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So I just bought a tiny farm (2+ acres, mostly of pasture land). I rented a flail mower yesterday, but it took a good 7 hours of mowing to get 3/4 of the land done - and the thing bogged down probably 50 times.

So I'd like some advice. I need to keep this land somewhat maintained (probably mowing bi-weekly or a little less), as well as the area directly around the house well-maintained (weekly mowing). The 2 acres of pasture land is flat, but not smooth. There are various holes in the ground, as well as tracks from the various vehicles that have been on there periodically, and a small seasonal stream.

The land also has a couple of trees, but no small trees. The majority of the growing stuff is thistle and grass. There are little to no rocks on the land.

The land around the house which needs to be mowed weekly is perfectly flat and smooth, with no branches/rocks/other obstructions.

My question is: What type of mower should I buy to be cost efficient? Should I pick up a cheaper riding mower and just mow the entire property more regularly? A combination of heavy duty brush cutter and riding mower? Something else?

  • If you end up getting a 42 or 48, don't go too far into "cheaper" territory. An extra $500 (difference between entry Husqvarna and Craftsman models) on the initial price tag will more than recoup itself. And you get the pleasure of mowing with a better ride the entire time. www.mowersdirect.com is a good place for reviews, tips, and dealers-by-location. – Paul Nardini Jun 21 '16 at 2:52
  • goats, chickens, pigs are the most efficient mowers I can think of after you put a fence up for them. – black thumb Jun 21 '16 at 4:25
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I think you are just suffering from mowing a pasture for the first time. Once you've got it all cut for the first time it will go much faster to keep it cut. However you don't want to use a flail to keep the grass down, use a regular blades lawn mower. It will do a neater job. A flail is for knocking down tall stuff and shrubbery but not for "lawn mowing".

Each acre should take you one hour with a proper deck mower of 42-48 Inches.

  • Seconded. Lived for 10 years on a lot that kept 2.5 acres mowed. After the pasture is cleared, it's just a much bigger lawn. Had a rider, often (very often) wished I had a self-propelled walk-behind with a brake clutch. – Paul Nardini Jun 21 '16 at 2:56
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Fill the holes and ruts, it will save you time in the long run. And if it's pasture, see to the fence and put critters in it. The only thing you should be cutting in pasture is the unpalatable weeds.

You either graze it, hay it, or its a dang big lawn you're wasting money on, not a tiny farm. For haying a good scythe will do the job if you are willing to learn to use it. If you're having a big lawn, I guess a big lawn tractor would be the thing to use.

  • Sounds good, but I'm not familiar with a "scythe", aside from the thing that the grim reaper uses. Which would give me good exercise I suppose! – Sean Long Jun 30 '16 at 21:51
  • Other than often being drawn incorrectly, that's the one. Without getting spam-ish drop "european scythe" in a search engine and have at it (there's some amusing subtext from competing North American vendors if you look for it) - if you're tiny farming. If you're big lawning, you could, but the learning curve for "lawn-quality cut" is somewhat longer than for "cut hay and/or weeds effectively." And while I'm NOT a morning person, it does work better early in the morning (dew helps, and more moisture in the plants also helps.) Also leaves more time for drying (making hay) while the sun shines – Ecnerwal Jul 1 '16 at 2:26
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I think all of the posters so far have made good points. I got on google maps the other day and figured out I'm cutting ~3.2 acres of yard. Then we have several acres of pasture. It takes me a little over 3hrs to cut all of the grass in the yard with a Husqvarna CZ4817. So Escoce is right about the time.

I would just treat it like a big yard and mow it all the time. I would mow the "pasture" on the highest setting you had. I'll tell you now, though, I would pay someone to come in to till the pasture, smooth it, and plant grass. It will be well worth the investment to have a smooth "lawn" out there. My front yard and back yard are very flat and fairly smooth. I can fly over my yard if I do it once a week and drastically cut my time. However, when I mow where we get the horses feet trimmed or around my bee hives, the ground it rough. Not holes and rocks, just slightly bumpy. If I try to build up any speed it beats the heck out of me. I will guarantee you that it'll be worth your time to get it smoothed out.

The other poster was right as well, though, simply pay someone to come in and cut it the first time and then work on it yourself. I've turned plenty of field into lawn before and after the initial cut where it takes forever and you're bogging the mower down on cutting and tall grass, then going over it another hundred times to get the strands that just laid down, it's easy to cut. If I cut mine every week I can fly over it and it cuts nicely.

A last option, if your pasture are is fenced in, it to let someone put their goats or horses on it temporarily. They'll beat it down super quickly. Good luck.

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Two acres is not a huge time expenditure but you do have to get a damn good mower. There are commercial mowers where you could also get a stand aboard platform for the 2 acres. I used to mow 5 acres of lawn with an old craftsman riding mower with no problemo. Wasn't flat so I didn't get bored, grins. Do not wimp out spending money on equipment. Never purchase electric. Stihl is one of the best brands for commercial/residential use. You should also own a gas blower and a gas trimmer (get rid of shield and go to a single strand replacement head). Forget the scythe (Ecnerwal you are so cute!!). You do not want the grass and weeds to get high enough where a scythe would work!!

SHARP BLADES! Keep those filters changed out!! Keep the dirt out of the engine and your equipment will last forever! Never ever use any gasoline with ethanol!! One mowing per week is MINIMUM for your lawn areas. Keep the lawn grasses no shorter than 3" and I am not kidding!! The pasture grasses will do fine with twice per season mowing depending on your expectations. Goats will be great. Pigs not so much (love pigs, brilliant animals but are able to dig up large areas of pasture...if just slightly unfed), chickens? Forget it. They will not eat the grasses or weeds. Perhaps eat the weed seeds and young starts but not good for maintenance. Goats are great. If you live next to BLM, or a greenway...BAD idea. Cougars, who are everywhere especially since we've been gobbling up territories from them LOVE GOATS! Another reason to never erect a playground next to greenways, native areas and pastures!

Grasses, not including domesticated lawn grasses, NEED to be cut down for health. A great weed wacker works well, 2 acres twice per year??? Make sure your riding lawn mower or your wide commercial deck can be adjusted...3" MINIMUM for your lawn (cool season grasses)...and I wouldn't cut less than 4-6" for pasture. The HIGHER your cut, the higher you leave the grass blades the SLOWER the growth. Too low and you are cutting off photosynthetic growth necessary to support the roots and you'll wig your grasses out big time.

Don't forget! Your lawn needs at least 3X or 4X fertilizations that are seasonally made compositions. Your pasture needs at least ONE great fertilizing. Don't use fast acting Scott's, Ortho, or any big chemical company. The best fertilizer I have ever used is ORGANIC (I hate using that word), SLOW RELEASE (intrinsic), with bacteria and micronutrients not found in the FAST STUFF. After decades of fertilizing grasses I was just blown away at the difference. Here is one and you can look for similar brands...Dr. Earth Lawn Fertilizer. Make sure the last fertilizing before winter is LOW NITROGEN.

When you aerate your pretty lawn, aerate your pasture (once per year minimum). Only use the aerators that pull plugs of sod and soil out...leave to disintegrate on your lawn/pasture. If you have goats to take care of the pasture...they might be a bit tough on eating the grasses down too far and one needs to cut the fertilizer way back. Include dividing your pasture into sections so once one section has been eaten down, put the goats in the other. This allows your pasture to come back, a good time to reseed.

  • Stormy, the OP described this as "a tiny farm" - on a tiny farm, a $200 scythe outfit is quite up to making hay and keeping weeds in check, and 100 times cheaper than a tractor that would be vastly oversized for the job. Unlike a weed-whacker, it's quiet and you don't end up covered in green spew from head to toe; I own both, the scythe is faster than the whacker, too. Your repeated mentions of your favorite lawn fertilizer are starting to feel just a touch spammy... – Ecnerwal Jun 22 '16 at 1:50
  • Spammy? Huh. I think I know an incredible fertilizer when I find one. Oh well, do you think I am getting PAID? to say that? Have you tried that fertilizer or one in the same genre? Weed wacking and getting covered with green spew glued on with slug guts and dog poo is a super experience. I've got this beautiful antique scythe and kudos to you...just sharpening and constant swipes sure, works great. There is always horse and tack and swathers and...on my TINY farms, I want a tractor...can always rent one. If not, got my scythe!! – stormy Jun 22 '16 at 7:02

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