Which Mantis tiller is best?

Starting up or maintaining your garden involves cultivating and tilling. Mantis tillers are capable of both, but you need to choose the right one to avoid working harder than necessary or overspending. Mantis tillers come in many sizes, run on a variety of power sources and are available in a wide range of costs. 

The best Mantis tiller is the Mantis 7924 Two-Cycle Plus Tiller And Cultivator. It uses a recoil start system called FastStart that makes it far easier to start the engine.

What to know before you buy a Mantis tiller

Power source

Mantis tillers can be powered by battery, cord or gas.

  • The battery-powered Mantis tiller is the quietest and just as effective as some of the low-end gas tillers. However, it’s a bit pricey and the battery only lasts 30 minutes tops before needing a recharge.
  • The cord-powered Mantis tiller is among its most affordable models. It’s also quiet and you can work as long as you want. However, it’s weak compared to most models. You also need to keep the cord out of the way and it may not be long enough. 
  • Gas-powered Mantis tillers come in two varieties — two-cycle and four-cycle. Two-cycles are a little cheaper but require you to mix gas and oil — a messy process. Four-cycles are heavier but more powerful and use regular old gasoline. Both engines make a fair bit of noise.

Bundles

Mantis tillers sometimes come in bundles that include various attachments for the tiller at a discounted rate. Some of the attachments include:

  • Aerator
  • Border edger
  • Dethatcher
  • Plow
  • Wheels

What to look for in a quality Mantis tiller

Tine width and depth

The best Mantis tillers have tines with the appropriate width and depth for your needs.

  • Width: Mantis tillers come in widths of 9 or 12 inches. Wider widths handle more dirt faster but it can make moving between established plants difficult.
  • Depth: Mantis tillers have depths of up to 8 or 10 inches in tilling mode and 2-3 inches in cultivating mode.

Weight

Mantis tillers are among the lightest powered tillers you can find. Most are 20-26 pounds.

Wheels

Wheels make controlling and transporting your Mantis tiller easier. Some come with wheels, while others don’t. You can attach wheels to tillers without them if you purchase the wheels accessory.

How much you can expect to spend on a Mantis tiller

Mantis tillers typically cost $150-$800. Basic models cost less than $300 with most models costing roughly $400-$500. The best Mantis tillers and those bundled with extra Mantis equipment cost $600-plus.

Mantis tiller FAQ

What’s the difference between cultivating and tilling?

A. As Mantis tillers are capable of doing both, it’s important to understand the distinction.

  • Cultivation is shallow, typically no deeper than 3-4 inches. It’s mostly done when first preparing the soil — this means breaking up hard topsoil and removing grass and weeds, etc. 
  • Tilling is deeper. Shallow tilling is done at 4-8 inches while deep tilling is done at 8-10 inches. Tilling is usually done right before planting or to mix in soil supplements at the end of the season to keep the soil at its best.

Mantis tillers swap between modes by turning the tines around. They arrive with tines in tilling position.

How do I maintain a Mantis tiller?

A. Maintaining a Mantis tiller depends on its power source. Gas engines require the most maintenance. Carefully follow the instructions in your manual, especially with fuel mixing. Electric tillers don’t have the same requirements.

You also need to clean the tines after every round of tilling, but this is as simple as giving them a good rinse with your garden hose. The tines will also eventually need sharpening. Finally, clean the body as needed.

How do I sharpen the tines of my Mantis tiller?

A. You need a few pieces of equipment to sharpen the tines — clamps to keep the tine you’re sharpening secure and a bastard mill file to do the actual sharpening. Sharpen at a 70-80 degree angle. You could also try to find a professional to sharpen them for you.

What’s the best Mantis tiller to buy?

Top Mantis tiller 

Mantis 7924 Two-Cycle Plus Tiller And Cultivator

Mantis 7924 Two-Cycle Plus Tiller And Cultivator 

What you need to know: Mantis mixes good power and technical improvements in this model.

What you’ll love: The tiling width is 9 inches and the depth is 10 inches. The two-cycle engine has enough power to chew through most soil and the light weight of 20 pounds makes it easier to wield. The handles are rubber and ergonomic for maximum comfort.

What you should consider: A few consumers struggled to start the engine despite the FastStart system. Others disliked the lack of wheels, finding it hard to push forward.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top Mantis tiller for the money

Mantis 7920 Two-Cycle Tiller And Cultivator

Mantis 7920 Two-Cycle Tiller And Cultivator

What you need to know: It’s an older and cheaper version of the Mantis 7924.

What you’ll love: The handles fold down for easy storage and transport. A push-button engine primer speeds up the starting process. Optional attachments can turn it into an aerator or dethatcher. The 9-inch width makes it possible to use in tight spaces and makes it easier to avoid established plants.

What you should consider: The lack of the FastStart system makes this difficult to get running. A few customers reported the cultivation to be better than the tilling.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Mantis 7940 Four-Cycle Tiller and Cultivator

Mantis 7940 Four-Cycle Tiller and Cultivator

What you need to know: This is the mantis tiller for the toughest ground.

What you’ll love: The four-stroke engine eliminates the need to mix gasoline and oil. The extra power only tacks on a few pounds, keeping it easy to use at 24 pounds. The handles fold down and everything but the engine has a two-year warranty.

What you should consider: Assembly is required. A few purchasers reported the tiller to buck when it hits obstructions or when going over grass-covered soil.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
 

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