It’s important to maintain healthy soil in order to grow plants and regular cultivation is vital. It allows air to get into the soil which enables it to get warmer quicker during the growing season which speeds up the growth of your plants. It makes weeding a lot easier and has other useful purposes too. For example, the birds can get at the insects easier and it makes for better soil drainage. It also helps with the nutrients which are vital to the healthy growth of your plants.
Rotovator v Cultivator?
They are both very similar instruments in that they’re designed to till the soil. However, a rotovator tends to be used for jobs that require deeper digging and its blades are more powerful helping you to turn over deeper areas of grass and soil. Cultivator blades are lighter and they are usually used in the preparation of plant and flower beds.
Advantages and Disadvantages
For most keen gardeners, the labour involved in digging, hoe-ing and forking is one of the fundamental aspects of why they took up gardening in the first place. Using these power-driven instruments for the basics of soil preparation takes away the pleasure some gardeners find in preparing the soil by hand.
Many gardens are not that large and some gardeners view rotovators as trying to crack a peanut with a large heavy mallet. They are quite expensive too so, unless you have an extremely large garden and the soil is in very bad condition, the traditional spade, fork and hoe are usually adequate. They can also be very noisy and difficult to handle but are good on large areas of soil that are mostly weed free.
One of the main disadvantages of using a rotovator is that if there are lots of perennial weeds in the soil such as nettles, dandelions and the like, a powerful rotovator will simply dig them all up but in doing so, it will shatter the roots into hundreds of tiny pieces which will then be scattered all over the area so you may end up with more weeds than you started with once all the shredded pieces have taken root.
Cultivators tend to dig more lightly and are ideal for tilling areas around trees and shrubs as well as planting furrows for things like onions, carrots, potatoes etc. They can also double up as a useful hedge trimmer and if you have a bad back, they can be a godsend as they are much less labour intensive than having to do the job manually. Removing weeds or working with fertiliser is also made easier using a cultivator.
The best advice would be to consider the size of the area you need to cultivate. If your garden is the size of a small field and the soil is basically free of weeds then a rotovator is the ideal tool although they can be very expensive so it may be worth looking at hiring one or getting someone in to do the job for you. However, for smaller areas and lighter digging a cultivator is less intrusive, more multi-functional and less likely to spread weeds around.
That said, you may still prefer to get the spade, fork and hoe out even if it takes a bit more time and involves a bit of good honest graft and sweat.