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Brambles and nettles through chain link fence

My garden backs on to a railway line in a cutting, with roughly 4m/12ft of level Network Rail ground before the cutting drops sharply.  This ground is over-run with brambles and nettles that grow through Network Rail's 1.6m/5ft chain link fence.  I have Forsythia on my side of the fence.

Trying to get Network Rail to control their weeds has been a waste of time.  I know that just cutting back the brambles is counter-productive. I could try to dig up or use weedkiller on the brambles, but the area I'd have to treat would be at least 15m/50ft wide and I'm concerned about it quickly growing over again.

I could put up a solid (eg tongue-and-groove) fence, but I'm looking at over £1,000 even if I DIY.  I thought of putting some matting impervious to brambles on the fence then some form of screen such as bamboo or willow screening in front, which should cost under £200.  I can't, though, find a suitable matting.

Can someone please help me with some advice.  Thank you in advance for any input.


  • hogweedhogweed Posts: 4,053
    Just spray weedkiller right along the back of your fence. Something that kills the weeds and the ground. A couple of times a year for 2=3 years and you will have them on the run. At a yearly cost of under a tenner. 
    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,314
    I have never heard of beamble-proof matting, if you find some let me know! The blighters can grow through anything, including my 45cm thick stone terrace wall. I really hate using chemicals (goes against my vaguely organic principles) but have sprayed my blighters with roundup four times in a year and they still keep coming back. What type of weedkiller are you suggesting hogweed? Presumably the OP doesn’t want to kill their Forsythia...
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • hogweedhogweed Posts: 4,053
    Pathclear is my weedkiller of choice for my drive. It does prevent seeds germinating for 3 months as well as killing current weeds. 
    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • EmerionEmerion Posts: 534
    We had a large patch of grass completely overun by brambles. I cut them down manually once, and then we kept it down with a Strimmer every few weeks. After the first two or three strims, we've never seen the bramble again. It will shrug off one cut, but if you persist it will die. I suppose you can't get access to the land? Just cutting down the bit that you can get at through the fence will be thankless, as will weed killer, because if it's healthy and rampant a few feet away, it will be back very quickly in summer. Im wondering if you have a legal right to demand action? Could you do that if it was a next door neighbour allowing bramble to invade your garden? If so, network rail should be in the same position. 
    Carmarthenshire (mild, wet, windy). Loam over shale, very slightly sloping, so free draining. Mildly acidic or neutral.

  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,530
    They're not in the same position.  They can afford a better lawyer than the neighbours.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 11,617
    There used to be quite a strong weedkiller called Brushwood & Bramble killer? not sure if it's still available but if you can get over your fence and spray 2-3 feet of it all along, that might do the trick.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,530
    Could you build a second fence on your side,  perhaps three feet away, to create a "cordon sanitaire" between them which you could keep rigourously weeded?  You'd be losing a lot of growing space,  but any solution is going to cost you one way or another.  If you persuaded Network Rail to control the weeds, they'd be likely to spray carelessly with something potent that would destroy everything growing in that side of your garden.
  • FireFire Posts: 17,307
    I would say, put weed killer on the area for six months / strim (as suggested above). Then put up a regular tall fence and put down layers of weed membrane for a few metres on your side and the other. Maybe put an submerged containing shield as both nettles and brambles have shallow roots. Then deal with the weeds if they appear on your side of the fence. Any nettle or bramble that comes under your fence you can treat with weed killer by treating the leaves. You will at least have contained your space. Put a gate in the fence if you want to keep access.
    I'm wondering (to myself) of the virtue of planting things dense shrubs / trees to shade out the weeds. I'm wondering you found some free, large elder saplings and planted them on the other side of the fence, whether it might help. Or plant on both sides. They say that brambles and nettles are a precursor to saplings and trees growing up. A load of elder (or something as easy come by and quick growing) might help. Hazel, hawthorn? Thick native hedging / shrubs would 1) darken the earth 2) take up water and 3) nutrients 4) create a dense root network. Just a thought.
  • Joyce GoldenlilyJoyce Goldenlily Posts: 2,535

    I have a similar problem except the brambles climb a 5' stone wall, rooting as they go, heading for my garden. There is now a bank of brambles about 6' wide, about 100' in length, growing from my neighbour's field, which he does nothing with. I have finally resorted to spraying over the top of the bank with glyphosate which I buy in 5lt containers from the local farm suppliers. Much cheaper than small commercial brands. Unfortunately the first time I did it I managed to kill some of my own shrubs with spray drift. I have to wait for the wind to blow from the East but of course the wind eddies. The most effective time to spray is July, however, I think established brambles need spraying 4 times a year.

    If  you decide spraying is the path to go down you could possibly use a sheet of thin plywood held against the fence whilst spraying to protect plants on your side. Your forsythia should be fine as long as the spray does not get onto the leaves. All you can aim for is to create a clear area between the fence and your garden, and keep at it annually.

    Good luck!

  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,530
    Is yours an isolated house, or are you in a road parallel to the railway?  If the latter, your neighbours must all have the same problem.  How do they deal with it?  If you all get together and approach Network Rail mob-handed, you might get results.  And if push came to shove, you could share the cost of legal action.
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