Blackberries can easily take over your whole garden when left unchecked. My current garden (-which I started to take care of this year) was facing a similar problem, with an abundance of blackberries, which weren’t maintained for quite some time.
The question is, how do you get rid off them for good?
- Step 1: Cutting them and clearing the area
- Step 2: Digging out the roots
- Step 3: Mulching or Covering the area
- Step 4: Removing all new Blackberry shoots until the plant dies off.
- Step 5: Getting rid of all the removed Blackberries
Now let’s have a more detailed look at how to reign victorious in this fierce battle.
When to remove Blackberries
Taking care of your Blackberries should be done in winter, I usually start removing them in February or March. At this time it’s still quite easy to cut them down (no leaves etc.) and the soil isn’t frozen anymore so digging is possibl.
I also don’t help spread the Blackberries during this time by accidentally getting some seeds or stems in my growing area.
Cutting and Clearing
Clearing out the area makes it much easier to dig out blackberries, especially if the thorns are giving you a hard time. In my garden, I had a mixture of thornless Blackberries (I want to keep those) and the spiky ones.
Both of those were growing in the same area, so I had to separate them before I can start removing the thorny ones. Cutting away all the brown and dead branches also help my “good” Blackberries to grow.
I think it gets much easier to remove blackberries after cutting them down quite a bit, so you don’t get cought up in the branches, so clearing the area first makes your live much easier for the next step: Digging.
The most important step, when removing Blackberries is digging. Blackberries have an impressive root system and will just come back immediately if you don’t remove it.
I am not a fan of tilling and digging up a whole garden just to get rid of Blackberries, in general, I just dig down about one spade width distance away from the plant and one down into the soil,
Getting rid of the whole root system of Blackberries is pretty much impossible, which means, you will have to do it gradually over time. Digging out every new Blackberry shoot is the best way to reduce the roots over time until eventually, it dies off.
Small Plants can be pulled out by hand if the root is coming out with it. This can save you some time if you also have a clay soil garden.
If a large area is overgrown with Blackberries, pulling them out one at the time will require an army of hands. Using a tractor with a bush hog attachment or another large scale mower to get rid off everything growing above the ground weakens the Blackberry plants, and is much faster.
This only works short term, all the Blackberries will come back very soon, so either cultivating another plant in this area to rival the Blackberry plants (like grass) or cover the area (Mulch or Plastic) will make sure the plants don’t come back.
When using grass to cover the area, it’s very important to mow regularly, and as soon as Blackberry plants re-sprout. Damaging the Blackberry plant over Months will slowly kill it off, and eventually no more Blackberries will grow in this area.
Mulching or Covering the area
After getting rid of the Blackberries for now it’s important to cover up the area, so that new shoots can’t reach the surface. Essentially the plan is to starve out the Blackberries, which means they are not allowed to get sunlight, otherwise the will start to get regenerate.
Mulching with Straw or Wood-chips is a great way to give your Blackberries a hard time reaching the surface, and also allow you to grow other plants in these areas, while not requiring a
If you don’t really need the space your Blackberries were growing, covering them with a heavy plastic foil will kill off all the new Blackberry shoots without any work.
Another way to get rid of Blackberries is with Herbicides, such as glyphosate or triclopyr, which can be applied to the stems and leaves.
These Herbicides will hinder the storage of sugar in the roots of the Blackberry plant and need to be applied in late summer for one-year-old canes and in fall for older ones.
Alternatively, Herbicides targeting the roots of plants or simply killing anything in an area, such as tebuthiuron will also kill off Blackberries.
I personally avoid the use of Herbicides at all cost, Blackberries are also notorious for coming back even after Herbicide treatment and need repeated treatment, which can damage the soil. For those reasons, I prefer using the old-fashioned way of removing them by hand.
The end result
For now, most of the Blackberries are gone and it’ll take them some time to grow back and recover. I’ll continue removing them as soon as they try to grow back to starve them out, so only the thornless Blackberries are left.
Getting rid of the Blackberry roots and Branches
After getting the Blackberry plants out of the ground it’s important to get them away from any soil. Blackberries are quite resilient and will grow back if you just put them in the corner of your garden.
To make sure they don’t grow back I normally just bring them to the green waste disposal. An alternative would be to separate an area in your garden with heavy plastic foil and collect all the Blackberry roots and stems there, without any soil contact they won’t be able to grow back.
Don’t use Blackberries as green manure, you’ll just help them to spread around your garden. Even a small part of the root can grow a new plant, it’s amazing to see how resistant these plants are, so don’t underestimate their ability to regenerate.
Goats love Blackberries
Goats are also happy to take on the job, when it comes to removing vast areas of Blackberries. For this reason we also got 2 Goats, which in the last year took care of an impressive amount of Blackberries on their own.
How to keep Blackberries from spreading? Keeping Blackberries from spreading is similar to removing them, but takes a lot more work to maintain, as you have to remove all the new shoots every couple weeks. Blackberries are very fast to spread and can only be stoped by removing them in the area they are not wished for.
How long do Blackberry bushes live? Blackberry bushes can live up to 15 years in your garden. Ensuring good soil conditions (loamy) and a pH between 5.5 to 6.5 will help to prolong the life of your Blackberries
How long do Blackberry bushes need before producing fruit? After planting, Blackberries normally need 2 years before producing fruit. Afterwards they produce fruit annually.