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Run Away Blackberry Vines

I have very sandy soil with a steep cliff at the back of my yard. It is covered with blackberries that come up and cover the rest of the back yard. Is there an organic way to get rid of them?

I have very sandy soil with a steep cliff at the back of my yard. It is covered with blackberries that come up and cover the rest of the back yard. Is there an organic way to get rid of them?

Having had to deal with a run-away blackberry situation at my own farm, I can attest to the fact that they can be extremely difficult to eradicate as their tenacious roots seem to travel everywhere. To exert some control over the situation without using dangerous chemical herbicides requires persistence.

The standard method of organically removing unwanted vegetation is hand pulling or weeding. While this can be labor intensive, it often gives the quickest, most long-term results. A long, thick pair of leather gloves and a helper may make this a less daunting project. After removing as much vegetation as possible cover the area with thick (6 mm) black landscape plastic until the next planting season. This will help eliminate any remaining roots that may have been left in the soil. Make sure that any new shoots that pop up in the weeks that follow the purge are immediately pulled along with their roots.

Two other options are flame weeders or organic herbicidal soaps. This is an admittedly less physical task than hand pulling, but one that requires constant vigilance and perseverance. These controls only kill the vegetative top growth of perennial plants and do not address the roots, so a one time application is not completely effective. Their effectiveness comes from continued use to destroy any signs of vegetation throughout the season thus weakening the roots and eventually killing the plant.

In a situation such as yours with unwanted vegetation moving in from an area that is wild, you may find a combination of these methods necessary to keep your yard under control.