Scything: what is it and how to scythe?

grim reaper

Scything: what is it and how to scythe?

(excuse the featured image – couldn’t resist it 🙂 )


There seems to be a bit of a resurgence for the older gardening methods. The nation has been a bit hot under the collar with the scything on Poldark! It is also well-documented that Prince Charles is a fan of this grass cutting method, with his Head Gardener Debs Goodenough regularly demonstrating this forgotten job. I have around half an acre of mixed grass here in the Welsh valleys, and I have been researching whether it could be a good method for keeping this slightly wild area under control. What I want to know is: How to scythe? Here is what I have found out.



What types of areas is scything useful for?

  • Wild flower meadows – these are always slightly tricky areas to know how to manage. What better way of keeping them under control than with a traditional method?
  • Mowing general lawn – I’m still to work out exactly how this would work, but I am assured that it does
  • Small scale hay-making – now this does appeal to me. It always feels a bit of a waste getting rid of my trimmings. I’d love to make the old hay bale from my cuttings.


When to choose to scythe

  • I love the idea of such an eco-friendly method of ground management.
  • When the ground is steep – this is exactly the area that I need to work on. My ground varies in steepness all over and is, frankly, dangerous to attempt to mow. I just need to learn how to scythe!


Top Reasons to scythe:

  • Silent – no noisy mowers or other equipment
  • Rhythmic work – this might not be for everyone, but for me, the appeal of walking in silence while working sounds perfect.
  • Safety – I’m sure that the experts would still recommend steel toe-caps, but being away from the blade and not having any other moving parts, to me, does seem much safer than other options.
  • One tool, many options – learning how to scythe appeals to me as the single piece of simple equipment is capable of performing many tasks.


I’ve tried many different pieces of equipment to keep my sloping ‘garden’ under control, but none of them have quite been up to the task. The strimmer was noisy, and I was not a fan of being hit by all of the little bits that it threw up from the ground. I didn’t even try a mower as I just didn’t feel safe using one on the lumpy ground. I decided to go on a course to learn how to scythe, and it was brilliant. I learned how to care for the scythe, the proper stance, and how to move as rhythmically as the YouTube videos seem to suggest possible! It is possible!


Once you have learned how to scythe, it is almost meditative. Let your arms swing and your mind drift.



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