How Do Flail Mowers Work? - Can Teach You.Com

How Do Flail Mowers Work?

how do flail mowers workIf there is one type of grass mower that can deal with hardy grass on a wider scale and with an efficient output, this is no other than the flail mower. But what is a flail mower and how do flail mowers work? For some of us even those who own lawn mowers, the flail mowers may not even sound familiar but if you have to deal with tougher grass that cannot be dealt with rotary mowers, you have to check out what the flail mowers can do. 

how do flail mowers workIn this blog, we will be talking about how to use a flail mower, why use a flail mower, and we shall answer the most common question – can you make hay with a flail mower and we always get this question from people who manage livestock and running a farm for bovine animals. 

First, let’s start knowing about flail mowers. A flail mower derives its name from the word “flail” which means a knife or a blade. So when you incorporate the “mower “ word with it, it will describe itself as a piece of equipment equipped with a group of knives or blades that are used in cutting or mowing grass. Flail mowers are forms of agricultural/garden/lawn equipment that can be attached to lawn or garden tractors and driven utilizing the tractor’s PTO (power take-off) where it derives its mechanical power. 

The designs of the flail mowers are unique and very different from the blades the rotary mowers use. Thick hooked blades shaped like garden hoes are spaced out across and around a rotating drum. By engaging the drum through the tractor’s PTO, the drum rotates rapidly enabling the blades to rotate along and cut the grass as the drum glides along the grass while it also mulches it.   

If you’re not also familiar with the PTOs, these are parts of the tractors that are typically located on their rears to drive auxiliary equipment like the rotary drum of the flail mower. In other words, the PTO’s role is to derive its mechanical power from the tractor’s engine and transmit this power to the attached equipment.  

Why Use a Flail Mower?

Why use a flail mower is to know its advantages: 

✅ Flail mowers are considered the perfect cutters for all types of grasses and these can cut even tall and hardy grass with ease while it also mulches it.

✅ Best choice for maintaining large tracts of land with lawns like parks, golf courses, campsites, and even orchards and ranches because of its wide body and efficiency in vegetation cutting.

✅ You have the option to change blades as different types of blades are available. There is the standard “Y” flail ideal for general grass cutting, the paddle flail perfect for fine cutting, and the Delta cast paddle flail for heavy-duty fine grass cutting. 

✅ Compared to rotary mowers, the drum of the flail mower is loaded inside a low-profile metal protective case, preventing the grass and dirt from flying in different directions. 

✅ Flail mowers can be easily fixed to any tractor with a PTO feature. 

✅ No need to use an auxiliary mower like a self-propelled/riding lawn mower or a finishing mower because the grass is already mulched. 

✅ No loud noise unlike with gas-powered lawn mowers but only the sound of the tractor’s engines and the slight noise from the rotating drum. 

✅ Once the flail mower passes through a spot, there’s no need to return to the same spot.

✅ They can also be rented. If you only need to use the flail mower for a given period, you can opt to rent one that is suitable for your tractor’s PTO. 

✅ On the other hand, even though the flail mowers seemed to be perfect, some people still prefer the larger types of riding mowers when dealing with wider lawns such as garden tractors and zero-turn riding mowers. 

So here are the disadvantages some people are aware of: 

❎ They are expensive to buy. These attachments are quite costly if you are planning to keep one yourself. The cheapest could cost more than US$500 which could be the best attachments for small tractors up to US$10,000 for the largest versions for large farm tractors. But with their varying prices, they also vary in sizes from 48 inches to 102 inches wide. However, there are some used units that you could also buy online at affordable prices.

❎ Hard to maintain. Even though you know how do flail mowers work and how to use a flail mower, these attachments require a high level of maintenance because they have many moving drums. Even the blades need to be sharpened regularly because they cut the hardest of grass and even stem and branches that have fallen onto the ground. Stones and rocks are also some of the things that these blades are hitting. The length of the blades should also maintain their uniformed length because a shorter blade would not be able to reach the grass leaving the lawn with an uneven cut. And aside from sharpening these blades, the drum that carries these blades also needs to be lubricated regularly to keep it rotating smoothly.  

How to Use a Flail Mower

can you make hay with a flail mower There are no difficult rules on how to use a flail mower because once you have attached it to your tractor’s PTO and engaged it, it will work on its own. However, there are still some basic guidelines you should be aware of like when to start mowing, how to get the finest cut and some safety precautions in using your flail mower. If you do understand how do flail mowers work, these rules would be easy for you to absorb.

can you make hay with a flail mower

Talk to the owner of the farm or field before starting the mowing. Discussing with the owner of the farm will let you know if there are some spots you should be aware of like fallen trees, embedded rocks, cables, sprinklers, and so on. Because if you hit any man-made stuff out there without inquiring from the owner where they are, these will be your responsibility.    

how do flail mowers workBefore you mow, check the area for large stones or rocks that can damage your flail’s blades. Although the designs of the blades are thicker and they move vertically, they can also get damaged when they hit large embedded rocks on the field. So be aware of the spots where you must avoid including protruding roots of trees. 

Your only direction is to move forward. With a flail mower, your only direction should only be moving forward. This is because the flail’s body is designed to be dragged on and not for backing up or you may wrap the shaft of the rotary drum and burn up the belts. If you need to backup, you should lift the mower deck and lower the flail mower again and continue moving forward.   

can you make hay with a flail mower Start mowing on low gear. This is to see what speed can provide the finest cut. This means that you have to operate the flail mower in sync with your engine’s speed. Experts suggest that 540 RPM PTO is the optimum speed to have a good cut. Too low speed can bog down the mower and can cause the belt to slip out of its place and may also get burned. Same thing with mowing at very high speed which can also displace the belt and burn it.  

how do flail mowers workBe observant by checking on the grass. To make sure you’re cutting the grass the right cut, as you take on a low gear, get off the tractor and check on the grass and also the result of the cut grass. Your goal is to have a fine cut and the cut grass should be properly mulched. Increase the speed of the PTO as necessary.  

Adjust the speed of your PTO based on the vegetation you are cutting. If you’re mowing golf courses or ranches, the grass may be uniform in size, the same in character and type. But if you’ll be clearing out abandoned fields or farms, your flail mower may encounter different kinds of grass and outgrowths and even fallen branches if there are trees. So be aware of your flail mower’s speed based on the landscape you’re dealing with and you may need to speed up a little when encountering tall grasses then decrease the speed again on finer grass.

When to Use a Flail Mower

In summary, the most basic need on when to use a flail mower is when you need to eliminate stubborn vegetation on large, wider areas which other types of lawn mowers cannot easily deal with. But to go for a more detailed description of the necessity of using flail mowers, here are what you should know: 

how do flail mowers work

👉 The area to be mowed is in acres or too wide for ordinary lawn mowers to mow. Yes, flail mowers can be the best choice for mowing grass on a large scale using tractors and these mowers are available in different sizes. But if your property is not too wide but has hardy vegetation, there are also self-propelled flail mower types for garden and backyard use.   

👉 The vegetation to be mowed is tall and stubborn with lots of twigs. Understanding how do flail mowers work will lead you to the kind of materials this equipment can cut. And no other mowers can deal better with grasses that are tall and tough and the ground scattered with twigs from after pruning. The secret to the flail mower’s cutting capacity is its thick blades designed to cut tough materials and mulch it at the same time leaving the land totally cleared out. 

👉 Ideal choice for sloping grounds. If the landscape is hilly and sloping, the flail mower can help your tractor to move upward because of its capability for self-propelling. As the engine transmits its driving force to the rotary drum, the blades’ vertical rotation also helps in pushing the tractor upward.  

👉 When you need the cut grass to be mulched. All flail mowers mulch the grass as they cut it down and this is the advantage of using these equipment. The mulched grasses are also scattered evenly and not in clumps which makes the landscape appear to be completely clean and professionally mowed. 

Flail mowers are the perfect choice for mowing and mulching grass in just one pass. So does this means you cannot produce hay from using it?

Can You Make Hay With a Flail Mower?

how do flail mowers workThe designs of the flails on a flail mower are not like scythes that cut the grass horizontally but cut it vertically so that grass is stripped off its waxy coating before it gets cut. So to answer the question can you make hay with a flail mower, yes you can with tall grass. However, the quality of the hay can be severely compromised because these mowers are made to crush the grass in small parts.  So if you’re aiming to produce hay  using a flail mower, you may get disappointed and better use a rotary mower or a brush cutter. 

Knowing the principles of how do flail mowers work can give you an idea of the kind of cut grass they can produce because basically these are made to produce a finished look on any kind of vegetation. 


Now that you know how do flail mowers work and which mowers to use when working on areas that need grass trimming. Yes, flail mowers are quite expensive to buy but you can rent one if you have a tractor or go for companies that provide vegetation cutting services. 

In terms of labor, expenses, convenience and the quality of cut, the flail mowers can carry them all with ease. With rotary lawn mowers, you need to gather up the cut grass and dispose of it. Yet, you still have a choice if you don’t want to mulch the cut grass on the spot unlike with flail mowers that automatically refine the cut grass and mulch it.