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Garden Shed: Your thoughts on a Mantis?

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Kell

Kell
Northern California, CA
(Zone 9b)


February 14, 2005
3:03 AM

Post #1287736

I think I may buy one for my birthday. I want it primarily to till a pretty big garen plot. Anyone have one? Is it easy to use or is it tough? I have a bad back. Do you need to be very strong? I am a weakling. And a wimp. LOL

And does anyone know where I could get the best buy on one?

THANKS

Thumbnail by Kell
Click the image for an enlarged view.

MaVieRose
High Desert, CA
(Zone 8a)

February 14, 2005
9:26 AM

Post #1287981

i have one and enjoyed using it last year. Kell if i managed to use it with my short stature, am sure u will too. here is their site http://mantisgardentools.com/tiller.asp mine was a gift.
Chesapeake
Wingate, MD
(Zone 7b)

February 14, 2005
2:00 PM

Post #1288200

Hi,
Hope to see a lot of comments on the Mantis. We are thinking of buying one too, but would like to have comments from the ladies on how hard they are to handle.
Peg
notmartha
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

February 14, 2005
2:47 PM

Post #1288281

I have a new 4 stroke and luv the dickens out of it! i had a 2 stroke and I wore that lil bugger out! I used a ryobi before i got my mantis-there is NO comparison!!!! Ryobi should be a WEED WACKER not a tillerwannabe! lol

I got mine off ebay-brand new with all the guarantees and edger for 350.00
no tax and free shipping!!!! :)

YOU WONT REGRET IT THATS FOR SURE!

GO FOR IT!
oriole
Mifflintown, PA
(Zone 6a)

February 14, 2005
4:48 PM

Post #1288442

I bought a mantis 2 yr.past. I have never used it ,my daughter and SIL use it for me, I am a out of shape old lady. My ground is terrible. clay ,rocks,hard hard hard. SIL broke 1 of the tines, mantis very nice to deal with,just send them in and will be replaced. I have mine packed ready to send. Be able to tell you more later. Does a good job, oriole
Badseed
Hillsboro, OH
(Zone 6a)

February 15, 2005
12:20 AM

Post #1289040

From what I have seen and heard, it is great for turning under an established bed. My neighbor is fairly substantial as he is a house builder/contractor. I watched him try to use on a lawn area and it bounced around pretty good. He did in the end get the job done but I don't know if I would want to use it on virgin ground.
kathy_ann
Judsonia, AR
(Zone 7b)

February 18, 2005
11:53 PM

Post #1296425

I almost bought one, but someone said the only way to get it to dig in is to pull it back ward, (behind you) I didn't want to do that. so I didn't get one, they said it wouldn't dig deep enough, that's just their opinion, I use to have a tiller bigger than the mantis, but small, and I loved it, it was one of those kinds you don't fix, LOL it was all sealed where you couldn't getto the insides to fix anything, it finally croaked

kathy
violabird
Barnesville, GA
(Zone 8a)

February 20, 2005
2:12 AM

Post #1298146

Get the Electric Mantis and you'll never have to bother your hubby again. I have both, but adore my quiet, non-smelly electric horse. I've almost always had one for 20 years now. My ground was solid hard clay with rocks and shale mixed in, I have never had a problem on virgin ground, you just need to know how to use it. I've also never broken a tine!

The only time I use a shovel now is when digging up a plant. It's so nice to have the Mantis mix in your soil ammendments too, I wouldn't trade it for anything. Btw, last year I did a curving line of daylilies, it did the perfect ridge in the middle to set the plants, all I had to do then is cover them up.
Sunshines2day
Lubbock, TX
(Zone 7a)

February 21, 2005
11:50 PM

Post #1301355

I think I saw this subject in the watchdog section with not so favorable ratings. Personally I haven't had any difficulties with the use one I bought for 80 bucks. After reading the negative replies I am a bit worried to try and start it. The drawback I do have with it is that it bounces and doesn't dig in very easily on compacted soil. I think someone just above mentioned that it's great for an established bed. I found this to be true as well, but whay buy a tiller that doesn't perform well on compacted soil? That's why I bought mine...to save the back. I think the reason it doesn't dig in well is that it's too light. Once again isn't that why I bought a Mantis? I believe it has a Honda motor.
notmartha
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

February 22, 2005
12:08 AM

Post #1301372

I am on my 3rd set of tines, they werent broke just worn out. The OLD mantis and I worked our tinies off!! That was my poor old 2 stroke! RIP
I work my tillers 8hrs a day 3-4 days a week during garden season. They have worked hard!

The new hosta bed I but in last fall was all yard and I just kept going over and over it till i had it all tilled at least 8inches deep. Yes it sure can bounce when it hits a rock!
But when tilling you really need to hang on and be the one in control. It makes a world of difference. You dont have to walk backwards, you just have to let it till forward and then as it digs in pull it backwards and then it will keep moving forward.

Yes they have honda engines. The key is maintance and the right mixture of gas and oil (which i dont have to do with my 4stroke)

violabird
Barnesville, GA
(Zone 8a)

February 22, 2005
12:33 AM

Post #1301400

Sunshines, on that hard stuff, I make a pass each way to break the surface, even a little bit. Once they have something to dig their tines into, away they go. Last time I looked, they have a kit you can add to make starting easier, give them a call.

Dori, I just went and gave them another positive rating. Where would women alone be without our tillers?

I bet those negative folks let theirs gum up for non use!
Lenjo
Mount Angel, OR
(Zone 8a)

February 22, 2005
3:02 AM

Post #1301629

I hate to be a killjoy, but I didn't like the one I had so I sold it. But I guess I am spoiled with farm equipment that I can get into places when I am establishing new beds or rotatilling between rows etc.

gardenmart

gardenmart
Saugus, MA
(Zone 6b)

February 22, 2005
4:42 AM

Post #1301796

I am looking forward to a mantis 2-stroke for my garden which is on a hillside. my beds are not large or wide and I need to work in amendments quite a bit. I need to be able to handle this myself. on my hill, we can't use humungus garden equipment. The lawnmower has to be lighter weight and the snowblower as well. My husband the engineer says the two stroke engine is more powerful, and I take his word for these things. This will be my Mother's Day-Wedding Anniversary present. Hubby got flying lessons for his present, so he doesn't feel left out here. I can't wait! It is snowing outside now and I want to till! till! till!
8ftbed
Zion, IL
(Zone 5a)

February 22, 2005
11:26 AM

Post #1301950



This message was edited Feb 24, 2005 6:40 AM
abcgirl
Frisco, TX
(Zone 8a)

February 22, 2005
10:03 PM

Post #1303086

Interesting comments. Add me in with the others giving Mantis a thumbs up. I had a Ryobi - piece of. Talk about bounce, and loud! I borrowed a Mantis 2 stroke from a friend, liked it much better than the one I had. I'm in clay soil with lots of rocks, and used hers to do some new beds. I did dig out the soil first, then used the tiller. Can't imagine expecting anything less than a really big tiller to dig through the grass and roots. Bought the 4 cycle Mantis last year, and have done more new beds with it. It is incredibly lightweight, and quiet. I rented a larger tiller last fall to do my side yard - what a waste of money. It bounced much more than the Mantis, and I was sore all over after I finished with it.
leaflady
Hughesville, MO
(Zone 5a)

February 22, 2005
10:23 PM

Post #1303133

I've had my Mantis 2 stroke for over 10 years and loved it so much I bought a second one. I wore out the first one as far as we are concerned. There are features on the new ones that we like. We have hard compact black gumbo soil(black clay)with quite a few rocks and many buried horseshoes and machinery parts and it handles it all well, even soil that hasn't been tilled for over 100 years(my husband's family has been here for longer than that so we know the history of the land). I too am older and disabled and I don't know what I would do without my Mantis. I have 2 older disabled friends who also love their Mantis tillers.
notmartha
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

February 22, 2005
10:56 PM

Post #1303190

Ruth sounds just like my husbands centennial farm-black clayish dirt lots of rocks of all sizes and parts of this or that.
I have found several old marbles too even a spiked plastic heal from a shoe!

**When i get some time will add a positive feedback to their site

I also got that leaf vacumm from the same company(little wonder) that thing is a beast and even dayme(8)could push it. It started the first pull!
Joan
Belfield, ND
(Zone 4a)



February 23, 2005
1:43 AM

Post #1303515

I love my mantis. I use it almost every day during the growing season.

It's small enough to put in a flowerbed to dig up a nasty patch of weeds before I add mulch.

It does till up compacted soil, but needs a few more passes than established gardens.

It is absolutely WONDERFUL for spreading topsoil or adding amendments! After we built our house, we had hard, compacted, worthless ground, and had to haul in hundreds of loads of topsoil. DH just used the tractor with the bucket and dumped huge piles of topsoil all over the yard. I was supposed to rake them out evenly. Yeah right! I tried that for about two piles and figured enough of that. I went and got the mantis and used it. It "walked" right up to the top of the pile and when I gave it a little gas and pulled it back it did a wonderful job of spreading out the piles.

Wonderful little garden buddy that mantis is.
Emtnest
Chico, CA

February 24, 2005
7:39 AM

Post #1305731

Kudos to my Mantis...Best little machine ever made...It digs up that nasty crabgrass after a couple of passes and does a mighty fine job...I wouldn't be without it ever again...got it the same year I got my Vita-Mixer, best of the best of investments on both!!!
Emtnest
hczone6
Cincinnati (area), OH
(Zone 6a)

February 24, 2005
12:03 PM

Post #1305812

I think the usefulness of one of these depends on your soil. In my garden it would be pretty much useless on the thick clay I have. Once I get a bed to the point where it's not so thick with clay, maybe then it would be ok. So I think the answer is - depends on your soil. If this had a jackhammer attachment with a couple hundred pounds of weight, maybe then I could use it ;)
vs71099
Osage City, KS
(Zone 5b)

February 24, 2005
5:42 PM

Post #1306277

I LOVE my mantis... I think you have to have realistic expectations... It is noisy and it does bounce until you get the first layer of soil broken up when plowing a new bed. But it's still better than digging by hand... It does work a little differently in that you pull it towards you instead of pushing it... wish I'd bought one sooner...

Kell

Kell
Northern California, CA
(Zone 9b)


February 25, 2005
5:44 AM

Post #1307554

Sounds like I need one! LOL. Thanks everyone!

What is the difference between the 2 stroke and the 4 stroke?
hczone6
Cincinnati (area), OH
(Zone 6a)

February 25, 2005
10:21 AM

Post #1307617

2 stroke engines only require the piston to travel twice to produce power. In a 4 stroke engine, the piston travels 4 times - down for the intake stroke (fuel/air sucked into the combustion chamber), up for the compression stroke (fuel/air mix compresses), down for the power stroke (spark plug ignites the fuel/air mixture) and then back up for the exhaust stroke (burnt gases expelled into the exhaust pipe).

And more pratical information...2 stroke is more dirty/more noisy. 4 stroke is cleaner and quieter.

This message was edited Feb 25, 2005 6:21 AM
notmartha
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

February 25, 2005
1:46 PM

Post #1307704

2stroke you have to mix the gas and oil together and put in the gas tank

4stroke gas and oil have seperate spots to fill and it mixes itself!

*amen to cleaner and quieter*
leaflady
Hughesville, MO
(Zone 5a)

February 25, 2005
2:15 PM

Post #1307766

Emptnest, you and I are alike in relation to our Mantis & VitaMix machines. I sold a no longer needed stock trailer to a neighbor for just enough money to buy both of my machines.
oceangirl
Cape Cod, MA
(Zone 7a)

February 25, 2005
2:44 PM

Post #1307822

I think I need a mantis. I do everything by hand, getting old here...
smelltheroses
Ellijay, GA

February 27, 2005
10:14 PM

Post #1311711

I am not sure which Mantis I have but I ordered it because it was advertised as something that "anyone" could start and use. NOT TRUE !! My 17 year old son does it for me. I cannot start it or dig with it. It is hard to handle and it does not do for me what I was hoping it would and that is allow me to totally use it on my own. I would love to know of a product that I could use to dig beds, etc.
PERRYLAWRENCE
SARANAC, NY
(Zone 4a)

March 7, 2005
1:50 AM

Post #1324035

The Mantis tiller is an all right machine unless and until you discover the Stihl MM 55 yard boss - which is about the same size - but does a whole lot better job for about the same money: Last I knew the Stihl was $330.00 - I say this in case I am wrong about the same price part. Even if the Stihl is more it is worth it IMHO. I have had both - My Mantis goes into the next yard sale - and somebody who buys it will be getting a good machine - just not one as versitile as the Stihl - so if they are in the same price range and you have a Stihl dealer - take a look there - Just make sure you get a Stihl with the PICK tines - they also have what they call BOLO tines which are not worth much - got a set of them too.
se_eds
Millersburg, PA
(Zone 6b)

March 31, 2005
11:05 PM

Post #1375982

I have had a Troy Minitiller for the past 7 or 8 year. During the past two years we replaced the carburator (45.00) and the governor and the coil (another 45.00). Seems like parts for the Tecumhse engine are harder to find and our local farm stores don't carry them. When I bought it 7 years ago, I didn't mind carrying it around from place to place. Over the past 2 years it has gotton much heavier and I usually put it in a wheelbarrow to haul it where I want to use it.

The best thing about it, is it will go through everything. Plus I can take the two outside tines off to culivate small rows of daylily plants. I know it is on its way out and have really got my money's worth out of it.

Mantis sent me their video tape and I can get it and an edger for about$330.00. We have to pay tax here in Pa.

My question is, can I use the edger to go through narrow rows? Can you take off the outside tines for narrow rows? They don't tell you this on the video. What has been your experience?

gardenmart

gardenmart
Saugus, MA
(Zone 6b)

April 1, 2005
2:39 PM

Post #1377030

It's here! It's here! My Mantis came UPS yesterday. Happy Mother's Day to me! I want to go out and start tilling now, except that my yard is a mudpit. and it is expected to rain all weekend. I will let you know how it goes handling wise, though.
trois
Santa Fe, TX
(Zone 9b)

April 3, 2005
3:00 AM

Post #1380219

Well, I haven't got to try the Mantis yet, but I will likely get one. My neighboe insisted that I try out his 4 HP Honda. I lived through it, but just barely. 30 minutes with this is like a 4 minute mile. It's way too much for me, and I am not small.

He said he had a problem also and wanted confirmation. He got it.

trois
se_eds
Millersburg, PA
(Zone 6b)

April 3, 2005
5:02 PM

Post #1381093

trois, my husband is about 10 years older than me, and he doesn't want to handle the 3.5 hp tiller. Since I want to keep him around, I used it this spring, but he told me to get the Mantis anyway. It is a blessing to have someone who can get this stuff started after sitting in the cold all winter.

Guess I'll use the Mantis for general purposes and use the Troy minitiller to cultivate between rows until it dies.

Gardenmart - we have had over 2.5 inches of rain yesterday. Mine isn't supposed to arrive till Tuesday and I know that my DH cannot let it set in the box even overnight. It will have to be put together and started immediately. Like a new toy. I do hope it dries out so he can play with it.
trois
Santa Fe, TX
(Zone 9b)

April 3, 2005
9:35 PM

Post #1381439

Let me know how it works. Where did you get it? I see many at many different prices.

thanks,

trois
se_eds
Millersburg, PA
(Zone 6b)

April 3, 2005
10:53 PM

Post #1381570

Toll Free 1-800-366-6268-$299.00 + 24.00 shipping, plus tax (maybe not if you are out of state) for Prod # 7222 (This is the small 2 cycle model - 20 lbs.)
includes a Border Edger (Prod.#3222)- up until 5/31/05

Also saw them at Home Depot - I think price was slightly higher. You have to pay them to put them together (LOL)
trois
Santa Fe, TX
(Zone 9b)

April 3, 2005
11:48 PM

Post #1381653

Our Home Depot had none. I will check again.
Thanks,
trois

gardenmart

gardenmart
Saugus, MA
(Zone 6b)

April 4, 2005
1:25 AM

Post #1381820

My DH, King of online shopping, got my tiller from the Mantis website. The assembly was done by my son who could not let it rest in the box either and it took him about 5 minutes. According to him, it is just assembly of the handles and the switches to the engine which comes already put together. Since we have a 2 stroke snowblower, he had the gasoline already mixed with 2 stroke oil and he started it up for me yesterday. He showed me how to do it and I put it through its paces in a couple of test spots. I particularly liked the way it turned under old oak leaf mulch on our hillside. This area under the trees has been seriously compacted for years and the mantis turned it under in no time. He tried out the edger attachment that comes free with it today, but where I need to edge, I think I am going to turn under with the regular tines first. We are plagued with this nasty quackgrass weed there and it has long runner roots that tangle around the tines. We had to stop a few times and pop the tines off and untangle them. But I can do that easily. I can lift it and and I can till with it. We couldn't do a lot, but the sun should be out this week and I will rev it up again. I am going to turn under a raised bed next and I am going to order a spare set of cotter pins for the tines as I think this is the part that I will lose in the grass first! It works as advertised so far!
trois
Santa Fe, TX
(Zone 9b)

April 4, 2005
1:41 AM

Post #1381848

That sounds wonderful. Thanks for the information.

trois
violabird
Barnesville, GA
(Zone 8a)

April 4, 2005
1:55 AM

Post #1381874

Trois, you might want to check around your area before ordering, too. I found mine at a lawnmower center, where they put it together and tested it for me :) and I saved on the shipping. They are also an authorized repair center (should I need it>)

Believe us, you won't be without it! I'm like Dori, I give mine a real workout all the time. Just try different ways to get it to work for you.

Gardenmart, You can get those cotter pins at your local hardware store--just take one in, don't special order it.
trois
Santa Fe, TX
(Zone 9b)

April 4, 2005
2:23 AM

Post #1381930

Thanks. I guess I don't have to hurry now. I will have finished this project in about 30 more minutes. Then it will be a while so I have time. I'm gonna look around a good bit. I am sore all over from the beating from the 4 HP unit. It's not so bad on uniform, level soil, but any hill or slope it takes control and goes where it wants.

trois
violabird
Barnesville, GA
(Zone 8a)

April 4, 2005
2:34 AM

Post #1381953

Now, I know you will love the Mantis, take a look at my slope!

I know I couldn't have planted mine without it, lol!


Thumbnail by violabird
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Zen_Man
Ottawa, KS
(Zone 5b)

April 4, 2005
7:17 AM

Post #1382275

I considered getting a Mantis as a sort of motorized hoe, but decided against it because it has no drag stake. Without a drag stake, you are the drag stake and you must hold the tiller back as it tries to run forward. For someone with a good back, that is OK, but I have lower back pain from time to time and I definitely don't want to pit my lower back against a rambunctious tiller with no drag stake.

If Mantis added a drag stake, I definitely would be interested. I like it that Mantis offers a variety of engines, including 4-cycle Hondas in addition to the more powerful 2-cycle engines. I would choose a 4-cycle engine for easier starting and cleaner burning. I might even consider an electric, but sheparding the power cord might be somewhat troublesome. But I think it's good that Mantis offers an electric version.

I also applaud those people who reported using their Mantis frequently. Too many people have the mistaken idea that a tiller is a once-a-season thing.

I recently ordered a larger tiller, a mid-tined Merry Tiller International model. It will probably be a couple of weeks before I take delivery of it. Of course, being a larger tiller, it does have a drag stake. I used a nearly identical Merry Tiller many years ago in my Fort Worth garden.

Mid-tined Merry Tillers and Mantis tillers have one thing in common. They are both soil mixers rather than vehicles. Rear-tined tillers are vehicles, which makes them a whole different type of machine. Incidentally, MacKissic makes a tiller similar to a 2-cycle Mantis, called the "Tiny Tiller"

http://shop.store.yahoo.com/dolphinope/tt14tinytiller.html

Unlike the Mantis, the Tiny Tiller does have a drag stake. If MacKissic had a 4-cycle Honda engine version of the Tiny Tiller, I would be interested.

Honda has a 4-cycle Mini Tiller, the Honda FG110:

http://www.hondapowerequipment.com/ModelDetail.asp?ModelName=fg110

but it apparently doesn't have a drag stake. Too bad. The Stihl MM 55 Yard Boss also apparently lacks a drag stake.

http://www.stihlusa.com/multitask/MM55.html

My lower back is not up to being a drag stake, so I am not considering any tiller without a drag stake or its equivalent.

MM

trois
Santa Fe, TX
(Zone 9b)

April 4, 2005
11:39 AM

Post #1382358

The one I have been using has a drag stake and it still requires a lot of back pulling. It's just too much power for the application. I have 3 different types of soil. In sand it heads for China very fast and the wheels are too narrow so it sinks in the soft fresh tilled soil and you have to kill the engine and drag it out. I have tried it with the drag stake in service and up out of the way and can see no difference. It would need dual or tripple drag stakes to be effective. It does a good job on level soil, but is backbreaking labor. I want something less than 4 HP. I like the sound of a 20 pound unit that doesn't require 2 people to drag out of soft soil, and to load into a pickup. At least I have had the experience of one too powerful before I buy one. Thanks for the inputs.

trois
se_eds
Millersburg, PA
(Zone 6b)

April 5, 2005
10:20 PM

Post #1386096

Got mine today. We put it together very quickly. Starts easily as it comes with a push/pull choke. (Like cars used to in the olden days.) That way you don't have to pull the string until the oil boils!

Has no drag bar but if you use it the way it says, you don't need one. I tried taking it forward until I read the direction to use it like a vacuum cleaner. (Forward and back) This works perfect so long as you don't hold the trottle wide open. It seems very powerful, yet it does not drag me around like the 3.5 HP one does.

Really did a job on some old sod. I really like the fact that it is lightweight.
trois
Santa Fe, TX
(Zone 9b)

April 5, 2005
11:02 PM

Post #1386159

My son and I are going to get one and split the cost. I would like to find a local dealer, but no luck so far. I'm glad to hear you like it.

Thanks, trois
Mobi
Denver, CO
(Zone 6a)

April 8, 2005
8:02 AM

Post #1390735

I asked this question last year and ended up getting a Honda mini-tiller. You can buy it at Home Depot and it is a little cheaper than the Mantis and both have the same Honda engine. I love mine but I think both the mantis and the honda are good choices.
Mobi
ice_worm
Palmer, AK
(Zone 2a)

April 23, 2005
7:53 PM

Post #1422290

I love my Mantis tiller. I've had it for several years and I consider it to be one of the best gardening investments I've ever made. It is fairly easy to start and use (but does require some effort--the newer the bed, the more effort is required). It is light-weight enough to carry to the garden, but I usually "walk" it there. It does a big job for such a small machine. I even use it to break ground for new gardens--I just have to do it in smaller increments so the machine doesn't overheat. Also, in new beds (at least in my new beds) there are a lot of roots that get wrapped around the tines. It is a simple (but annoying) matter to pull the pins, remove and clear the tines, and then replace them.

I also bought all the attachments, most of which were a waste of money as far as I'm concerned. However, I do consider the "kickstand" to be a necessity, both for storage and to keep it upright in the garden.

I don't know how I ever got along without it!
Drew_N_Corinn
Pleasant Grove, UT
(Zone 6b)

May 2, 2005
5:33 AM

Post #1441597

The Honda FG100 has a removable stake...

Drew
hmstyl
Cleveland, GA
(Zone 7a)

May 18, 2005
6:39 PM

Post #1479201

Ok, after reading all of these posts I decided to go ahead and buy the Mantis! I can't wait till it gets here! When I went into their website they are now offering a $20 rebate for online purchases only (from 5/16 thru 8/31/05). It isn't much money back for a $300 tiller, but still $20 is $20. I'm so excited. I hope I never have to hoe a row of corn again!!
Cindy Lou
sbragonier
Hope Valley, RI
(Zone 6b)

May 19, 2005
5:38 AM

Post #1480557

hmstly - I got mine 2 weeks ago and LOVE it. It is big enough to do the jobs I need without being so big as to feel like it is going to run away with me. My DH and DS bought if for me for Mother's Day. I have used it to start building my new terraced beds last weekend. I was amazed how easy it was to use and how easy it was on me. I have bad shoulders (bursitis) and had no problems using it, though I did take things slowly. I worked with if for 15 minutes or so then picked up rock, roots and sticks then worked with it again.

The only times it would bounce is when it hit a rock or a root, but it is light enough that I had no problem redirecting it. It does NOT like rocks and will let you definitly know when it finds one.

My DS (16yo) was even able to use it with no problem. (After proper instruction and only under direct supervision)

Thumbnail by sbragonier
Click the image for an enlarged view.

hmstyl
Cleveland, GA
(Zone 7a)

May 19, 2005
1:58 PM

Post #1481002

ooh - that is encouraging. I especially like the part about finishing the job and resting in the hammock! Please tell me that you are able to pull start it all by yourself? I am a little worried that I will have trouble starting it - like I have trouble pull starting the lawnmower and my lil chainsaw.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

May 19, 2005
2:22 PM

Post #1481060

From se_eds post, it doesn't sound like the Mantis has one of those pull starts. BTW, we have a lawnmower with a wonderful rechargable electric starter -- you just turn a key in the ignition! I hate those pull starts.
se_eds
Millersburg, PA
(Zone 6b)

May 19, 2005
11:33 PM

Post #1482513

The Mantis has a pull start - but it also has a choke. The instructions will tell you how to do it. I never pull mine more than two times when I first start. If you have to stop it and restart it, it will start on the first pull. Really simple.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

May 20, 2005
3:26 AM

Post #1483644

Thanks for the clarification, se_eds!
sbragonier
Hope Valley, RI
(Zone 6b)

May 23, 2005
3:03 AM

Post #1490369

No problems starting it. The only time I have to pull more than twice is when I forget to follow instructions (DUH if you do not turn the switch to on it is not going to start no matter how much you pull).
hmstyl
Cleveland, GA
(Zone 7a)

May 23, 2005
6:30 PM

Post #1491722

aw jeez, I've been waiting since last Wednesday for my Mantis. I couldn't take it any more so I called their 800 number this morning to check on my order. I gave the lady my order confirmation number and she said that order isn't me. It belongs to someone else. I told her I got an e-mail confirmation with that order number on it. She searched under my name and my address and even checked my credit card to see if it was billed. Nada. Zip. I didn't exist. I told her that I quit hoeing my garden last week when I ordered the tiller, and now the weeds are as tall as my corn! She said apparently there was a glitch on the computer system and I fell through the cracks.

She offered to make it right by taking my order right now on the phone, reducing the price ten dollars and giving me the free edger and free shipping!! Whoppee!! I should have my tiller by the weekend - and a long three day weekend to play in my garden!!
hmstyl
Cleveland, GA
(Zone 7a)

May 27, 2005
2:23 PM

Post #1501078

When I got home from work yesterday my Mantis was there! YIIIIPPPPEEEEEEEEE!!!!! Just in time for the long weekend. My sweetie put it together for me in no time at all and vrooommmmm! I'm gonna love this lil machine. I tilled about half a row in no time before dinner!! You know what I will be doing this weekend! Thanks for all your encouragement - I am so glad I bought this Mantis!!! Have a wonderful holiday weekend!
Melissa_Ohio
Southwestern, OH
(Zone 6b)

March 9, 2006
5:40 PM

Post #2098955

Do ya'll still love your Mantis? I'm hoping that I will be able to use one, as I can't operate the big one we have for more than 10 minutes -also hoping it would be a little easier on hubby when tilling around the plants/weeding.
se_eds
Millersburg, PA
(Zone 6b)

March 9, 2006
10:23 PM

Post #2099659

Hi Melissa - I bet you will love it. Mine starts so easily and really does a good job. And you are right- you can use it is small spaces and lift it up with ease. I can go about 30 minutes - but then that is usually all I need to go with it. Our big 3.5 hp Sears job was donated to my much younger daughter and son-in-law.
Claire
largosmom
Newport News, VA
(Zone 7b)

April 8, 2006
2:04 AM

Post #2172768

Do the electric models do as good a job as the gas versions? I have NEVER been able to start anything with a pull on it...just don't have the knack and no longer have the strength. A push button start would work for me.

Thanks,
Laura
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

April 8, 2006
3:05 AM

Post #2172883

Laura, I don't know if this is available on any gas tillers... but our gas powered lawnmower has an electric ignition on it... No more pull starts! I love it.
Zen_Man
Ottawa, KS
(Zone 5b)

April 10, 2006
3:03 AM

Post #2177816

Laura,

"Do the electric models do as good a job as the gas versions?"

Electric motors typically don't have as much horsepower as gasoline engines, but apparently the electric Mantis is quite satisfactory, as you can see in this review: http://www.epinions.com/content_140300291716

You can find out more about the electric Mantis tiller at: http://mantiselectrictiller.com/etiller.asp

The fact that the electric Mantis has less raw horsepower than the 2-cycle and 4-cycle gasoline models of the Mantis may just make the electric model a little more docile and easier to handle. It can still till just as well and just as deep. Perhaps just a bit slower. You will need to use a good outdoor extension cord with the electric Mantis. If I were getting a Mantis, it probably would be the electric model.

MM
nmax
Lima, OH
(Zone 5a)

April 23, 2006
12:54 PM

Post #2213355

I'm a Mantis lover too. They should use all of our comments in their advertising. I've used it many times to break up sod and it does great. Just be prepared for some bouncing around. It sure beats shoveling through the sod. It is even better in gardens that are already established. I've got the 2cycle gas version.
ldy_gardenermd
Highland, MD
(Zone 7a)

May 1, 2006
11:45 PM

Post #2240041

I loved my Mantis and never had any complaints about the job that it did. It tore through my clay soil with ease, never had to pull it backwards or anything like that!

However it has issues now, can get it started but won't stay running. Have tried everything to fix it and it just won't work! It's an older model though so...
Spider07
Lilburn, GA

July 5, 2006
9:40 PM

Post #2471339

I am thinking of getting a tiller for my borders. the problem is that the borders have big tree roots in them. Can I still work the soil with the roots there? Will they break the tiller?
thank you
anna
sterhill
Atlanta, GA
(Zone 7b)

July 17, 2006
3:38 PM

Post #2515344

Hi Spider07 - great minds think alike!

Questions:
Electric one - do you have problems with the cord? Do you have to keep watching to be sure you don't run over it? I saw a 'cord manager' offered for sale and it made me think the cord could be a problem...?

Gas one - have to drain the gas/oil mix at the end of summer? Is this a real mess?

TIA - I need to find an easier way to till!!!

Sterling
leaflady
Hughesville, MO
(Zone 5a)

July 19, 2006
12:20 AM

Post #2521144

Anna, how large are the tree roots? If they are very large they will jerk the transmission to an immediate stop which will eventually break the transmissions gears. New transmissions cost about $145 a few years ago. Small roots will finally break if you stand there and let the tiller chew them up. A lot depends on a kind of tree it is. I've tilled under Redbud and Mimosa trees with no problem. Maple trees, big problems, because of really tough fiberous roots. I hope this helps you.

Junctioncats
Cambridge, VT
(Zone 4a)

June 18, 2007
4:44 PM

Post #3629607

Without reading a lot of comments, I'll say that I received a Mantis Tiller for Christmas three years ago. It has made me swear by them, believe me!

In answer to gas vs electric. Definitely gas. Far more power, and fewer problems, at least in our experience. I received the edge attachment with it also, and while I've only tried it once, it seemed to work quite well. I just made two brand new dahlia beds with it this year, and it saved a LOT of manual labor! Susan
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

June 18, 2007
6:34 PM

Post #3630085

I got an electric Mantis this spring, and I love it! Although I haven't tried the gas one for comparison, Mantis swears their electric one is equally powerful, and mine does have adequate zip. You'd never till up virgin sod with it, but in beds where the ground has been broken once or twice before it works just fine!

I went with the electric version because I didn't want to mess around wih the 2 cycle gas/oil fuel mixture, and I decided I'd rather deal with a power cord than with a pull-cord start. So far, so good -- I haven't tilled over the extension cord yet (it's bright orange, which helps). The main safety issue is to always, always, always disconenct the power cord before messing with the tines for any reason (untangling weeds, loosening a rock from the tines, etc).
Junctioncats
Cambridge, VT
(Zone 4a)

June 19, 2007
4:36 PM

Post #3633581

That's good to know that the electric one has plenty of zip! We'd never tried the Mantis electric, but HAD tried some other brand a few years ago, and it just wasn't very powerful. Yes, the mix of gas/oil is a pain, but not too difficult to deal with (I let the hubby do the mixing!). I DID try tilling "virgin earth" for those dahlia beds. It cut right through, but as always, there was a lot of stopping for roots and rocks.

I know what I'm like with the cord to my Weed Whacker - if I'm not tripping over it, I'm threatening to slice it. Susan
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

June 19, 2007
4:47 PM

Post #3633624

Well, my "virgin earth" here is some pretty nasty compacted clay that the builder left us, with tough patchy sod growing on top, and of course plenty of rocks... I suppose if the moisture level of the ground were *just* right at some point in spring, I might have a shot at it, but it's unlikely. Around here, I've seen big rear-tine tillers throwing 250 pound guys around the yard when they try to till the ground for the first time... I'd rather hire "Digger Dick" and his little tractor-tiller!
Junctioncats
Cambridge, VT
(Zone 4a)

June 19, 2007
5:29 PM

Post #3633809

lol at Digger-Dick. I was afraid that is what I would end up with, but I got lucky. Our builder managed to dump all the rocks in the FRONT yard, and my beds are in the back. Front yard you can't dig down even an inch before hitting rocks, tools (nope not kidding), roots, or beer cans (sort of lets you know what the builder was up to, doesn't it?). Susan
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

June 19, 2007
5:35 PM

Post #3633826

It really does say "Digger Dick" on the side of his truck!

With the tiller, I do about a max of about a 6 x 6 foot square at a time... so it's not too hard to put the cord back over my shoulder and keep it out of the way, then give it a twitch out of the way again when I move along to the next section. I think it's harder with a weed whacker because you tend to do longer sweeps, trailing the cord behind you and having the cord end up in your path.

Mantis does have that 1 year unconditional love-it-or-return-it guarantee... You do have to pay shipping on the return, but there's no additional restocking fee according to the guy I talked to at Mantis... I know I had him look up the shipping charge for me, and I don't remember what it was, but it seems to me it was perhaps $30 or less, so that might be a question to ask.

When I bought mine, it was about $50 cheaper through Amazon than it would've been from the Mantis site (still came with the free edger and kickstand).
Crista
Gilbert, AZ

July 25, 2007
6:29 PM

Post #3778325

My electric Mantis came on Monday! I so appreciated reading this thread before I ordered - convinced me Mantis was the way to go. Haven't had problems with the electric cord as I do about a 4x4 patch at a time and move laterally away from the cord. Our lot was one that was used as the "homebase" for the heavy equipment and materials for paving streets in our area about seven years ago. I've got about 1" gravelly rocks embedded throughout the soil which has not give the tiller a moments problem. Have also clunked into chunks of cement the builders left. So far I've just needed the lowest setting - 1 out of 3 - and it's done wonderfully. I've always had gas tillers, whackers, chipper/shredders before and and soooo pleased with how quiet this electric model works!!
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

July 25, 2007
6:37 PM

Post #3778352

Christa, I'm glad you love yours too! Mine has even tossed half-bricks out of the dirt without a pause... and if it hits something that gives it trouble, it just shuts off until you get the rock out of the way and hit the reset button. Just don't give in to the temptation to reach between those tines without unplugging the cord, just in case! I've got a lot of gravel and rocks here too, so I make sure I'm wearing sturdy shoes (good anyway for safety) and long pants... sometimes it'll toss a rock out with a bit of force, although it never travels very far.
Crista
Gilbert, AZ

July 26, 2007
5:09 AM

Post #3780652

Must add that my dachshund also is thrilled with the quiet Mantis. Normally he high tails it for the back door when the mower or any other loud machine is running. With this he stands on the edge of the garden while I run it back and forth, and then he comes in and "helps" me dig through and get the rocks. I wish he was better at putting the rocks he finds in the bucket like I do instead of just digging them out.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

July 26, 2007
5:11 AM

Post #3780656

This spring, I think the robins learned to come running when they heard the Mantis... they'd be just a few feet behind me, hunting worms in the newly turned dirt!
Barbsbackyard
Santa Barbara, CA
(Zone 10a)

January 7, 2008
4:40 PM

Post #4371257

Hi Kell,
Just came across this thread. . .did you buy a Mantis Tiller?
Some years ago I came across an ad in our daily paper for a Troy rototiller and called the person who had placed the add. It turned out they had a new Mantis for sale also. The gentleman who was selling, was elderly and couldn't handle the Troy so bought a Mantis to try to use on rock hard clay. His loss was my gain and now, 10+ years later I still use and love my Mantis Tiller.
I have raised veggie garden beds and a natural sandy soil. It has been a daunting job developing a good loam for my veggies beds and ornamental gardens. My little Mantis has been a great sidekick and does a wonderful job. I take it in every second year for maintenance, the kind that I can't do, otherwise I keep it clean and lubricated.
Oh yes, I have a bad back too and had a double knee replacement last year. I can still handle the Mantis and also my 3 compost bins as well as the Mantis Double Composter.
Good luck.
Barb
largosmom
Newport News, VA
(Zone 7b)

January 13, 2008
4:13 AM

Post #4394312

Hi, I bought the electric Mantis last year and I absolutely love it. I have nerve problems in my shoulders particularly and have no trouble handling the mantis in my heavy clay soil. It's light to move around, and so easy to use. I just plug it in and grab the handle with the trigger and start away! Not a pull cord in sight. The blades come off with a simple pull of the cotter pin on the axle if you need to clean off roots. Then they pop back on. Dirt pretty much just falls off.

Anyway, I am very happy!

Laura
Rose1656
Oquawka, IL
(Zone 5a)

February 29, 2008
3:31 PM

Post #4604644

I am checking out mini tillers for my yard, and it sounds like I will be getting a Mantis 2 cycle. Do any of you have the wheel attachment? I think the man said that you can get wheels for it, but I don't see any in the brochure that he gave me. Was wondering if they do help with the bouncing and maneuvering? I live in total sand, so I don't think I'll have any problems breaking new ground (I hope, anyway)!

Thanks for any info,
Rose
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

February 29, 2008
3:40 PM

Post #4604694

I'm not sure, but I think the wheel is just to put on one side so you can use the other side like an edger...

It shouldn't bounce much in "total sand" -- not unless you're going through a lot of weed/grass roots (and if you are, stop every so often to clear the tines).
Rose1656
Oquawka, IL
(Zone 5a)

February 29, 2008
4:09 PM

Post #4604794

Thanks for the answer. My husband is trying to talk me into a larger one, but I think I am going to get this small one because of the size and ease of use. I've tried the bigger garden tillers, and they are way too big for me! Pulls me all over the yard!
7oaks
Wymore, NE
(Zone 5a)

February 29, 2008
11:28 PM

Post #4606289

Rose, I've just read the tale end of this thread, but are you pulling your tiller back, or running it forward? I pull mine backwards to till with it. Just a thought.
Rose1656
Oquawka, IL
(Zone 5a)

March 1, 2008
6:34 AM

Post #4607731

I haven't bought it yet. So, not sure how it will work!

7oaks
Wymore, NE
(Zone 5a)

March 1, 2008
2:03 PM

Post #4608193

Good luck with what ever you choose...
Rose1656
Oquawka, IL
(Zone 5a)

March 1, 2008
11:01 PM

Post #4610145

My husband thinks I need a larger one, but I don't think I would be able to handle a heavier one. After reading this thread I've made up my mind! I'm going to buy one. Pulling one that only weighs 20 lbs backwards has to be easier on the back than the bigger ones that beat you up! The salesman also gave me a card that mentions a years guarantee from Mantis that if you're not satisfied with it you just return it to the manufacturer for a full refund. Not sure how true this is, but I don't think any of the others offer this...
7oaks
Wymore, NE
(Zone 5a)

March 2, 2008
12:46 AM

Post #4610495

I do like mine, because of the size. Mine is a gas one, and they are loud, chain saw loud. My husband said it's basically the same type of engine.
largosmom
Newport News, VA
(Zone 7b)

March 2, 2008
3:00 AM

Post #4610956

You won't regret it, gas or electric.

Laura
phicks
Lakeland, FL
(Zone 9b)

March 4, 2008
1:45 AM

Post #4619060

Best Thing ive Bought in Years Paul
Crista
Gilbert, AZ

March 4, 2008
2:52 AM

Post #4619427

I got an electric mantis, based on comments from this thread, and love it!
pinkpoodlegirl
Rock Hill, SC
(Zone 7b)

March 9, 2008
3:58 AM

Post #4640645

I have the gas powered Mantis that I have had for years and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!!! I have already tilled and planted my raised bed and made a couple new beds. I have hard clay soil with rocks and bricks in it and it breaks it up like a charm. It just brings the rocks and bricks up to the surface so it is easy to remove them. I tilled a 3' x 50' area, taking it from lawn to tilled 10" deep in less than a half hour. I go forward with mine then go backwards over the same area. It is a work horse that is easy for a woman to handle.

If you go with a mantis I know you will love it.
Pamgarden
Central, VA
(Zone 7b)

March 16, 2008
6:47 PM

Post #4671030

I am very tempted to get that 4 stroke. I'm still trying to figure out whether I am am meant to be a tiller or no-till person. I keep reading at different internet sites, and here in DG too, that no-till is the way to go. Any thoughts?
phicks
Lakeland, FL
(Zone 9b)

March 16, 2008
7:04 PM

Post #4671082

mmmmm yup try planting a no till in clay LOL
Pamgarden
Central, VA
(Zone 7b)

March 16, 2008
7:33 PM

Post #4671166

As a former resident of Orlando, I find this clay daunting at best.
Len123
Adrian, MO
(Zone 6a)

March 17, 2008
1:24 AM

Post #4672573

pamgarden, if it makes your planting easier go for it. Save the no-till for farming.

Rose1656
Oquawka, IL
(Zone 5a)

March 18, 2008
2:49 AM

Post #4676899

I bought my Mantis tiller last week, but now I have to wait for the spring thaw to use it! I have a lot of plans for it when it warms up.
Pamgarden
Central, VA
(Zone 7b)

January 10, 2009
5:51 PM

Post #5989342

I'd like to start this thread up again. I think it's time for me to do my patriotic duty for the crummy economy and spend some money. Jill (Critter), you've had two seasons with yours, so I'd like to know if you still think as highly of your Mantis. We will likely get the 4-stroke, since we have a large area. Last year we dug a border by hand (not very large, about 12x3 I'm guessing) and also tried lasagne in back of the house, which worked somewhat, but since I didn't have the 12-24" of material on top, more like 6" it was difficult to keep those areas moist. This spring I'll turn all of that under. Since I'm a year older and have many more back and joint complaints after gardening, I hope the Mantis will renew and improve my gardening desire. I've posted this picture before, but it's the area we hand dug.

Thumbnail by Pamgarden
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Melissa_Ohio
Southwestern, OH
(Zone 6b)

January 11, 2009
4:09 AM

Post #5991337

I'm not Critter, but we don't know how we did without ours! Except for spring when hubby uses the tractor to plow and disc, the mantis is used for everything else!
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

January 11, 2009
4:17 AM

Post #5991367

I love Love LOVE my Mantis. :-)

I'm very glad I went with the electric one... plenty of power for my purposes, and it's much quieter than a gas engine, so I have no worries about whether or not my neighbors are awake yet at 8 am on a Saturday morning. Plus, I just hate dealing with pull cords and gas/oil mixtures.

I keep the cord flipped over my shoulder as I work, and I got a bright orange extension cord... so far, I have not managed to plow over the cord. (*knock wood*)

Pam, I don't remember where you live... are you close enough to take mine for a "test drive?" You're more than welcome to stop by and check it out if you happen to be coming up this way.

It just occurred to me... I don't think I posted a link on this thread to the "Me & My Mantis" article I wrote last spring. Here it is: http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1406/
Pamgarden
Central, VA
(Zone 7b)

January 11, 2009
3:51 PM

Post #5992317

Melissa, Thank you for answering. We've gotta do it. I was surprised to see how the price increase over the past two or three years.

Jill, Thank you so much for your generous offer to try before we buy. DH says it must be a 4-stroke for the reasons you mention, no mixing and emptying out between uses, and some of the areas we would like to use it are 200' or more from an outlet. I'm stoked now. I'll let you know when we get it. We live about 35 miles from C'ville.

I read above where Pinkpoodlegirl tilled a 3'x50' in 3 hours. I think it tooks us 3 days to do half of that by hand.

Pam
vossner
Richmond, TX
(Zone 9a)

January 11, 2009
4:20 PM

Post #5992417

As the till vs. no-till debate expands, I find myself more and more ambivalent about whether we should own one and why. So, we rented a 4 cycle, 6 HP tiller (troybilt?) and used it to start a daffodil bed. The tiller was easy enough to use for breaking our clay soil and even easier when mixing the amendments. As an experiment, we created a 2nd bed which was not tilled but more amendments were added. I am so looking forward to spring to see the results of our experiment.

At this time, I will not get a tiller, not because it is no good, but simply because I don't think we'd use it enough to justify its cost. However, it remains to be seen which daff bed will look better. That may change our minds in favor of getting one or maybe we'll just rent as needed. One thing I'm very glad we did was to rent first in order to get a feel for what this machine can/cannot do.
Pamgarden
Central, VA
(Zone 7b)

January 11, 2009
5:15 PM

Post #5992626

Daff beds. I'm jealous. I have a small box of various bulbs that didn't get planted because I had no bed prepared. It's probably too late now.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

January 11, 2009
10:05 PM

Post #5993593

Pam, I've got a few leftover bulbs too... as long as they still feel sound, stick them in a pot and put the pot in a sheltered location... they'll pop up in spring!
Pamgarden
Central, VA
(Zone 7b)

January 15, 2009
9:30 PM

Post #6009645

Jill, Gonna do it tomorrow, even if it is below freezing.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

January 15, 2009
11:29 PM

Post #6010031

I'll be doing the same... LOL
TsFlowers
Delphi, IN

March 19, 2010
7:11 PM

Post #7641878

Well, for anyone who might be thinking of purchasing a Mantis tiller, I thought I'd resurrect this thread since I just purchased a Mantis 2-cylcle.

I have to say that I am disappointed and I will explain why. But I'm not saying that the Mantis is not a good tiller.

Probably 7 or 8 years ago I purchased a small mini tiller (about 20 pounds) of no name brand at a farm store after feeling like I didn't want to pay the price for a Mantis (which lead me in search for a mini tiller in the first place by receiving mailing advertisements). I tried using the little tiller after I purchased it and thought it would be wonderful but found myself chopping up my plants because it bounced around so bad. So the little tiller got put away. I had also purchased a sears craftsman tiller which was although large, but great, because it was/is self-propelled making it very easy.) I started using the mini tiller again after a couple years/seasons because I had some small spots to work in that the craftsman was just too difficult to get in even though self-propelled in forward and back, and also I think I had become stronger. I found that I really liked the little mini tiller. Yes, I had to put some muscle into holding it down, and I also learned to use the let it go forward, then pull back on it method, and even moving it from side to side. So for the last 5 years, I've used the little tiller hard, throughout the whole growing season as a tiller and cultivator.

Then a friend told me about the Mantis and said how good it was with very little bouncing around. I wished I had read here before I purchased my Mantis. So today a friend came to assemble my Mantis. I read above it took someone 5 minutes...I think my friend is a pretty knowledgable guy, and it took him at least half an hour. I have to agree that start up is very good once it has been started for the first time. (Initial start up can be slow with more pulling.) Hopefully it will continue to start that easy from year to year.

Here is where I am disappointed. I guess I expected less bouncing (to no bouncing like my Craftsman). My ground is not virgin, although medium clay, a previously tilled area for 3 or 4 years, and it still bounced a lot. I did try making the initial passes like someone did above and then come back through and it was a bit better, but still not as good as I had hoped. It definitely seems like the tiller has a lot of power, but no more than my original mini tiller. I guess I was expecting better. So then next, I would come to price. I realize this was 7 or 8 years ago, but I purchased the mini tiller for $99.00 new. (I'm pretty sure at the time that Mantis was at least $250.00, and so long ago I can't remember with or without shipping because at the time they definitely were not to be found locally)

I am thankful because my old mini tiller was wearing me out just getting it started..but of course that probably had to do with the tiller's age and perhaps the Mantis will be the same way after 5 years of hard use. ?? (Although my Craftsman still starts pretty easy after 10 years.) As I saw in post above, my old mini tiller had a removable drag stake. At certain times, I think this helps...other times it gets in the way. Also disappointment that my old mini tiller you could remove the outer tine on each side and drop to a 6" till. That sure did come in handy a many of times. The other thing is the handle lengths. I'm not short (almost 5'8"), and I believe the handles on the Mantis are too long, probably 3" or 4" longer than my old mini tiller. (It would be nice if they could make them adjustable.)

I actually purchased my Mantis at Sears. While I was in Sears, they had their own version of mini tiller weighing about 20 pounds...and close to a $100 less than the Mantis. Had I not heard such raving about how good the Mantis was (not here) I probably would have looked at all other mini tiller options (especially the Sears Craftsman since I have a Craftsman tiller that has been my true workhorse...turning about an acre of sod into garden and flower beds..in my opinion perfect size for a woman since not so large as the Troybuilts...but of course even more $$$ than a Mantis).

So basically, if you are considering price, I would say make sure to check out all mini tiller options. Based on experience, I feel there are other good choice mini tillers out there. I have no idea how long my old mini tiller will continue. I made a deal with my friend that if he would put my Mantis together, I would give him my old mini tiller. He was quite obliged as he had borrowed my mini tiller a couple seasons on ocassion. From using both, he at 6'4" also believes the handles on the Mantis are a bit long, but wouldn't be bad for himself. He doesn't see/feel much difference in the bouncing or power. The one thing he does say is that he thinks the Mantis is a bit quieter than the old mini tiller.



critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 19, 2010
7:55 PM

Post #7642059

I'm 5'6" and don't have any problems with the handle length on the Mantis. I find that using the setting for "cultivate" rather than "till" (I think the difference is which way the tines face; they bite down deeper when set in the "till" direction) pretty much takes care of any bouncing.. and tilling deeply is no problem; it just takes a couple of passes, which for me is easier to do than fighting it down deeper in one sweep. My DH is a big guy, and it doesn't bounce him pretty much no matter what, LOL.

I got the electric one -- no cord to pull, and it's pretty quiet.

I'm still thrilled with my purchase, but it's always a good idea to check your options and see what's available. For more about my experience, see the article I wrote in 2008 for DG: http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1406/
jannz2
Pilot Point, TX
(Zone 7b)

April 11, 2010
3:34 PM

Post #7697644

I have an electric Mantis -- I love it for my small raised beds.
Barbsbackyard
Santa Barbara, CA
(Zone 10a)

April 15, 2010
9:44 AM

Post #7707511

Years ago I was considering the purchase of a large rototiller for my veggie garden area. I answered an ad I found in our local paper for a largeToro rototiller. The elderly gentleman who was selling the Toro could not handle the large tiller any more and during our conversation I discovered he had bought a little gasoline powered Mantis tiller that would not till the heavy clay soil that he had. The soil was blue clay that even the big Toro had trouble with. The Toro would just bounce along on top of that dried clay soil too.

Long story short he sold me his little Mantis and I worship the ground that little workhorse tills. I guess I've had it for about 10 years now. My garden soil is now a nice sandy loam overlaying a blue clay substrait that is about 10 feet down. I have raised garden beds that have gradually been improved over the years. The Mantis is great for using in these beds. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and a very bad back and I'm thankful for this wonderful garden aid that I can use to make my garden grow. My Mantis tiller is light weight and very reliable. Now that it is up in years I usually have it checked about every two years for any potential problems. Last year the primer bulb was replaced and this year I had the shaft checked and lubricated. Any other maintenance I do and I can't have asked for a better little tiller. Because of the reliability of this little tiller I've purchased other Mantis products and have been pleased with their performance also.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

April 15, 2010
2:12 PM

Post #7708156

Thanks for sharing your experience, Barb! I LOL'd at "I worship the ground it tills" because that's pretty much the way I feel about my little workhorse! :-)
phicks
Lakeland, FL
(Zone 9b)

April 15, 2010
6:19 PM

Post #7708652

warm here paul
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

April 15, 2010
8:00 PM

Post #7708947

Hah! Paul, you can't "get" me with zone envy this time... we've had a loverly spring week here! And there are flowers blooming all over my yard that *you* cannot grow in your subtropical zone! So there!

Of course, we'll probably get at least one more round of cooler/freezing temps, and then you can brag.
mableruth
Bolingbrook, IL
(Zone 5a)

July 13, 2010
6:36 AM

Post #7964612

[quote="Chesapeake"]Hi,
Hope to see a lot of comments on the Mantis. We are thinking of buying one too, but would like to have comments from the ladies on how hard they are to handle.
Peg[/quote]

And the guys as well. If they have trouble with it I know it is too tough for me.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

July 13, 2010
9:32 AM

Post #7965078

I can handle mine easily, especially if I use the lower-power setting (which still works fine for tilling, just takes an extra pass or two to get the depth). I have the electric Mantis & love how quiet it is. It won't break new beds in my hard clay, but it's perfect for the areas that have been tractor-tilled and amended previously. :-)
fiwit
Lebanon, GA

January 31, 2011
7:40 PM

Post #8341702

As we eagerly await spring, it's time to dig out this thread (or in my case, to discover it for the first time). Living in GA, I was VERY suspicious that a little ole 20lb tiller could even THINK about handling our red clay. Then my 70yr old aunt in Ohio told me that her Mantis Tiller handles THEIR red clay with no hassles. Aunt also told me that tiller was easy to use, for the most part. She's had 2 knee replacements, and if she can use it, I figured I could.

I live alone, so any yard work that's going to be done, is done by me. And I was planning a TON of yard work, because the house I bought in 2009 had a 50ftx150ft front yard, southwestern exposure, and no shade trees. I need my shade in our summers, and I need trees around me just for survival - they make me peaceful, somehow.

So there I was, in March 2009, with at least 6 trees to plant in red GA clay. Mantis was offering free shipping from their website, free kickstand, and a free attachment (edger? It's one wheel and one straight tine). I jumped at it. All I had to do to put it together was attach the handles and kickstand, IIRC. Might have been one more step, but whatever it was, I was able to accomplish it in under a half hour. Starting it took a little more, for me - in the past, I had never been able to start things with pull cords, but I've found that as long as I have the choke adjusted to what Manty likes, life is good and he starts in just a couple pulls. First start of the season is rough, but that might be due to my idle winters, as well.

Manty arrived in 2-3 days after ordering, I assembled him that same evening, and next day was out in the yard trying him out. I've found that for me, it's best to de-turf the zoysia in my yard, but once I do that, Manty digs in like the trooper he is. My biggest reason for de-turfing is so I don't fight the roots wrapping around the tines.

We'd had rain every day for the week before Manty arrived, and more rain expected a week later. I really wanted to get the trees in the ground (there were 10, by now), in between the rainy weeks. So every morning before work (I work from home, so no daily commute), I was out de-turfing a spot for a tree. On my lunch hour, I went out with Manty and dug the hole, using the "back and forth like a vacuum cleaner" method recommended on their website. It took an average of 15-20 minutes to get a hole that was the right size for my 3-5gal container trees. So I had the tree planted and watered in before my lunch hour was over. Went out after work and mulched it, and planted another tree before dark, using the same procedure.

I planted two trees/day for five days, tamping the dirt around tree number 10 as the rain drops started to fall. Three years later, there are 21 new trees in my front yard, and only one of them was planted without Manty's help (it was a replacement evergreen I planted 2 weeks ago). Manty has also dug up my garden beds for me, helped me clear a 15x25 oval island in the center of my yard, and a side strip that was 10x45.

Last fall, Manty & I started on the beds that will be between the trees. I used the edger attachment for the first time, to mark where the beds would be. I'm ready to continue that project, but it's not spring yet, no matter how much I wish it were, so Manty is still resting in the garage.

I never have to worry about draining the gas out at the end of the season - I run him dry. Each spring, I buy one gallon of gas and pour the little bottle of oil into the gas can. That's Manty's gas, and I shake it up good before feeding him. So no worries on the proper ratio of oil/gas. As long as I keep his air filter clean, he tills my red GA clay.

I've told all of my friends that Manty is without a doubt the best garden tool purchase I've made, and they can have my Mantis tiller when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers.


This message was edited Jan 31, 2011 11:23 PM
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

January 31, 2011
7:47 PM

Post #8341719

I think you got the same good deal I got the year before! Glad you're thrilled with your little tiller, also. I've got plans for mine this spring... couple of areas just need total renovation out there. :-)
GardenSox
Sacramento, CA
(Zone 9a)

February 10, 2011
11:02 AM

Post #8364560

Fiwit, I loved reading your post. Informative, enthusiastic, and witty! I don't think I have a need for a Mantis right now, but after reading your post I kinda want to buy one anyway.
fiwit
Lebanon, GA

February 23, 2011
5:10 AM

Post #8387809

Thanks, GardenSox... I try to be enthusiastic and witty in life (as well as informative), so I'm glad it came through that way on my post. :)
skellogg
Sundance, WY
(Zone 3b)

May 7, 2011
10:16 PM

Post #8547002

Does anyone have the thatcher attachments for their Mantis? Would love to have opinions on how well they worked for them! My mom and I just bought a Mantis at a yard sale today, with the tiller/ cultivator attachments, the edger attachments, and the thatcher attachments. Guy that sold it to us hasn't used it for a couple of years, but we primed it a little, and it fired up. Didn't try actually tilling the guys yard, cuz we didn't think he'd appreciate having his lawn all torn up, lol! We just have the little one, with the 2 cycle engine, but it came with 5 cans of oil, and a new spark plug, and a few other extras, so we took it to my brother, a mechanic, and he's giving it a tune up now. Can't wait to get the little thing home and play with it!
luciee
Hanceville, AL
(Zone 7a)

December 7, 2011
3:54 PM

Post #8920534

I've had mine for over 10 years, closer to 15. It has done everything I would have wanted it to do. Lightweight, easy to handle, easy to start. It has been maintained and I hope it will last another 10 years. Luciee {;^)
daisy68
Spencer, WV

December 11, 2011
9:54 AM

Post #8925060

I have both a 2-cycle Mantis and a new electric Mantis, and I love both! The electric Mantis is so quiet, people have stopped to watch me till because they couldn't HEAR the tiller! It's great if your beds are resonably close to the house, and nothing could be easier to start. The 2-cycle is a bit fussy about fuel mixture, so I would definitely recommend the one that just takes gas - and the upgrade to the easy-start system. I have used my Mantis to start new beds in heavily compacted clay soil. If it is REALLY bad, my husband will go through and break up the soil with a pick - just lifting it a bit so the Mantis tines can grab hold. I am talking about REALLY BAD dirt, where bulldozers had compacted the soil and removed all of the topsoil. I have also used the edging attachment to create small trenches to add different kinds of edging, and I loaned it to a friend to install the line for an underground fence. She did her whole yard in an afternoon! I am not an obsessive tiller, because it is bad for the worms, but it is the easiest way to start a new bed.
Gracye
Warrenton, VA

April 13, 2012
1:10 PM

Post #9081156

Interesting, all these posts about the pros of a Mantis, or any tiller, in fact. Grew up with my father struggling with a full-blown rototiller, and have returned to gardening (and Virginia!), and reading all sorts of stuff about all things green. Since hubby and I have started a veggie garden, this thread is especially interesting. Here's something I read that I cannot get out of my mind - that tilling the soil disturbs the natural order of things in the dirt, and makes a sort of "impact condensed level" right under where the tillers don't reach. Jeese, with Virginia red clay, do I really want this? So, I am resorting to hiring strong backs to hand-dig, and of course (and I am female), I am using my own back and garden spade (indispensable tool). I just got a "Virginia Gardener" magazine that brings up this subject again, so I am staying alert to it. Any thoughts? Has anyone tried hand-digging past the point of where their tiller tills? As you can tell, I am rethinking my approach to encouraging deep roots.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

April 13, 2012
4:53 PM

Post #9081464

I'm pretty sure that hand-digging will also disturb the natural soil layers, although it probably wouldn't create a denser impacted level... I'm not sure my mantis really creates much of an impact level, actually, at least not the way a big farm tiller would.

Google "no till method" for gardening, and you'll find lots of information on making "lasagna beds" (layers of mulch and paper and leaves and other "compost-ables")... the only digging you do with those methods is making planting holes.

Please drop by the mid-atlantic gardening forum and check out the "Events" thread at the top... there are several plant swaps and other events this spring! There's also friendly online chatter, of course, but it's really fun to try to meet some other DGers in person... :-)
skellogg
Sundance, WY
(Zone 3b)

April 16, 2012
5:53 AM

Post #9084357

I use my Mantis to work new compost and aged manure into my "lasagna beds" every year, too. Our dirt is so bad and rocky here, that if I don't add new to our beds, it just disappears after a winter or 2. ;-)

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