A level ground in a garden helps with drainage and maintenance, but getting the land smooth is strenuous work, especially if you’re dealing with a large plot of land. Fortunately, you have a variety of tools available to help make the job easier. A rototiller is a powered garden tool that prepares the soil for planting. Learn how you can use a rototiller to level ground and get your garden ready for plants.
Features of a Rototiller
Although rototillers all perform the same function, you’ll find a variety of styles available. For very large plots of land, you can get a rototiller that mounts behind a tractor. For the home gardener, a self-contained rototiller powered by gasoline or electricity and pushed through the soil is a better option. If you’re choosing a self-contained unit, you can get front or rear tine rototillers.
When to Use a Rototiller
The best time to use a rototiller is in the fall. When you use the rototiller in this season, the soil amendments have a chance to settle in and eventually break down during winter. When spring rolls around, your soil will be in perfect shape for planting. Additionally, if you’re planting cool-weather crops like broccoli, spinach, or cabbage, you’ll want your vegetable garden bed tilled and ready to go as soon as it’s safe to plant these vegetables.
If you want to start a new garden, you can use a rototiller in the spring. Just remember that it’s best to till soil when it has reached a temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit and is slightly dry. You can use a soil thermometer to check the temperature. An easy way to see if the soil is dry enough is by squeezing a handful. If it crumbles in your hand, it’s ready to till.
Prepare Your Area for the Rototiller
When you’re ready to level the ground with a rototiller, start by reviewing the instruction manual so you’re familiar with the controls on the machine. You’ll want to make sure you’re wearing the proper safety gear. While every manufacturer has different recommendations, most suggest you wear eye protection, sturdy boots, and a long-sleeve shirt and long pants.
Before you start the rototiller, you need to clear the area you’re going to till. Walk through and pick up any large rocks or sticks. You should also remove any bushes or thick weeds that could get tangled in the rototiller tines. You can leave behind small weeds and leaves since the rototiller can easily chop through these.
If you’re leveling the ground to replace bad grass or sod that’s already growing, you’ll want to run a sod cutter over the area to break up the old roots.
How to Level the Ground With a Rototiller
Once the area is ready for tilling, decide what depth you want to start out using. The majority of rototillers have a height setting on the machine that lets you choose how deep the blades will go. If the soil structure is compact and hard, it’s best to start with the shallowest setting. On the other hand, if the soil structure is soft or already slightly loosened, you can begin on the medium setting.
When you get started, use the rototiller to make several parallel passes over the area to loosen the top couple of inches of soil. Keep in mind that some manufacturers recommend making straight and overlapping passes, so it’s best to review the instructions to be sure you’re following the right pattern. As you’re tilling the area, you can adjust the height setting to help reach deep enough into the ground.
When you’re done tilling the area, inspect the results to make sure it’s level enough for your needs. You should attempt to till about 8 inches below the surface.
Important Things to Remember
For the best results, you have a few important tips to keep in mind. First, you need to make sure you prevent compacted soil. This occurs when you overwork the soil. To help avert it, you want to choose the right depth setting on the rototiller and be sure you don’t make too many passes over the same area of soil.
Additionally, you’ll want to pause periodically while you’re tilling to clean the tines and remove any organic matter or tangled plant material. This will help improve the lifespan of the rototiller and ensure clean and smooth passes through the soil.
Whether you’re leveling the ground for a new garden or a cleaner yard, you now know how to use a rototiller to help. Contact BigRentz to learn more about renting the equipment you need to make your landscaping jobs easier.