Every neighborhood seems to have a vacant lot or two that’s overgrown and chock full of weeds. And if you’re the guy or gal that’s been given the job of mowing a large and weedy residential lot, prepare yourself for several days of hard work. Mowing a weedy lot isn’t something that can be done by yourself in a couple of hours. In many cases, weeding a large, vacant residential lot take either a few days of work or several helpers. Here’s how our neighborhood association tackles large weedy lots during our annual neighborhood clean up day.
1. Sweep the area first for trash and debris. Vacant residential lots tend to be catchalls for rubbish and other bits of trash. Before mowing, sweep through the lot with a heavy duty trash bag, and pick up anything that doesn’t belong there. You can expect to find things like dumped tires, lumber, bits of trash, bottles and cans, and other garbage. Be sure to wear boots, heavy jeans, and thick protective gloves as you walk through the lot.
2. Rent a powerful weed whacker or weed trimmer. Forget using your own personal string trimmer from home; a heavy duty weed whacker is your best bet for whacking down tall, thick weeds in a vacant lot. Overgrown grass and weeds tend to have thick, ropey stems that can bind up lawnmowers; tackling the job with a weed trimmer is much easier and faster. If the lot is waist high in grass, we recommend knocking down the overgrowth incrementally. For example, with the first sweep just chop the weeds down to a height of one foot. Do rake up this cut grass, bag it, and let the lot dry out overnight before proceeding.
3. Hit it with the weed whacker again. After the grass and weeds have had a chance to dry out, use the weed trimmer again to whack away at another 6 inches of weeds. Weeds and grasses are thicker at the base which is why cutting in increments is easier on the machine. Be sure to rake up and bag these cut weeds as well.
4. Sweep the area for rocks. Once the lot is down to a height of six inches, the area should be swept again for rocks and smaller objects, which can damage the mower.
5. Adjust the lawn mower to the highest setting and mow cautiously. Unless the lot is rocky, uneven, filled with surface roots, or boggy, it should be possible to mow over the lot with a powerful lawnmower. Mow cautiously, and only cut 8″ swaths at a time. The smaller swathes won’t tax the machine and makes it easier to find rocks and other obstacles that can damage the lawnmower.
But if the vacant lot has too much junk in it, don’t risk ruining your machine by mowing. in this case, your neighborhood volunteers will have to settle for just knocking down the weeds instead of creating a nicely manicured lot.