If you have just moved into your new home and intend to grow a garden, you've probably already figured out you will need a garden tiller to till the soil. You may be wondering whether you should buy a garden tiller (also referred to as a garden tractor) or rent one to get the job done. There are several important things to consider before you make that decision.
Time & Commitment
If this is your first garden, you may not realize the time and commitment growing a garden requires and may have no idea whether this will become a life-long hobby or a one-year gig. You may discover that gardening isn't for you or that you'd prefer to grow flowers and veggies in raised beds and containers instead. You may also discover you don't have time in your busy lifestyle to spend hours working in the garden and decide to put it off until you retire or have more time. If any of these scenarios ring true with you, renting a garden tiller, at least for the first year or two, may be a better choice for you.
- The cost of a garden tractors ranges from $300 to $500 dollars for a front tine tiller to up to $1000 for a heavy-duty rear tine tiller. Small cultivators are less expensive at around $100, but they aren't expected to do the major work of turning sod in a garden. These cultivators are suitable for tilling between the rows during the growing season, but shouldn't be relied on as your primary garden tiller.
- If you intend to garden for years to come, buying your own garden tractor will likely pay for itself in 3 to 5 years, depending on which model you purchase and how often you use it. While some gardeners use the garden tractor once a year to turn the soil, others till the soil in both the spring and fall, and use it to till between the rows during the summer.
- You may incur costs from maintenance of the garden tiller or be charged an extra fee for an extended warranty and servicing.
- Many tool and equipment rental companies rent equipment by the hour or by the day. You may be able to rent a garden tiller for the afternoon for less than $50 or for the entire weekend for under $100.
- If you aren't sure if you will continue gardening for more than a year or two, your costs will be lower if you rent a tiller instead of buying one.
- You also will not be responsible for the maintenance on the tiller.
Garden tillers need to be stored in a dry area out of the elements, typically in a garage or shed, during the winter. If you are limited on storage space, renting a garden tractor may be a better choice for you at this time. Some gardeners attempt to store the tiller outside covered with a tarp during the winter, but if you live in an area that receives ice and snow, you risk damage to your garden tiller.
Transporting the Tiller
Garden tillers can be heavy and difficult to transport and may require a pickup and a ramp to load the tiller. Most equipment rental companies expect you to pick up and return the tiller on your own. That means loading and unloading the tiller twice every time you need to use it. On the other hand, buying a new tiller means you will only need to transport the tiller once unless you need to take it to the shop for servicing. If transporting a garden tiller presents a problem for you, buying your own tiller may be a wise choice.
Keep in mind that you do not need to make a decision the first year you grow a garden. You are free to check out the site or rent a garden tiller for the first year or two to get a better understanding of your gardening needs before you make the decision to buy your own garden tiller.