Need some convincing about why scythes are a worthwhile investment?

“A scythe is no good in the modern garden.” Grrrr.

And here’s me thinking we’ve been running this business for the last five years because people are learning that actually, yes, scythes work.

The comment was from this article, which came in response to Monty Don praising the merits of scythes. This is the bit that really got my back up:

A scythe does not cut grass very well, because it cuts properly only if the grass is standing up straight – not lying down after rain, as it mostly does. Even on dry days, a scythe needs to be razor sharp, or it tears the grass, leaving split ends like a bad haircut. I also defy anyone to cut a lawn much lower than three inches with Monty’s dangerous weapon.

This is one of those cases where I really despair of the notion of ‘authority’. Okay, Ms Keen, so your experiences with a scythe were apparently not too flash. But perhaps, rather than telling someone who apparently has had good experiences with the tool, that they’re wrong about the tool, you could allow room for the possibility that you just didn’t know what you were doing with it.

Specifically:

  • A scythe does indeed cut grass very well – that’s what they’re designed and built to do, and have done for millenia. Grass doesn’t only cut ‘properly’ with a scythe if it is standing straight up (I have certainly mown lots of laying-down grass) although – as with a machine mower – it’s obviously an easier task if the grass hasn’t “lodged”. As someone who uses both scythes and tractor-mounted mowers, I can attest that you have a lot more flexibility in dealing with laying down grass with a scythe than you do with a hay mower.
  • …not lying down after rain…”  A scythe will typically outperform a lawn mower in wet conditions; indeed, the scythe’s ability (and ‘preference’) to mow in damp conditions is often cited as a feature of the tool. No-one in their right mind mows their grass with a lawnmower if it’s wet, by choice, whereas any seasoned scythe-mower will attest that damp grass is easier to mow with a scythe.
  • Yes, scythes need to be sharp in order to work properly. Who’d have thunk it. But if you’re contrasting that with motor mowers, which typically feature neglected, damaged blades, and beat the blades of grass into a pulpy mess, you can’t then go on to complain that a scythe “tears the grass, leaving split ends like a bad haircut”. Either tool will leave messy cuts if not maintained. A machine mower is far more likely to not be maintained, because the power of the machine allows for the tool to work even when it’s blunt.
  • I can scalp my lawn back to dirt if I want to. Indeed, the only query we usually get from our lawn-mowing customers is how to leave the grass longer – not get it shorter. One fellow mounted a piece of poly pipe along the rib of his blade in an effort to give him another inch or so of grass left over. There is a multitude of videos on YouTube demonstrating that your challenge to mow lawn less than three inches long is not a challenge at all. Here’s just one.

Perhaps reading some genuine customer testimonials would help. Or perhaps you could consider the increasing number of books on scythe use now available. Or perhaps you could consider the number of businesses springing up around the world devoted to selling the tool. Or perhaps you could even consider having someone who actually knows how to use the tool, teach you how to use one. Because I’m very confident – based on your objections – that you’d be pleasantly surprised. There are real ‘disadvantages’ with using a scythe, yes, but the ones you’ve cited here aren’t them.