Monday, 15 July 2013

Strimmer? I am never using one again, ever!

Never! Never!

And why not, you ask?

Answer, last year I bought an Austrian Scythe, after my mate Jim let me have a go with his one when we were working on the canal. I was impressed with how easy it was to use, how light it was, and how very, very quiet it was.

A couple of weeks ago I started getting the usual requests from clients to bring my strimmer for specific jobs: one client had a mass of nettles, one had a meadow that had got out of hand, then there's trimming the rough stuff around the tree trunks - that sort of thing. They crop up every year, they always make me groan, but they have to be done.

This year, instead of the noisy strimmer,  I took along my scythe and did the jobs with that: I was really impressed with how easy it was, how quick it was, and the quality of the job was no less than it used to be with a strimmer.

Last week I got the chance to use it as it is supposed to be used, on plain long grass, which was quite a treat after scything round obstacles, rough grass, mole hills, sticky weeds, ivy etc.... I was looking forward to improving my swing.

Here's one client's top paddock, a rolling stretch of unmown grassland, with my newly scythed strip, to show you how wide a swathe it cuts, and that's my scythe lying on the freshly cut grass at the far end:

and here is my finished strip, going right round the corner and down towards the barn, showing the "rail tracks" of my feet, not quite perfect lines as I forgot that the grass edge curved round, and had to make a course correction mid-way down the row, whoops!:

My windrows are not at all bad - that's the pile of cut grass on the left - and you can see that the area of newly cut grass is quite clear of bits and pieces.

Scything is the easy bit, it's raking up all the grass that takes the time: luckily this client was happy for me to leave the windrows, as they leave the cuttings on the short-grass area.

But oh, it's heavenly not to have to wear thick trousers (against all the bits a strimmer spits out at high speed) and gloves (ditto) and a hard hat and visor (for eye protection) and ear muffs (against the incredible noise of a strimmer) and so on, not to mention the stink of the petrol, the constant pulling out of more line as it snaps off, and the arm-ache of having to keep restarting the thing. Plus it stinks up the car on each journey.

A scythe, on the other hand, can be used with bare hands and feet if you wish, as the only real danger is to onlookers stupid enough to stand behind your left shoulder. Personally, I wear shoes as my feet are not particularly tough, and I wear one glove when honing, as the blade is very, very, VERY, sharp. And as for the noise, well, the blade goes "swish! swish!" and every five minutes you get "tzing! tzing!" as the blade is honed, and that's it.

And I can't tell you how much pleasure there is, in using your own strength, with a well-made, well-balanced tool, to get a job done quietly, smoothly, and easily.

Ah, I love my scythe!


  1. Which scythe did you buy, Rachel? Any recommended makes etc? It sounds wonderful...

    London Gardener

  2. Obviously I am completely and utterly biaised about mine, but I would recommend an Austrian scythe, and mine came from Simon Fairlie at

    I have been meaning to write about scything for weeks and weeks now, but with the weather suddenly turning nice I've been out working every hour possible.

    Today was 30 degrees, phew! sweat! but I dare not express any dislike of the weather in case the rain comes back!

    Keep an eye on the blog, there will be more stuff about the scythe soon. I'll try to get some pictures of it to add, as well.

    Thanks for the interest!


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