How To Clear Brambles From Your Garden

In an organic garden, much of the work you do will be about managing the natural balance. Brambles are – let's face it – thugs of the plant world. They have a tendency to take over. Whether you are creating a new garden on an overgrown site, or trying to manage a garden that has been somewhat neglected in recent years, you may be wondering how to clear brambles from your garden.

BramblesBefore we begin to look at clearing brambles, it is important to say one thing – chemicals are never the answer. Using glyphosate or other weedkillers or herbicides does huge harm to the environment – and is also a threat to human health. Always garden organically. A little hard work today, and a little live-and-let-live is far better than a scorched earth policy which leaves a massive problem down the line – for you and for generations to come.

Clearing Major, Tangled Thickets of Brambles

bramblesBefore you begin to tackle major tangles of brambles in your garden, be sure to dress up in protective layers. Don thick gloves, long sleeves and boots and try to protect your skin from the dangerous thorns as much as possible.

Once you are suitably dressed, the next stage is to remove the bulk of the material so you can get to the root of the problem. If areas are extensive or very overgrown, there are two main ways to get started:

  • The first way is to use fire to burn the majority of the bramble patch to the ground.

(Of course, this way is only suitable for areas that are away from homes or fences, and where fire will not be too much of a hazard to the surroundings.)

If you are having a fire, be sure to have water on hand in case things get out of control, and follow fire safety protocol at all times.

  • The second way is to cut the bramble branches away one at a time with secateurs or other sharp tools. If your bramble patch is close to your home or in a built up area then this is often likely to be your only option.

Obviously, tackling the bramble thicket will take time, and you will have to be careful to avoid scratches and cuts. Try to cut brambles into manageable lengths of 2-3 feet and place these immediately into a receptacle for removal (or for burning).

bramble rootsGetting to the Root of a Bramble Problem

Clear most of the brambles that you want to remove until you are almost down to ground level. Then get up close and personal with the base of the plants. Do not cut off the stems at soil level but rather, dig gently at the base to expose the crown of each bramble plant. The crown is the most important part to remove. You do not need to remove the entire root system (and will be unlikely to be able to do so). But remove these crown sections just below soil level and while you will not have eradicated the brambles overnight, you should be able to keep on top of any sections that do regrow.

After three years or so of removing the odd rogue shoot (just below ground level), you should have successfully reclaimed the area, and should no longer have a bramble problem.