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Removing and mulching/suppressing wild blackberries

 
Posts: 12
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I am attempting to kill off a large wild blackberry patch but I also really want to plant some stuff in that spot this year. I also really didnt want to use any sort of weed killer to get rid of the blackberries.

I kept the blackberries trimmed back all last summer. In the middle of the first photo you can see what grew back after not taking the weed eater to it since November 2021. I know I should have pulled them by hand all year but whats done is done 😅

So I pulled what grew back by hand, put down two layers of cardboard, and a nice thick layer of hay. The plan is to put my 4×16×1 raises bed in the middle giving me a sort of walkway around it that'll be about 3ft wide.

Im really hoping the blackberries dont grow through but Ill hand pull anything that does pop up. Im also hoping the hay doesnt attract voles so I may plant some flowers from the allium family around the bed to deter any digging friends who might be around.

The ultimate goal is to get rid of the blackberries permanently and turn the space into a ruth stout garden. But Im not holding my breath just yet, I made the mistake of letting the wild blackberries grow for 4 years so they have a very well established root system.

Any tips or advise would be appreciated! I'm a bit concerned I may be fighting a loosing battle but I guess time will tell lol
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blackerries 1 year ago right before cutting them back, vs blackberries recently before and after pulling what grew back
blackerries 1 year ago right before cutting them back, vs blackberries recently before and after pulling what grew back
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laying hay over two layers of boxes
laying hay over two layers of boxes
1648608014476.jpg
hay covering whole area (9x25)
hay covering whole area (9x25)
 
pollinator
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Location: South Carolina
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I have multiple areas where wild blackberries have established themselves, so I'll be following this thread for advice. These areas are dry and full sun, so they don't develop berries well, if at all. There's only one patch that I was able to eliminate, and it required tilling one year and hand pulling for 2 years after that. There was no way that I could have hand pulled that root system.
 
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Unfortunately the blackberries are going to pop right through the cardboard and mulch. I've experienced it over and over again. The only way to really get rid of them is to either continuously mow them down until the energy in the roots is deleted or to pull them up by the roots.

Little baby plants can be suppressed by a thick layer of cardboard and mulch but those established roots are really strong. The only mulch that actually killed those big roots for me was a layer of old carpet we laid out for a couple of years... and the blackberries came right back after we removed it. The blackberries tear right through the cardboard  I've tried thick black plastic and it ends up looking like a tent because the plastic is lifted off the ground.

Someone said tilling... I've done tiling and then pulled up any plants that sprout up later and it does make it easier to pull them up but my tiller gets jammed if I try to till any older plants. The roots will wrap around like a thick rope.

You've got a small area. It will be much less work and headache in the long run to get those roots out of the ground now than later when you have to work around plants you are trying not to kill.
 
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Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft Grafter, veggie gardener
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I hand pulled a large blackberry patch by hand pulling and burning them. The blackberries never fruited and the canes were 8 to 10' long. I'd suggest doing it on a day you can wear a heavy jacket. I also wore thick leather welding gloves with long gauntlets. These were on a steep bank and working from the bottom of the bank seemed to make pulling much easier. I was surprised that they never grew back.
 
Krys Smith
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Thanks for the advise everyone. Ill hand pull anything that grows through and pray for the best 🙏🙏  Heres to hoping they dont kill what I try to grow in my raised bed 😆.

If all else fails Im going to plant some thornless blackberries in the bed and hope their roots can out compete the wild blackberries, but, I reeeeally want to try and put sun loving veggies right there because its south facing and the berries don't do so great in the summer heat lol  

I remeasured the area and it was actually 8×22 so I expanded it by 1ft in width and then added a short border of bricks. Heres what it currently looks like.
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[Thumbnail for 1648690839302.jpg]
 
Krys Smith
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So its been 2 weeks since I put down the cardboard/hay in front of my house to suppress the wild blackberries. Nothing has tried to grow through yet (though it hasnt been long). I also added the raised bed frame (4×16), and a brick border. Im still waiting on wood and soil so for now Ive got my citrus trees and banana trees and a few other potted plants just chilling in their pots in the bed frame.

In the mean time I decided Im going to plant my thornless blackberries (TBB) in my backyard in a small space that gets sun for one half maybe 2/3ds of the day. I wont be putting a raised bed in the backyard "hay plot". Theres 2 layers of cardboard about 6 inches thick of hay. Ill add some more hay after a week or two, then Im going to dig a hole for each plant and plant them directly in the ground through the hay.  Ill eventually add a trellis and probably another brick border.

My backyard is 10xs worse than in front of my house, as far as invasive wild blackberries go. I also have 2-3 different invasive vines all over my back yard as well. Literally walk anywhere and you can pull up 20-30ft of vines from the ground in a few seconds.

So with that said it'll be very interesting to see what happens trying to grow in an area with such a bad invasive vine problem. Time will tell lol
IMG_20220331_160518438_HDR.jpg
Added brick border and raised bed frame to plot in front of my house
Added brick border and raised bed frame to plot in front of my house
IMG_20220410_191803586.jpg
plot in backyard almost covered
plot in backyard almost covered
IMG_20220410_193249352_HDR.jpg
plot in backyard fully covered
plot in backyard fully covered
 
Jenny Wright
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I need to start carrying a pair of clippers whenever I go outside so I can just snip the base of any blackberries I see. If I'm persistent enough, eventually they will stop growing. I was thinking about this because yesterday I noticed I have blackberries popping up in new beds this year, where they weren't before. One of the lovely things about plants that propogate in so many ways!
 
Krys Smith
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I wish I took a full photo of the plot today but I included close up photos of what weeds/etc grew back the past 7 weeks (very little!)

There were only two small spots where wild blackberries grew through the hay, the rest all came from underneath my porch around the edges.

In the last 7 weeks Ive not really weeded anything. A few times I ripped up a tiny bit of grass sprout or a few small weeds but thats it. It took me not even 20 minutes to weed it after 7 weeks of virtually no weeding. How amazing is that!

Unfortunately my backyard hayplot is slowly being overrun with poison ivy from the abandoned house behind us that is literally all vines several feet high. Got poison ivy twice these past 7 weeks trying to keep it from creeping into my plot. But thats a post fot another day lol
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[Thumbnail for 1652318079777.jpg]
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[Thumbnail for 1652318148418.jpg]
 
pollinator
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Goats, goats, goats. Every discussion I've ever been involved with, the best solution to invasive blackberries has been goats. Yearly intervention with goats.
 
Krys Smith
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Stacy Witscher wrote:Goats, goats, goats. Every discussion I've ever been involved with, the best solution to invasive blackberries has been goats. Yearly intervention with goats.



Thats what my research has told me but unfortunately I cant find anything local. I have a jungle of vines from blackberries to poison ivy and similac lol I badly need goats.

I know some people who own goats but theyre not harness trained and my yard isnt fenced in nor can I afford to fence it. I thought for sure living where I do that there would be a goat service, but alas there is not. Closest one is several hours away.

I only have maybe 1/8 acre of land that needs cleared, still less than 1 acre if I include backyard of the abandoned house behind me where the main problem is coming from.

Ive posted in local groups even trying to see if anyone knew someone who would be interested in renting goats but everyone just recommends landscapers and laughs about the goats lol

I swear a goat business would thrive here.
 
Krys Smith
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Im going to make a different post under the relevant topic but wanted to include pictures here of my other vine problem.

The hay beds have done a wonderful job controlling the blackberries. The blackberries are Id say are mostly contained (at least for now) so now my pressing issue in the abandoned property that borders my backyard.

I got poison ivy again trying to pull it by hand again (with gloves and knee high boots) but this time just a small spot on my arm lol

Got a lot of work ahead of me.
Screenshot_20220518-014442-998.png
hay is holding up pretty well but being surrounded on all sides lol
hay is holding up pretty well but being surrounded on all sides lol
Screenshot_20220518-014509-523.png
it's really bad
it's really bad
Screenshot_20220518-014530-724.png
its so bad 😔😔😔
its so bad 😔😔😔
Screenshot_20220518-014649-468.png
The thick green vine is a similac vine that grew over 20ft in 1 month
The thick green vine is a similac vine that grew over 20ft in 1 month
 
Posts: 61
Location: Wilderness, South Africa
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Where my current vegetable garden sits used to be a monster patch of invasive blackberries. They didn't even produce berries properly, so a real waste of space. Here's what I did:
-- Waited for them to die back in winter, then took a machete to the lot of em. I'm still picking thorns out of my knuckles.
-- Cleaned up the area with a brush cutter.
-- Hand pulled anything that resprouted in Spring.
-- Heavily sheet mulched the whole area. Continued to hand pull anything that sprouted.
-- More mulch. Added raised beds, wood chipped pathways etc.
-- Continued to hand pull anything that sprouted
-- Here I am, 2 years later. I'm still hand pulling blackberry sprouts, but the number has decreased significantly.


 
Jenny Wright
master pollinator
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Mike Harris wrote:Where my current vegetable garden sits used to be a monster patch of invasive blackberries. They didn't even produce berries properly, so a real waste of space. Here's what I did:
-- Waited for them to die back in winter, then took a machete to the lot of em. I'm still picking thorns out of my knuckles.
-- Cleaned up the area with a brush cutter.
-- Hand pulled anything that resprouted in Spring.
-- Heavily sheet mulched the whole area. Continued to hand pull anything that sprouted.
-- More mulch. Added raised beds, wood chipped pathways etc.
-- Continued to hand pull anything that sprouted
-- Here I am, 2 years later. I'm still hand pulling blackberry sprouts, but the number has decreased significantly.



Maybe you'll have some tips for me... When I'm pulling up the new blackberry sprouts, I find they break off right at the ground. Especially if they are growing through a thick cardboard mulch, I find i can't get at the roots and they just pop up again a few weeks later.
 
pollinator
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Stacy Witscher wrote:Goats, goats, goats. Every discussion I've ever been involved with, the best solution to invasive blackberries has been goats. Yearly intervention with goats.



I'm pretty sure my rabbits eat blackberry, stalk and all. I'll double check tonight.
 
Nikki Roche
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Jenny Wright wrote:
Maybe you'll have some tips for me... When I'm pulling up the new blackberry sprouts, I find they break off right at the ground. Especially if they are growing through a thick cardboard mulch, I find i can't get at the roots and they just pop up again a few weeks later.



I often have the same problem. I take my small trowel with me to dig them up. Or add more cardboard to smother them.
 
Mike Harris
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Jenny Wright wrote:

Mike Harris wrote:Where my current vegetable garden sits used to be a monster patch of invasive blackberries. They didn't even produce berries properly, so a real waste of space. Here's what I did:
-- Waited for them to die back in winter, then took a machete to the lot of em. I'm still picking thorns out of my knuckles.
-- Cleaned up the area with a brush cutter.
-- Hand pulled anything that resprouted in Spring.
-- Heavily sheet mulched the whole area. Continued to hand pull anything that sprouted.
-- More mulch. Added raised beds, wood chipped pathways etc.
-- Continued to hand pull anything that sprouted
-- Here I am, 2 years later. I'm still hand pulling blackberry sprouts, but the number has decreased significantly.



Maybe you'll have some tips for me... When I'm pulling up the new blackberry sprouts, I find they break off right at the ground. Especially if they are growing through a thick cardboard mulch, I find i can't get at the roots and they just pop up again a few weeks later.



Yea, it happens. I've found gently coaxing them out of the soil is effective in not breaking the root. Eventually though, the new sprout will break off from the old gnarly root. You can try following the sprout down into the soil until you find the old root, but they can be deep. I guess the idea is to slowly sap the energy of the root system until it can no longer sprout.
 
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