before I started really laying hands on it. Now, I respect it but have no fear. The tiller moves very slowly, so you never feel as though you are going to lose control over it. It has two power switches, so with both turned to ‘on’ (very important!) It starts like any four-stroke engine: with the choke on, fuel open, and pull string handle. Ease the choke off over the course of a minute.

Next, I drove it to where I was testing it; the controls are simple and intuitive. There is a little kick-stand of sorts that you need to pull up out of the way by pulling a large pin that will release and reengage at another height. This controls the depth of the tines. (There is a crank to adjust the height of the handles and another pin that moves the handles side to side for tight angles too.)

Once that is done the tiller is ready to go. The tines go forward and reverse and because of this eye protection is way more than a perfunctory step. (I like ear plugs and gloves with this one too, not to mention very sturdy shoes) for safety, the tines will only engage with the machine in forward drive.

I ran the tiller at full throttle and it churns the soil with incredible ease, but I didn’t feel like this was overkill. I was very impressed and look forward to using it on a larger scale.