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The Best Small Garden Tiller

By Fern Fischer ; Updated September 21, 2017

Thirty years ago it took the strength of a man to run a cumbersome, heavy garden tiller. Tiller advancements were typically made solely in the form of engine improvements. Then came a little red tiller called Mantis. Named because the handlebars resemble the legs of a praying mantis, the lightweight tillers were first advertised in garden magazines in 1980. Since then, Mantis tillers have changed the way Americans garden.


Mantis tillers are available in three models at the time of writing. The two-cycle gasoline engine model weighs only 20 pounds, and is the basic Mantis. The four-cycle gasoline engine model weighs 24 pounds, and has a Honda engine that requires no fuel mixing. The four-cycle is somewhat quieter than the two-cycle. The electric motor model weighs 21 pounds, and is the quietest of all. The electric model has a 115-volt motor that delivers about 3/4 horsepower, and you can select from three power settings. A 540-watt circuit breaker protects the motor from overloads.


The major success of Mantis tillers is due to the patented serpentine tines. The unique design allows these little tillers to power through tough sod or heavy clay soils. The result is light, fluffy soil, with weeds and grass chopped finely and mixed in to add valuable humus. The tines are reversible for use on deep tilling jobs or shallow cultivating and weeding tasks. Additional attachments make the Mantis tiller an edger, lawn dethatcher, furrower, crevice cleaner and more. The hedge trimmer attachment fits only the two-cycle model. Other attachments work for all three.

The handles on all models fold so the tiller fits into your car. The folded size makes the tiller extremely easy to store in a small space.


The prices for Mantis tillers are very reasonable. In January 2010, the company website offers free shipping on all models. The two-cycle and electric models are priced at $349, and the four-cycle is $449. The tillers are shipped so that you only need to assemble the handles and attach them. Easy instructions are included in print as well as DVD. The toll-free number connects you to service staff who will give you more help if you need it.


Mantis tillers come with an Owner’s Manual with easy to understand, detailed instructions for the proper use, care, and maintenance of your tiller. The DVD has videos of the maintenance procedures, so you will be able to keep your Mantis in top condition without having to pay repair fees.

Warranty and Guarantee

Every Mantis tiller has a one year money-back guarantee. If you are not happy with it after using it for one year, just return it to the company and get a complete refund.

The patented tines have a lifetime guarantee. If they ever break, they will be replaced free.

All Mantis tillers have a five-year warranty on all components for materials and workmanship. Mantis products other than tillers have a two year warranty.


About the Author


Fern Fischer's print and online work has appeared in publications such as Midwest Gardening, Dolls, Workbasket, Quilts for Today and Cooking Fresh. With a broader focus on organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family articles, she specializes in topics involving antique and modern quilting, sewing and needlework techniques.