The Austrian Scythe – a versatile tool

People buy a scythe for lots of reasons – for managing everything from a smallholding to the edges of a heritage railway line.

Looking at our site at this time of year it can appear that our scythe use is restricted to the hay meadow, but this is far from the truth.

One of the delights of the scythe is that it can be used to achieve such a variety of tasks. In fact, pretty much wherever someone might use a strimmer, we would use a scythe.

Below are some of the things that we do with a scythe.

There is also a useful video by Huw, a former scythe pupil of ours, showing how he uses a scythe to manage an orchard on the smallholding where he lives with his family.

Can this be mown with a scythe?

Mowing rougher vegetation

With the right blade a scythe is happy mowing rougher vegetation such as bracken, docks and young brambles. We use the scythe extensively to keep rougher areas under control. It is used in autumn for our annual bracken harvest, which is used for garden mulch and animal bedding

Phil mowing reeds in Norfolk with a Falci Dragon
Clearing a path in the woods
Above I am using the scythe to reestablish paths through a friend’s woods. I am using a ditch type blade to mow a mixture of one year old raspberry and bramble, rosebay willow herb and bracken.

Trimming hedges and banks

When the lush green vegetation was beginning to narrow the Trust’s access track too much, we used some rather unusual scything techniques to trim the hedge.

The nimble scythe is also useful to mow the areas a lawn mower can’t easily reach. I gave this bank a quick tidy up with a Styria 65cm blade for a neighbor.

Mowing narrow paths

The scythe can be used to mow narrow paths through standing vegetation to provide access or in areas of planting to keep paths between garden beds tidy.

When mowing a narrow swath like this it is useful to use a short blade. You can also adjust the set up of the snath to what we call a trimming setup.Mowing paths for a labyrinth

Mowing paths through a meadow allows people to walk through and admire it without squashing the vegetation. The paths can be straight as in the top of this picture. It is also fun to play about a bit and create a labyrinth (center).

This one was mown for a solstice celebration and a meadows open day. Here it is pictured a few weeks later – the flowers have gone to seed but the children still enjoy playing on the paths!

Mowing around and between obstacles

The scythe can be used to mow vegetation around established planting, such as orchards, as demonstrated by Huw in the video to the right.

We use the scythe to “weed” areas of perennial plantings, such as the one pictured below. We reach in and nip down unwanted plants, leaving them to drop and compost where they fall.

More videos from Huw can be found on his YouTube channel, HuwsNursery

More information on using a scythe can be found in these information pages.