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I think I need a tractor!

Hi all,
We're in the process of buying a new place with a large garden of over an acre. Its a complete fixer-upper (house and garden). Most of the garden is a rough paddock. Full of rabbit holes and other lumps and bumps. Its been strimmed back but there's lots of nettles, brambles, thistles and assorted other weeds coming through.

I'm planning how to turn it into usable garden. I'm not going for manicured lawns, just a nice big, grass area for the kids to play, a decent sized veg area, and some flowers beds and nice patio/seating area. It doesn't need it to be done quickly, I want to do as much as I can myself and I'm not scared of a bit of hard work.

I'll get a petrol strimmer and I've been looking at ride on mowers. But I think it will need some landscaping, and I assume the paddock will need turning over, rolling and reseeding to try to get on top of the weeds.

Is it possible to get a mini-tractor that can have plough/rotivator, mower, digger, and roller attachments, and be able to tow a trailer to move soil etc.. around? Does such a thing exist and will it be prohibitively expensive? I've seen some second hand tractors online for fairly reasonable prices, compared to getting landscapers in or hiring a digger and roller, but I have no idea what I need.

As the house needs so much work, my budget for the garden is not a big as I'd hoped. I have a bit to spend but want to make sure I spend it wisely, and was thinking if I invest in decent equipment, it will be useful for maintenance in the long run.

Sorry for the long rambling post. Any advice would be much appreciated.



  • Joy*Joy* Posts: 571
    Could you hire equipment to get it into a better state. My garden was sorted using a sort of mini JCB which was small enough to drive through a door into the garden but then did a mammoth job, moving soil etc around. Buying earth moving equipment which in the long run you should hope not to need seems a bit like taking a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. Once you get things sorted a bit you could probably hire a rotorvator. 
  • BenCottoBenCotto Posts: 4,120
    Don’t forget to factor into your costings the price of an annual service. That can be quite steep. We hired landscapers with two JCBs and they knew what they were doing. That would be my initial response to your situation.

    Rutland, England
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 8,095
    I see they had supervisors! 🐱
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286
    If you like doing stuff yourself, yes you can buy a mini-tractor. With endless attachments for mowing, rotavating etc.

    Pick up a copy of Country Smallholding at a newsagent or supermarket, it always has adverts from manufacturers and suppliers.

    June issue

    When looking for smaller tractors it is the horse power range that will get results, search in the  25-75 hp range.

  • We have exactly the same predicament. Ride on mowers are expensive and then you add on all the attachments and you spend a small fortune. Buy farming and smallholder magazines and you'll get a feel for who's out there offering this type of machinery. Avoid mulching mowers - if the ground is at all uneven it simply won't do the job.

    For the first season I would hire an industrial type strimmer or brushcutter every so often and set about taking the vegetation down to a manageable level. Brambles will disappear if you continue to cut them down. Thistles, well, it depends whether or not they are creeping thistles, in which case, they're almost impossible to eradicate in large areas unless you resort to spraying.

    If you have friendly farmer nearby, he may be able to come in and do a rough cut with a flail and possibly roll it too. 

    We came to the conclusion we would be unlikely to use the high capital cost equipment frequently enough to justify the outlay and maintenance and that hiring in on a day rate would be a lot cheaper.
  • Womble54Womble54 Posts: 348
    Thanks for the tips everyone. I think you’re right, would be worth hiring digger/roller/rotivator to get the initial work done. I think I’ll definitely buy a second hand strimmer/brushcutter, then see how it works out and decided if need a ride on mower or small lawn tractor.

    I saw some second hand tractors online for very reasonable prices and got excited about owning a tractor.

    We haven’t even bought the house yet so I’m getting way ahead of myself. I was planning budgets and got dis-tractored. 🙄
  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286
    With brush cutters, go for a Stihl if the budget will stretch. We used to clear massive areas with them in an afternoon on ecology contracts. Lost mine in a shed fire, the cheaper replacement isn't the same thing at all.
  • Joy*Joy* Posts: 571
    I agree about Stihl but if you do go for one, choose one with proper body harness and I think that they are called cow horn or perhaps bicycle handle bars. They are expensive especially when you have to factor in a visor, ear defenders etc. We had half a hectare of meadow to sort out and unfortunately the lie of the land didn't allow us to have a ride on mower. You did get a good walk though with the self propelled mower we had. I once walked 13.95 miles in one day and did about half of it!
  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286
    Totally agree, about the bar for control and harness. It's best to get professional advice when buying. It's the difference of using it for 5 minutes and being totally exhausted, or walking around with it all day hardly noticing it.
  • Womble54Womble54 Posts: 348
    I've been looking at quad bikes/ATVs. They do loads of different drag behind accessories, even backhoe diggers. If I can find somewhere local that hires the accessories, that could be a winner. 

    I just need to convince my wife to let me spend some of the house budget on the garden. Maybe we don't need new windows!
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