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Scythe or mower

When we need to cut our meadow for the first time, should we use a scythe or mower, we have a hover mower, I'm reading a variation of advice. I've also read we should cut it the first time in March and I'm a bit concerned we will cut a lot of flowers that come early.
Would like to hear people's opinions, advice and experience please.
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  • MarranMarran Posts: 166
    We cut ours with a petrol allen scythe (usually August bank holiday); rake it up and burn it (too much to do anything else with it).  In March we put the mower over and, again, collect all the cuttings (by then its about 6" tall depending on the weather).  That's it then until August apart from continuing to mow the path through it.
  • GwenrGwenr KentPosts: 150
    Marran said:
    We cut ours with a petrol allen scythe (usually August bank holiday); rake it up and burn it (too much to do anything else with it).  In March we put the mower over and, again, collect all the cuttings (by then its about 6" tall depending on the weather).  That's it then until August apart from continuing to mow the path through it.
    A lot of our flowers were still in flower in August, the Scabious, Cornflowers, Toadflax etc and the bees, birds and butterflies were in abundance, the Goldfinches were in mass for the seeds and we had a multitude of different bees still taking nector, but it was not planted to meadow, just the flowers that were there. If we mow in August we are going to lose a lot of the flowers, so what's the best cause of action, could we leave it later?
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Scariff, County Clare, IrelandPosts: 7,444
    I'm in the middle of cutting our "meadow" at the moment, because ours also contains a lot of plants which continue to flower through the summer.  However, it's a nightmare to do... I'm attacking it with hand shears for the second year in succession, and it takes an age.  Our mower isn't big enough to cope, and the big electric strimmer just gets tangled in the stringy bits.  I wondered about learning to use a scythe but I guess that would mean cutting it earlier in the summer before the grass started to collapse (it's pretty wet around here).  I'm not sure what the answer is, to be honest... unless hiring some sort of machine would work.
    "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
  • WoodgreenWoodgreen Posts: 671
    edited October 2021
    Cutting wildflower meadows can be hard work, especially in a wet summer.
    I have learned after over twenty years doing it, to time it for my benefit, as it can be wet here too and if the grass falls it makes the job very difficult ( I use a petrol strimmer.) So if conditions are ideal but there are still flowers to come on some plants I steel myself and cut them down, the exception being orchids. I usually leave a handful standing to let the seeds ripen. I cut after the oxeye daisies have gone to seed, and of course the yellow rattle, but some things like knapweeds are just too late for here. But they grow in other places, so I don't mind.
    I think it's down to local climate and how much time and effort you want to put in, but you will learn the best way for you by experience.
    This year was perfect,  I cut it on 20 July in hot dry weather and had two good days to dry and turn the hay then a good day to burn it. We had a good summer here so the seeds had ripened well.
    It's not always the case though!
  • GwenrGwenr KentPosts: 150
    Woodgreen said:
    Cutting wildflower meadows can be hard work, especially in a wet summer.
    I have learned after over twenty years doing it, to time it for my benefit, as it can be wet here too and if the grass falls it makes the job very difficult ( I use a petrol strimmer.) So if conditions are ideal but there are still flowers to come on some plants I steel myself and cut them down, the exception being orchids. I usually leave a handful standing to let the seeds ripen. I cut after the oxeye daisies have gone to seed, and of course the yellow rattle, but some things like knapweeds are just too late for here. But they grow in other places, so I don't mind.
    I think it's down to local climate and how much time and effort you want to put in, but you will learn the best way for you by experience.
    This year was perfect,  I cut it on 20 July in hot dry weather and had two good days to dry and turn the hay then a good day to burn it. We had a good summer here so the seeds had ripened well.
    It's not always the case though!
    We live on the South East coast and we don't get as much rain as the rest of the country, we appear to have a climate of our own and our flowers seem to last a long time. 
    It's only 40 sq metres, but I want to get it right.
  • WoodgreenWoodgreen Posts: 671
    @Gwenr You have a different climate to here then, I'm in Cumbria where we generally have quite a bit of rain.
    Have you thought of using a petrol strimmer? 
    My petrol mower has a very high top cut but would never cope with really long growth. It copes with a first cut in early May in another area which grows bulbs in grass.
    You could look into hiring a petrol driven scythe perhaps or look for a second-hand one to buy.  

    @Liriodendron I once cut a smaller wildflower area with shears, because the grass had fallen and the weather was against me. Never again!
  • GwenrGwenr KentPosts: 150
    Woodgreen said:
    @Gwenr You have a different climate to here then, I'm in Cumbria where we generally have quite a bit of rain.
    Have you thought of using a petrol strimmer? 
    My petrol mower has a very high top cut but would never cope with really long growth. It copes with a first cut in early May in another area which grows bulbs in grass.
    You could look into hiring a petrol driven scythe perhaps or look for a second-hand one to buy.  

    @Liriodendron I once cut a smaller wildflower area with shears, because the grass had fallen and the weather was against me. Never again!
    I might think about hiring one, but we have to be careful as we have lots of hedgehogs visiting.
  • WoodgreenWoodgreen Posts: 671
    Just to add, my farmer neighbour cuts his hay around the first or second week in July, just as the yellow rattle seeds have shed.
    Local conditions will dictate hay time, and must vary widely across the UK.
    Although I'm not trying to get a crop like my neighbour, I have found that cutting it is much easier when the grass is still standing.
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Scariff, County Clare, IrelandPosts: 7,444
    edited October 2021
    @Woodgreen - I'm sure you're right and cutting it in July is the answer.  I might move a few late flowerers in to one small area and leave that a bit later though...

    Edited to say:  we're not allowed bonfires in Ireland so I'm left with a massive haystack of soggy "hay" which takes forever to rot down - and is full of grass seed, of course, so not useful as proper compost.  
    "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
  • WoodgreenWoodgreen Posts: 671
    @Liriodendron That sounds like a good idea, grouping later flowerers together. I think you will be better off cutting in July in your climate. It's always a bit of a gamble to leave it, as the longer we leave it the further it falls! 
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