Lawn Maintenance In The Philippines

Lawn Maintenance In The Philippines

before & after

Cut Grass Or Be Covered In Grass

Disclaimer: I confess that this is not really lawn maintenance. I am just burring morning grass and weeds to the ground.
I just cut the grass here at the homestead in the province. We don't really have much of a lawn. We have a small front yard that my wife makes me be careful with. I have to take my time with the brush cutter so as to not create any bald spots. The portion in the image above is in the back and together with what you cannot see is about 1/3 of an acre. I do not have to take care with the area in back and usually burr it to the ground. Cutting and cleaning up usually takes two or three days. This time it took four days, since a lot of the grass had grown to three feet tall or more and also every day was interrupted by heavy rain. Yesterday I was completely soaked while raking up the cut grass.

In the U.S. I used a self propelled Sears Craftsman mower to cut the grass. that mower would only be practical for the area shown in the photo, which is relatively flat. Much of our property is terraced, bumpy, uneven and riddled with obstacles. 

The kind of terrain that I have to navigate to get our grass cutting accomplished requires a more agile tool.

The Honda GX-35 Brush Cutter

I love this machine. It is a bit under-powered for my taste at 1.6 horsepower, but it does get the job done. 

I just bought this cutter and it cost me P12,000. That is about $230 at the current exchange rate. This is another example of reverse inflation, as two years ago when I bought my first GX-35 I paid P15,000 for it. The exchange rate was a little lower then (about 50), so it ended up costing me about $300. The old unit was in the shop and now that it's fixed up I use it as my backup.

Another example of the huge difference that a quick trim makes:

I used to do this work with a flat shovel and a bolo knife, but that method took a week or more and was back breaking.

The one good thing about the shovel clearing method is that I was able to level of the ground very well.

With the rainy season now upon us the grounds will be more than in need of trimming in two weeks  or less. And we are talking two foot tall grass by that time.

Another good thing about the brush cutter vs push mower is that the brush cutter does not care too much if the grass is wet. A push mower would bog down, but the cutter plows right through.

Eye Protection When Using Brush Cutter

I have tried various solutions for eye protection over the years. I started with the little plastic glasses with the side-guards - these come with the unit and you can also buy them at any hardware store. The problem is that they are useless.

There is so much debris flying so fast that these safety glasses are almost no good at all.

Next I found goggles. The goggles are very effective at keeping everything out of the eyes. The problem with these is the fogging up and they do not protect the entire face.

The past year I have been using a face mask that has an adjustable head strap with a replaceable plastic visor. This solution works fairly well. It protects the entire face and there is good airflow to prevent fogging (mostly). But since the unit kicks up a lot of debris at high speed inevitably one in a million particles still finds its way to my face.

The Price Of Paradise

As I get older and my back begins to dislike lugging the cutter around I may opt for a wheeled mower for the flat portions. One good thing about a push mower is the fact that they can bag the grass. The drawbacks include the fact that only about 50% of our property is navigable by a push mower. Also, rainy season is pretty much the only time we need to trim the grass, but since it grows so fast and is perpetually wet a push mower may never be practical due to the bogging down issue mentioned previously.

I wear denim jeans and steel-toe shoes these days when I do cutting. I also use a cloth that overlaps my shirt to cover my head and neck to keep the copious flying debris out of my ears and to prevent it from getting inside my shirt. If you wear shorts and sandals to do this kind of work your legs will look like you have measles from the debris hitting you and the next day you'll look like black plague.

Each brush cutter came with a metal blade, so now I have one that I keep geared up with the blade and the other one uses rolls of nylon string line instead that cost P100 for 15 meters. I use the blade cutter to cut my brother-in-law's field that is next to our lot. I cut it maybe twice per year and it is full of very thick and woody weeds. I used to be afraid of the blade, but now I love it.

Cutting grass is a very gratifying activity because you get to quickly see the results of your labors as a shaggy mess becomes a beautifully manicured field. The smell of the cut grass lingers for days.

Food for thought if you are considering holding land in a tropical climate.

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