What is a good wheeled brushcutter? We often need to cut large areas that have not been mown for ages but want to leave as neat a finish as possible

Sally Drury advises on whether to choose a flail mower or wheeled brushcutter to take on long grass.

A: There may be more than one option to solve your problem. If the vegetation is chiefly grass, perhaps infested with weeds such as thistles and docks, and if the area is a considerable size, then a tractor-mounted flail mower could be the answer.

There are many flail mowers that could be used with compact or mid-sized tractors to reduce the vegetation to a low height. There are also flail/collectors such as the Amazone Groundkeeper, Campey's Omarv machines, Wessex units from Broadwood International and the Wiedenmann models that can do a good job of mowing long grass.

The advantage with these machines is that they will carry away the cuttings - although you may find that the hopper needs emptying frequently if the vegetation is especially long and dense.

Where the area is not so large as to warrant the use of a tractor and mower, and where the grass is relatively clean of nasty weeds, you could use a reciprocating cutterbar mower to cut the grass and then rake the "hay" off or bring in a mini-baler to collect it.

Two-wheel tractor companies such as Tracmaster offer power units with scythe and baler attachments to work in a wide range of situations. Cutterbars are available up to 1.8m wide. Most suppliers will also offer flail-mower attachments.

If you decide a wheeled brushcutter is most suitable, you then need to choose between nylon-line cutting heads (the ones with pram-like wheels) or a cutting mechanism that uses a strong metal blade. As with handheld brushcutters, the metal blade is best for thick, tough and woody vegetation.

Of the pram-wheeled machines with nylon-line head, I like the Grillo. There is a self-propelled model that is much less demanding on the operator's muscles and it is a powerful cutter too.

If you are looking for a bladed machine, one of the first on my shortlist would be an Atilla from Etesia. These are tough machines that are not afraid of brambles and scrub but, of course, are more expensive. A bit more money would buy the Atilla ride-on brushcutter or the Tuareg from Efco.

Email your questions to sally.drury@haymarket.com

Sally Drury has been reporting on product developments and testing kit for 29 years. The advice given in this helpline is independent.

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