The best Mantis tiller
To simplify caring for a flower or vegetable garden, using a powered tiller to break up the soil is far easier than hoeing by hand. Mantis is one of the most popular brand names for powered tillers, delivering lightweight models that still have plenty of get-up-and-go.
To learn more about what a Mantis tiller can do for you, keep reading our guide, which includes short reviews of our favorites at the end. Our top pick is the Mantis 7940 4-Cycle Tiller/Cultivator. We love that it runs from gasoline only (rather than a gas/oil mix), which simplifies operation and long-term maintenance.
Considerations when choosing Mantis tillers
Gas vs. electric
The primary consideration for your Mantis tiller is the type of power its engine needs to run. Some Mantis tillers make use of gas-powered engines to turn the tines. Select from two different types of these engines:
- 2-cycle: A two-cycle engine requires you to mix a little bit of oil with gasoline to power the engine. A two-cycle engine requires a bit more maintenance than a four-cycle engine.
- 4-cycle: A four-cycle engine runs from gasoline alone, which simplifies maintenance and overall operation.
A gas-powered tiller typically has more ground-breaking power than an electric-powered tiller.
A few Mantis tillers make use of an electric-powered engine. There are two options for providing the electrical power.
- Corded: A corded tiller runs from an extension cord plugged into an electrical power outlet, so you’re limited as to where you can use it by the length of the cord.
- Battery: Some Mantis tillers run from rechargeable battery power. The battery doesn’t quite deliver the same level of power as a corded model, but it’s more convenient in some circumstances, because you don’t have limitations on where you can use it.
Generally, electrical-powered tillers run more quietly than gas-powered models.
The majority of Mantis tillers also have a cultivating feature. This is a handy extra option, as you can use the cultivator to remove weeds from a narrow area while using the tiller to break up soil from large areas to lay out the garden.
You remove the tines for tilling and replace them with the cultivator tool, so there’s a bit of know-how required to use this feature.
Mantis controls the weight of its tillers through the percentage of aluminum in the body. If you want less weight in the overall machine, look for models with a primarily aluminum construction.
Mantis uses steel in the tines, which ensures durability. When tilling, you’re sure to hit some rocks and tough roots, which makes the use of steel important to avoid bent tines.
An average Mantis tiller has a deck of about nine inches in width. Wider decks allow you to till more ground faster, while narrower decks allow for more precision around existing plants. For especially narrow areas, some Mantis tillers allow you to remove the outer tines.
Electric-powered Mantis tillers may cost $125 to $250. Gas-powered Mantis tillers may run from $150 to $600.
Q. What kind of maintenance do the tines on the tiller require?
A. As long as you wash soil off the tines with a garden hose after each use and allow them to air dry, the tines will be ready for the next time. Some people also spray the tines occasionally with WD-40 to prevent rust.
Q. Is it easy to adjust the tine depth on Mantis tillers?
A. As long as you have a little experience with garden tools, adjusting the tines is an easy process. The majority of Mantis tillers allow for setting the tines for a depth between 2 and 10 inches.
Mantis tillers we recommend
Best of the best: Mantis 7940 4-Cycle Tiller/Cultivator
Our take: Uses a four-cycle engine, which delivers enough power to spin the tines at 240 rpm, faster than competing models.
What we like: Despite having a large amount of power, the unit weighs only 24 pounds. Runs from gasoline alone, rather than a gas/oil mix.
What we dislike: If you need instructions, the printed materials that ship with it are unhelpful.
Best bang for your buck: Mantis 7924 2-Cycle FastStart Tiller/Cultivator
Our take: Uses FastStart system, so you don’t have to wear yourself out trying to start the two-cycle engine.
What we like: Folds down when it’s time to store it. Has more power than you’d expect, spinning the tines at 240 rpm.
What we dislike: If the soil is hard and dry, this unit may struggle to till it adequately.
Choice 3: Mantis 3550 Electric Tiller/Cultivator
Our take: If you prefer the ease of operating electric garden power tools, this unit runs when plugged into a standard electrical outlet.
What we like: With the electric motor, it weighs quite a bit less than tillers with gas-powered motors. Also runs quieter.
What we dislike: Doesn’t offer the same level of tilling power as gas-powered tillers, especially on firm soil.
Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.