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strimming techniques

Ok , since I have been so publicly outed as a strimmaholic I will give you lots of tips you really won't need , being normal people who will resort to chemicals or even alpaccas when faced with more than an acre of thicket and rushes .
But it is getting a bit late just now so I will do that tomorrow . This is just to give you a bit of warning .

Who is the current Social Secretary ? I think we should have a strimming championship .
keithrawlins

i got a new strimmer this week end ! has any one seen the ones that come with attacchments (sorry blowin im not takling about seats) , imean rotavters ,headgeclipers and such like.
squirrel01

i had a husqvarna for 4 years now, and has given me nothing but trouble, great when working but getting it going was a nightmare, so i thought sod it and went to woodies and got a pro-cut, only 99 euro, 30 off.
i now pull the cord and it runs, i got a new gear head for the husky last year and that was 95 euro.....
blowin

keithrawlins wrote:
... has any one seen the ones that come with attachments .....

Hi Keith , sorry about the delay in reply
Did you get one of those multi-purpose jobbies , or were you just considering their possible benefits ?
I seem to spend my life strimming ( It's ok -- I actually enjoy it ) . I am very happy with Stihl equipment but it does tend to loose power and be a s*d to start if the air filters get even a little bit dusty or damp . I don't know how that compares with other brands .
A semi-automatic line-feeding head saves an awful lot of messing about for around 30 euro I think .
A split shaft saves a lot of time of you are going to change the cutting device fairly frequently but can be an expensive luxury .
If you intend to alternate between the hedge-cutter and the strimming head you should consider which type of handle will suit you best as this can make a huge difference to how tiring the jobs become .
HTH
keithrawlins

i got one but it was more so that it tok less room when stored in the shed it hangs on 2 hooks side by side.
Guest

why do you guys want to strim everything and cut hedges?

lots of hedgehogs are hurt every year by strimmers and the person not seeing the hedgehog in long grass.
blowin

FerretLady wrote:
....lots of hedgehogs are hurt every year by strimmers and the person not seeing the hedgehog in long grass.

Good point but I don't actually want to strim anything . I will happily agree to do it no more if the rushes and flags agree to be less invasive
But , seriously , I wasn't aware of that being a significant threat to the hedgehogs . I thought they sleep / hibernate under coarse , dry material ( eg compost heaps and woodpiles ) and tend to be nocturnal , so the chances of injuring one while strimming should be fairly low . Frogs , on the other hand .......
Sorry about that .
quarryman

Don't listen to him Ferret Lady, Blowin just loves strimming...........
blowin

Got nothing better to do .

Been too busy strimming to say any more about the techniques I mentioned but since I doubt that anyone actually wants or needs them I will take that as ok .
Aww , what the heck , I am a lonely insomniac so here goes anyway :-
- DO take note of the comment in the manual which says that you should wear cushioned gloves and should take a break if your hands start to tingle . The result of failing to do this is definitely to be avoided ! You get a condition commonly called " white finger disease " . The vibration detroys the tiny blood vessels and the affected area goes white and numb . It is irreversible . While it isn't painful or particularly inconvenient along the bit between your thumb and index finger , where you get it from this job , the ongoing risk is that you will pick up infection from thorns or minor cuts which you don't notice .
- And the bit about always wearing safety goggles seems a bit OTT too , so is easily ignored . All I can say is that I never bothered with them during 4 yrs of professional gardening in the UK but would have lost my eyesight more than once if I didn't use them over here . There is something different about the land and the vegetation . The very fine , wet grit together with chunky iris stems can really hurt your face if you get the cutting angle wrong . Not to mention all the different kinds of poo you find in the grass !
- If rushes and iris are tall , start by strimming vertically down from the top . This shreds the veg into a kind of mulch which grass can grow thru . If you begin at the base the stems fall like roofing thatch and smother all the delicate stuff .
- In the winter it is easier to strim during a hard frost than when the growth is defrosted and wet . ( But you can leave semi-permanent footprints ) .
- If your m/c begins to lose power and / or becomes difficult to start , check your air filter . If not visibly dirty it may be damp from sap spray . This also happens late afternoon , when the air cools and becomes moister . Wash and dry ( if you can "borrow" a hair-dryer this takes just the same amount of time as making a cup of tea . )
- For really dense , tall thickets of brambles + bracken + ivy or honeysuckle a proper hedgecutter is better than a strimmer , whatever attachment you use ( line / steel blade / brushcutter with teeth -- an expensive waste of time IMHO ) .
- if long scutch or rushes have fallen over it is usually easier to cut along the direction of fall , starting from the rooted end . If it is all a big tangle , slice it up , like a cake , before cutting horizontally .
Well , that should have sent you all to sleep .
Guest

i guessed he did, yes hedgehogs often wander about under hedges in gardens early morning etc so ive herd of quite a few being badly hurt with them.

heres and idea...... get a goat and give up the strimmer.
blowin

Haha , I did get a goat . Several , in fact .
Bloomin things ate everything except the rushes and flags .
They have all gone now . 2 of them are resident lawnmowers at a friend's house and the other 3 are somewhere up in the hills . They joined a herd of about 15 ferals up there . Some of them are very fine animals too . This valley is a traditional dumping ground for unwanted pet billies . They wander into the yard , the dog lets them into the house , they eat MOH's favourite flowers , then they leave . Unfortunately the rushes don't .
Good suggestion , tho . I might try again if I can keep them behind electric fence and strip-graze them . Meanwhile , I have set the pigs loose . I know they eat frogs . I am not sure about hedgehogs !
Guest

haha, if the frogs go in that way, thats ok, going to some use
blowin

This is what I mean by "rushes & flags " .

quarryman

Looks good to me Blowin. It might need an annual "defoliation". A bit like myself....
blowin

Wow , what happened while I was away for a couple of days    The area around the pond went from something like a newly mown lawn to what you see in that picture almost overnight !  
Can't remember if I said this before but if you do any serious amount of strimming ( or use any tool which vibrates a lot ) you really should take note of the instruction manual and wear padded gloves . The prolonged vibration can cause irreversible damage to fine blood vessels , leaving areas of your hand looking pale and feeling numb , a bit like a callous . This is known as "white finger disease" and is quite common . It does happen !
blowin

I actually meant to ask whether anyone has a solution to this little problem :-  I use a fairly heavy duty "pro" model of strimmer loaded with relatively thick nylon line . The vegetation is thick and coarse so it puts up a lot of resistance to the cutting . This causes the line which is wound around the spool to lock tight and weld itself together after a while . Maybe the line is poor quality but it is the standard stuff from the NCF .
I wonder whether a squirt of WD40 onto the coils would help ?
I don't know why I am asking you ---  I can go try it out myself easily enough !    . I will let you know    .
blowin

Might be pure coincidence but wd40 does seem to stop the snagging and welding of the line .

Just a reminder that at this time of year the combination of sap from flags etc together with dust from dry grass can clog up your air-filters quite quickly ( less than 1/2 a day if it humid too ) . If you notice the m/c loosing power and acceleration , try putting in a clean filter . I give mine a shake in a jar of petrol then they dry in no time but you are NOT supposed to do that .
blowin

Me again . Guess what I have been doing all day !  

I am trying to change the area around that pond in an earlier picture from a densely overgrown patch of flags , rushes and scutch grass into something more like an overgrown lawn / wildflower meadow .
A couple of tips :-
If tackling dense vegetation , first cut and clear a pathway thru it then work outwards . The stuff you cut then falls to the side rather than forming a mound in front of you .
If you cut rushes with 2 or 3 swipes ie into short sections they are much easier to clear than if they fall like thatch . They also have less of a blanket effect so other stuff can grow thru if you leave them there .
Flags form a thick mat which is heavy when wet and all knotted together when dry . Dicing them by dropping the strimmer down , or at a steep angle ,leaves bits which rot quite quickly . Always wear goggles when doing this because the hard bits at the base of the flags can hit your face with considerable force .
In order to let the finer grasses and small flowers get established it is necessary to cut right down through the thatch of dead scutch grass . Try to do this as short as possible , so it almost looks scalped , but without breaking the moss or soil surface .
I should add that I make all this up as I go along but it works for me      
quarryman

We use a different process. First strim off as much as possible. Rake the material away. Spray the area with Round Up. After two weeks rake off entire area again. This removes a lot of the dead foliage and scores the ground. Spread seeds.

Jobs a good un !
blowin

Hmmm , I bet you support that John Cushney on Gardeners QT whereas I am more of a Bob Flowerdew man meself !
I didn't want to use chemicals but after strip-grazing , strimming , and jumping and shouting I have reluctantly come to agree that they are necessary . ( I know you wouldn't use them yourself if there was a practical alternative ) . I am going to do it selectively , tho' .  Some areas I will leave completely wild , intersected by paths cut thru' . Where there are structural wildflowers like Napweed I will cut around them and leave them as islands . Big horrible weeds like docks will be spot-sprayed with Roundup . As we all know , Ragwort should be pulled up and removed from anywhere that grazing animals might get to it    . But I don't have any of that any more anyway    . Rushes I will spray with the selective herbicide from the NCF . ( There is a tip about mixing washing-up liquid into the solution . I was told that this makes the killer stick to the stems , which doesn't make sense . In fact it cuts thru the waxy membrane on the skin of the plant and that lets the chemical penetrate . Or so someone else said      ).
Flag Iris -- I am at a loss !!    I have over an acre of the bloomin things and you could literally measure their growth by the day . What does anyone else do ? ( Watercourses are close by ) .
For the main semi-wild wild area I will have a go at a technique I first tried last year -- that is to use a backpack and mist-spray just the taller , more dominent weeds and , in particular , that invasive clumpy grass . Got to do this while the tall stuff is still growing since it won't take Roundup down to the roots once the top growth is dead . It looks a bit of a mess the first year while it dies and dries but you can then clear it quite easily , leaving the more delicate plants beneath .
Well , that is the fantasy , anyway . I will probably just let it all go back to jungle    .

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