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Walk Behind Brush Cutter Buying Guide
A walk-behind brush cutter is a significant investment, so you should thoroughly research all of your options before deciding on the best machine for your needs. In this buying guide, we'll go over some of the most important things to think about before committing to a particular model.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Walk-Behind Brush Cutter:
- Cutting Capacity
- Cutting Height
- Cutting Deck Width
- Pivoting Deck
- PTO Conversion Kit
- Amount of Usage
- Ease of Turning
- Adjustable Height Handlebars
- Ease of Maintenance
- Additional Considerations
As you review through each of these factors, you might want to make some notes about what matters most for your needs and prioritize the list based on importance.
When deciding which brush cutter to buy, cutting capacity is one of the most important factors to consider. The diameter of a sapling that a brush hog can cut through is determined by the cutting capacity.
Common Cutting Capacities for Brush Cutters:
- 1.5 inches in diameter
- 2.0 inches in diameter
- 3.0 inches in diameter
- 4.0 inches in diameter
As with anything, the price rises as the cutting capacity rises. If the price does not increase, the manufacturer may be cutting corners elsewhere, such as using thinner gauge steel for the housing or a motor from an unknown brand.
|Brush Beast 36BBM20R||6' grass and 4.0" wide saplings|
|Swisher RC14544CPKA||6' grass and 3.0" wide saplings|
|Billy Goat BC2600ICM||6' grass and 2.0" wide saplings|
|Swisher WRC10224H||6' grass and 1.5" wide saplings|
|Swisher WRC11524BS||6' grass and 1.5" wide saplings|
As a general rule, choose a cutting capacity based on your typical needs. If the majority of the material you plan on cutting is no larger than 2" in diameter, we recommend a brush hog with a 2" capacity. You might be able to get some 3" diameter material through on occasion, but for larger tree trunks and brush, you're better off using another method. A cordless reciprocating saw is a good alternative for larger items.
The height of grass and weeds that a brush hog can cut through when clearing land is the second most important buying consideration.
In general, most brush cutters can handle grass up to 4 feet tall and weeds up to 6 feet tall. Higher-tier machines can handle 6' tall grass and 8' tall weeds as you progress through the models.
Is there any point in buying a machine that can handle grass up to 6 feet tall if you'll never have grass taller than 4 feet? Yes, because it won't bog down in the tall grass or weeds as easily. The price difference between 4' and 6' models is negligible, which is another reason to go with the higher-end machine.
Cutting Deck Width
When purchasing a walk-behind brush cutter, the cutting deck width is the third most important factor to consider. The brush cutter's cutting deck width determines how wide a path it can cut at one time. As you might expect, the wider the path, the faster you'll be able to clear an acre of land.
Common Walk-Behind Brush Cutter Deck Widths:
- 26-inch deck
- 30-inch deck
- 34-inch deck
- 36-inch deck
|Swisher RC14544CPKA||44 inches|
|Brush Beast 36BBM20R||36 inches|
|Billy Goat BC2600ICM||26 inches|
|Swisher WRC10224H||24 inches|
|Swisher WRC11524BS||24 inches|
It's difficult to say how long it would take a brush cutter with a specific deck width to cut an acre. The answer is contingent on a number of factors, including whether the land is covered in dense brush or simply tall grass. Another factor is the motor's horsepower or displacement, which is determined by the brush hog itself.
According to our experience, clearing an acre of tall grass with a brush hog with a 26" wide deck takes about an hour, while clearing an acre with a 36" wide deck takes half the time, or about 30 minutes.
The next thing to think about when buying a brush cutter is whether you want to spend a little more money for a model with a hydrostatic transmission rather than a manual transmission.
A brush cutter with a manual transmission requires a little more physical effort because you must manually shift gears using a lever on the machine. Usually, there are four positions on the lever: high, low, neutral, and reverse.
Buying a model with a hydrostatic transmission is an alternative to manually shifting gears. You won't have to worry about shifting gears with these models, and controlling the brush cutter will be much easier. In addition, a hydrostatic transmission allows for infinite speed variation. You can control the speed exactly how you want it and tweak it on the fly, rather than being locked into a fast or low speed.
|Billy Goat BC2600ICM||3-speed manual transmission|
|Brush Beast 36BBM20R||Hydrostatic transmission|
|Swisher WRC11524BS||4-speed manual transmission|
|Swisher WRC10224H||4-speed manual transmission|
A pivoting deck is another feature to think about when buying a walk-behind brush hog. When compared to a model with a fixed deck, a pivoting deck has two significant advantages.
The first benefit is that using a brush hog will require significantly less effort on your part. The entire machine, including the handlebars, tilts left or right depending on the terrain in a fixed-deck model. Unfortunately, this side-to-side motion takes a toll on your body quickly. In a model with a pivoting deck, however, the deck absorbs much of the side-to-side movement and reduces movement in the handlebars, making your job much easier.
A pivoting deck's second advantage is that it provides a much better cut. The deck will follow the landscape as the brush hog moves across uneven terrain, reducing the risk of scalping the ground.
|Billy Goat BC2600ICM||Fixed Deck|
|Brush Beast 36BBM20R||Fixed Deck|
|Swisher RC14544CPKA||Stump Jumper|
|Swisher WRC11524BS||Fixed Deck|
|Swisher WRC10224H||Fixed Deck|
PTO Conversion Kit
The availability of a PTO conversion kit on some brush cutters is a useful feature. With a PTO conversion kit, you can remove the brush cutter's deck and attach another machine like a snowblower, wood chipper, lawnmower, or snow blade. The attachment is unique in that it attaches to the PTO shaft and uses the brush cutter's motor and other components.
Because the attachments do not include a motor or electrical components, the main advantage of a PTO conversion kit is that it may save you money. The attachments work with the motor you already have!
Now before you jump on the PTO conversion kit bandwagon, there are a few drawbacks that you should consider.
PTO Conversion Kit Drawbacks:
- Engine failure could mean all your attachments are now worthless;
- Connection failure between the PTO and attachment is possible;
- Backward compatibility may be nonexistent;
- Increased price for the base unit with the motor.
Amount of Usage
The number of hours you plan to use a brush hog each year is the next factor to consider when purchasing one. A brush hog can be a significant investment, costing several thousand dollars in some cases. Is the model you selected worth the money for the amount of time you intend to use it?
If you only need to clear a field once, it's probably best to rent a brush hog or hire someone to do it for you. However, if you have a large property or a frequent brush problem, a brush hog may be more cost-effective in the long run.
When purchasing a brush hog, durability is also a major consideration because it will be subjected to a lot of abuse. It's critical to select a model that is built to last and can withstand the test of time.
Factors that Influence Durability:
- Brush cutter brand
- Thickness of the steel deck
- Blade size and thickness
- Spindle size and thickness
- Sealant filled tires
- Length of warranty
We don't believe that any of these factors should be used to make or break your decision to purchase a specific model. However, you should think about each factor when deciding which brush cutter is best for you.
Recommended Brush Cutter Engine Brands:
- Briggs & Stratton
Ease of Turning
The ability to turn on a small radius is a feature that is frequently overlooked when purchasing a brush cutter. Most walk-behind models weigh over 300 pounds, making turning difficult.
|Swisher WRC11524BS||246 lbs|
|Swisher WRC10224H||256 lbs|
|Billy Goat BC2600ICM||317 lbs|
|Swisher RC14544CPKA||368 lbs|
|Brush Beast 36BBM20R||656 lbs|
Power steering is a feature on some models that uses a brake lever to lock one of the back wheels, allowing for an easy pivot around that locked wheel. If the area you plan to mow has a lot of twists and turns, a power steering (brake locking) feature is very useful. However, because it isn't standard on most machines, it can severely limit your brush hog options. If the area you plan to cut consists of a wide-open field with many straight paths, this feature is less of a concern.
Adjustable Height Handlebars
Adjustable handlebars are one of the final features to consider when purchasing a brush hog. The ability to fine-tune the height of the handlebars allows you to work longer and harder.
Most people are unaware that using a brush hog requires a great deal of bending over. When you come across thicker brush, the machine may not be able to simply "push" the brush down and mow over it. So a common trick is to push the handlebars down, tilting the front of the machine up in the air while the machine continues to move forward. This allows you to attack the brush at a 45-degree angle, but it bends your back and can cause a lot of pain in a matter of hours.
Getting a machine with adjustable handlebars is a simple way to alleviate some of this back pain. The ability to raise the handlebars from the start can help reduce back pain and strain while working.
Ease of Maintenance
One of the last things you should do before purchasing a brush hog is read the manual for a model that appears promising. You can usually find the manuals online, where you can see how simple the maintenance is and what is required.
Common Brush Hog Maintenance Considerations:
- Blade sharpening or replacement
- Oil change
- Oil filter replacement
- Belt replacement
- Battery replacement
- Tire replacement
- Grease and lubrication
Additional Buying Considerations
We have a few additional things that, based on our experience, you should consider before buying a brush hog:
- Availability of replacement blades online
- Availability of replacement belts online
- A low oil shutoff feature
- Online reviews
FAQs on Heavy Duty Brush Hogs
In addition to our brush hog buying guide, we'd like to address some of the most frequently asked questions about these machines. If you have a question that we haven't addressed, please contact us so that we can address it and add it to this article.
Heavy Duty Brush Hog Categories
Before you choose a specific type of brush hog, we'd like to give you a high-level overview of the various categories. Purchasing a brush hog is a significant investment, so it is essential to understand the differences between the various categories.
- Walk-Behind Brush Hogs
- Tow-Behind Brush Hogs
- PTO 3-Point Hitch Brush Hogs
- Forestry Mulchers
Walk-Behind Brush Hog
The first type, a walk-behind brush hog, has already been discussed in this article. A walk-behind brush hog is ideal for controlling brush in a yard as well as clearing several acres. Most of these models have a cutting deck that is around 26" or 34" wide.
This type of machine has a practical limit of about 5 acres. It could take several days if you have more than 5 acres of land to clear and it isn't just tall grass. It's not because the machine can't handle it; it's because your body can't.
In comparison to the other categories, a walk-behind brush hog really shines in terms of its small size and maneuverability. It's an excellent addition to a homeowner's toolkit.
Tow-Behind Brush Hog
The second type, a tow-behind brush hog, has a motor that powers the blades while the machine is pulled by a garden tractor, gator, or ATV. The cutting deck on the majority of these models is approximately 44" wide.
The main advantage of this category is that a pull-behind brush hog can clear several acres of land quickly and easily. When compared to a walk-behind model, the only disadvantage is maneuverability in tight spaces.
PTO 3-Point Hitch Brush Hog
The third category is a PTO driven 3-point hitch brush hog, which is attached to a tractor's 3-point hitch and powered by the tractor's power take-off (PTO).
The main reason someone would want a PTO brush hog is if they have a large number of acres to cut. The cutting deck in these models ranges from 44" to 180", which is more than 15 feet wide!
Another reason to choose a PTO brush hog is that it can be used for a lifetime and has a high resale value. Because your tractor provides the power, the brush hog's only moving parts are its gearbox and blades. There isn't much that can break on the machine if it's kept greased and oiled.
A forestry mulcher is the fourth and final type of brush hog. So… okay, so we lied a little. A forestry mulcher isn't technically a brush hog, but you might not be aware of it if we didn't include it on this list.
What is the significance of knowing about a forestry mulcher? What if you have a few acres of land with a lot of trees and brush with diameters ranging from 5" to 48"? So, what are your options? A brush hog won't cut it, so that's when you need a forestry mulcher.
A forestry mulcher is typically designed as a skid-steer attachment and has a large drum with thick metal teeth. The teeth of the drum grind through almost any organic material as it rotates, including trees up to four feet in diameter!
The attachment alone, not including the skid steer, can easily cost upwards of $25,000, putting it out of reach for the average homeowner. However, if you have a large area to clear of thick brush, this is an important rental consideration. The trick is to clear the land with a forestry mulcher and then maintain it with a brush hog.
Who Makes the Best Rotary Cutter Brush Hog?
The most frequently asked question is, "Who makes the best rotary cutter brush hog?" We wish we could recommend a specific brand and tell you to only buy from that company. However, the answer is really dependent on a number of factors, including your specific requirements.
- History of the manufacturer
- Intended use for the machine
- Engine brand
- Materials used to construct the brush hog
- Any cut corners in the design or construction
- History of positive or negative reviews
- Customer support
How Do You Sharpen a Brush Hog Blade?
The key to sharpening a brush hog blade is to remember that, depending on the terrain, you may need a dull blade. A sharp blade could get stuck or create a spike that could puncture a tire if you're cutting a lot of saplings and thick brush. If the majority of what you're cutting is tall grass and weeds, on the other hand, a sharp edge may result in a better cut and less stress on the motor.
Best Way to Sharpen a Brush Hog Blade:
- Remove the blades using a wrench.
- Sharpen the blades using a fine grit sanding tool such as a belt sander, angle grinder, or disc sander.
- Remove the burr from the backside of each blade.
- Balance the blades.
- Install the blades using a wrench.
- Tighten the blades to the appropriate torque using a torque wrench.
How Much is it to Rent a Brush Hog?
Because a brush hog is an expensive purchase, you may want to rent one for a few days instead of purchasing one outright. You could save a lot of money because renting a brush hog costs $75 for four hours, $100 for a day, and $400 for a week. In this article, we'll look at whether it's better to rent or buy a home.
In general, any brush you cut down will most likely return the following season, necessitating an additional rental. Also, if you're cutting grass or weeds, that's a couple of rentals per season.
Another factor to consider when renting a brush hog is the physical toll it takes on your body. An 8-hour rental may soundsimple, but it is extremely taxing on your body, especially if you do not have flat terrain and are cutting saplings and thick brush.
So, what are you going to do? If you're on the fence, we recommend going with the day rental. You won't be out more than $100, and you'll be able to get a sense of what it's like to use a brush hog on your property. You may discover that renting is the best option for your requirements.
How Much Does Brush Cutting Cost?
If you don't want to buy a brush cutter or spend the time and effort renting one, you can usually hire someone local to do the job. Brush cutting tall grass and light overgrowth will cost between $100 and $150 per hour. This price does not include a fee to walk your property and look for hidden obstacles, such as large rocks or debris that could damage the brush cutter.
How Much Does it Cost to Clear a Wooded Lot?
The cost of clearing a wooded lot is determined by several factors, including the diameter of the trees on the lot. If the job does not require cutting trees larger than four feet in diameter, a forestry mulcher should suffice. Depending on the density and thickness of the trees, the cost per hour could range between $150 and $200 and the process could take up to 3 hours per acre.
Designed with the unique requirements of tractors with 40 PTO HP and under in mind, these implements may be smaller in size, but they have a big heart.
Five Things to Consider When Shopping for a Brush Cutter
One of the most useful tools is what is known as a “brush hog” or “rotary cutter.” Brush hogs are commonly called “bush hogs” but that is a brand name. “Rotary cutter” is another commonly used term to describe the same implement.
It features a 40 HP gear box and stump jumper. A flow of 11-20 GPM is required.
The popular 15-foot models work best on tractors 75 hp.
If you have 10 acres, and/or moderate chores
A compact tractor that's making between 30–60 horsepower is a good fit for mowing 10 acres and managing moderate chores.
|Gearbox HP||250 HP||190 HP|
|Blade Size||1/2″ x 3.5″||1/2″ x 4″|
|Blade Tip Speed||15,490 FPM||11,875 FPM|
swath. The most popular standard Brush Wolf model is the 7200, a 6-ft-wide cutter that comes in three hydraulic flow versions. The low-flow 7200 unit requires 15 to 20 gpm, the standard unit (biggest seller) needs 21 to 25 gpm and the high-flow 7200 is for track loaders producing 26 to 40 gpm.
You want to be between 1200 and 1600 RPM's when turning the PTO on. Then all you do is drive! Having said that, there are ten practices I'd recommend to make your first trip across the field uneventful. These can also apply if you're an experienced operator.
With all of these factors in mind, for an acre of bush hogging you should expect to pay around: $60-$75 per hour for basic bush hogging. $70-$90 per hour for brush hogging. $90-$150 per hour for light land clearing.
You should sharpen your bush hog blades whenever you notice the bush hog is not cutting properly, or becoming heavily clogged with torn debris. A dull blade will pull tough stalks instead of cutting them, and they could wrap around the output shaft of the gearbox and ruin the seal in the gearbox.
This brush cutter allows you to save money on your machine (by not requiring high flow) as well as saving money on the purchase of your brush cutter. In turn, you are now able to operate more efficiently, putting more of you hard-earned money in your pocket.
For grass and weeds, brush cutters with blades having 8 or lesser teeth are ideal. For thick weeds and shrubs, brush cutters with blades having 9-40 teeth are effective. For cutting small trees and saplings, brush cutting blades with more than 40 teeth are recommended.
A skid steer brush cutter with an open front is a great choice for clearing heavy undergrowth, saplings, dense grass, and weeds. There are many different brush cutters that make quick work of clearing overgrown brush.
|Gearbox HP||250 HP||190 HP|
|Blade Size||1/2″ x 3.5″||1/2″ x 4″|
|Blade Tip Speed||15,490 FPM||11,875 FPM|
We wouldn't recommend going below 25 engine hp, but aside from that, you need to assess your land and your needs. If you need to do basic mowing on flat terrain, find a compact tractor with 25 to 30 hp. If you need something more substantial for plowing, invest in the 45 to 85 hp range.
Remember, you need to match the tractor to the job you want to do. If you want to operate a five-foot cutter (shredder), a good rule of thumb is 20 PTO horsepower (not engine horsepower). A six-foot cutter requires roughly 30 PTO horsepower.
|Deck Thickness||7 Gauge/12 Gauge||10 Gauge|
|Side Skirt Thickness||1/4″||1/4″|
|Divider Gearbox HP||120 HP||120 HP|
|Spindle Gearbox HP||100 HP||90 HP|