Getting Rid of Invasive Briars

kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,275 ✭✭✭✭✭

Last year part of the woods in our backyard was invaded by briars. They are HUGE - taller than me or my husband. The stems remind me of okra pods that are too tough to eat - fibrous like that and have the same crunch when you cut them. Last summer they did get what looked like tiny sour blackberries on them but if I let them grow my entire yard will be covered with them! The worst part if the stems are covered in thorns!! I have been cutting them down with garden loppers and then pulling as many of the very long roots out as I can. I have a huge pile of roots and stems. I'm thinking I'll have to get one of my neighbors to either let me bring them down to burn at some point or borrow his burn barrel. I don't want to throw them farther into the woods for fear that they'll not die and really become invasive. Today I went out to continue working on them when I noticed that another crop of tiny briars have popped up next to this crop and they extend probably 8 feet farther down. So, I cut down the larger ones and worked on pulling the smaller ones up today.

Does anyone have any ideas of a better way to do this or does this sound like the best way? It's pretty time consuming! I don't want to spray weed killer on them b/c it's poisonous for me and my garden which isn't very far away not to mention the trees that all these briars are growing under.


  • nksunshine27
    nksunshine27 Posts: 343 ✭✭✭

    other than cutting them down burning them and digging haven't found any other method that works, sorry. you could make a tea with the leaves

  • r.lewmir
    r.lewmir Posts: 9 ✭✭✭

    Just looking at that pic gives me the shivers. I thoroughly sympathize with you. Spent about 2 wks doing daily just what u did. Since they bend over & can regrow, I continued pulling out 'leftovers' for the rest of the summer. Wore my garden boots, thick jeans & went through about 3 pairs of leather gloves. They were too scratchy & were too many for me to carry a distance, so I just piled them up in t corner of my big yard & partially covered with grass clippings, weeds, dirt, pine cones, branches etc. It was a huge pile but eventually settled quite a bit. I was told not to burn them because the seeds or hardy plant bits would just travel through the air & replant themselves in many more varied places. To my surprise, the next yr only a couple of briars peeked up & could easily be pulled. I guess you don't need to destroy every briar; just weaken the system & they will give up. So you are doing the right thing & you will prevail!

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,407 admin

    @kbmbillups1 My sympathies. I agree with the other posts here. Pulling up the new starts constantly is the best way to keep on top of them. As you say, they are likely to root if you just throw the canes deeper into the bush so burning is the best way to deal with what you have pulled out.

    I grew up in an area where Himalayan blackberries had become invasive. They have lovely berries. My mother made the best blackberry jam. But what a pain picking them. Literally. We had thick gloves and heavy clothes but still seemed to come home with a lot of skin damage. I would like to try a patch here where I live now. Much harsher winters so I don't think they would be as invasive.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,275 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have been working on pulling them out for several weeks and have finally gotten to the "end". I've pulled up the roots to all of the tall canes that's what I'm calling the end. Now I'm working on the smaller ones b/c I'm afraid they'll spread like crazy this spring and summer.

    So far I've reclaimed probably and 8 foot by 15 foot area of my back yard! It's been a lot of work! I even found 2 small cedar trees I didn't know where there.

    Since it's gotten warmer I'm worried about snakes. We see a lot of water moccasins and copper heads around here. We have huge black snakes too which I know are good to have around. A couple years ago my daughter and I were playing volleyball in the backyard and a huge black snake booked it across the yard right in front of us up into what used to the berry/briar patch. That was before the briars had become invasive.

  • David Eiker
    David Eiker Posts: 1 ✭✭✭

    GOATS! The leaves are very nutritious. We have fed them to alpacas. They are reported to have a nutritional balance similar to Orchardgrass. There may be other livestock that would eat them as well. Small goats are easy enough to keep penned with a mobile electric fence. Just don't let them get loose or they'll greet you in the morning from on top of your car with the license plate in their mouth!

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,810 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I feel cheated that I never got to know goats, or horses for that matter. I'm sure that I would have great, humorous memories amongst all the aggravation and work. (Just like living with my 5 housepets.)

    The off topic comment is now ended.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,275 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Even though we live in a rural part of Metro Atlanta the farms and open land is disappearing. They are building as many homes as possible everywhere. We have lived in the same house for 18 years and only have 1/2 an acre of land which is not large enough according to county codes to have a farm animal other than 3 chickens. I have heard of people renting goats though!

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,470 ✭✭✭✭✭

    In the Seattle area, people rent out herds of goats to clear the invasive Himalayan blackberry vines. Here's an add for them!

  • EarlKelly
    EarlKelly Posts: 230 ✭✭✭

    Nothing like that in my area. We just have multi flora rose. Nasty stuff, can grow up to 20 feet if left alone. Have seen it take over entire fields. Has little tiny seeds on it that birds love to eat and help spread it. It also will send out runners to help its growth. Usually use pruners, loppers and brush hog to limit its spread. Doing battle with it for 40 years now. You never truly get rid of it. There is source seed someplace for the birds to bring in for you. When I do battle with it again here shortly will some pictures of it. Need a good pair of leather gloves to handle it.

    I have received many battle wounds from it I’ll tell you. Not ready to concede yet. Does have beautiful white flowers in the spring. Only nice thing about it.