London (change)
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22/02/2014 at 10:58

We have a paddock out the back, but no animals to eat it, and therefore it has gone to pot a bit - covered in docks, nettles, cow parsley etc.  My husband, some years ago, hired a mini digger to scoop off the top layer of part of it, which we then raked and re-seeded to form a sort of pitch of better quality grass which we now mow and keep in order.  Since then, access difficulties mean we can't get a digger in, but I am keen to repell the army of weeds and extend the 'tame' area.  I am wondering if a rotavator would do the job - the problem is that the ground is full of bits of sandstone, about the size of the human fist, which I keep pulling out and disposing of.  Would they keep snaring the rotavator up, or would a heavy duty one be able to cope with them.  I have never used a rotavator before and don't want to hire one only to find it can't cope.  Thanks in advance for any words of wisdom. 

22/02/2014 at 11:04

I think it would chew up the weed roots and spread them about even more. What are your plans for the paddock?. Are you looking for clear ground or  mown grass?

22/02/2014 at 11:12

In the short term, mown grass.  The weeds come up through the tamed bit, (along with the moles!) but because we mow it and put weed and feed on it in the summer, they don't get a foothold.  In the long term, I might cultivate more of it, but in the short term, if I can just get it to mowable quality, that will be something.  All the gardening here has been an ongoing conquest that started at the house and is moving down the paddock!

22/02/2014 at 11:24

If it's flat, mow it. It will do away with stinging nettles, they don't like being mowed.

I've mad a lot of 'lawns' over time just by mowing what's there.

I wouldn't be weeding and feeding. I don't like the weed part. I might spot kill any nuisance plants with a bit of glyphosate.


22/02/2014 at 11:24

Just keep pulling out the stones and mowing - not very short, but often enough for it to be possible to push the mower - the more you mow the better it will be - in the past we've tamed large areas of thistley nettley grass but regular mowing with a rackety old petrol driven rotary mower.  Wear good boots and protective goggles if it's stoney ground and just get at it.  

I wouldn't put any fertiliser on it, but if there are large patches of nettles/thistles etc then I'd hire a knapsack sprayer and just spray those areas with glyphosate.

Maybe you can bribe/reward the children to stone-pick - I understand it was popular with farmers in Norfolk in years gone by - they got the local children to clear their fields ....... apparently they even got time off school to stone-pick ......... I'll get my coat 

22/02/2014 at 11:54

It's not possible to mow over what is already there - well at least not with our very average lawn mower (when we win the lottery we will get a ride-on mower!).  The ground is very uneven - also not level with the current grass because of the top layer having been taken off, and what little grass is left is not the right sort, so I do think it needs re-seeding.  Maybe I will just dig it, throw out the stones and weed roots as I go and reclaim it in patches, which was what I was planning to do.  Just wondered if a rotavator would be quicker, but maybe not then.  As for children and stone picking - perfectly valid!!  We place a plastic bucket at a few metres distance and ask them if they can throw the stones into the bucket - there is no end to their enthusiasm for finding ammunition then!  And the stones are either ready in a bucket for dumping further down the paddock - into the area I will be cultivating in 2030, or in roughly that area, so easy to collect and bucket. 

22/02/2014 at 12:26

This isn't a joke, but if the paddock is fenced, could you "borrow" a goat from somewhere, they will eat up anything, from thistles to brambles!?

22/02/2014 at 12:26

Just an idea, but would the children be interested in creating a miniature version of the Desert Wash as in the gardens at East Ruston  on page 18 of the brochure - something quite dramatic!

22/02/2014 at 13:18

Sue, we have indeed considered 'living lawnmowers'!  But the amount of expense and effort in mending the fences would be considerable.  They haven't been attended to for some time. Dove what a beautiful place!  I would love to visit there - my kind of gardening - lots of rooms with different moods and plants.  Am already checking out the map book to see how long it would take to get there.  At least it's not in Cornwall!

22/02/2014 at 14:06
Dovefromabove wrote 

Maybe you can bribe/reward the children to stone-pick - I understand it was popular with farmers in Norfolk in years gone by - they got the local children to clear their fields ....... apparently they even got time off school to stone-pick ......... I'll get my coat 

Gosh Dove - you Norfolk people know how to live.....

22/02/2014 at 14:10

Ah, but I've been transplanted - born in Beds, grew up in Suffolk, transplanted into Norfolk 

22/02/2014 at 14:17

I'll let you off then 

Did you get some blood, fish and bone 'tickled' in when you were moved? 

22/02/2014 at 15:41

Is the use of a strimmer a possibility to help you reach the point of being able to mow the grass. I use a strimmer to cut the grass in my churchyard a few times a year. It can cope with grass that is too long for my mower. 

22/02/2014 at 15:48

Grew up on dairy and pig farms Fairygirl - got FYM in my marrow 

22/02/2014 at 15:52

BusyBee, it'd take you about three and a half hours to get to East Ruston - we travel to near Grantham quite regularly to see the inlaws - quite a nice drive.  We can also recommend the scones and cakes at East Ruston. 

22/02/2014 at 16:22

I think it would have to be a component of a weekend away then!  We are about an hour north of Grantham, and I note, with disappointment, that the whole route would be on A roads.  Scott, we do have a good strimmer, but the weeds are so well established and 'woody' that the line just gets tangled up, and the ground below is very bumpy.  But I am a patient and persistent person...!  Put a picture on, but not very clear really - you can see the different between the 'pitch' and the wilderness.



22/02/2014 at 16:31

 You need a countryman who knows how to use a sickle and a scythe - he'd cut that dry stuff back for you - you'd then have a bonfire and produce some potash for the garden.  Then you need him back about twice a year with a scythe and that'll keep it under control until you decide how you're going to improve it.  

That is going to be a gorgeous garden 

22/02/2014 at 16:45

Thanks Dove - it has its moments!  In addition to stone picking, I have had the children 'stick harvesting' - breaking down last year's weed spikes, and I stoked up the incinerator and made a bit of potash which I have chucked on the prepped vegetable beds.  It has not been an easy ride - the gravelled bit is on 2ft of iron ore, so I had to build the beds up from scratch.  We lost our only shade when the eucalyptus on the right fell foul of the Siberian winter of 2010/11, so had to build the gazebo.  However, as you can see, the eucalyptus is trying to grow back.  At our old house there were scythes attached to the back wall of the brick built shed.  It looked like the grim reaper lived there, but they were past it really and far too big for the likes of me to wield!

22/02/2014 at 17:57

Hire or buy a strimmer with a metal blade and a petrol motor.  It'll cope with all sorts and should come with a sort of harness to help spread the weight across shoulders and back so there's no strain.

In my experience, ride on mowers don't cope with rough terrain.  They are designed to look like mini tractors but do not have tractor power and like smooth surfaces to mow or they clog and break down.    A man with a mini digger shoud be able to level your terrain if and when you decide you're ready to make it into a more formal/level lawn area.

22/02/2014 at 19:07

if you know someone who keeps a goat who is used to wearing a collar ( the goat  ,not the owner ) you could tether it with  a long lightweight chain so it can't escape and move it about as it munches a patch clear.

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