Field full of weeds

Country Smallholding - - Ask The Experts -

QI re­cently bought a small field of 1.75 acres. The field has lots of dock and this­tle. It was orig­i­nally ploughed so it’s a bit lumpy. I graze goats on it at the mo­ment, but they don’t eat the this­tle or docks and I want to get rid of the weeds and im­prove the grass qual­ity. I am low on large tools (trac­tor etc) and af­ter a heavy quote (£1,300 - ouch) would like to have a go my­self. Any ideas?

ADeb­bie Kings­ley says: With that size of plot it’s per­fectly pos­si­ble to tackle this by hand. For a sim­i­lar size field we would go out in spring and sum­mer evenings with grass hooks and spend half an hour cut­ting them down a bit at a time, say a 10 me­tre square patch each ses­sion, thor­oughly deal­ing with that area. If you have a strim­mer and don’t mind their in­fer­nal racket, you can tackle more per ses­sion. We find our sheep and cat­tle will graze on new growth but don’t like the tough, older weeds. The reg­u­lar cut­ting will weaken plants over time but you will find re­growth that needs your re­peated at­ten­tion. For a more ro­bust ap­proach dig out the this­tles and docks, mak­ing sure you do this be­fore they flower and spread their seed even fur­ther. You could also use a weed burner - I’ve not used one my­self but un­der­stand that a cou­ple of goes may be needed to stop weeds re­turn­ing. If you are at your wit’s end you may have to re­sort to spot treat­ing with weed­killer, in par­tic­u­lar for the worst in­fes­ta­tions. Once you’re rid of the weeds, ap­ply grass seed by hand on the bare patches.

Goats don’t like this­tles

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