Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Blackberry clearing and remediation project. 5.10.16

Before clearing blackberries.  5.10.16
Here is the status of my Himalayan blackberry removal project.   Moving into summer, I doubt I will do much work on removing more, too hot and sunny.   I started last winter, not intending to go far with this.  

However, after seeing the results, my intent is to clear all of the brambles from this part of our property.  Originally, blackberry thickets covered about 1/4 acre of this 1 acre parcel.  I have cleared, maybe 2/3 of the brambles now.

Before and after removing blackberries.  5.10.16

After removing an area of blackberries.  5.10.16
 I wear leather gloves, and use bypass pruning shears to shop approximately 2 feet at a time.  Often I grab multiple stems at a time and cut through them.  I make piles of the cut brambles, like little haystacks in the cleared area.

Gradually, the land is cleared.  Cut blackberry stems are like dry sponge.   The seem to degrade fairly fast, easier than tree stems.  I made some very large piles in an out of the way location, so they will compost themselves.  The compost will be added to garden beds.  Composting may take a year.
Six months after removing blackberries.  5.10.16
For the area that I cleared last winter, I scattered grass seed.  The grass established during late winter and spring.  Mowing the grass is also killing off the blackberry stems that re-grow, and will eventually kill it off entirely.  No chemicals.  Some sprouts are so vigorous, they are as soft as asparagus spears, and I just wear gloves and snap those off.  It will take about 2 solid days of work, to clear the area in the photo, labeled "Before Removal".

The photos are separate parts of the cleared and uncleared areas.  I did not think to take actual before photos.  The cleared area was actually worse than what I have not done yet - brambles were 25 feet into the trees, and the depth of the thicket was greater.

The hawthorne trees in this area are unstable, weak and falling.  They  look nice when cleaned up a bit, but I don't think they will last very long.  We've planted cyprus to protect the soil, which a bit beyond this area slopes into a ravine and creek, and for privacy.  Cyprus grow rapidly and thick, so the intent is to shade out any remaining blackberries - this photo faces south, with the forested area north of the cyprus trees.  They are a hybrid cypress which does not make seeds so is not invasive.

There may be some cool mornings this summer when I can clear more.  I'll hold up seeding more grass until then, when rains will help it establish.  Meanwhile, ripe blackberries will be much easier to harvest adjacent to sections that I have already cleared.

1 comment:

  1. Wild blackberry is very hard to keep clear. As long as you replant something in the clearing it'll help to keep the black berry at bay. Looks very nice after the clean up.