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I'm considering purchasing a gas powered string trimmer, after my previous electric one died.

I've noticed that some offer accessories. I have also been thinking of getting a cultivator, and that's one of the accessories some offer.

Example 1 Trimmer Example 1 Cultivator

Example 2 Trimmer Example 2 Cultivator

What are the advantages and disadvantages of that compared to buying a dedicated cultivator?

Edit: My soil is red clay, probably ultisols.

While the cultivator accessory interests me most right now, I'd also be interested in hearing about the limitations of other common accessories. They seem to offer edgers, brush cutters, blowers, hedge trimmers, and something that looks like a chain saw on a pole.

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Also notice The Poulan Pro only has a 75% satisfactory rating, and most of the negatives had to do with gear-box failure. –  J. Musser May 20 at 1:19

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

A dedicated cultivator is a heavy machine that uses its weight to dig deep.

A trimmer cultivator attachment won't go nearly as deep. Ours (a Ryobi) is relatively heavy, and will go around 4 or 5 inches, but I think many won't even go that far.

This probably varies with the model, but with our string trimmer roots get wrapped up in it and I have to cut/pull them off occasionally. If you don't have tree roots to deal with, this probably won't be a problem.

With hard-to-penetrate soil, you may find that a trimmer cultivator doesn't dig in very well.

We have raised beds in wood frames, with some internal cross-braces, so a big Troy Bilt or whatever would likely cause damage.

If you have a big area, I think a dedicated cultivator would be easier and faster. For smaller areas, consider using a garden fork, which is what I use most of the time. I bought a Craftsman fork 30 years ago and am on replacement 4 or 5 now. You can't beat the price!

For a clay soil or other soil with poor tilth, amend the soil (over time) with organic matter. Consider planting winter rye or other cover crop in the off season, and turning it in a few weeks before planting in the spring. Other organic material, like composted cow manure, is good too, of course.

You may want to continue to fork and then use a string trimmer-cultivator to break up the top few inches better. Once the soil's in better shape, you can probably skip the cultivator.

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In the past I've used a Craftsman tiller but the last two years I've switched to a broadfork and a rake. I'm finding that works best in my beds and takes only a couple minutes each. It worked just as well for the areas where my tomatoes are which is 4 rows totaling about 60 feet. –  Brian Surowiec Aug 1 '12 at 2:14
    
On your second paragraph, it ends with "A". Did you leave off a sentence? My soil is mostly red clay. It's harder in some places than others. All I've been using a garden fork and shovel. It doesn't really break up the soil as fine as I would like. –  Tim Aug 1 '12 at 4:23
    
@Tim, see appended 2 paragraphs. –  Ed Staub Aug 1 '12 at 15:31

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