When I first bought my property, I was faced with the daunting task of mowing 3 plus acres of lawn every week. Â At my last house in the suburbs, I had maybe a tenth of an acre to tend, and that still took over an hour a week. Â I was not looking forward to my new duties.
The previous owner had a typical riding mower, and had originally offered to sell it to me with the house. Â I politely declined because I wanted something with more power and more versatility. Â I went with THIS:
So, off I went to mow my lawn. Â Thanks to the slope, the septic and leech field, and various trees and other obstacles, I clocked in around 6 hours my first time out. Â That included time on the tractor, time with the push mower, and weed whacking. Â Pretty awful.
Some of the things that were adding a ton of time to my weekly task were unavoidable. Â I wasn’t about to take a 2000 lb. tractor over the top of my septic tank. Â At first, I didn’t even want to drive it over my leech field. Â I later found a schematic that rated the pipes in my leach field at a 1500 lb. crush. Â Comfortably over the weight of each axle of my tractor, even with the front loader and the 60 inch mowing deck fitted.
I was able to gain even more time by cutting across the slope on the main part of my lawn. Â This allowed me to mow the bulk of the lawn in high gear rather than only low or low uphill/high downhill. Â Naturally, you want to avoid situations that put you at risk for rolling the tractor over, so use your head. Â I recommend that you use your seatbelt and ROPS at all times when mowing.
After I got the hang of things using the above tricks, I was down to about 4 hours a week. Â Getting better, but still way too much time just to keep the grass down. Â This got me thinking more about landscape design, so I set my sights on these:
Luckily, I got a call from my mom at the end of the summer. Â She wanted to know if I would like any Siberian Irises. Â She had about 30-40 that she had split and wanted to find a home for. Â This got the wheels turning in my head, Â and this is what I came up with:
- Hearty perennial plants that don’t require much/any upkeep and can be divided.
- D Handle Fork.
- Round nose shovel.
- Landscape rake.
- Tractor with front end loader. (optional, but this will save you a backache)
If you don’t have a tractor, you’ll want a wheelbarrow or garden cart to move the sod you remove.
I began by cutting a bed between each of the rocks. Â The thinking here is that I’ll be able to make one pass with the tractor on either side of the rocks and clean up with the weed whacker. Â I estimate this will save me 20-30 minutes a week on the lawn.
I was able to cut most of the sod using the front end loader on my tractor. Â However, about half of the rocks were too close together for the bucket, so I had to remove the sod by working under it with the D handle fork and rolling it up. Â After the beds were cut, I loaded the sod into the front loader and piled it near the planned site of my compost heap for later use.
Since I was completing this project in the evening after work, there was a slim chance that I’d be able to get it done in one day. Â Even though the Irises are hearty, if the root systems dry out, they won’t last long. Â To prevent this, I dug a trench in one of the planters and placed my reserve stock of Irises in there. Â Keeping the trench watered daily would keep the plants in decent shape until I could put them in their proper beds. Â Pay no attention to the dismembered foam deer on the right side of the above picture.
When planting beds like these, odd numbers are best. Â I try for 3-5 Irises in each bed, and continue on until they’re all planted. Â Next, I Â make sure to give a good amount of water to each plant. Â Finally, I trim the foliage, since the Irises are done growing for the year.
After this modification to the lawn, I’m right around 3 hours and 30 minutes of mowing a week. Â My long term goal is to get the entire lawn under 3 hours. Â This way, I’ll be able to get the entire lawn mowed in an evening after work. Â There are still some tweaks to the lawn that will need to be done to reach this. Â The next one I think I will make is transplanting these:
Overall, this project took 6 hours total. Â I divided it into 2 hours a day for 3 days after work.
See you next time!