1/4 Acre; I hate to mow it!

I just moved and the back of my property is about 1/4 acre and I had to rent a brush mower to mow it down. The grass was a combination of grass, some blackberry bushes, holes, crevices, and bare patches in areas. It basically looked like a field and this was the first time I was able to mow it since moving here.
If it was level, or somewhat less bumpy, and was grass and not a bunch of brush, I could use my mower to do the job; but I don't have that ideal lawn and have to work with what I got. :-)
I want to get away from having to rent a brush mower to mow a field and want to find an alternative.
What I would like is:
1) Eliminate the small patch of blackberry bushes so they do not get overgrown again and cause problems later.
2) Level the land a bit so there is no crevices and holes on an otherwise level piece of land.
3) Be able to use a lawnmower, or riding lawnmower, to maintain the back 1/4 acre.
4) Do not want to go overboard with putting in fertilizer, sod, new grass; as we are not sure if we are going to build back there or not. If bringing in some dirt and planting seed is the best option, then I can do that though; but I didn't want the weeds/brush/blackberries to interfere with the new growth.
First thought, not a gardener by any means, is to now clean up the grass clippings from the brush mower work that I did today so it is somewhat clean. Then get a rototiller, or bobcat with attachment, to till the soil. Then have a bobcat move the dirt around to make it a bit more level. Bring in dirt if necessary, but it wouldn't be much dirt to bring in to make it more level and easier to maintain in the future.
But with my above idea, I have to wonder if I am only postponing the obvious in that as soon as the freshly tilled land gets sun and water; those little seedlings of grass/blackberries/brush/weeds/etc... will just grow again. I want the grass, but not the other stuff. :-)
I am not sure what I should be doing with that area, but I know I don't want to use a brush mower every time it needs mowing. I would rather go buy a riding mower once I have something easier to cut and easier to drive on.
Can anyone offer suggestions on a direction I should go to maybe make this area manageable?
--


Tim Fierro * snipped-for-privacy@duffertech.com
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Tim Fierro wrote:

For just 1/4 acre, get a high-wheel push mower. You've already cut it all down once with a brush hog, it will be easier now and the grass will take over if you keep it mowed. Get some dirt to fill the ruts and holes and sprinkle on some grass seed if you want. If the weeds and blackberries keep coming back, get a sprayer and some 2,4-d weed killer (and be careful with it.)
Bob
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Bob,
Thank you for the reply and the advice. Still considering a riding mower though as there is another 1/4 acre out front that does have grass. Dirt and seed, as well as massaging the ground to be a little bit level is easy; so will end up doing that.
But I have to wonder about the grass clippings that are now on the area, and the blackberry area. Should I take off the clippings and get back to bare grass underneath these clippings, or allow those clippings to disintegrate onto the existing areas? For the blackberry area, also where one of the bigger holes area; would it be prudent to put down some form of vegetation (blackberry) killer in that area, then add dirt to fill the hole? After hole is filled, will grass seed grow with the veggie killer 12" underneath it while still helping to kill the blackberries underneath?
--


Tim Fierro * snipped-for-privacy@duffertech.com
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Tim Fierro wrote:

How much clippings are we talking about? Maybe let them dry out, then mow again to disintegrate them? You don't want to shade out the grass, but in general leaving the clippings is a good thing.

That's why I said 2,4-d. It doesn't kill grass. Twelve inches? Just bury it and spray it *if* if comes back and survives being mowed again.
Bob
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Grass, field, was about 2' tall when I cut. The brush mower I used just cut the grass and bushes, but the clippings just drop and are not really disintegrated. So there is this covering now of the area of the clippings.
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Tim Fierro * snipped-for-privacy@duffertech.com
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Tim I agree wholeheartedly with what Bob has advised......
we have 2 acres, half of which was black-berry, sumac, brush, weeds ( a mess)
when we arrived we had it bush-hogged once in fall and again in spring. Since then we have mowed with riding mower..... its not a golf course by any means but its mowable and bare-foot friendly.
Fill the holes and seed over in cool season, not summer.
Sue

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Since you have around acre or more to mow etc then definately get a riding mower. They make all manner of attachemnts that you might find useful too for leveling, mulching, chipping etc. Growing up near Seattle, we had almost an acre and the majority was grass and/or weeds. It took me 3 hours and 1 tanks of gas on our mower every week to cut it. Get the riding mower................
Blackberries, oh how I wish I had a big patch here in NM<sigh>, yum!
Grandpa
Tim Fierro wrote: <snipped>

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Why not rake up the grass etc that you have cut, pile it on the blackberry and burn it. Then fill in the ruts and pot holes with soil, and get a wild flower mixture of seed and sow this over the area. Turn this patch into a wild flower meadow, then just cut it once a year after your flowers have set and dropped their seed. This area will attract insects, butterflies and birds and will be a lot more interesting than a patch of short grass, and a lot less work.
--
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For one, I can only have a fire 3' wide and the flame can't get bigger than 2'. This according to the local fire department, so I haven't really looked at burning since my last outing with this issue. We plan to go to the store on Saturday and look for that 2,4,D to kill the blackberries.

David, that is an interesting idea. As I mentioned in previous post, we have not made plans for that area of land yet. If we build on it later, I would hate to have had to spend a lot on grass planting and getting it all manicured; then tear it up to put a shop/garage there. :-) On the other hand, if I did not want to build in that area, the work put into getting a nice grassy back would be well worth it. Catch-22 until we decide what to do there.
But the original concept remains, ease of maintenance being a priority. I will take your advice and look into this more as an option. I did not know that one could plant a flower/seed that would only need a cut once a year.
I appreciate everyone's contribution to this thread in helping us determine how best to deal with the situation.
--


Tim Fierro * snipped-for-privacy@duffertech.com
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When you fill the ruts and hollows with soil would be a good time to add wild flower seed. I think you'll find this link of interest. http://www.lincstrust.org.uk/factsheets/meadow/convert.php
--
David Hill
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Have you actually done this? I haven't seen anyone successfully turn an area into a wild flower meadow. It seems that in a year or two you have a weed infested area that is dominated by one or two species. The man-made meadows that I have seen in botanical gardens seem to require a periodic burn - something that most people can't or won't do. Without the burn, the meadow is just a stop on the way to reforestation. Weed trees, brush, pokeweed, etc. all take their turn in the succession back to forest.
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Correctly timed mowing will do the same. There's a rhythm to prairie replanting, for instance. Yes, you've got lots of weeds the first few years, but they get crowded out by perennials later. http://www-ed.fnal.gov/help/prairie/Prairie_Res / http://users.cis.net/hamfam/prairie/html/graze_fire_mow.html http://www.for-wild.org /
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Hi,

I will suggested planting groundcover instead, once established, it never needs mowing.
I use Perennial Peanut to substitute lawn.
Carpet Daisy(Wedelia trilobata) are invasive, but good for the border of land to compete with those aggrasive weeds.
Mexican heather(Cuphea hyssopifolia) are good for marking the border.
Regards, Wong
-- Latitude: 06.10N Longitude: 102.17E Altitude: 5m
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"............ Have you actually done this? I haven't seen anyone successfully turn an area into a wild flower meadow. It seems that in a year or two you have a weed infested area that is dominated by one or two species .........." I am in the process of turning a plot over to this, many in the UK are now well over 5 yrs old, and in Holland they have been doing this for around 20 years, and there is No way we would ever burn, this is the point of mowing when the seed is set and then leaving it on the ground to give it time to drop and thus re seed the area. It is also why you add seeds of other wild flowers suitable for your area. Mind you, if you regard all wild flowers as Weeds then this is defiantly not the answer for you. I was under the impression that you would be deciding in a year or two if you were going to build on the plot so were not looking for a long term answer and didn't want to spend much money on it.
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This was written by another replying to 'my' original and your suggestion.

But yes, you understood my length of time in deciding what to do with that area.

We have moved up our decision making now on the part of the property. We will decide within the next 2 months i we are building there or are going to make it landscaped. In the meantime, we are getting blackberry killer on Tuesday and calling today to prices on bringing in dirt and how to get it to the location, and seeing about borrowing a relative's bobcat to smooth over the area. If it goes right, we will be able to mow another time with a brush mower when it gets a little bit of growth, then be able to use a regular mower on grass while determine what to do with the area.
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Tim Fierro * snipped-for-privacy@duffertech.com
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Did you not consider this BEFORE you moved in?
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Actually, no we didn't. :-)
The front 1/4 acre, ok, we let that go for the past couple of months while we finished up other areas of the property and finished some things inside the house and in the shop and putting up a temporary fence for the dogs to run in. The back 1/4 though, we didn't realize that this would grow as fast as it did and that there were brush/weeds/berries that would overtake some areas.
We realize it now of course after we had to use a brush mower to take it all down that this was not going to be a recurring thing for us. We only today managed to finally haul away all the trees and branches from the cutting 2 months ago to align the perimeter. So we have the front under control and looking nice as when we purchased and can keep that up. We have the back mowed and determined what needs to be done to make it manageable while we determine what we want to do in that area. And we have now finished the side where the trees were to be able to cut that area and have easier access to the greenhouse.
This purchase was spur of the moment. We have been looking for property for a few years, this came up, bought it the next morning. Price, location, amenities, and city services were all perfect; so when reviewing the house and the land, it came as secondary review in the work needed to get up to par. It is almost there, so we are happy.
The reason we can't decide on the back 1/4 yet is we don't know if we are building a new house there, a garage there, or landscape it with grass while putting the house and new shop/garage in a different location on the property.
I didn't want a field in my backyard, but when you turn around 2 months later when everything has settled and the weather got nice; that is exactly what we got. :-)
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Tim Fierro wrote:

Just don't go overboard with the brush killer (probably 2,4-d or triclopyr.) Mowing will *almost* take care of the brush and weeds without using any chemicals. After you've mowed a couple of times, spot treat the remaining stubborn weeds with herbicides. It's cheaper that way, and less likely to contaminate the ground water and streams with the runoff.
Best regards, Bob <-- has an amazing stockpile of pesticides (including chlordane, "Black Leaf 40", and old-stock kelthane with DDT in it), and seldom uses any of it.
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wrote:

Goats.. they'll graze and browse the area. Saw the bit on the news again about goat herds being used to control weeds and such with them. The cities were paying a woman to graze her goats on areas that had problems.
I don't know if you are in an area where you can do that. Don't know if you would want any to keep any yourself, but if not, might be someone you could get to put theirs on your land to kill off the blackberries and keep the weeds down, and fertilize it while they do their job of keeping the weeds down and the blackberries down.
If the goats don't graze enough, mix in some sheep.. grazers.. with goats.. which prefer to browse.. eat bushes.. but do graze a bit. If you're not in a big hurry, they will graze the area down quite well .. and you can keep them in smaller areas with an electric fence so they will work intensively on some plants you want dead. They'll keep the grass down without you having to cut it, while you study a bit more on how the land lies, what you can do to work with the land as it is, or how best to move the existing dirt around to level/fill. But watch runoff if you haven't been there in wet weather, you could make some big mistakes if you get flash floods.. some of those areas may be there because of periodic flash floods.
Anyway.. just a thought! ;-)
Janice

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