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how best to reclaim poor land

We have gained access to part of a field behind our garden, which is currently populated with, mostly, Himalayan Balsam, plus brambles and nettles. As a first step, we've had a patch approximately 2 x 4 metres cut down.

We're aiming to use this area for raised beds to grow vegetables. So what to do next? Cover the area in black plastic, or weed suppressing membrane, or what...?

All suggestions gratefully received.


  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,813

    Get the roots out, nettles have a root network like yellow spaghetti and brambles have roots like a mandrake. This will take hard work and there are no real shortcuts beyond chemical warfare. Remove the turf first and if you need to clear a big area get the right machinery in to help. How big an area do you want to clear?

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114

    I get the impression you are planning to reclaim neglected land, but do you know you have to get planning permission to extend a garden on to agricultural land.

    I appreciate that most people that do it do not obtain permission and sometimes they are very surprised when they are told by the authorities to return it to agricultural land; or in your case, scrub.

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    Covering an area with black plastic or membrane will kill grass and many other weeds. Bramble may be strong enough to break through.

    Even if you kill the bramble using chemicals, you'll still need to dig out the dead roots before you can cultivate. You might as well get the roots out now. My preferred tool for removing brambles is a mattock. It's actually quite easy. They are not deep.

    Also, a membrane will not kill weed seeds that are dormant in the soil. A covering prevents them from receiving light, which is necessary for germination. Weed seeds can remain dormant in the soil, and viable, for many years. As soon as you remove the membrane, to start cultivation, they'll know it's time to wake up. You'll simply need to keep weeding, for some years.

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