Friend or foe?
Love it or hate it, the bramble bush is truly a wonder. Great for bees, delicious fruit but left unchecked it can quickly become a thorn in your side. They grow quick, spread far and are terribly difficult to kill.
The easiest way to control it and enjoy all the benefits is to cut it down to ground height each year after harvesting the fruits, it will regrow the next, rinse and repeat.
If you'd rather get rid of your brambles or they have become a nuisance then keep reading.
What are brambles?
Brambles or blackberries grow in gardens across the UK. Many harvest the bramble berries in the late summer / early autumn. They send up long arching shoots covered in thorns, and can quickly grow out of control.
The most common species are Rubus fruticosus (common bramble) and Rubus idaeus (red raspberry).
These woody perennials have been used for thousands of years as an important source of food and medicine. It's rich in vitamins A, C and K, minerals
Where do they grow?
Brambles aren't fussy, they will grow almost anywhere. We have a couple growing up our boundary walls. I've seen them grow in the cracks of paving, in the middle of lawns and even on chipped areas. They'll grow almost anywhere. The best thing about brambles is that they're not very picky about their location. You could put one in a pot, stick it in the garden or plant it in the wild.
They're often found near streams and rivers where there is plenty of water and nutrients.
Why should I control brambles?
Brambles can be a hazard for both children and pets. They can easily get tangled in their long thorny stems and hurt themselves. Brambles can also grow to be quite large. It is much easier to control, prevent and kill these woody perennials when they are smaller.
How do you know if your bramble has become invasive? Look at the leaves of the plant. If they have small thorns on them, it means that the plant is an invasive species.
If you plan to keep your bramble bush then after harvest every year be sure to cut back the stems, don't worry it will grow back quickly.
How do I kill them permanently?
Brambles are woody perennial plants. This means even if you chop off the stems it'll just grow back. Typically the older the bush the larger the root system and this is where the brambles heart lives, to kill it forever you need to get rid of the roots & the stump.
- Cut back the stems so that they're not in your way.
- Dig out the roots and the stump with a spade
- Burn or dispose of all waste, do not compost.
How do I clear a lot of brambles?
If left unchecked brambles can grow wildly and send shoots off in all directions.
What started as a small bramble bush can quickly turn into a prickly nightmare, if possible take care of them early, before they are big.
Clearing an area packed with brambles will be a difficult and thankless task. The same applies to a lot as does a little:
- Use secateurs or a brush cutter to trim back the stems
- Dig out the roots and brambles stump
- Burn any left overs or dispose of, do not compost.
When dealing with a lot of brambles you should wear heavy duty gloves. They will keep your hands thorn free and make your life a whole lot easier. If you would like an easier way then use some bramble weed killer, you'll still have to dig them out but you don't have to worry about getting it all.
How do I get rid of them naturally?
Brambles are tough, woody perennials. Vinegar and salt can be used as a natural weed killer but it may not be effective. You will have to use an awful lot of salt and vinegar which would mean nothing will grow the area the bramble occupies for a long time.
- Add 3 litres of cyder vinegar to your pressure sprayer
- Add 1kg of salt and stir / agitate to mix
- Add a small squeeze of dish soap
- Mix it all & leave to stand for 5 minutes
- Spray on the brambles and around the base, coat well.
This will only work on small bramble bushes and may not kill them permanently, you should dig or pull out the roots after a few days.
How do I get rid of them chemically?
You have two options here. You can either use a glyphosate based weed killer or a triclopyr based weed killer.
Both will do the job well although the Glyphosate based one may need an additional application after a few weeks.
The main difference between them is that triclopyr won't kill grass and it won't allow other plants to grow on the treated area for up to 6 months. Glyphosate will kill anything it touches but it's safe to replant shortly afterwards and it leaves no residues as it breaks down in the soil.
What is the best weed killer for brambles?
That depends entirely where your brambles are growing. If they are growing in grass or in an area of the garden where you don't plan on planting then use the triclopyr based SBK brushwood killer. If you want to plant in the area after you've killed the brambles and it's not grassy then use glyphosate based weed killer. Both will kill your brambles and stop them from growing back.
Whichever weed killer you use you may still have to pull out or dig out your bramble bush. If it's large and many years old it will take a long time for it to break down naturally. After 3-4 weeks you can dig them out and dispose of them via your recycling centre.
How do I prevent them growing back?
Stop them before they get to big! Pull out or dig out seedlings the minute you see them, this will save a lot of work, money & effort down the line. A think mulch of bark or compost will make it easy to pull out smaller plants as they grow.
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