I am lucky enough to have lots of land (well it seems like lots for a city girl anyway). Around seven years ago we bought a place in the country with nearly four acres. Initially that seemed fantastic – lots of space to play in, and tons of room for the dogs to exercise themselves.
Of course when we bought the land, it was all very clean and tidy since the previous owner (a very dedicated octogenarian olive farmer) had a very large tractor and enjoys plowing his many hectares of land immensely. But of course once spring got into action we quickly learned that our clean land could very quickly turn into a very large (and very pretty) flower meadow.
Not a problem at all we thought. But, roll on summer and all those pretty poppies, scabious, grasses and thistles quickly become one huge fire hazard.
Keeping the land clear is an important responsibility, and it isn’t just about what the neighbours think. In the long dry summers fires spread quickly and very easily.
Becoming “land owners” means taking care of the land; a whole new responsibility for someone used to having just a small city garden to contend with!
The traditional approach to this in our neck of the woods is simple; get the tractor out and spend a day plowing, cultivating or mowing. But being a “tractorless” family with few spare funds that simply wasn’t an option. Instead we needed something cheaper. It also had to be done by me, the resident girl (since the man of the house has way too many allergies to come into contact with dust, grasses or pollen come summer-time).
In the end we settled on a gas powered Husqvarna brushcutter. This is one heavy duty bit of kit but very easy to handle. There are a tone of different attachments available. But I use only two:
- a metal three blade head that copes with heavy brush. This is great on the wild rosemary which tries to take over the borders of our land, and the almond saplings which try to take over the rest of it!), and
- a heavy duty trimmer head. The head is easy to load, so that a tough nylon cord can be used for all the usual weeds. This is great for trimming around walls and terraces, as you can create a really neat edge.
Now, luckily for us we have slightly more funds than when we first became “land-owners” and are able to hire a man with his own tractor once a year. He comes just as the spring meadows start to dry out, clearing the bulk of the land in a day or so. He uses a cultivator that cuts up all the weeds and digs them into the earth. Whilst he clears the bulk of the land away from the house I can use the brushcutter to deal with the actual gardens and areas near to the house. Now it only takes me a few days rather than weeks.
No more worrying about fire spreading across our land, and it looks pretty good too.