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Old 06-23-2018, 08:38 AM
 
8,813 posts, read 9,637,433 times
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I have lived next to a 15 acre piece of property with outbuildings and ponds for about twenty years. During that time there have been 7 owners of this property. Each time it goes up on the market I get asked if I want it. The current owner told me he doesn't think he will keep it after he retires because it’s too much work for an old man. For him it’s a couple of hours after work each day and most of the day on the weekends. He’s been there a year and it’s still not in order because the last owner gave up to quickly.

I think people see these properties out this way and romanticize about owning some land. Many of these 5 acre lawns are mowed by stay at home wives or retired guys. One of the owners probably killed himself trying to keep it mowed. He died of skin cancer. It takes a lot of time just to keep a fence line from being overgrown.

If you decide to make the dive, then pace yourself and come up with a long term plan. Get soil samples and have the pond checked out. Sometimes the ponds are old and need to be drained and relined. I think 5 acres is manageable by a couple who both work outside the home.

I had a friend who had about ten acres and when he would have me over for dinner he would say the only thing he bought at the grocery store including the beer was the salt and pepper. He had a full time job and didn’t have all of his evenings and weekends free to work on the properly either.
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Old 06-23-2018, 08:49 AM
 
Location: N of citrus, S of decent corn
34,665 posts, read 42,807,149 times
Reputation: 57382
We lived on 7 acres, heavily wooded with a pond and grass on the front 4 acres or so. We also had an adjacent 7 acres, which was mowed for hay by a neighbor, so we didn’t do anything with that.

We did not have farm animals, but just keeping nature from swallowing us up was a big job. The pond had to be sprayed to keep the algae down. Cattails had to be removed or they would have gotten out of hand. We had a big kubota tractor that dh used to mow. For a few years, paid about $500 a month to a landscaping company to maintain the mowed areas.

There are smart ways of managing a country property and dumb ways, and I think we might have been the dumb kind. We were used to a manicured suburban yard, and the country life tends to be shaggy and messy. You have to make peace with this.

Knowing what I know now, I would have built the house closer to the road, so cutting down on the amount of manicured land. I might have had a few goats to maintain the grass. Otherwise, the pond maintenance was worth it, since the kids and dogs spent many happy hours playing and fishing.

I never wanted chickens, and I still wouldn’t.

After all the hard work, the upside is peace and quiet, seeing birds and animals. It’s a nice lifestyle, but you need to be prepared for all it entails.
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Old 06-23-2018, 09:28 AM
 
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
11,077 posts, read 11,487,748 times
Reputation: 17254
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveinMtAiry View Post
I'm from the burbs and bought a property with 5 acres so it was an adjustment. The very first thing you need to do is get a good mower, a Zero turn mentioned above such as the one in the link below for instance makes all the difference in the world. It allows you to cut around bushes, outbuilding etc without having to go back with a hand mower as the tractors force you to do.

Our field out back is about 2+ acres, then woods, and I can cut it in 40 minutes with a 52" Zero Turn. The area around the house has a lot of things to cut around, and a front slop that needs to be Weed Whacked, and it still only takes about 30 minutes. Not sure about the post above regarding 6 hours to cut 5 acres. Even this time of year, with a ton of rain, once a week is tops. By summer it's every other week. And trust me when I see my grass is long I'm like my mother when she sees a dirty kitchen, I just have to jump into action. But even with my reaction to long grass it's once a week tops.

After helping a brother in law fix up his house and using his standard push mower to cut 1/4 acre it became clear, cutting acres on a rider is much easier and takes the same amount of time a push mower on 1/4 acre takes, and it's a lot more fun.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Toro-Tim...4776/300186322


Then assuming you have trees you need a chain saw. Please get a good one, Stihl is a good one. You will thank me later. Property with trees will inevitably have big limbs fall after storms.

Our house is an old farmhouse, I was terrified at the thought of spending every weekend doing chores or yard work. Truth is I the house is work but the yard work is much more enjoyable.
If you have timber, you will probably have more wood falling off of trees than you need to heat your house. I have a wood burning fireplace insert, and at least 10 years of firewood on the ground. A lot of it will probably rot before I can get to it. Ditto the advice on a good chainsaw. The only ones worth buying are Stihl or Husquvarna.
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Old 06-23-2018, 04:36 PM
 
4,098 posts, read 2,069,721 times
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Prior to this, the largest property my husband I owned was about 1.5 acres. Even with that small amount, we still had to clear brush and kill weeds, not to mention snow-related work.

How much maintenance is required depends on the climate, the specific land, the condition of the buildings, whether there are intrusive things nearby or already on the land (large areas of weeds, leftover junk, trespassers etc), and what you intend to do with the property.

Even though my husband and I want all of our land (40 acres) except the small area where our buildings sit to be in as natural a condition as is reasonable (considering fire risk mitigation), we know we still need to prune, weed (and weed and weed), fix fences, plant--and nurture--"good" plants in some areas, and do all kinds of other work. There is no way around this, unless we want to keep a hired hand around and pay him/her to do it for us. We are not in that economic class, plus I feel a place is more "mine" if I put sweat equity into it.

So we tread a middle ground, hiring out some projects that are too big or require specialized knowledge and equipment, while doing some work ourselves. Some of these things require hiring out at first, and then obtaining tools and knowledge to take over ongoing care. (I plan to buy and learn to properly use a chainsaw, for one thing.)

If I were in my 20s and 30s I would not want to be tied to the property as much; I enjoyed taking weekend trips a good 3 out of 4 weeks back then, and evenings were also devoted to non-home activities. But these days I love making my home more than a place to sleep.

So, the decision of how much maintenance is too much also depends on YOU, not just the property's condition.
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Old 06-23-2018, 04:45 PM
 
16,531 posts, read 17,592,629 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emotiioo View Post
We have always been urban dwellers-- from a co-op in NYC to small regional cities with small yards. We have several rentals and always look for properties with small lots for lowest maintenance.

Now we are considering buying a rural property with some acreage. One on our radar has 10 acres with two fenced and cleared, another has 14 acres with three fenced and cleared. Yet another has 4 acres all cleared. One also has a pond. All three have several out buildings-- guest house, barn, chicken coop kind of thing.

How much time can one expect to spend on maintaining a large rural property? We are intimately familiar with all the issues that come with any house, so my question is more about the property itself. If you made the move from a small lot to a big rural property, did you find you were spending a lot of time on cutting grass, repairing out buildings, etc? What were the things you didn't anticipate that you learned about?
A lot. You need to clear around the house for 100 feet. Fire regs for some areas and really a smart thing to do even if it isnít required. And you need to go around and check trees. They die get diesases and need to be cut down. Those trees need to be cut down and removed without hurting the trees around, the structures or roadways. Unless you know how yo cut trees youíll need a lumber company. It donít be cheap. Rains can wash out roads culverts etc. ponds can overflow in heavy rains. You may also have to deal with trespassers, people dumping trash.
Thatís a lot of land to maintain.
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Old 06-23-2018, 10:49 PM
 
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
11,077 posts, read 11,487,748 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Electrician4you View Post
A lot. You need to clear around the house for 100 feet. Fire regs for some areas and really a smart thing to do even if it isnít required. And you need to go around and check trees. They die get diesases and need to be cut down. Those trees need to be cut down and removed without hurting the trees around, the structures or roadways. Unless you know how yo cut trees youíll need a lumber company. It donít be cheap. Rains can wash out roads culverts etc. ponds can overflow in heavy rains. You may also have to deal with trespassers, people dumping trash.
Thatís a lot of land to maintain.
Once again, that depends on the area. The West is almost universally a wildfire zone and fire climax ecology, so the real disaster you are likely to face is wildfire. There's a big difference between the 10% summer humidity in the West and the 80% summer humidity on the East Coast. When there's that much water in the air, it doesn't need much excuse to rain.

You also don't have to do land maintenance every year. It has been a while since I mowed part of my 90 acres, and have been chewing through a few acres of 10' high blackberries. My bad. I should not have let it go that long, but I only recently picked up a 55 gallon 3 point sprayer for the tractor, so I'm going to try to restore some of it to usable land. Without clearing it first, the quantity of chemicals would be prohibitive.

I typically only put about 40 hours a year on the tractor, but my primary crop is timber, which doesn't require much maintenance. I can totally ignore the fencing and the trees never get out. Brush clearing is primarily for fire protection. A riding mower and weed whacker keeps the yard pretty clear.
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Old 06-24-2018, 07:37 AM
 
Location: Northern Maine
9,520 posts, read 14,313,796 times
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I live on 107 acres with a spring fed brook and waterfalls. I maintain a trail system to get around with an ATV or tractor. As a minimum, I recommend a walking path around your boundary about 15 feet in so you still have a screen, but can see what is coming and going on your property. I carry a brush lopper on my walks. I do not duck under branches. I lop them off.

Another minimum is a brush mower. I have a 5 foot bush hog on my Kubota, but a walk behind brush and field mower like the DR made in Vermont are very efficient and you get some exercise out of it. I don't own a DR, but those I know who have them, like them.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vigHVj40dO4
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Old 06-24-2018, 08:26 AM
 
Location: Floribama
13,536 posts, read 29,496,044 times
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Even with wooded property, you’ll need to learn the invasive plants of your area, and keep them in check. Where I live, it’s usually Chinese Privet and Kudzu, areas up north I believe have problems with European buckthorn. Invasive plants like these will completely take over if you let them.

The walk behind brush mower shown above is a good idea, I have an old Graveley walk behind and it comes in handy very often. For large acreage, the easiest thing to do is hire someone with a forestry mulching machine to come in every few years and clean out the underbrush.
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Old 06-24-2018, 11:20 AM
Status: "Free at last!" (set 6 days ago)
 
Location: Somwhere
3,134 posts, read 1,228,622 times
Reputation: 8079
At age 50, we bought three acres--one cleared, two natural

We carved roads, planted hundreds of trees and shrubs, built a greenhouse, cleared out invasive species.

We loved the space, privacy, and views.

At age 60, we sold the place, and are enjoying maintenance-free apartment life.
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Old 06-24-2018, 01:28 PM
 
Location: Backwoods of Maine
6,940 posts, read 7,673,754 times
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I bought 33 acres when we retired. When you leave the city, you have to leave some "urbanisms" behind. One of them is the concept of "lawn".

We don't bother with lawns here. I keep the brush cut back, but the driveway, walkways around the house, and trails going back are mostly gravel. Keeps the mosquitoes down better, that way. I spend more time in the winter plowing snow, than mowing in the summer. That's OK - I love it!

You can spend as much or as little time as you want. Are you looking to garden or raise livestock? You don't have to, just because there's land and outbuildings! All of that just makes for more work and more time.
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