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Best inexpensive tools for clearing weeds

Hello, I've got a large allotment to clear which is completely overgrown with weeds - mostly horse/mares tail and bind weed.

I've made a start on it but it's tough going. At the moment we're just at the hacking and raking stage - will worry about digging and/or covering mulching etc later. Using hedge shears and a rake as that's the best I've got. I started by swinging the rake almost like it was a blunt scythe which does work and clears quickly but only for the 15 minutes that I can maintain it for before I become completely exhausted.

I've been trying to find a good hand tool for slashing the weeds down easily - a scythe with the correct blade would be ideal but far too expensive - I've looked at hand sickles, weed whackers, scythettes, slashers and other variations on eBay and Amazon but they seem to have very mixed reviews.

Something similar to this is what I'm after really - 

Can anyone recommend something specific?

Thank you


  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,396
    How expensive is too expensive?  E-bay has slashing tools from between £10 and £30ish with a few more expensive models.

    The best thing would be a strimmer which you can probably hire for a day or so if you're budget doesn't run to buying one.    Whatever you do, cover the area once cut back so that light is blocked and the roots are weakened by lack of food.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Mr. Vine EyeMr. Vine Eye Posts: 2,151
    We've decided on sticking to manual labour on the allotment as much as possible. So no strimmers or brush cutters allowed.

    I know there are lots of tools available but I don't know which ones are actually useful and unfortunately these sort of tools don't seem to be stocked in shops or garden centres (at least not around here) so handling them beforehand isn't an option.

    im surprised by the almost universally mixed reviews for them all. Usually when you do a search for any product you'll find a few that are well rated at 4.5. But not in this case. 

  • glasgowdanglasgowdan Posts: 632
    Go up on a Saturday night when nobody else is about with a strimmer? I don't get this... why no mechanised tools? Life's too short!

  • Mr. Vine EyeMr. Vine Eye Posts: 2,151
    Why no mechanised tools? Multiple reasons - cheaper, quieter, non-polluting, no fossil fuel burning, good exercise.

    We're not in a rush and my wife and I are enjoying spending the time together at the allotment - fresh air and exercise.  :)
  • K67K67 Leicestershire Posts: 2,507
    Whilst I admire you for wanting to clear by hand it's just not practical. You say you have bind weed and mares tail but by the time you have cleared one patch and moved onto the next it will already be regrowing on the first patch.
    These weeds will soon be starting to die back but will return with avengence next spring so you need to clear as much as you can quickly and for that you need power you can't supply yourself. 
    Once cleared, but you will never clear these persistent weeds I'm afraid,  then you can go for the quiet option of man and woman power.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 81,422
    Old hand tools can often be found at country auctions ... this sort of thing ...

    most areas have them. You may have to do a few repairs/sharpening etc but it’s a good way to acquire tools and there’s usually a local or three who, for the price of a cup of tea in the saleroom cafe, will tell you how or who can repair things. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • SmudgeriiSmudgerii Posts: 185
    I would like to wish you luck with your endeavours, sadly all that physical effort will either be a whole life work or wasted.  You need to clear the whole area in a day or 2 to then be able to deal with the deep roots, otherwise it will be growing right beside you as you work.

    Have you considered using a one off chemical approach?
  • MaddiMaddi Posts: 10
    When we took over our allotment which was very overgrown, we tried lots of ways to clear it, even burning.  The best and most effective was a fork!  Slowly a weeding a small patch and keeping it clear or planting in it.  Just keep at it a little at a time and you can eventually win.
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Scariff, County Clare, IrelandPosts: 7,750
    I think the problem is that different "slashing" tools suit different people, depending on your height and physical capabilities.  Scything looks effortless when it's done right, but you need to be taught how to use and sharpen the scythe properly.  But there are "weed slashers" advertised on the Internet for less than a fiver (they look like a sharp hockey stick) - so it wouldn't break the bank to try one.  When I was gardening for a living, I'd sometimes use a sickle, or a billhook for brambles etc.  Mine were bought at car boot sales... the most important thing is to keep a sharpening stone with you so you can keep the tools really sharp.

    Clearing even a large area by hand isn't impractical.  You just have to be determined and methodical, and spend enough time on the task.  If you have old carpet to cover the area you've just hacked down, that's ideal - otherwise use weighed-down sheets of cardboard, old silage bags, builders' black plastic... anything to keep weeds down until you've time to cultivate a section properly.  At that stage you can dig out as many perennial roots as you can find.  

    It's not impossible.  It's what my grandfather did with his allotment in Ealing in 1919.   :)
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 4,050
    edited August 2019
    I used an ancient hand sickle with my overgrown garden. only useful for tall weeds. After that it was a case of digging out the roots. £11 from eb*y

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
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