Blackberry brambles - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 01-18-2020, 09:29 AM Thread Starter
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Blackberry brambles

My second farming question:

Our new place came with an electric golf cart, a commercial-grade mulching lawn mower, and a bush hog. It also came with at least one, if not two, acres of blackberries, which are aggressively growing into the pasture areas.

The previous owners seemed to have used the bush hog to cut down the brambles, and then tossed them back into the bramble patch (if you can call this yard-sized area a patch) to disappear. They have not disappeared. So now there is a blackberry patch that also has lots of dead brush in it. Said brush has terrible thorns, of course, and can't just be pulled out.

We don't live there now (we're renting it out) but will hopefully be in the area over summer. I'm trying to figure out how to push back those blackberry patches. We can go in with the bush hog, but it seems like this thing only cuts the brambles down, it doesn't mulch or anything. I'm wondering if we could do that, then run over them with the lawnmower and hope that it mulches them? Or should I buy one of those tree mulchers (a cheaper one, not commercial grade) and a pair of chain mail gloves (or whatever people use when dealing with big blackberry canes), cut it down with the bush hog, and then run it through the mulcher?

I know that the only way to permanently get rid of blackberries is either a nuclear bomb or going in there with earth moving equipment and taking all the earth down to eight feet or so. Neither of those options is really appealing to me, so I'm basically in the mindset that I just want to keep pushing it back a little at a time until we get there and hopefully get some goats.

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post #2 of 25 Old 01-18-2020, 10:42 AM
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Are they truly blackberry (later fruiting, arching canes, non hairy) or trailing vines ( early fruiting, grow along the ground and make mounds of interconnected vines, hairy stems -pr1ckly hairs plus thorns) which is dewberry? Closely related but not the same.


Goats can keep them in check.


Burn and till can be effective but the tilling needs to be frequent. A one time till just makes it worse. Improving fertility and raising PH in favor of your grasses lowers their ability to compete.
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Last edited by QtrBel; 01-18-2020 at 10:54 AM.
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post #3 of 25 Old 01-18-2020, 10:51 AM Thread Starter
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Are they truly blackberry (later fruiting, arching canes, non hairy) or trailing vines ( early fruiting, grow along the ground and make mounds of interconnected vines, hairy stems -pr1ckly hairs plus thorns) which is dewberry? Closely related but not the same.


Goats can keep them in check.
Himalayan blackberries, the ones with the high, large arching canes and monster thorns. There are other wild berry patches on the property, but this one is definitely blackberries.

I'm pretty set on getting goats once we move in (although I apparently need to find some that won't eat my horses' tails) and I do hope they will keep them in check at that point, but I need to clear as much of it as I can, now. And I'm pretty sure the goats won't eat the old dead canes.

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post #4 of 25 Old 01-18-2020, 11:02 AM
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Depending on size of the area then cutting the canes down and removing for burning. Pull (best) then/ or till up what remains and burn exposed roots. Lime and fertilize specifically to improve grass growth. You can either allow what is there grass wise or seed a mix. Frequent tillage will mean you have to reseed your grasses and takes longer to rid the area than tilling, burning then lightly fertilize to encourage top growth and again till and burn. Repeating this as long as you get growth recurring. Can take several months but is shorter term.


We allow growth on certain fence rows and try to encourage it as it keeps the animals from going into areas we don't want them. Think hedging fences. So it can be good. If the pasture is managed and animals are kept on it then they don't spread into that area en mass and you can easily take care of the infrequent, lone invader.
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post #5 of 25 Old 01-18-2020, 11:52 AM
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Rent a herd of goats twice a year. Goats were frequently used in Oregon to clear large areas of blackberries along the highways. There were entrepreneurs who leased out their goat herds for this purpose.

Also, keep a patch... nothing better than picking your own blackberries and making homemade cobblers, tarts, turnovers, crisps.... I miss that about Oregon!
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post #6 of 25 Old 01-18-2020, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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Rent a herd of goats twice a year. Goats were frequently used in Oregon to clear large areas of blackberries along the highways. There were entrepreneurs who leased out their goat herds for this purpose.

Also, keep a patch... nothing better than picking your own blackberries and making homemade cobblers, tarts, turnovers, crisps.... I miss that about Oregon!
We'll definitely be keeping a patch. Looking at the land, I think we need to keep probably half of it in blackberries, for erosion control, although I might bring someone out to evaluate that. I think that's where the bush hog is going to come in really handy -- just mow down a path through the blackberries, and suddenly you can get at all the ones that only the birds could get at before.

WRT renting goats, my concern is that the land is only partly fenced in and, due to the nature of the blackberries, it might be hard to put in fencing around the rest. My understanding is that goat rental places require fencing. Maybe they would put it up themselves, but I'm not sure how they'd get back there.

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post #7 of 25 Old 01-18-2020, 03:50 PM
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Goat rental companies bring their own electric netting and charger. That's to keep predators away as well as keep the goats in. If you don't weed-whack a path to set up portable fencing they will probably do that as well, but of course you will have to pay for that.

Bear in mind that goats only eat the leaves, not the vines. But they will reduce bramble patches to skeletons pretty quick. They will kill the vines eventually by keeping the leaves picked off, but that will take a few seasons. Helpful to go through and collect all the denuded canes after the goats go through once, then the goats can kill the returning ground sprouts more easily. Whatever you do, don't disc! Then you'll have them forever, as any piece of cane that touches the ground will root.
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post #8 of 25 Old 01-18-2020, 05:15 PM
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If your bush hog is PTO, you can back it into the blackberries in the elevated position and mash the vines down while chopping them into small pieces. This makes it easier and easier to creep into the thicket. Then the goats will have easy access to the sprouts. Blackberries DO love a good "haircut" and will happily grow back. Blackberries will also take root wherever a live vine touches the ground.


If you're not averse to chemicals, we tried "Capstone" (Milestone) on the blackberries last year and that killed them deader'n a doorknob. There are no grazing restrictions whatever on it.


Blackberries will crush your fences to the ground in a few years if left unchecked. The berries are delicious, but are generally the bane of PNW groundkeeping.
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post #9 of 25 Old 01-18-2020, 07:34 PM
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If you're not averse to chemicals, we tried "Capstone" (Milestone) on the blackberries last year and that killed them deader'n a doorknob. There are no grazing restrictions whatever on it.


Blackberries will crush your fences to the ground in a few years if left unchecked. The berries are delicious, but are generally the bane of PNW groundkeeping.

They are on my fences on the corner of my property....the huge berries though are so delicious.
A trade-off, for now... as long as they don't go crazy growing everywhere...

I may try that capstone on other vines {bitter grape things} that are destroying my fence in front of my home we can not get rid of...fast as we cut it down and back it returns...
Safe for domestic animals to be in contact with dogpatch???
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post #10 of 25 Old 01-18-2020, 08:17 PM
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The scary thing about capstone is that it can be sprayed on pastures and hay fields.The grasses take up the chemical but are not effected. The animals can eat the hay or grass. But, this chemical is so persistent that urine and manures cannot be used in the compost pile or applied to areas where broad leaved (composted or manured) plants are grown as it is still effective enough to kill them.


Triclopyr concentrate applied to crowns after being cut is effective as it kills the crown and travels through the root system killing large portions of root that would resprout. Care has to be taken but it works. You could do the same with the capstone.

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