Manually breaking up soil with a spade or other hand tools is time consuming and back breaking work. However, with the use of a rotavator, you can power through it by using the blades to break up and aerate the soil. Some of the latest garden rotavators are suitable for a range of budgets and are available with a petrol, electric or battery powered motor.
Depending upon the rotavating you intend on doing will determine the best suited machine for your job. For example, in the photo above, we bought a rotavator for heavy duty work such as chopping through heavy clay soil filled with thick roots. However, if you only plan to rotavate upon a small lawn or allotment, you wouldn’t need such a powerful machine.
Regardless to the rotavating task in hand, below are our recommendations upon how to use a rotavator.
Table of Contents
Analyse The Soil Moisture
As you can imagine, using a rotavator in wet conditions isn’t recommended because it can cause big clods. If you are unsure whether the ground is too wet, it’s advised that you dig up some soil and see if it will break in your hand. If it doesn’t break up, we would recommend that you wait a few days.
Remove Any Weeds
Removing any weeds upon the ground prior to rotavating is highly recommended. Obviously, any rotavator will break them up but it’s the fact that they can become caught up in the blades of the rotavator. This can therefore cause them to spread across your plot and cause even more work for yourself. Ideally, you will want to use a weed killer a few weeks prior but if not, removing the weeds by hand is advised a few days beforehand.
Setup The Rotavator
Depending upon which type of machine you are using will determine how you set it up ready for use. For example, if you are using a petrol rotavator, ensure that it has enough petrol and the oil is at its recommended level. If you are using an electric rotavator, ensure that you have enough cable length (if not use an extension lead) and that you keep the cable behind the rovator. Finally, if you have a battery powered rotavator, ensure that it has plenty of charge.
Operate the Rotavator
Once the ground is prepared and the rotavator is setup, you can then begin to use the rotavator. Obviously, you will want to keep the rotating tines away from your hands and feet at all times. You may also wish to ear defenders and gloves if you intend on rotavating large areas that may take a few hours.
Whilst using a rotavator, you may find that it jumps when it hits something hard such as a root. It’s important that you stay relaxed, keep a firm grip upon the handlebars and control the rotavator appropriately.
Rotavate in Strips
For the best possible results whilst rotavating, it’s recommended that you rotavate the ground in strips. Upon your first pass, you shouldn’t dig down too much (2 to 3 inch is plenty) and then rotavate slightly deeper upon each pass after that.
As you are using the rotavator in strips, you will want to slightly overlap upon each pass and continue to rotavate until you are happy with the overall soil quality.
Our Top Tips
- Don’t apply too much downwards force as it can cause the rotavator jump
- Keep a firm grip on the handlebars at all times
- Don’t rotavate at a large angle
- Remove any debris or thick roots prior to rotavating