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Advice on dealing with established bramble
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UndercoverElephant



Joined: 10 Mar 2008
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Location: south east England

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2017 9:36 pm    Post subject: Advice on dealing with established bramble Reply with quote

I wonder if anybody here can help me.

I do occasional gardening work, usually organically. But I've been tasked with sorting out a very established "bed" owned privately but collectively by a terrace of 16 houses. This area contains quite a lot of mature shrubs and trees but there's one serious problem and that is there are some bramble plants growing through the other shrubs. Some of these brambles are monsters - if you crawl in to find their source, there are tens of huge stems - we are talking up to an inch across and 20 stems (most dead) all coming from the same root. I have no hope of digging them out, because their roots are entangled with those of the mature shrubs. But the residents want them dealt with, which leaves me looking at chemical solutions, which I don't have much experience with. Can anybody recommend what I can use to kill the brambles systemically without harming the shrubs?
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Little John



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2017 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whenever I have had a problem like this with brambles, I have dealt with it in one of two ways:

Either dig it all out by the roots. This won't get all of it out. But, it will knock it back sufficiently that any new growth can just be picked off as it appears. It will give up the ghost in time (but, from what you have said, this is not possible).

Or, chop it all back to the ground and then, as new growth appears, religiously snip it back to the ground immediately. It will take a long time to die. But, again, it will eventually give up the ghost. If something is prevented from photosynthesizing, it will die..... eventually.

I have never used a selective weedkiller in this context. So, can't comment on that.


Last edited by Little John on Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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adam2
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roundup works just fine.
I am not opposed to the careful and selective use of this product. A backpack sprayer is the best way of applying it carefully. Roundup kills by being absorbed via the leaves and if applied with care wont harm the desired plants.

To limit the use of chemicals, consider cutting down most of the brambles and then apply roundup to any new shoots.
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woodburner



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We discussed the weedkiller method previously on PS. The manufacturers and supporters will say how safe it is, but to cut a long story short, any of these poisions are poisons, and will cause damage to ecosystems.

For me a scythe with a bush blade makes relatively quick work of cutting back, and amazes onlookers who haven't seen one in use before. Chopping the roots of some of the shrubs is just root pruning, so as long as it's not excessive the shrubs will survive, and may even benefit.

I agree with LJ, stop the photosynthesis and they will die in the end.

I assume you are doing it to earn a crust, but some of the other residents ought to take a bit of life's responsibility and get stuck in. It would be possible with some help, and they would learn something. They might even like it. In which charge them for gardening therapy.

PS Anyone who thinks roundup or any other glyphosate is ok should do some research! This is a gut bacteria killing and soil bacteria killing chemical. The poison leaches out of the roots and kills earthworms. Since this is a "permaculture" forum, the use of glyphosate is an oxymoron. There are better ways.
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 3:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you are tempted to use the evil Roundup don't use a sprayer use a weed wipe after cutting it right back. A sprayer off any sort will spread the stuff around on anything. The weed wiper is as discriminating as you are. Having said that, I agree with Woodburner on the use of Roundup.
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clv101
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I recently cleared a large (~40 x 20m) stand of long established brambles, much of it 3m high. Used a powerful brushcutter with a mulching blade. The mulching blade is essential. Left the ground pan flat with material chopped into 6 inch sticks.

As it sprouts up this year I'll just keep cutting it back to the ground and expect the grass to recover. It'll be a multi-year job for the bramble to give up.
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UndercoverElephant



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

clv101 wrote:
I recently cleared a large (~40 x 20m) stand of long established brambles, much of it 3m high. Used a powerful brushcutter with a mulching blade. The mulching blade is essential. Left the ground pan flat with material chopped into 6 inch sticks.

As it sprouts up this year I'll just keep cutting it back to the ground and expect the grass to recover. It'll be a multi-year job for the bramble to give up.


This is not an option in this case. It is hard enough to get in there with a pair of cutters - absolutely impossible with machinery.
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with wb: RoundUp and its makers are evil and it's they who need to be eradicated, not brambles. Japanese knotweed has been on these islands for hundreds of years and is only now a problem - quite possibly due to the use of glyphosate etc.

Brambles are a multi-year physical job and the stewards of that land need to be educated in this; they will lose some other plants initially but that's a small price to pay.

It's a horrendous job but only the first time, providing annual maintenance is carried out. I've done it. I also remove all leaves and stems of bindweed during summer and it's kept well in check.

Although a tough job UE, I hope you can get adequate compensation.
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Little John



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

UndercoverElephant wrote:
......It is hard enough to get in there with a pair of cutters - absolutely impossible with machinery.
In that case, if it was me, I would just get in at the base and use a hand saw to cut through the brambles. But leave the plant above the cut in place, where it will just wither and die. For the sake of appearances, I would remove the part of the cut plant that is near the surface of the other shrubs down a few inches, so that the other shrubs' growth would cover it. Then, just keep going and cutting back any new growth of the brambles that appeared from the cuts
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woodburner



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Look here at ditch blades or bush blades. Get in touch here for a local group. That way you can learn as you go.
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UndercoverElephant



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

emordnilap wrote:
I agree with wb: RoundUp and its makers are evil and it's they who need to be eradicated, not brambles. Japanese knotweed has been on these islands for hundreds of years and is only now a problem - quite possibly due to the use of glyphosate etc.

Brambles are a multi-year physical job and the stewards of that land need to be educated in this; they will lose some other plants initially but that's a small price to pay.

It's a horrendous job but only the first time, providing annual maintenance is carried out. I've done it. I also remove all leaves and stems of bindweed during summer and it's kept well in check.

Although a tough job UE, I hope you can get adequate compensation.


Unfortunately this is all impossible! This is not a normal job. There is not just one person employing me, but a whole terrace of houses. It isn't just physically difficult, but politically difficult.

This is the terrace:

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjol5PrjpLSAhWMMI8KHWcjB9YQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.rightmove.co.uk%2Fproperty-for-sale%2Fproperty-24115488.html&psig=AFQjCNFcbk9X_AxvritBhI5P7giytUnSZw&ust=1487248532193795

To the left of the picture is an old bed that hasn't been touched for years, mainly because the residents who jointly own it cannot agree on anything at all. Every decisioin has to be OKayed by all of them. It has taken a small miracle for them even to agree to employ me to sort out that bed (and mow the grass). They can't agree, for example, on whether or not to take out a single leylandii that was stupidly planted, or to remove a scots pine that is closer to horizontal than vertical, or what height the top of the beds should be. There's even two self-seeded sycamores that absolutely need to be removed because the other side of the bed there's a drop and a retaining wall that is already beginning to give way, and the residents can't agree what to do about them either.

But they have agreed that the brambles need to be dealt with, they initially asked me to dig out the roots but this is physically impossible, which really does leave me either with a chemical solution or "ongoing management", and I think they'll reject the latter. They want the problem solved. I think I have no choice but to use chemicals. Refusing to do it is pointless, because they'll just find somebody else to do it instead. This is a good long-term job for me, and shooting myself in the foot for ethical reasons is not a good plan, especially as it won't actually achieve anything!


Last edited by UndercoverElephant on Wed Feb 15, 2017 3:21 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Little John



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, then glyphosate would be the way to go I guess. But, I would wager that making sure it only hits the brambles in that mass of vegetation will be a right bugger.

Given the above, I would make damned sure the residents understood that there would be a risk of the existing plants taking a bit of a hit as a by-product of chemically treating the brambles.

All in all I would be very much inclined to get them to agree to ongoing maintenance by driving the brambles back over time via pruning or to accept, in writing, that they understand the risks to the other plants of selective chemical treatment in such a vegetatively crowded environment.

Perhaps a compromise would be to hard cut the brambles at the ground. Then, micro-apply glyphosate to any new bramble shoots that appeared at the ground. This would decrease the risk of contaminating other plants with the glyphosate.
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woodburner



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Because someone else will do it if you don't is a weak excuse for poisoning the place. If any of them have children, would they like their children affected by glyphosate? Brambles are such tough buggers that it is unlikely glyphosate will do it. Another point is, if you are getting paid for spraying you are legally required to have a certificate of competence.

I would explain that there are so many people with differing views, why not just trust you to sort it out? They will all get a shock at first, that's nature, but they will get used to it in a couple of weeks, and then they can watch as life develops. With their apparently dim-witted attitude they really need a good smack so they understand reality.

PS stick that long link in the usual [ url ]terrace here [ /url] format as the letters get too small to read without straining.
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Little John



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WB's right about brambles and glyphosate. Brambles are right tough buggers and one application of glyphosate will only temporarily knock them into touch. They will certainly attempt a comeback before the end of the first summer following initial treatment. Thus, even glyphosate treatment would need to be ongoing for two or three years. That being the case, ongoing physical maintenance doesn't look so bad. Though, as an erstwhile gardener and landscaper, I do fully accept the short-sightedness of some customers. They just want easy and immediate answers to their problems. But, sometimes, there aren't any.
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UndercoverElephant



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Little John wrote:
Well, then glyphosate would be the way to go I guess. But, I would wager that making sure it only hits the brambles in that mass of vegetation will be a right bugger.

Given the above, I would make damned sure the residents understood that there would be a risk of the existing plants taking a bit of a hit as a by-product of chemically treating the brambles.

All in all I would be very much inclined to get them to agree to ongoing maintenance by driving the brambles back over time via pruning or to accept, in writing, that they understand the risks to the other plants of selective chemical treatment in such a vegetatively crowded environment.

Perhaps a compromise would be to hard cut the brambles at the ground. Then, micro-apply glyphosate to any new bramble shoots that appeared at the ground. This would decrease the risk of contaminating other plants with the glyphosate.


That might be the way to go.
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