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View Full Version : HOW do you mow inclines/ditches with a tractor?



cyndi
Jul. 22, 2010, 08:21 AM
Probably stupid question from tractor newbie. Our property is flat, flat, flat. But we have probably 2,000 feet of road frontage with ditches. About half is semi-steep ditch. County occasionally mows it and as far as I know, they do it with regular tractor/bush hog set up. They do not mow it as often as I would like, tho, and neighbors mow their (slightly less steep) ditches with tractor/bush hogs as well.

I scared the cr*p out of myself trying to mow part of it last night.:lol: There is a good place to get INTO the ditch from the driveway that is a gentle slope...but the 'bottom' of the ditch narrowed so much due to trees on one side and fairly steep incline on the other that I really thought I was going to roll my tractor. Now, I probably was quite a way from that, but I've never tried to mow on an incline so anytime I get 'off level' it's fairly scary to me.:lol:

So what's the best way to do it? And to get into and out of steep ditch? I ended up backing up to the gentle slope to get out of the steeper part. Could not even manage to mow the 'slope' on either side of the middle. On the less-steep portion, I was able to mow it all, and figured out that driving straight up or down the side seemed like the safest way to get in and out, but that's just guessing on my part, from what FELT like the least precarious way. FYI, I have a Kubota B2320 with bush hog and FEL and it is 4WD.

fivehorses
Jul. 22, 2010, 08:24 AM
I don't mow ditches or steep inclines where there is a chance I could rolll.
for those areas its weedwhacking or leave it. My life is too important.
There are off the side mowers that are designed for those areas...ditch. That way the tractor stays level and the mower is off to the side.

MistyBlue
Jul. 22, 2010, 08:30 AM
Filled tires help to stop tipping, but yep, it can be nerve-wracking driving a tractor on an incline. :eek: I know I've scared the poop out of myself a time or two. Mr Blue doesn't get nervous at all, but then he also gets the thing stuck constantly and has made it to a "head stand" more than once. He doesn't get nervous because he's apparently quite used to tipping the damned thing, LOL! (he does get pissed though, as if I personally tilted the earth on him when he was driving)
A mower that tilts off to the side and can be angled is a huge help with ditches or steep slopes.

http://www.wikco.com/images/brti2.jpg

And while looking for a photo...I had no idea they make stuff like this for slopes:
http://www.buyersguide.co.uk/profiles/t/textron/7.jpg
http://www.deweze.com/pictures/Copy%20of%20Industrial%2072LC.JPG

carolprudm
Jul. 22, 2010, 08:35 AM
I'm with fivehorses.

I do a lot of mowing and there are places I won't go.

The WORST scare I ever got on a tractor was on our old Massey Fergusson, pre ROPS. I was bush hogging up a hill and the wheel on the bush hog dropped into a woodchuck hole, stopping me like I had dropped an anchor.

I almost lost it before I realized that I could raise the bush hog and keep going.

FWIW, if you are ever tempted to improvise dragging something with a tractor, attach it BLEOW the level of the axel. If you attempt to pull something that is to heavy and attached to high the tractor will rear up. A neighbor almost killed himself doing that

merrygoround
Jul. 22, 2010, 08:41 AM
You don't! You use a weed wacker.

tallyho392
Jul. 22, 2010, 08:42 AM
we have a number of steepish hills for mowing, and riding up/down, rather than across always felt safest to me........the steepest hill can be weedwacked , but that is pretty backbreaking...................MY solution?....in years of youthful exhuberance, i put on a pair of thrift shop golf shoes (for traction) , tied a long rope around the handle of the gas push/hand mower, and let it mow its way down the hill, then pull it back up............it mows both pulling and pushing..eh, sometimes the job was a bit spotty, but it got done....
NOW, that my youthful exhuberance has seriously waned, i do the SMART, EASY, and GREEN solution........several handfuls of wildflower seed will do the trick.......the first year if a bit iffy, but once those suckers have established and reseeded, there is not a prettier sight around..

just be sure you get flowers native to your area, and they will be fine

cyndi
Jul. 22, 2010, 08:46 AM
You don't! You use a weed wacker.

800' of ditch is NOT gonna get weedwacked...especially in 97-degree heat and 95% humidity:lol::lol::lol::lol:

grayarabpony
Jul. 22, 2010, 08:49 AM
We have hundreds of feet of ditch too, that are too dangerous to mow with a tractor. Tractors roll over easily.

ReSomething
Jul. 22, 2010, 09:02 AM
Is this a slope or a ditch? An elderly fellow who turned out to be an old friend of my trainer's was killed when he cut it a little too close with his riding lawnmower and it rolled over on him. Just a ditch he'd been doing for years. Anyway personally I think nice wildflowers are the way to go. Weed wacking is endless and is yet another day used up.

Now, steep slopes are best mown backing up and forward down. That's the safest way even with wheel weights, they tip over sideways a lot faster than they pitch pole.

The road crews here use a batwing or a side mower. The side mower cuts about five feet or so from the edge of the road and can angle up or down, they drive along with it perpendicular to the road sometimes and hack the trees.

grayarabpony
Jul. 22, 2010, 09:08 AM
Is this a slope or a ditch? An elderly fellow who turned out to be an old friend of my trainer's was killed when he cut it a little too close with his riding lawnmower and it rolled over on him. Just a ditch he'd been doing for years. Anyway personally I think nice wildflowers are the way to go. Weed wacking is endless and is yet another day used up.

Now, steep slopes are best mown backing up and forward down. That's the safest way even with wheel weights, they tip over sideways a lot faster than they pitch pole.

The road crews here use a batwing or a side mower. The side mower cuts about five feet or so from the edge of the road and can angle up or down, they drive along with it perpendicular to the road sometimes and hack the trees.

We weedwack once or twice a year, just to keep the woody plants down, and let wildflowers take over. Last month there was a species of Rose Gentian (Sabatia) and the Meadow Beauty started blooming and will continue until frost. The real stars are Bidens in Sept. Often there is Blue Lobelia and a tiny white orchid too.

I've looked into the side mowers -- expensive!!

ShotenStar
Jul. 22, 2010, 09:24 AM
Now, steep slopes are best mown backing up and forward down. That's the safest way even with wheel weights, they tip over sideways a lot faster than they pitch pole.

This is the technique we use for mowing one long side of my outdoor arena, which was carved out of a hillside. Since there is a fence at the top of the slope and trees all along the slope, we can't go all the way up and then down again, so it is a back-and-forth back-and-forth style of mowing. We then weed whack the areas right around the trees to finish.

It is a pain in the neck ... literally, from having to be turned around watching where the bush hog is .... but it gets the job done.

*star*

MistyBlue
Jul. 22, 2010, 09:48 AM
I'm no plant person but how about planting pachysandra? (probably screwed up that spelling) Low ground covering with a multiple root system to stop erosion and no need to mow.

Or something similar to that? I'd put in something that doesn't need to be mowed.
Or else kill the green stuff, put down barrier and then rock it maybe?

deltawave
Jul. 22, 2010, 11:29 AM
Or crown vetch.

shakeytails
Jul. 22, 2010, 12:19 PM
We don't mow the steep stuff- too dangerous. We have some parts of one of the pastures that are quite steep with a creek at the bottom- IF I decide they must be mowed, or I'm feeling brave, I'll put the bush hog to our older tractor. The older tractor doesn't have a ROPS, but it's lower to the ground and has a big heavy loader on the front that helps keep the front end down. DH won't touch the steep hills anymore since he rolled a tractor- as in upside down in a 20'+ ditch (neighbor's big cab tractor, mechanical failure and he's a very experienced operator)- he's one of the lucky few that live to tell about a roll-over; he only spent a few hours in the hospital.

If you must mow steep hills, never travel across the hill. Up and down only- I try to go down only and go around to get back to the top. ROPS and seat belt or not, it's a freaky feeling when a tractor tire or two come off the ground!

Around the pond bank, I employ my 2 HP lawnmower- two old mares that are perfectly happy behind a single strand of wire, hot or not. I could probably use them in the ditches too, but it's too much trouble to fence and carry water!

As for the ditches, we get what we safely can, and let the county with their side hill mowers get the rest.

gumtree
Jul. 22, 2010, 05:26 PM
The Kubota B2320 looks to be a pretty small tractor and the picture I saw of it had a belly mower on it. Did not look big enough for a bush hog. Up and down is the only way to go. But make sure the weight of the bush hog isn't going to send you flying down the hill. Once they get rolling breaks maynot stop it.

Tom King
Jul. 22, 2010, 06:07 PM
Google "slope mower" and you will find all sorts of cool machines designed for just that purpose. A utility tractor is not. This is the number one cause of "death by tractor".

cssutton
Jul. 22, 2010, 06:32 PM
Probably stupid question from tractor newbie. Our property is flat, flat, flat. But we have probably 2,000 feet of road frontage with ditches. About half is semi-steep ditch. County occasionally mows it and as far as I know, they do it with regular tractor/bush hog set up. They do not mow it as often as I would like, tho, and neighbors mow their (slightly less steep) ditches with tractor/bush hogs as well.

I scared the cr*p out of myself trying to mow part of it last night.:lol: There is a good place to get INTO the ditch from the driveway that is a gentle slope...but the 'bottom' of the ditch narrowed so much due to trees on one side and fairly steep incline on the other that I really thought I was going to roll my tractor. Now, I probably was quite a way from that, but I've never tried to mow on an incline so anytime I get 'off level' it's fairly scary to me.:lol:

So what's the best way to do it? And to get into and out of steep ditch? I ended up backing up to the gentle slope to get out of the steeper part. Could not even manage to mow the 'slope' on either side of the middle. On the less-steep portion, I was able to mow it all, and figured out that driving straight up or down the side seemed like the safest way to get in and out, but that's just guessing on my part, from what FELT like the least precarious way. FYI, I have a Kubota B2320 with bush hog and FEL and it is 4WD.

Stay off of steep ground and ditches or you will get hurt with this tractor.

The spec I read said that the minimum tire width is 41".

Tht means the max is not much more.

Some dealers describe it as a narrow tractor and list it for orchard work.

I mow some fairly steep places with my tractor, but it is a 60 HP JD 2440. It has the big row crop wheels on it which make it sit a little higher, but I have them set on 84" centers, which means from outside to outside the width is 96".

Even with that, I find that the tractor is more "nervous" on steep hills with the front end loader than it is without it.

A loader definitely raises your center of gravity.

Tie inflation is very important. You can't over inflate a tractor tire or it will burst and maybe kill you in the process.

But under inflation will dramatically increase the chance of a roll over.

The type of mower makes a difference.

Don't ask me how to explain it, but my flail mower is much harder to manage on a steep slope than my bush hog.

Why? I have no idea because it has a full width roller and that is in full ground contract when mowing.

Incidentally, it is 96" wide and weighs over 1,000 lbs.

The bush hog is a tow model JD 1018 10'6" wide but it is much less nervous on a steep slope.

All four tires are filled to capacity with fluid.

As I get older, the slopes get steeper and I am even more careful than I was 40 years ago.

My point being that the tractor and the way you have it set up is everything and you do not have the right tractor for ditches and steep slopes.

Get a farmer with more experience and better equipment to do it for you.

If the state is mowing it, leave it to them.

The off set mowers are very expensive and also require huge weights on the opposite side from the mower, so it takes a big tractor, 80 HP or so to handle it.

So unless you want to spend $80,000 or more, that is not an option.

A bat wing mower is cheaper but you need a big tractor to pull them through tall grass. Those blades are cutting a lot of grass and that takes power.

CSSJR

DebbieB
Jul. 25, 2010, 01:42 AM
I've heard about too many farmers being killed when their tractors rolled as they mowed ditches.

Then there was the guy up the road from me who was mowing his ditch next to the county road. A driver wasn't paying attention and ran off the road right were he was on the mower. Killed him.

I don't see a good reason to mow steep slopes - or ditches next to roads.

anchodavis
Jul. 25, 2010, 07:18 AM
I vote for wildflowers too. I have a steep slope along the road at my property. Part of it is treeline and part is open where the road commission made us cut down trees for sight lines when we put in the driveway. I was puzzling over what to do there and I don't even have a tractor yet. So in the spring I threw down two pounds of wildflower seeds and five pounds of black striped sunflower seeds from the local garden store. Cost about $50 all total, wildflowers actually bloomed and now the sunflowers are out, and I've gotten compliments from a neighbor already! :D

avezan
Jul. 25, 2010, 07:52 AM
I was going to post something almost identical to this post. A local horsewoman's husband was killed a few years ago when his tractor turned over on him. I think of him almost every time I am on the tractor. Our property is very hilly. There are some hills I would love to mow, but seeing a nicely mowed hill is just not worth the risk. The road crews do have those cool batwing mowers. I never see them mowing on a slope.

my suggestion: if it is too much to weedwack or mow with a push mower, then either try the wildflowers (that will guarantee the road crews will come and mow!) or hire someone with the right equipment to do it for you.

Stay safe!


Is this a slope or a ditch? An elderly fellow who turned out to be an old friend of my trainer's was killed when he cut it a little too close with his riding lawnmower and it rolled over on him. Just a ditch he'd been doing for years. Anyway personally I think nice wildflowers are the way to go. Weed wacking is endless and is yet another day used up.

Now, steep slopes are best mown backing up and forward down. That's the safest way even with wheel weights, they tip over sideways a lot faster than they pitch pole.

The road crews here use a batwing or a side mower. The side mower cuts about five feet or so from the edge of the road and can angle up or down, they drive along with it perpendicular to the road sometimes and hack the trees.

monstrpony
Jul. 25, 2010, 08:06 AM
My farm is in the mountains, so "flat" isn't an option very much. When I cleared for pasture, a very clever excavator put some "cuts" across the face of the hills--like a trail that goes up across the face of the hill. I drive up the cut and turn to go straight down the hills. I have to go around, and around, and around, and it's positively mind-numbing work, but it's the only way I feel comfortable doing it. Four wheel drive, low range. Slow work.

I stay away from ditches. I do have a branch that runs through the middle of my place, since my property is basically a whole "cove". I used to weed-eat. I've come to appreciate any native, vine-like thing that likes to grow on ditch banks. I spray very carefully, to avoid the flowing water, maybe twice a summer, otherwise the vegetation falls across the stream and chokes the water and it silts up like crazy. I let the occasional gulley-washer clean out the actual stream bed--almost had to hire a backhoe during the last drought. Other than that, au naturel is it.

Which doesn't help the OP at all, since their land is flat.

cyndi
Jul. 26, 2010, 10:33 AM
The Kubota B2320 looks to be a pretty small tractor and the picture I saw of it had a belly mower on it. Did not look big enough for a bush hog. Up and down is the only way to go. But make sure the weight of the bush hog isn't going to send you flying down the hill. Once they get rolling breaks maynot stop it.

No belly mower. It has a bush hog - plenty big enough for it. Also has a front end loader that is always attached.