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maintaining grass/meadow areas with scythe?

Discussion in 'Lawns' started by Evee, Jun 23, 2021.

  1. Evee

    Evee Apprentice Gardener

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    our garden 'lawn' has varying length areas of grass & wildflowers/weeds, we like the long parts but down-side is when you need to cut it, it takes longer to cut with strimmer or shears as its too much for our mower. I've been thinking about whether there is a more efficient hand tool, maybe a scythe?

    Does anyone have experience using one?

    Note, I'm quite short and weak! but I do like exercising via gardening.
     
  2. Jiffy

    Jiffy The Match is on Fire

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    Used them years ago and can be good, but there is a nack to useing them, you've either got it or not, good for your lower back muscles and you have to watch out for your feet, you will have to make sure the scythe is sharp or it will be very hard to use, it even can be faster than a strimmer

    scythe vs strimmer - Bing video
     
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    • ricky101

      ricky101 Total Gardener

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      Hi,

      Depends on how many visits to A&E you want !! :biggrin:

      Seems the essence of the Scythe or smaller Sickle is keeping the blade razor sharp and being able to hold and move it in the correct manner to effect a good cut.
      Plenty of Ytubes on using them, looks like hard work to us !

      Have to ask how big an area your lawn /meadow is and why a strimmer is not doing a good job ? Would getting a bigger one as used by the professional gardeners work better ?
      You could also just hire a big one for a day to prove it does the job ok.
       
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      • Evee

        Evee Apprentice Gardener

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        Hehe yes - I've already thought about how scary those blades are :)

        the areas are small and easily doable with shears/strimmer, will probably always needs shears when near trees etc - I just get bored easily!

        looking about online another option is a scythette? -maybe better for small person in smaller area with some obstacles.
         
      • JWK

        JWK Gardener Staff Member

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        You need someone experienced to show you how to use a scythe without doing your back in. It doesn't actually take much effort it's more about balance and the action, but for long grass and weeds forget it.

        I'd use a brush cutter, which is a bit like a large strimmer fitted with a circular cutter.
         
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        • pete

          pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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          I was under the impression that scythes actually are easier to use on long grass.

          If I cant be bothered to get out extension and strimmer I often grab my old sickle to cut down the odd bit of grass on the allotment, it does do my back in, mostly because I have to bend all the time I'm using it.
          I would think a scythe would be less hard on the back, but only suitable for larger areas really.
           
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          • luciusmaximus

            luciusmaximus Total Gardener

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            I have lots of long grass here and cut it once or twice a year with a strimmer. I always check the grass first for anyone who may be sleeping/ living in it, ie, hedgehogs, shrews, baby birds, etc.
             
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            • Liz the pot

              Liz the pot Super Gardener

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              I use to cut several acres a year on a local job. Was good old tough grass and used a Stihl brushcutter. The secret for grass is not to use the star shaped metal tools as they are slow and a nasty surprise may happen if somethings in the grass.
              The line needs to be a thin as you can get away with as the wider the diameter the more resistance you have which slows down the head speed. The only reason I used the big old brushcutter was it had cow horns, harness and low vibrations which helped my white finger issue.
              thankfully I don’t do that job now as it was mind numbing.
               
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              • shiney

                shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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                I used to use a scythe and wouldn't recommend it as it takes a lot of practice and strong back muscles. I certainly don't have the muscles any more :old:

                I've decided that our wild area will need to be cut down this week and have some garden help coming tomorrow. He does all our heavy work nowadays. I've been out there this morning marking where all the orchids are and he can then strim and rake the rest. It's about 2,500sq ft and too much for me to even attempt. I'll run the mower over it after he has finished. I usually leave it at least another month but the wild grasses are coming up to chest high in places and starting to seed into the veg plot. We do a walk through first to look for wildlife. I don't know what sort of strimmer he uses but it's a powerful wire one.
                 
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                • shiney

                  shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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                  Some of my wild area - don't think a pair of scissors will be sufficient. :heehee:

                  P1510930.JPG

                  P1510909.JPG
                   
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                  • Evee

                    Evee Apprentice Gardener

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                    hmmm- many options worth trying, Thanks to everyone for all the input!
                    guess it boils down to upping the sharpness of hand tools or a better power tool (our cheap strimmer is broken/apparently burnt out)...

                    So my plan of action now - 1st sharpen the shears, then @pete reminds me I've always wanted to have a go with a sickle, not sure why I'm drawn to sharp things on sticks :biggrin:

                    I normally cut in sections over a month or two, 50% flattened rather than cut! so long as its ok for the mower to take over then its fine. So plenty of time for experimenting. Hope I can develop a good sickle technique, i saw a promising method with a stick in other hand, and may be ok without a strimmer.:fingers crossed:
                     
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                    • Evee

                      Evee Apprentice Gardener

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                      Lovely wild patches :) I would be super chuffed to have orchids growing in mine!
                       
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                      • shiney

                        shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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                        If I get a chance tomorrow I'll take some photos. We cut it all down (apart from the orchids) but three of us did a walk through first to try and flush out the wildlife. It didn't go quite as I expected. Lewis (who would be doing most of the work) and I organised it for us to walk parallel but didn't count on Sarafi the cat from down the road doing the walk through as well. He ate three mice!!! :doh:
                         
                      • Selleri

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                        It is around 30 years since I used a scythe but that was the only grass cutting method at my grandparents' place. I remember scything being easy and enjoyable once you got the rhythm right, swing-step-swing-step-swing. I still own a fair few toes.

                        Technically you are supposed to do it sort of sideways so as not to step on the cut grass but I never learnt that, much to the desperation of my brother in law. But the grass got cut and BIL got the boring duty of collecting the cuttings. :biggrin:

                        The important bit is to sharpen the blade ever so often, and not to cut too low as swinging the blade into the soil will give a nasty jerk to the arms. But all in all, scytheing is nicer than using a power strimmer that gives unpleasant shakes to the hands. Then again, it could just be that my 20 years old body was better placed for any job than this 50 years old one :heehee:
                         
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