Brambles 101 – How to Get Rid Of Brambles for Good

Last Updated on 14/09/2023 by Barney

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Every gardeners nightmare – the dreaded outbreak of brambles

If you’re looking for ways on how to get rid of brambles in the garden, you’re in luck.

Bramble bushes can be a real nuisance in the garden. These woody weeds can be hard to remove and can quickly cover your garden plants.

In this article, I will discuss several methods that you can use to get rid of and kill brambles . I also discuss how to get rid with the best bramble weed killers.

As a professional gardener, I have had to deal with many garden clearance jobs with bramble bushes running rampant . I know from personal experience just how daunting it can be when looking at a tangled mess of sharp, thorny bramble stems taking over established plants and regularly asked how eliminate these woody weeds, permanently.

The best bramble plants are the ones growing on neglected areas & roadside verges . Places where you can pick the tasty blackberries, not the colony taking root in your treasured garden with their thorns and woody vegetation.

So, fear not and keep reading for the best methods to deal with bramble plants.

Lets Start with the Tools needed for effective removal of brambles

garden tools leaning against a wheel barrow
The right tools will make it easier

Having the right tools makes the process a dam sight easier when killing & removing brambles.

In your armoury you should have access to some pruning tools. A decent set of secateurs and/or mini loppers for cutting the tough canes.

Leather gauntlets are essential to protect your hands and forearms.

A heavy duty mattock / spade / garden fork to removing the bramble roots if using the organic method. In my experience a decent mattock will pay for itself if you have a heavy, clayish soil.

How to get rid of brambles the organic method ( without using a chemical weed killer)

This is my preferred method for getting rid of brambles as I’m not keen on using chemicals in the garden and like to garden the organic way.

When killing brambles with the organic method you will be removing the entire bramble bush, roots and all!

Step 1 .

If the brambles are growing amongst other garden plants, to keep them from getting damaged it’s a good idea to dig these up for replanting once the clearance work is completed.

Cut back the bramble canes down to approx 15cm from ground level using secateurs, loppers, or a brush cutter. This will make the job of removing the bramble roots easier when there is a clearer space to work on.

On tall canes I find it easier to gradually reduce the height of the scrambling stems, pulling out the stems and bramble debris as I work. Working in this way also makes bagging up the green waste much easier (if you’re not burning the bramble vines).

Step 2.

Brambles spread via lateral roots which can be up to 45cm deep and can sprout a new plant with the smallest piece of root left behind. With this in mind, to successfully stop them from reappearing it is important to remove all the roots, not just the visible bramble stump.

bramble roots
The tangled mess of roots dug out with a garden fork

For this, you will need either a mattock, heavy-duty garden fork or border spade.

Start by excavating around the stump, following the root system in all directions, pulling up as you go. Remember, brambles can regenerate from the smallest of roots so it is really important to gently ease the roots from the ground.

Loosen up the soil if the roots are not coming away easily. You do not want the root to break as they can regrow from the smallest bit of root left behind.

That is all that’s necessary on how to kill brambles naturally. Hard work but satisfying when you have not had to resort to weed killer.

Using Systemic Weed Killer

There is no doubt the organic method to clear brambles requires a lot more effort than resorting to a weedkiller for brambles.

How do systemic weed killers work?

A systemic weed killer is the best weed killer for brambles UK.

Effective in killing brambles as the chemical is absorbed by the plants leaves or cut stems. This then travels through the roots where it will work to kill the entire bramble plant.

When using this method, it is important to follow the instructions on the packaging carefully. You will also need to be patient as it can take a few weeks for the brambles to die off and occasionally need a reapplication.

Two recommended systemic types for brambles are either glysophate or triclopyr based.

The main difference between these two types of weed killer is that Glysophate is non-selective. Non-selective weed killers kill all plants it makes contact with, whereas triclopyr is slightly less forgiving and only attacks broadleaved plants, leaving most (but not all) grasses to live another day.

When using any type of weed killer always take care and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Best Weed Killers for Brambles

If you are asking yourself ‘what can I use to kill brambles?’ or ‘what kills brambles permanently without digging?’ then you are most likely looking for a chemical solution.

However, not all weed killers are up to the task. Listed below are two bramble weed killers that do!

Roundup Tree Stump & Root Killer (glyphosate based)

picture of roundup tree stump killer

Using Roundup for brambles requires you to mix the product with water and pour / paint it onto the freshly cut ends of bramble canes .

Doing this will kill brambles by translocating the herbicide (glyphosate) into the bramble roots where it will prevent new growth from appearing.

Roundup also works on other woody weeds and is considered the best weed killer when looking to control brambles.

Be mindful when using. Glyphosate will kill grass, annuals, perennials & shrubs if accidentally comes into contact.

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Vitax SBK Brushwood Killer (triclopyr based)

SBK brushwood killer can be applied by either a watering can over the cut stem or root or by spraying the leaves.

The best time of year to use either of these weed killer products is when the brambles are actively growing, between Spring & Autumn.

As with any weed killers, please be aware that they will also kill other plants. So, if brambles are growing close to desirable plants in your garden, you will need to either shield them or remove them.

Bear in mind when using weed killer it may be necessary to apply 2 or 3 applications over a period of time for them to be successful.

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Does homemade weed killer kill brambles?

If any of these mystical concoctions stated across the internet actually got rid of brambles and tough weeds like stinging nettles there would most likely be a run on white vinegar, dishwasher salt and all those other wonderful household chemicals people claim to work.

The unfortunate truth is they do not. Sure, they will give the appearance of killing the bramble by turning the leaves brown but this does NOT kill the bramble roots. The roots are the real problem here.

Removal of the Bramble Waste

So, you’ve done the hard work, now it is time to get rid of all that bramble bush waste.

The good news is brambles are classified as green waste and can therefore be added to your council compost bin or taken to your local recycling centre.

If you have a large amount of bramble waste, it might be worth hiring a skip for the day or creating a burn pile.

If burning brambles you will want to wait until all the brambles have turned brown . Burning fresh wood creates a lot of smoke, this is a problem if living in a built up area.

Just be sure to dispose of the brambles properly, as you don’t want them growing back!

How to stop brambles returning

An outbreak of brambles in your garden does not mean you are a bad gardener.

The seed from these garden mercenaries are kindly dropped off in bird, fox and mammal poop. Brambles can also appear from your neighbours property with their root systems easily travelling under the fencing.

Keeping on top of early growth is the best way to stop these weeds colonising by using either of the methods outlines above. Alternately, consider installing a heavy duty weed membrane over weeded areas. This is especially useful if you are going to leave planting up the area for while.

In Conclusion

Brambles spread quickly. Learning how to control brambles from the start is essential when tackling these woody plants. Early intervention is the most effective method in dealing with this problem plant.

Choose to either eliminate blackberry bushes by natural means or (my last resort) the chemical approach. Whichever method you choose spend your time, a slap dash approach will be sure to fail.

I hope this guide has been useful in explaining the effective methods used for getting rid of the common bramble. Got a problem with stinging nettles also? Check out my guide for getting rid of stinging nettles .

Now go get em!