Flail mowers vs. Rotary mowers – which ones best?
Updated: Oct 7
It's important to know and work out the exact pros and cons when it comes to choosing between flail and rotary mowers.
Of course, the ultimate choice will also be dependent on what it is you're looking to achieve, as these very different cutting attachments might at first glance seem to do the same job; however, they are, in fact, very different in what they offer to different situations, offering not only different types of cuts but also different outcomes when it comes to final presentation.
In this post, we look at flail mowers and rotary mowers in more depth, what they have to offer, their blade design, and what their final cut helps to achieve.
Main differences between flail mowers and rotary mowers
Rotary mowers, or brush hogs, are very similar to those of household lawnmowers; hence, they remain popular because for many they feel more comfortable, more natural almost, as often rotary mowers can be seen as the next step up from a garden mower.
Rotary mowers are mainly used to help with clearings, cutting back and trimming overgrown grass or brush, and they're designed to do this job quickly.
They operate with their continuous spinning blades, slicing through the brush, and then sucking it up, before spitting it back out.
The blades used on rotary mowers are thicker and larger than flail mowers, making them ideal for overgrown grassy areas and pastures.
However, due to the blade's roughness and thickness, rotary mowers are designed for a quick rough cut, which is done with power and speed.
You are less likely to achieve a smoother cut with a rotary mower.
However, flail mowers are much better when dealing with stumps and rocks which may appear in the ground. They don't damage the machine, and unlike rotary mowers, the ground-up mulch is not thrown everywhere, but rather distributed evenly back out from the mower, leaving you with much finer clippings and a more even finish.
Flail mowers cut with knives and unlike rotary's, compact tractor flail mowers offer a nice finish and outlook on lawned areas.
However, a big consideration is that this nice finished look does come at a cost, as flail mowers are more expensive than rotary mowers.
Rotary mowers are powered by hydraulics, whereas PTO powers flail mowers or can be hydraulically driven. This information can be essential, depending on the type of compact tractor you're looking for the attachment to fit.
What land are you working on? What are you looking to achieve?
Rotary mowers are good at clearing grass, saplings, brush, dense vegetation, and trees. However, be careful, debris will fly with a rotary mower! If you use a rotary mower on grass lawns, the outcome will be an uneven and messy cut and finish, due to the blades dullness and their design capability.
Flail mowers offer thorough, clean, pristine-looking grass. Great for trimming and keeping on top of large lawned areas, spreading the mulch back over the area and filling the soil with much needed rich nutrients. Flail mowers for all, overall, extremely effective, do take longer to carry out the job at hand and aren't overly great for clearing overgrown bushes and trees.
Rotary cutters also have a shorter cut width, but they offer greater depth as a trade-off. They also move faster as they are much lighter to manoeuvre – great if time is of the essence.
But and there is a but.
Rotary mowers aren’t as flexible, so rocks, stones, stumps, etc. can damage a rotary mower quite easily and stop it in its tracks quite quickly.
Rotary mowers are also renowned for leaving uneven trimmings, which may actually be harmful to the quality of your fields.
Flail cutters, however, have wider cut widths ranging from between 38-102 inches in range, but they are heavier, and they do take more time to cut through plant life properly, so you will find that these pieces of equipment will move slower.
With this in mind, you need to consider the capability and horsepower of your tractor or mini compact and what it will be able to handle.
For example, rotary mowers are versatile and have motor options, whereas flail mowers are a much more specialized attachment.
At Beckside Machinery we have a number of high-quality attachments suitable for wide varieties of the tractor.
Whether you're on the lookout for rotary mowers or a compact tractor flail mower, we have a solution to meet your requirements.
Call 01673 828 965
Reference Video: The Kelley's Country Life