Tragically, when a parent loses a child, there is a horribly long
adjustment time. I know from experience. The yard work was not even on
their minds while dealing with the incredible and unbearable pain that
only those who have been there can even begin to understand. I hope you
were kind to them and understanding that they could not function normally
in a world that was shattered beyond repair for them.
My eldest son attended Reed College during the time they were trying to
eradicate the Himalayan Blackberries that had overrun the canyon there.
The HB are *not* native to this country and, like Starlings, are an import
by a well-meaning but ignorant person.
It took them several years to get rid of the berries but finally achieved
their goal. The secret? Diligence in following this method.
Cut every vine back as far as you can cut it (below soil level if
possible). Every two weeks, check for any new growth and cut it back.
The reason this works is that the blackberry plant pulls energy into the
roots from the greenery. As it starts new shoots, it must use some of
that stored energy to continue to grow. Each time the young sprout is cut
back (which is why it must happen with the new growth before it has time
to store much energy), the root system has a negative balance on energy
stored which eventually destroys the plant's root system which leaves that
I know this works because I have done it. When I purchased my home, it,
also, was the victim of extensive blackberry growth. The largest patch
(at least 12 feet high and 500 ft. square) was on the RV pad which we
cleaned out with the backhoe and had the soil/roots/branches hauled off in
a dump truck. Then we lay down construction fabric and a new supply of
gravel. With no light for what was left, there was no way they could
store energy. There have been, of course, many "babies" around the edges.
Those have been the victims with the cut-at-the-soil method as well as the
many that grew along the alleyway beside my fruit trees.
The method works if you are diligent and, unlike sprays designed to kill
them, causes no harm to any surrounding vegetation or to the soil or air.
You do, of course, need to repeat the method on all new growth whether it
be from a sprout from a root or from a seed dropped by birds.
On a local gardening program, the person there suggested cutting them back
to a 2-inch length and then "painting on" the spray and wrapping it in
plastic to ensure better absorption of the spray into the root system.
This would work much better (and is less invasive) than spraying the
There you have two methods, organic and non-organic, that both work.
While both involve much work, they will do the job. Diligence is the key
to this imported, and unwelcome, aggressor.
When you can dig them out, that is the best way, and works well with all
the little starts which will happen every place the vine touches damp
soil/leaves. Its reproductive system is one of the best on the planet.
Even the smallest root will develop into a plant and, left untended,
become a thicket.
Those who have dealt with this particular blackberry will tell you there
is not a more aggressive berry. In too many areas, it has wiped out the
population of native blackberries which are smaller but more flavorful and
not nearly so aggressive.
Be certain to dispose of the vines via garbage can, *not* compost pile.
They incredibly adept at starting from pieces that don't seem possible,
even those seemingly too dry.
As with many things, understanding the characteristics of the plant helps
with knowing how to control/improve/destroy it.
Good luck with the blackberry free yard. Though it takes a lot of effort
and follow-up, it's worth it.
Glenna, you have lost a child, and I convey my condolences to you and the
rest of your family.
Without asking, I did things like pruning their shrubs and pulling weeds. I
didn't want to embarrass them. I trimmed back the blackberries on their
property for a couple of years to a limited extent. Eventually the
blackberries got to be too much, and I gave it up and the berries took over.
If there was anyone who really suffered the most from this infestation, it
was the grandmother. She lived upstairs, and could not get down the stairs
on her own to the front door to unlock it if someone were to come calling.
However, there was a stairway up to the second floor from the back yard.
Before the blackberries took over, I could get through their back yard and
up the back steps to help her out, fetch her the mail and bring it in to
her. After the blackberries, she was imprisoned in her own house, with no
way for anyone other than family to come in.
Exactly, which is why I mentioned my need for patroling our yard on a
continuing basis to keep the blackberries at bay. I do not use a commercial
The people who purchased the home were also a multi-generational family.
Grandma stayed at home and cared for her grandchildren while the parents
worked. Grandpa's occupation was vegetable growing. He turned that vacant
patch into a lovingly-tended garden.
Now, they've moved out, too, and there's a commercial gardening service that
comes by and maintains the property. But grandpa's garden has grassed over,
and no one's growing vegetables there now.
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