Another Way to Make Chopped Straw

by ziggy on October 5, 2016 -- 0 comments -- Follow

Making Chopped Straw with a Lawnmower

Making chopped straw with a standard lawnmower

Chopped straw is an invaluable ingredient for clay plasters and earthen floors. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a drag to actually make the stuff if you don’t have the right tools or equipment. If you’re building a straw bale wall, you get the benefit of collecting the chopped straw once you shave your walls (which is commonly done with a weed whacker). But if you’re working on a different type of structure, you’ll have to find a way to specifically make the chopped straw.

The ol’ “weed whacker in a barrel” gets really old really quickly, and frankly isn’t that effective. If you don’t have a leaf mulcher or wood chipper, which are far more efficient, you can actually use a lawn mower with a bag attachment to chop all of your straw for plaster. Here’s how to do it.

How to Make Chopped Straw with a Lawnmower

By the way, I’d love to know how people would have processed straw without the use of electric or gas-powered equipment. I’ve actually sat down and used scissors to cut straw before and it is noooo fun. Maybe you can use an ultra sharp machete, with the straw contained in some creative way? I’m not sure. Let me know if you have any tricks.

Moving on… making chopped straw with a lawnmower is fairly simple, and at least more efficient and cleaner than using a weed whacker. All you need to do is the following:

  1. Mow a working area on the grass, and empty the grass clippings from the bag
  2. Open up your straw bale, and shake loose a few big handfuls on your freshly mown area
  3. Using the lawnmower, ride over the straw — you may have to lift up on the rear wheels and lower it down onto the straw to get it started — go slowly as you progress!
  4. Empty your freshly chopped straw of out the collection bag… viola!

sifting-chopped-strawPretty simple, huh? The lawnmower we tried did a pretty good job of chopping the vast majority of straw we sprinkled on the ground. You’ll likely still want to sift the straw through a screen, depending on your needs. For our base coat clay plaster over light clay straw walls, we found that sifting the straw through a 1/2″ hardware cloth screen was adequate. For finer plasters or floors, you may want to sift it down even more.

Happy chopping.

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