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Size of roots removed


This may be an odd question, but when de-rooting an overgrown garden (mainly brambles, ivy) at what size root do you say is small enough to remin in the ground?

I started off by removing all the roots I come accross (nothing else in garden worth keeping) but some of the roots are really small! And obviously the more finiky I am the longer it will end up taking!

Advice welcome!



  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,817

    When we cleared our very overgrown garden we have slowly cleared all roots except the large ones. Bramble etc can grow from a small piece, even overgrowth left on the ground.

    It took 2 1/2 years to do this and now Roundup spray and gel are my friends, biut only now when we are really on top of the stuff, 

    It's just hard work. we endedup, once the main rubbish was cleared, prioritising an area at a time and deep digging, incorporating compost as we went.

    Finished this year (3rd year) 

  • AefioAefio Posts: 3

    Thanks for the reply Matty. I've come to understand that bramble roots are a pain to say the least

    I figured writing off the garden this year and spending the whole summer derooting would be worth the effort for next year.

    Can I ask why did you cleared all roots except the big ones?

    I have some conifers and a couple of Ash trees to the border of the garden, so wondering how I'm going to deal with the roots when I come into proximity with those!


  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,817

    Because we had 6 big trees cut down and they were REALLY big. I now veg garden in raised beds - too many roots to dig soil and where flowerbeds have gone they are really the only cleared area, and then because my next door neighbour came in with a mini digger to lift them.

    We still get the odd weak bramble coming through but I either zap them with round up or dig up root if possible.

    Tree roots and stumps I think need to be worked with Does that make sense?

  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,817

    Our 2 1/2 years of just digging and clearing has paid off. I have now begun to re-plant on a blank canvas but some roots have had to remain.

    What we have done works here, I think spemding this year clearing is a good idea, also gives you time to know your garden and understand it so you can plant successfully.image

  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    It is ideal to remove as many roots as possible, but some of the tree roots we should have removed when the trees were felled, could not be removed uness we destroyed most of that side of the garden - and I was not prepared to do that.  One shrub that was in situ when we came 16 years ago we tried to remove roots and all, and having dug down to almost hit magma, decided enough was enough.  it tries to grow each year, and around the beginning of june I cut it as far to ground level as I can.  There are many other things growing around it, and it is slowly weakening.  A cherry tree that got fire blight we cut off at around 5 foot, and use the clear stump to show a piece of sculpture my OH's ister made for us.  So far no problem with that, been about 5 years now I think. 

    We have been fighting rose of sharon since we came here, and until the very wet weather last year thoguht we were getting on top of it, but it loved the wet and has made a come back in many places it did not show before.  I do try and follow the roots as far as I can, but inevitably they break off and I don't get to the end.  Ever onward I suppose. 

  • AefioAefio Posts: 3

    Thanks for the advice guys.

    So basically, if it ain't soil - take it out.

    Its going to take me a long long time to cover a 45' x 45' patch, but I guess it'll be worth it.

  • Brambles are blinking awful things, even the dead ones have great big thorns that scratch you to bits.  I am also fighting the bramble & bindweed problem, there are quite a few of us on here fighting the battle, and I often come here for advice.  Brambles only tend to go down a spade and a half's worth, so double digging an area would get rid of most of it.  However, it regenerates from the tiniest bit left, so I would suggest blitzing the area with roundup, sbk brushwood killer or any other weedkiller containing glyphosate.  The initial results are dismaying - it seems to green up and grow before your eyes, but does eventually die.  Spray, leave 4-6 weeks for it to be absorbed into the root system, then chop down the top growth and dig out the roots (leave a good 6 inches of 'stump'  so you can see where you need to dig).  Invest in a pair of decent leather gauntlets, it will make your job so much easier (I bought some of the Tough Touch ladies' gauntlets, worth every penny, cheapest are Amazon).

    I'm not patient enough for the glyphosate-only route, and as I can only clear at the weekends (hubby around to look after sproglets), what I tend to do is chop down as far as I can reach, chop up and put in green bin, and dig out roots as I go.  When I've had enough, the next bit I can see gets sprayed with the roundup, as even if it doesn't kill it, it weakens it.

    I also have bindweed, that goes down to the centre of the earth and is impossible to dig out.  I pop a cane in, let it twine around that, make a hole in the bottom of a pop bottle that the cane will fit through, and when the bindweed reaches the top of the cane, very carefully slide the cane out through the pop bottle.  When all the bindweed is in the bottle - make sure it doesn't snap off, especially near the bottom, screw the top onto the bottle, and spray lots and lots and lots of weedkiller into the bottle (so it's almost swimming in the stuff), and leave.  It is slowly getting the message.  I think when I've won my battle, I'm going to hire myself out as a bramble clearer, it's a very therapeautic pastime, seeing a virtual jungle transformed into a blank canvas.  That point for me, is some way off though!

  • Nath2Nath2 Posts: 1

    Hi there, I have been clearing a jungle of brambles since last summer (and I hope to turf over the area hopefully before this year is out). I am at now at the stage of bramble root digging. I have had advice from a nearby allotment owner who says I only need to get the thick roots and 'nodules' up. However reading this thread I am now wondering whether I should be removing everything, right down to the networks of very thin root ends (some are less than 1mm thick), but the soil is riddled full of them, over many square meters?

  • Wow Mummy Muddy Paws what a great idea for bindweed!  I don't really have it in this garden, but in my last one I dug over an entire bed removing as much root as I could, then covered the whole lot with black plastic for a year.  It did the trick, although it kept on coming from my neighbours but it was easy to keep on top of.

    I'm currently clearing my back garden of rampant brambles and it's hard work, I try and remove as much of the root as a I can, even the feathery bits.  I did it last year out the front and it worked, there's one or two shoots that keep sprouting but I just keep snapping them off.  The back is a lot bigger so it will probably take us all year, but time and determination will mean you will win.  I'm using Roundup Tree Stump and Root killer for the brambles and for tree/shrub roots I don't want, and also just continually removing new growth.  I also try and remove as much root as I can in the ground.  I have found ground elder and that self-seeding shrub that looks like a buddleia a real pain in the proverbial.  And Red Valerian.  I hate that stuff it gets everywhere aaarrrggghhhhhh

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