Help - Massive Bramble problem

Does anyone have any advice on what to do about a MASSIVELY overgrown garden?  I am in the process of trying to reclaim what was my father-in-law's garden, prior to moving into the house.  The house & garden have been neglected for a few years, as I've been quite ill.  We are now preparing to move (it's just over the road, but the house and garden are both much bigger than what we're in now), and I've been over with leather gauntlets and the loppers & secaturs, but I feel like I'm fighting a loosing battle, I went on holiday for a week and had to pull up a lot of foot-high new shoots, in addition to chopping down the bits I can get to. 

The entire garden looks like something out of jurassic park, the brambles are towering over me, and it's not unusual to pull out shoots that are well over 12 feet long (the green ones go in the green bin, the brown ones from last year go into the burner).  I was told some time ago that potatoes are good for re-claiming ovegrown land, is this true?  Can I plant potatoes now?  When I've eventuallly cleared the top growth will I be best rotovating the lot? I can't spread the roots any further, as the garden is FULL of the flipping things already!

I've tried chemical controls (pathclear and SBK brushwood killler), none of them seemed to touch the problem, with the SBK things went a bit yellow and picked up again, the pathclear had no effect.  I don't really like using chemical controls, but this time next year I'd at least like to be able to see to the end of the garden (hubby has promised I can have chickens at the bottom of the garden as an incentive for me to get on with it)!

Short of joining me with secateurs, any advice/ wisdom / moral support would be most welcome!



  • FloBearFloBear Posts: 2,281

    Don't rotovate, you may not think it can get worse but it will just leave even more bits to shoot up from. They are growing ferociously at this time of year. It's good that you're getting up the shoots that are just making roots because they are easy to pull out at this stage. It is a huge task and others may have good ideas but cutting off what you can makes digging out or weedkiling a lot easier. I aimed to clear one area this year and have had to leave some bits to get on with it though trying to cut off some of their top growth. The area where I dug them all up has got some new shoots appearing from little bits of root that I missed but I am digging those out or using glyphosate. I used the newly cleared area as a fruit bush bed. I'm not sure how much potatoes would help with a bramble bed.

  • yvonne1yvonne1 Posts: 6

    Don't rotovate, don't rotovate, DON'T ROTOVATE.  Don't try to clear it all in one go unless you have lots of help.  I moved into a property in a similar state and you have to do it a patch at a time, that way you can keep on top of what you have cleared and each year clear a bit more and then keep on top of that.  It's much easier when you you take small "bites".  I'm afraid digging the roots out is the best way unless you want to use some serious weed killer in which case you would have to wait 2 years before you could use the ground and I wouldn't trust it even after 2 years.

  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619

    I don't know if anyone else will agree, but I have noticed that brambles root when the stems touch the ground, so maybe cutting down top growth will limit further new growth. If you have an agricultural store near you, I'd visit it and see what chemicals they have to help, if that is acceptable to your gardening practice. I seem to remember that there is a potion ( not cheap I fear) that is effective. And would endorse yvonne1's advice - DON'T ROTOVATE.

  • I'd go with the 'a bit at a time' approach as mentioned and possibly looking for a silver lining in that you may get loads of blackberries for crumbles and jams etc from the bits left in. Are they a wild variety or possibly a cultivated one which has got out of hand? 

  • F.TilerF.Tiler Posts: 3

    I agree dont rotovate.!!!  Good weed killers will work . Be patient.

  • I've got no idea if they're wild or a cultivated one that's gone feral!  The berries that are on there aren't very big, and don't look very appetising, but I might go for the jam approach, that's an idea I'd not thought of, as I don't really like blackberries in crumbles.

    Has anyone had any success in killing the roots with one of those weed wands?  I bought one earlier this spring, put it in the coal bunker and promptly forgot about it.  I'm not going to tackle the fully grown plants using one, otherwise I'd set fire to the garden, and the neighbours would be very upset as they've gone to great expense putting a big fence up (which breaks the planning rules as it's too high, but I can understand they don't want to look at the wilderness from their back garden!)  Funds are non-existant atm, as I'm a full-time Mum and Hubby's just had a pay cut, everyone in his department voted to have a cut rather than have a redundancy, so the garden is very low on the agenda at the moment.  So I have to use whatever I've got to hand.  I did find some Sodium Chlorate in the cupboard under the stairs when I cleared that out, but I don't want to put anything out that will persist in the soil (as I want to keep chickens next year when we move).  Anyone have any feedback on the effectiveness of the weed wands (the type that have a gas canister that works by burning the leaves of weeds)?  It looks like I'll just have to keep plugging away, and do a bit at a time.  The goal is to be able to SEE the end of the garden by the end of the year!

  • Chickens are great for clearing ground, they eat a lot of green stuff and scratch up the soil surface preventing weed seedlings getting started and eating insect pests. Dont bother clearing the ground first, just fence off the area you want to use as a run and let them get to work. When they've cleared the area move the run! 

  • you just need the right tools:-

    1) Hozelock 8L Killaspray sprayer

    2) Barclay Barbarian glyphosphate - same stuff as Roundup but on an agricultural scale.

    Buy on the internet. The weed control chemical is safe and may cost £50 to £100 depending on how much you buy. But worth every penny.

    Three or four sprays maximum should kill the most entrenched brambles. Then your garden will be yours again.

  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619
    Sodium chlorate best avoided IMHO if you want to cultivate in the next few months. Chicken idea sounds good, but I'd be tempted to do a Blitz on the area where you plan to house them first.
  • FloBearFloBear Posts: 2,281

    Chickens don't eat bramble leaves in my experience. Perhaps if they were put on an area that had been reasonably well cleared they might get rid of the fresh new growth coming up.

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