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Last updated on April 30th, 2021
With a new generation of more affordable petrol rotavators now available, more and more people are starting to see the benefits of using a rotavator whether it be electric or petrol powered but in this guide, we have focused on the best petrol rotavators which usually offer wider tilling widths, more power as well as mobility. For me, if you want sheer power or have a large plot, it’s got to be a petrol rotavator.
With so many models now available it doesn’t smaller if you have a small garden border or large allotment plot, but what matters is that soil cultivation is done right depending on what you want to plant. You can work with rotavators featuring depth adjustment to avoid digging too much into the ground or find a machine that offers a constant working depth and wider cultivating widths.
Apart from considering the working depth, there are more factors to remember before settling for a petrol rotavator. I have explained these factors in the buying section further down but before that, let us look at five rotavators that are well worth considering depending on your situation.
I made a point to highlight the top rotavators like our best pick, the T-Mech 52cc Garden Rotavator, which is lightweight but robust enough to deal with light domestic work. There is more on these optimal performing models in the section below:
Petrol Rotavator Reviews
1. T-Mech 52cc Garden Petrol Rotavator
First, on the list is the T-Mech Garden Rotavator fitted with a robust 52cc engine to meet the demands of a small-medium sized garden but at what I would consider a very affordable price for such as good machine.
This rotavator 3HP engine produced speeds of up to 9000rpm to get through tough soil. For the engine to run effectively, its 1.2L capacity tank needs to be refilled with the proper 2-stroke oil mix ratio of 40:1. This is where is a little more work involved as you have to measure out the oil and petrol and mix it together but it does come with a mixing bottle that makes this very easy.
You simply fill the mixing container with petrol to the mark, then add oil to the next mark and then shake well. All you need to do then is simply add the fuel from the mixing bottle to the engine and it’s good to go. This is what makes it such a good choice for anyone investing in their first rotavator, it easy to use and also comes with safety gear which most other models don’t. This includes gloves, glasses, leg protesters and ear protection, everything you need to stay safe and get started.
It’s also relatively lightweight at around 17kg, a little heavier with the fuel but nothing that you will notice, It also comes with two sturdy wheels which makes it easy to move around and ergonomic handles for easy manoeuvrability.
It has a working width of 20cm so one of the narrower tilling widths of all the rotavators on our list but this also makes it perfect for smaller borders and allotment. The working depth of 15cm is pretty standard; therefore, you can use the tines to turn the soil at the required depth.
As mentioned it includes a fuel-mixing bottle, free tool kit, and a funnel for refuelling the rotavator with fuel. In case of any faults, the Rotavator is covered by a 1-year warranty where the manufacturer will handle any issues with the product. 1 year is actually nothing to shout about but at least you have that peace of mind for the first 12 months and for the price, I wouldn’t really expect any longer.
- Powered by a powerful 52cc 2-stroke engine to get through different soils.
- Offers a working depth of 15cm and a working width of 20cm.
- Features comfortable handles for easy manoeuvrability.
- It is lightweight at only 17kg.
- It has a sizeable 1.2L tank for less refuelling.
- Comes with everything you need except fuel – tool kit, PPE.
- Comes with a 1-year warranty and a free tool kit.
- The instruction manual could be clearer.
- 2 stroke so the oil does need mixing with the fuel as with all 2-stroke models.
- Handle height cannot be adjusted.
The T-Mech 52cc Garden Rotavator is a well-made machine for more domestic around the garden or allotment. It is marketed for professional gardeners as well but I would say its ok for lighter professional work, for serious gardeners looking for a machine that goes day after day, consider the Honda model if you have the budget.
I like that you can adjust the working depth to suit what you want to plant whether vegetables or preparing to lay turf, for me this is more important than the tilling width as you can always make more passes.
I think this machine is suitable for more domestic use rather than professional work because its small engine and small working width limit it. If you have a small garden or allotment, this robust rotavator provides good value for money because it is durable and I don’t think you will find a better model for the price. Just don’t overwork it if you plan on using it for professional work, ie clients gardeners. For most people though, I think this is a great little petrol rotavator.
2. Honda FG205 4-Stroke Petrol Mini Tiller
The Honda FG205 4-Stroke Petrol Mini Tiller is a low-vibration model with a slower speed than most other rotavators, I think this helps cultivate the soil better but it still has all the raw power needed for tough soils.
With a slow speed of 135rpm, the tiller can penetrate all soil types without straining the engine thanks to the reliable honda engine, as many gardeners know, you don’t get much better when it comes to engines than Honda. There reliable, powerful, easy to maintain and start and will often outlast the machine itself if looked after correctly.
The tiller is powered by a 4-stroke OHV GXV50 engine that is easy to start, but what I really like when you compare it to a 2-stroke model, there is no oil to mix so it just makes refuelling so much easier and faster. It also produces fewer emissions and is highly fuel-efficient too. Personally, I prefer 4-stroke engines, I also think there more reliable but they are usually only fitted with premium machines too.
You can control how deep you want the 45cm wide tines to penetrate the soil by maximizing the 26cm working depth. It’s also worth mentioning that is almost twice as wide as our best pick which makes it more suitable for larger plots too and if you’re using it professionally, as you know, time is money in this game, litterally.
Although the machine is a tad heavy ergonomic handles make it easier to steer the machine and I like that it features foldable handles that take up less space during storage and carry handles for easy transportation.
The 24kg model is durable as it is accompanied by an unbeatable 5-year domestic warranty so for all you home gardeners that 5 years of peace of mind. However, for trade use, professional gardeners and landscapers, it only comes with a 1-year commercial warranty but this is pretty standard with most brands.
- Features a low vibration and powerful 4-stroke GXV50 engine.
- Lower tilling speeds of 135rpm so you have more control.
- Offers a wide working width of 45cm for larger plots and a maximum working depth of 26cm.
- Operates rather quietly compared to some other alternative models.
- Comes with foldable handles for easy storage and carry handles.
- Offers good value for money combining reliability and build quality.
- Accompanied by an unbeatable 5-year domestic warranty and 1-year commercial warranty.
- The instruction manual could be better (how many times have I said that).
- No variable speeds.
The Honda FG205 4-Stroke Petrol Mini Tiller is a premium machine that is ideal for both the home gardener and professionals alike. If you’re looking for a high-quality build, reliable machine that is built to last, then this is what you need. It may be expensive but it will never let you down if looked after correctly and will probably be the last rotavator you need.
Personally i think it’s not too big so can be used on smaller plots whether that be a small garden border or allotment, but it’s also not to smaller thanks to the wider 45cm cultivating width so its also useful for those who have larger plots to cultivate.
Although the user manual could be better (not uncommon for garden machinery), this mini tiller is pretty straight forward to get up and running and there plenty of Youtube videos. It is a bit heavier than our best pick buts it’s also in a different league and it’s not really fair to compare the two side by side. They’re both good machines but if you looking for reliability and a machine you only buy once, this is the sort of model you need to consider. If I had the budget, it would be between this model by Honda and our next pick by Mantis which is also powered by a Honda engine, that’s going to throw a spanner in the works.
3. Mantis 7265 4-Stroke Deluxe Petrol Tiller
Another lightweight but extremely reliable model is the Mantis 7265 4-Stroke Deluxe Petrol Tiller that weighs in at 12kgs. This tiller is light but powerful, possessing an efficient 4-stroke 25cc Honda engine that supports a maximum speed of 200rpm. You can control the speed of the tiller through the throttle which is nice, and also includes the shut-off switch for easy accessibility.
The durable reversible tines have a working width of 23cm making the machine ideal for small gardens. You have control over how deep the tines go by adjusting the working width provided too. The maximum depth the tines can go is 10 inches which is around 25cm, but you can reverse to shallow cultivate at a depth of 2-inches (5cm). So overall you have more flexibility than most models.
You also have the option to adjust the height of the handles to suit your height, again this is something you cannot do with cheaper models. There are three levels of handle height adjustment, and these handles are foldable to create a compact size for storage.
Finally it comes with a 5-year warranty but teh tines themselves ar actually backed by a lifetime guarantee It comes with a free bottle of Engine Oil, a hardware bag, and a kickstand attachment. All you need to do is spend 30-40 minutes setting it up, add some petrol, the oil and is ready to use.
- Possesses a 4-stroke 25cc Honda engine to power variable speeds.
- Lightweight machine with carrying handle for easy portability.
- Comes with height-adjustable handles that can be folded for storage.
- Offers a working width of 23cm and an adjustable working depth.
- Operates quietly compared to 2-stoke models.
- Accompanied by accessories and a 5-year warranty and lifetime guarantee on the tines.
- It is pricey but your’e paying for quality and reliability.
Those looking for a powerful yet lightweight machine will find the Mantis 7265 4-Stroke Deluxe Petrol Tiller a good choice. This tiller is equipped with a 4-stroke 25cc Honda engine that I find operates relatively silently compared to 2-stroke alternatives. There is something about 2-stroke engines that makes them much noisier than 4-stroke models.
This model supports variable speeds to break into the ground easily, and the serpentine tines are durable; hence they won’t bend or need replacement frequently and there even backed by a lifetime guarantee.
Admittedly, this tiller is costly, but when it comes to reliability and built quality, only Honda comes close and Mantis even use a honda engine. Overall your first impressions might be it’s a little smaller than you might expect. However, you won’t regret buying this machine, its compact while being very powerful and it won’t let you down. You even have the option to buy separate attachments such as a lawn edger, trench digger and some other cleverly designed attachments for gardening. Don’t forget it also includes that 5-year warranty and a lifetime guarantee on the tines.
4. SwitZer Heavy Duty 6.5 HP Petrol Rotavator
The SwitZer 6.5 HP Petrol Rotavator is a wheeled 19cc 4-stroke engine machine designed to handle heavy-duty operations and I think makes a great alternative to someone who is looking for a model where the tines are at the back of the machine.
This 6.5HP machine is equipped with fingertip throttle control for user comfort and a wide working width of 40cm to cover more ground at a go. Like other well-equipped rotavators in the market, this model has working depth adjustments between 17.5cm and 35cm.
The machine has two modes to work with; backwards and forward, with the latter being the easy-to-use mode and the former ideal for heavy-duty work. With a heavy-duty gearbox and precision copper gear drive transmission, this tiller can work with different soils. You won’t have to work in awkward positions as the rotavator has ergonomic height adjustable handles too.
It is a heavy machine weighing an estimated 76kgs, which is why it has wheels so maybe consider getting some ramps if you want to transport it to your allotment. This model has a one-year warranty which is a little disappointing as it is quite expensive.
- Heavy-duty 19cc 4-stroke engine to handle heavy tasks.
- Possesses a heavy-duty gearbox and precision copper gear drive transmission.
- Comes with an adjustable working depth of 17.5cm- 35cm.
- Offers a wide working width of 40cm.
- Features height adjustable handles.
- Provides good value for money for those looking for a larger rotavator.
- A bit heavy.
- Not suitable for commercial work as will void warranty.
For its size and power, the SwitZer Heavy Duty 6.5 HP Petrol Rotavator is worth the price. This is the type of tiller you purchase when you have a large area to cover as it has a wide working width. The tines could be of better quality, but they get the job done. With this model, you actually have the tines at the back of the machine which is what makes it a little different, this is more of an industrial design but for domestic use. To give you an idea, an industrial model similar to this such as the G46 Professional Rotavator Code 80089T would be over £1500. This is around a third of the price.
You will find that the adjustable handles offer a firm grip that made it easy for me to find the right working position for my height. Another feature I like in this particular machine was the choice between two gear modes and the fingertip throttle control because it makes it easier to manoeuvre around dry or wet soil. This premium-priced rotavator is suitable for large allotments or areas with tough soil that need a bit more power to get through.
5. eSkde TI52-S8 52cc Petrol Garden Tiller Cultivator
Lastly is the eSkde TI52-S8 52cc Petrol Garden Tiller featuring a 52cc 2-stroke engine with a 1.2L fuel tank capacity. The tiller is suitable for garden borders and vegetable patches and allotments because it is lightweight and easy to work with. It weighs about 15kgs which is considerable light compared to models like the SwitZer 6.5 HP model.
To penetrate the soil, the tiller has 4 Blades each with 4 tines made from steel so a total of 16 tines to work the soil. You don’t need to worry when working with hard soil because the machine supports variable speeds too. The maximum speed you can achieve with this machine is 7000rpm, and with a working width of 35cm, it is easy to get work done fast.
This air-cooled petrol tiller comes with ergonomic handles that are detachable for easy storage and transport. The affordable machine does not have a long warranty, but the 1-year provided is enough to determine whether the tiller was worth the money or not.
- Powered by an air-cooled 52cc 2-stroke engine.
- It has a 1.2L fuel tank to provide a decent running time.
- Lightweight machine with removable handles for storage.
- It is affordable.
- Supports various speeds.
- Offers a wide working width of 35cm.
- Comes with a 1-year warranty.
- Poor user instructions.
- The engine is mounted near handle bars which some users may not like.
The eSkde TI52-S8 52cc Petrol Cultivator is an affordable option for those looking for a lightweight rotavator but one that’s isn’t too narrow but also not too big. This model offers a decent working width and various speeds to work through different types of soil.
I find this machine ideal for light jobs as you can remove the handles and carry the tiller with you to different locations. It is not heavy enough to meet the demands of professional work; however, any DIY enthusiast will appreciate the manoeuvrability that this model has to offer.
How to Buy a Petrol Rotavator that’s Suitable for You
When looking at the marketplace, there is usually some confusion between tillers, rotavators, and cultivators. Knowing the difference between these types of machines is essential because you don’t want to be stuck with the wrong model.
A rotavator features rear blades to go deeper into the soil, while cultivators have front blades for light turning of the soil. A tiller that is typically smaller in size features a non-rotating blade that digs through, ploughing the soil. Unlike rotavators and cultivators, tillers rarely spot wheels because they have a lightweight body that is easy to manoeuvre. In the end, though, they all cultivate the soil.
Types of Rotavators
Although this review is specific to petrol rotavators, there is no harm in knowing the other types available. There are three main types of rotavators which include manual, electric, and petrol-powered models.
Electric rotavators are available in cordless and corded forms; it is up to the buyer to choose which is suitable. Cordless models cost more due to the need for sizeable battery packs to provide decent running time. Those who are environmentally conscious tend to select electric rotavators because they pollute the environment less.
Check out our review where we reviewed some of my favourite electric rotavators, usually suitable for small gardens.
Petrol rotavators are the most powerful making them suitable for heavy-duty work. Cords do not limit them; hence they can be used in remote areas where many people find there allotments. They are not as affordable as electric but they are now some great affordable models as the price has come down over the last few years.
They offer unparalleled durability lasting for decades with proper care and maintenance. The best petrol rotavator is not only powerful but fuel-efficient. Some models even come with lifetime guarantees on the tines.
Other considerations to make before purchasing a rotavator
Finding the right model for you is a fairly easy task if you take into account the considerations I outline below:
Type of soil
Different places have different soils, and understanding the soil you are working with can help you pick the right model. Heavier soils need more power to penetrate; thus, heavy-duty models are suitable. Lightweight rotavators can easily break through light soils; hence there is no need to purchase a heavy-duty model.
2-stroke vs. 4-stroke engine
Petrol rotavators mostly feature a 2-stroke or 4-stroke engine, and each has its own benefits. In terms of torque at high speeds, 2-stroke engines win; however, 4-stroke engines provide more torque at lower speeds which I think is generally better for cultivating soil.
Notably, 2-stroke engines are quite loud when compared to 4-stroke engines that run much more silently but models with 4 stroke engines are nearly always more expensive but thet also tend to be more reliable and have longer warranties. Personally, I just prefer 4-stroke engines, there also easier to fuel up.
The working width determines how much ground the rotavator can cover at a go. A wider working width will cover more surface area than a narrow width. If you want to work on a large area, then a rotavator with a broad working depth will take a shorter time to work through. An excellent example of a model with a broad width is the Honda FG205 4-Stroke Petrol Mini Tiller. Remember though, narrow models are may be better for smaller plots and storage.
Whether it is lawn care or preparing the allotment for planting season, a rotavator with an adjustable working depth is a much really. You can turn the soil as deep or as shallow as you require. However, it is important to note that not all models come with an adjustable working depth. Always confirm if the feature is available before purchasing the rotavator.
Unless you want to spend hours assembling the rotavator, select one that is easy to assemble. You can determine if the rotavator is easy to assemble by looking at customer reviews. With many rotavators, the common complaint regarding assembly is that the instructions provided are poor.
If you find yourself with a set of inadequate instructions, just look online for videos that simplify assembly or patiently figure it out on your own. Most rotavators are pretty simple to put together.
Rotavators need handles for easy manoeuvrability while working and during transportation. Rotavators with soft grip handles reduce the chances of your hands developing blisters while working for long periods. Another convenient feature is the handles that can be folded for compact storage or can be removed to create a smaller footprint.
When working with blades, a safety switch is vital in avoiding unnecessary accidents. If the blades hit something that they shouldn’t, the safety switch should be located at the handles for easy accessibility to stop the motor from operating. In most cases, certified rotavators like the SwitZer Heavy Duty 6.5 HP Petrol model come with these safety features as a requirement, so be sure to be on the lookout. Also, remember to wear safety glasses and ear protection.
Rotavators with long warranties are preferable because it shows that the manufacturer is confident in the product. A rotavator usually comes with a warranty between 1-5 years or more, depending on the brand. Most cheaper models will only give a 1 year warranty and theres a reason for that, expensve models that are reliable such as those made by Mantus and Honda nearly always include a 5 year warranty.
Our Recommendations When Rotavating
There are a few guidelines available to make your experience using rotavators more effective. These guidelines are not set in stone, but they go a long way in simplifying matters.
- Make the rows as long as possible to save time. This is because making multiple short rows can consume a lot of energy and time.
- Space the rows according to the size of the rotavator to avoid missing out on some sections, which will require re-working.
- Once the soil is cultivated, avoid walking over the soil severally as this will compact it again.
- Do not penetrate the soil too deep as this will result in large pools of water when it rains.
- You can leave cut plant matter that is not destined for the compost in the soil to provide valuable nutrients resulting in fertile soil.
- Avoid planting the same crops more than twice in the same allotment. Each time you rotavate, try and plant different things so that the soil can maintain its fertility.
- After working, dislodge any dirt from the tine/blades to avoid them from becoming blunt and providing a shoddy performance.
The best petrol rotavator is not the most expensive model ever made; it is all about functionality, who is using it and for what. If the rotavator meets the demands of the work that it is meant to do, you are getting value for money. This is why our best pick is also one of the most affordable.
As you have seen, our best pick, the T-Mech 52cc Garden Rotavator is small enough to meet the demands of a small garden as it has a narrow working width of 20cm. The 2-stroke engine machine has fast speeds; hence it is easy to work through the soil of different textures. This is a great option for most home gardeners or whose will allotments.
Additionally, it is more affordable compared to our runner-up, the Honda FG205 4-Stroke Petrol Mini Tiller.
Our runner-up is a premium-priced 4-stroke Honda model that operates quietly, and it possesses a wider working width of 45cm. You cannot go wrong with this model as it comes with a 5-year warranty to give you peace of mind.
Regardless of the rotavator that you end up choosing, I believe that you have all the information to make the right decision.
Last update on 2021-05-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API