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  1. #1
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    Your favorite tool for Weed + Brush control

    Changing weather has made the weed/brush growth on my trails go from a minor problem to something that is eating up multiple days of effort.

    I gave away a nice Stihl string trimmer several years ago. Most of my trails are wooded and have lots of poison ivy. The open areas have parsnip. Getting sprayed with pulped poison plants wasn't much fun. Also, the trimmer string wraps around the brush and breaks frequently.

    I have been using a manual scythe. I'm proficient with it and can cut 1"+ saplings. However, after about 4 hours at one session I'm pretty whipped. This means many trips out to the park for work. Also, no one else in my club will use it. Too much work, and maybe fear of being cut by the blade?

    I'm thinking that a pole-mounted hedge trimmer like the the Stihl HL 100 is the way to go. I've used a similar Echo unit and mostly like it. It's not cheap though, and I want to tap into the knowledge of the forum users to see if there is any better (or similar and less expensive) machine I may be overlooking.

    http://www.stihldealer.net/productde...bcat-13-catpro

    Also, the Stihl comes in two different shaft lengths. Since I will be using if for cutting stuff near the ground mostly, it seems to make sense to go with the shorter shaft model to reduce the amount of effort to swing the tool.

    Please comment.

    Walt

  2. #2
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    I use the Stihl power scythe on a Kombi system. It's good for the woody stuff, not so good for grass. The beauty of the Kombi though is that I can put on a string trimmer for grassy stuff and use a blower for cleanup.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by epic View Post
    I use the Stihl power scythe on a Kombi system. It's good for the woody stuff, not so good for grass. The beauty of the Kombi though is that I can put on a string trimmer for grassy stuff and use a blower for cleanup.
    Have you used a Stihl backback leaf blower? Is the Kombi blower remotely comparable to one?

    The trails disappear under leaves in the fall. I could really use a second leaf blower, but I need significant power, we gave up on hand-held units years ago.

    Thanks for your reply.

    Walt

  4. #4
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    Your favorite tool for Weed + Brush control

    Komi head (biggest motor) with adjustable hedge trimmer head is my favorite brushing tool Makes short work of herbaceous and woody vegetation in west coast chaparral. Cuts almost anything you can fit between the blades and doesn't cover you with poison oak Also cut grass and thick weeds (thistle, hemlock, radish, mustard) that laugh at even heavy duty trimmer strings (when the blades were sharp). Performance in grass could be very species specific though....

    Make sure you get the big harness.

  5. #5
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    Hmm. My answer isn't going to do you much good. I use a combination of tools, but I have a certain resistance to poison ivy and the like. So, I take care of a lot of business real fast with a good string trimmer using heavy string. The trick is learning exactly where to keep the RPMs for what you're cutting. Past a certain point, trimmers become useless though. At that point, walking the trails with a machette or a brush axe (ditch bank blade, depending on where you're from?) once a year can work wonders. Keeping a pair of hand pruners in my camel back while I'm riding tends to reduce trips made for "specific" annoyances (that one branch that hit me in the head last time we rode...) but has the knock on affect that because people aren't being hit constantly by branches they sometimes look at me funny when I say "we're going to be trimming the trails" for a work day.

  6. #6
    Happy, in the woods.
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    My favorite tool for weed & brush control?
    Glyphosate!

    I used to be a hippie and would never even consider herbicides and chemicals, but I have to say the stuff works wonders. Not just for weeds but for keeping volunteers from getting totally burnt out from having "vegetation management" workdays every friggin weekend over the summer.

    I know lots of you will say "but our park would never allow the use of herbicides on the trails", but go look at other areas in the parks. Around the buildings and fence posts, bases of utility poles, cracks in the parking lot? Hmmm, aint no weeds growing there. And that golf course the park system runs, that one with perfectly weed-free fairways and greens? Its all about chemistry.

    It's not about if chemicals are used to control vegetation, but which chemicals and who applies them. Do a fundraiser to pay a professional or the park staff to treat the trails, in the end you would probably still save time and reduce volunteer burnout instead of going the cut it down and watch it regrow in a week syndrome.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating for a 30'wide brown-death moonscape corridor for our trails, but the judicious use of the juice can retard weed growth and let us put volunteer resources into other areas more deserving.
    Abba Zaba, you my only friend....

  7. #7
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    Walt Dizzy, I LOVE the HL 100. I used one a couple of weekends ago and just went out and bought another one!! For small woody brush it is awesome. And it provides great reach so after you are done it looks like a helecopter prop came done the trail. I had been doing all of my trimming by hand before. Now I am a big Stihl HL 100 fan for the the trails around our place!

  8. #8
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    Hi Walt,
    I like using the stihl kombi system with the power scythe. the power scythe is lighter than the hedge trimmer. Our club owns two of most powerful model. stuff lays flat, no debri flying around, no replacing line, long reach. Lots of advantages. I can cut close to the ground, (being careful not to hit rocks).

    However, two of our members prefer using the line trimmer, (but they have not even tried the scythe attachment....). They drilled out the spool to accept 1.05 dia line.

    We do not have buck thorn, we have woody berries and small brush. You will be tired after 4 hours of using these machines as well btw.

    Regarding the kombi blower attachment. It is not nearly as powerful as the stihl back pack blowers.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by thumpduster View Post
    My favorite tool for weed & brush control?
    Glyphosate!

    I used to be a hippie and would never even consider herbicides and chemicals, but I have to say the stuff works wonders. Not just for weeds but for keeping volunteers from getting totally burnt out from having "vegetation management" workdays every friggin weekend over the summer.

    I know lots of you will say "but our park would never allow the use of herbicides on the trails", but go look at other areas in the parks. Around the buildings and fence posts, bases of utility poles, cracks in the parking lot? Hmmm, aint no weeds growing there. And that golf course the park system runs, that one with perfectly weed-free fairways and greens? Its all about chemistry.

    It's not about if chemicals are used to control vegetation, but which chemicals and who applies them. Do a fundraiser to pay a professional or the park staff to treat the trails, in the end you would probably still save time and reduce volunteer burnout instead of going the cut it down and watch it regrow in a week syndrome.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating for a 30'wide brown-death moonscape corridor for our trails, but the judicious use of the juice can retard weed growth and let us put volunteer resources into other areas more deserving.
    Excellent point. Not sure of the economics though. Having a cutting machine is a one-time capital investment that is difficult enough to pay for, but yearly herbicides is a recurring cost that I have no income to cover.

    If I scalp the growth down low, I can get by with one cutting per season in most of the park. At least that's how it's working currently.

    Walt

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjohnson View Post
    Hi Walt,
    I like using the stihl kombi system with the power scythe. the power scythe is lighter than the hedge trimmer. Our club owns two of most powerful model. stuff lays flat, no debri flying around, no replacing line, long reach. Lots of advantages. I can cut close to the ground, (being careful not to hit rocks).

    However, two of our members prefer using the line trimmer, (but they have not even tried the scythe attachment....). They drilled out the spool to accept 1.05 dia line.

    We do not have buck thorn, we have woody berries and small brush. You will be tired after 4 hours of using these machines as well btw.

    Regarding the kombi blower attachment. It is not nearly as powerful as the stihl back pack blowers.
    Hi Charlie,

    It was excellent to meet you at Copper Harbor, hope you and yours had as much fun as we did.

    Thanks for the thoughts on operating the Kombi. That confirms the information I got from another owner with regards to the blower attachment. It's probably not worthwhile. I have been able to borrow the park's hedge trimmer a couple of times. It is almost as tiring to use as the scythe, but at least other people will pick it up and use it.

    Walt

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by drew p View Post
    Komi head (biggest motor) with adjustable hedge trimmer head is my favorite brushing tool Makes short work of herbaceous and woody vegetation in west coast chaparral. Cuts almost anything you can fit between the blades and doesn't cover you with poison oak Also cut grass and thick weeds (thistle, hemlock, radish, mustard) that laugh at even heavy duty trimmer strings (when the blades were sharp). Performance in grass could be very species specific though....

    Make sure you get the big harness.
    Good answer. I am cutting comparatively little grass so that's not a problem. A shoulder strap is going to be a necessity. Cutting with the park's Echo with no strap for 5 hours made a believer out of me. (I'd just use their cutter, but my access is restricted, and have no practical way to get access for volunteers at all.)

    Walt

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    Hmm. My answer isn't going to do you much good. I use a combination of tools, but I have a certain resistance to poison ivy and the like. So, I take care of a lot of business real fast with a good string trimmer using heavy string. The trick is learning exactly where to keep the RPMs for what you're cutting. Past a certain point, trimmers become useless though. At that point, walking the trails with a machette or a brush axe (ditch bank blade, depending on where you're from?) once a year can work wonders. Keeping a pair of hand pruners in my camel back while I'm riding tends to reduce trips made for "specific" annoyances (that one branch that hit me in the head last time we rode...) but has the knock on affect that because people aren't being hit constantly by branches they sometimes look at me funny when I say "we're going to be trimming the trails" for a work day.
    That sounds like an excellent strategy for your trails and probably a lot of others. The combination of lots of poison ivy, wild parsnip, sapling trees and woody brush make string trimmers an exercise in pain and frustration around here. I have people help out occasionally who insist on using a string trimmer. While it's certainly better than nothing, the places where they have worked tend to grow back in quickly.

    Thanks,
    Walt

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Summit Ridge Guy View Post
    Walt Dizzy, I LOVE the HL 100. I used one a couple of weekends ago and just went out and bought another one!! For small woody brush it is awesome. And it provides great reach so after you are done it looks like a helecopter prop came done the trail. I had been doing all of my trimming by hand before. Now I am a big Stihl HL 100 fan for the the trails around our place!
    Thanks for sharing your experience, "small woody brush" is most of what I need to handle. I'm also in favor of cutting down to the ground, I do it ~3' to each side of the trail. It improves the sight lines dramatically. The trails are much more fun to ride when you can see ahead.

    Walt

  14. #14
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    I've been really impressed with the blower on the Kombi. I know it's nothing like the backpack blower, but it's more than enough for me and I blow miles of trail with it. It will lift small rocks and stuff out of the ground. I was skeptical about the whole thing so I bought the smallest engine and it still does fine. The worst things about it are that it gets heavy after a while. I got a harness for it so that is no longer a problem and that it's fuel tank is quite small. Since you are at full-throttle the whole time when blowing, you go through gas fast. I bought a few bottles of the Stihl pre-mix and now just refill them (they are a convenient size) and bring them with me in a backpack when blowing. I can also stick other attachments in the backpack (such as the polesaw) for things I might encounter while on the trail. I live in Northern VT, and we do get heavy leaf fall. I'd like to have a big backpack blower, but I'm not a pro and this does fine for me.

  15. #15
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    I have the Kombi 130 or whatever the most powerful model was a year ago, both sickle bars, and the blower.

    Sometimes I work with the shorter sickle bar (power scythe) and weed trimmer, other times the longer sickle bar. The blower is enough to deberm some sections of trail but not quite as comfy as the back pack model.

    We're likely to use same vendor for same price and discount. They advised the Kombi system unless I could afford the fixed shaft tools in same budget period.

    I rented the HL 100 for a work day weekend. I got to use it and a bunch of tools all by myself thanks to some ____s suggesting a work day and not showing up. It was hard to tell if the HL 100 with fixed shaft had more power than the Kombi.

    A few times I've used the shorter power scythe ahead of or behind somebody with string trimmer.

    You know where they're all at, the combo to the lock, but will have to be angry at me for having most of the weeds cut. Wait a week and the weeds will be back.


  16. #16
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    Your favorite tool for Weed + Brush control-new-mower.jpg

    24" wide cut. Leaves about three inches of grass. Use it to cut small saplings, thistle, stinging nettle, etc.
    Hauls small tool box, chainsaw, and echo trimmer on it for smaller jobs. Has a 3 speed hydrostatic drive
    which makes it climb like a billy goat. But, it is pricey at $3000
    Last edited by ghglenn; 08-21-2013 at 11:12 AM.
    The older I get, the faster I was.....

  17. #17
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    I use a Echo weed eater with the metal saw-blade for all the small stuff and a backpack blower for cleaning the trail. Our trail is mostly flat with all types of leaves and pine-straw everywhere. When we initially cut the trail we had one guy in front with the saw-blade trimmer and another in back with the blower. A few people had hatchets/machetes but it was amazing to see the blower remove a carpet of needles, leaves and twigs. The trimmer would cut through 1" trees and vines easily and stuff up to 2" with one or two well placed cuts. The guy using the trimmer is a pro, he made it look easy by getting the rpm's up and giving the tree a quick jab using the shoulder harness as a swing.

  18. #18
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    Walt, have you ever heard about brush blades for string trimmers? They are essentially like a circular saw blade mounted in place of the the string head. I used one a few years ago to clear a lot overgrown with raspberry and other woody brush and small saplings. The blade itself looked like a chainsaw chain wrapped around a metal disc maybe 10-12" in diameter and was highly effective against anything woody up to 3" in diameter.

    I don't think it would be as bad for poison ivy as a string trimmer but I imagine it would throw more of the juices than the hedge trimmer style cutters. I don't know if this could be fitted to the Kombi system. It is also recommended to use the blades with power units having the bicycle style handlebar attachments because they do have the potential for kickback.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by aero901 View Post
    Walt, have you ever heard about brush blades for string trimmers? They are essentially like a circular saw blade mounted in place of the the string head. I used one a few years ago to clear a lot overgrown with raspberry and other woody brush and small saplings. The blade itself looked like a chainsaw chain wrapped around a metal disc maybe 10-12" in diameter and was highly effective against anything woody up to 3" in diameter.

    I don't think it would be as bad for poison ivy as a string trimmer but I imagine it would throw more of the juices than the hedge trimmer style cutters. I don't know if this could be fitted to the Kombi system. It is also recommended to use the blades with power units having the bicycle style handlebar attachments because they do have the potential for kickback.
    I have a separate Stihl with bicycle bars and I use that type of head on it. It's messier, but it will cut much bigger woody stuff than the power-scythe can. I mostly use it fir trimming the fencelines around the farm actually.

  20. #20
    tjp
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    I use the brush blade on my Stihl trimmer for sections of a trail through an old clearcut. Cheap if you already have the trimmer, works like a charm. Can clear 1/4 mile of pretty intensely brushed-in trail in an hour or so. The scythe would be cleaner, but the blade is so versatile if you have a lot of different plants to deal with - anything under about 3 inches just disappears. We've been known to follow up with Roundup, surgically hitting the poison oak just to keep it under control. I hate clearcuts.

  21. #21
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    Pole hedgers in our coyote brush, chamise, coffee berry, blackberry, poison oak, sage, sticky monkey flower, deer weed laced chaparral.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Your favorite tool for Weed + Brush control-p5111758.jpg  

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  22. #22
    Sheepherder/Cat Herder Moderator
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    I am lucky. No poison ivy or oak where I am at. Just bears, moose, coyotes and cougars.

    I use an FS250 with a brush blade and the bicycle handlebars. I also use a circular saw blade for sections with woody debris up to 3".

    I've been thinking about getting a beaver blade...just to see how well it can do both and bigger diameter woody growth.

    As has been stated, things are growing fast, especially the thimbleberry. Sections I had brushed last year are overgrown now!
    ...building wherever they'll let me...

  23. #23
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    If the trail bed is wide enough, level, and relatively free of rocks, a garden tractor mower or small tractor with a bush hog makes maintenance a breeze. A 4 or 5 ft wide corridor works well on my 2 miles of backyard trail here in Pa.

    Other trimming is done with hedge trimmers and line trimmer (Echo system), chainsaw and leaf blower. Biggest hassle is grass growing on the trail in sunny areas.... a few hours of cutting down to the dirt with the line trimmer is necessary. I may try chemical treatment in a few areas.

  24. #24
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    Glphosate + Polaris Sportsman + Tank SprayerYour favorite tool for Weed + Brush control-img_0766.jpg

  25. #25
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    Another advocate for the stihl hedge trimmer with adjustable angle head. Kombi unit is even better so you have the option for a string trimmer for grassy stuff. I think the hedge trimmer works great angled for ground work or using it for corridor and overhead. I usually follow with a backblower to get rid of the debris.

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