In my backyard, I have an area roughly 20X30 that is covered by some
blackberry vines, maple tree shoots, and gravel mixed in with the dirt.
What is best way to reclaim this area so that I can use it for a
garden or lawn? I have no idea how it got to be this way before we
moved onto the property. Thanks for any advice.
You can either go in with a machete and whack it yourself (or with
laborers) or hire a bush hog mower guy. You will probably have to use
herbicide to keep the blackberries from coming back. You could get a
bobcat to scrape it too
Lots of work here...Get a weed-eater with a blade attachment. It
would be good to have a chipper/shredder to start a compost pile.
After the brush is cleared away remove the stones by hand--get help
from kids. Have a few soil samples analyzed to tell you what
amendments are needed. (Do you need potash, lime, nitrogen, etc?)
Rototil the area removing roots and rocks. You might want to use the
rocks to border the garden or some other use. Adding compost before
rototilling will help the garden or lawn.
My recommendation would be to go in with a strong gardening pitchfork.
Use it to loosen the ground around the blackbeery and other shrubs.
Then pry with it under the root ball while someone else with a strong
back pulls the shrub out. Loosen a wide area around the shrub you are
working on so you get the most of the roots in one pull. Any that break
off and stay in the ground are likely to regrow. It's hard work, but you
will have a usable garden quicker than just mowing it down.
You must have a different kind of blackberry than I am thinking of.
The ones I grew up with were like tangled up razor coil. Grabbing it
was not an opition. It grabbed you. Is there any poison ivy in there?
It seems to go together. That is why I didn't suggest burning.
My experience predates chemical herbicide usage, so that might work now,
but without it, both the blackberry and maple shoots will keep coming
back unless you remove all the roots and stumps; that means digging and
probably repeating the process for a couple of years.
I don't see gravel being a problem; plenty of gardens and yards contain
some gravel, and as long as it doesn't interfere with cultivation, I
would just let it go. It can actually help drainage. If you really
want to remove the gravel, build a sieve out of appropriately sized
hardware cloth, and run the dirt through it while you are dealing with
I spent years getting rid of a blackberry patch; the berries were nice,
but with young children I didn't want a patch where they would get all
scratched up. I chopped down a small maple that shaded where I was
putting my garden, and 35 years later it still sends up shoots, which I
cut and use for garden stakes.
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