Brambles

No one enjoys fighting brambles in their garden. They’re hard to spot, difficult to remove, and can spread like wildfire if left unchecked. But with the right knowledge, you’ll be able to get rid of them once and for all!

This blog post will provide an in-depth guide on what brambles are, how they grow, and how to eradicate them from your garden.

Quick Facts

Common names: bramble, blackberry, European blackberry, black heg, wild blackberry
Scientific name: Rubus fruticosus
Family: Rosaceae
Origin: native
Flowering season: June to September
Habitat: woodland, grassland, gardens and allotments adjacent to infested land
Identification of Brambles ahead of weed treatment

Brambles Identification

Brambles are hard to identify because they look different depending on the season. In winter, berry-bearing plants may be mistaken for blackberries or raspberry bushes; in spring and summer, their flowers can resemble those of roses.

To differentiate them from other species that don’t belong in your garden, you’ll want to know what a bramble plant looks like all year round:

  • The bark is light brown with dark spots
  • Leaves are oval-shaped and serrated along the edge (like teeth)
  • Brownish red berries grow in bunches throughout late fall and early winter
  • In June through July, it has small white or pink flowers similar to wild rose petals.
Bramble flower bud protruding from the stem

What do Brambles look like?

Characteristics that make up the Bramble leaf, stem, root and flower are detailed below.

Brambles have long, thorny, arching stems that can reach a height of two metres or more and will also contain Blackberry fruits through the summer months which can range from red to black.

Leaves are palmately compound and alternate. Each leaf is divided into three or five serrated, oval leaflets with short stalks. The tops of the leaves are dark green, while the bottoms are pale. The stalks and mid-ribs of the leaves are prickly.

Bramble leaves come in three to five leaflets

Stem/spikes: Often, they can be identified by their long prickly vines with sharp hooked spines called “spikes.”

Brambles may seem innocent enough at first glance but they have many hidden dangers lurking beneath their leaves: thorns that pierce your skin just by brushing against one

Various colours of the brambles blackberries with its sharp spikes
Various colours of the brambles blackberries with their sharp spikes

Roots: The tough roots are able to grow again when the stems are cut down. Suckers can emerge from roots that are 45 cm deep in the soil. Brambles also regenerate from fragments of root and stem.

Brambles tend to send up shoots from underground rhizomes, which makes them difficult to get rid of completely

Flowers: clusters of white or pink flowers appear from late spring to early summer. They are 2–3cm in diameter with five petals and many stamens.

Bramble flowers open up in late spring
Bramble flowers open up in late spring

Fruits/Seeds: the blackberry is a 1–2cm long fruit that ripens from green to red, deep purple, and finally black when fully ripe in late July.

Not to be confused with the wild raspberry (Rubus idaeus), which produces drupelets that are made up of many small individual fruits. At some times of the year, they can all be the same colour and ripen at the same time.

There are several distinctions that aid in identification. When a ripe raspberry is picked, it is red with a hollow in the middle. The soft white core of a mature blackberry remains inside the fruit until it is selected.

Dewberry (Rubus caesius) looks similar to bramble but has fewer and larger individual fruits.

Their fruit is waxy instead of glossy, and their stems scramble along the ground instead of being tall and arching.

Bramble blackberries which can be eaten and contain the seed to respawn
Bramble blackberries which can be eaten and contain the seed to respawn

The Problem

Brambles can be a frequent problem especially when they are left untreated and left to grow in neglected areas this can be in places such as untouched gardens and dense woodland. They can quickly swarm over wanted vegetation and their roots can damage other plants or structures.

Brambles Seasonal Changes

The bramble is a perennial that thrives in moist, shady areas. These plants are often found at the edges of forests and on land near water sources such as streams or ponds.

They grow aggressively so it’s important to keep an eye out for them when you’re pruning back other ground covers like ivy.

Brambles in Spring

The brambles start to show their spring colours. It has a soft green and orange hue that brightens up the wintery days of March. The leaves are starting to grow back from their hibernation, sprouting new branches for the summer ahead.

The Bramble is a thorny shrub. It flowers in the spring (April-July) and grows fruit in the summer (June-September).

Bramble leaves in late spring and in full bloom
Bramble leaves in late spring and in full bloom

Brambles in Summer

The brambles are a vibrant green in the summer from all the sun they can bathe in.

Summer is the time when brambles are most problematic. One way to deal with them in gardens is by using a herbicide that specifically targets plants from the Rubus family–the scientific name for bramble bushes.

The active ingredient of this type of herbicide can range from a single product such as glyphosate to other chemicals like diquat or paraquat mixed with surfactants (for example, Tordon K).

Look for instructions on how much you need based on area size. Always read labels before use!

Brambles consuming a garden and making it impossible for any other planting
Brambles consuming a garden and making it impossible for any other planting

Brambles in Autumn

You see the leaves turn a golden hue, but what does that mean for brambles?

Bramble bushes are known to change colours in autumn. However, this process is always slow and gradual as it takes place over months instead of hours or days like other plants do with fall foliage changes. Once they start changing you should be able to notice their red stems which will gradually become orange-brown before finally turning yellowish-brown by wintertime

Most of the leaves will turn burgundy and yellow as they begin to die back. The remaining fruit will perish and fall from the stems, which will leave this weed looking much more bearable as it transitions into winter.

Bramble leaves turn red and yellow in autumn
Bramble leaves turn red and yellow in autumn

Brambles in Winter

During winter Brambles will die back as they are deciduous. However, it will not die as the roots are perennial.

Winter is the time of year when many plants are dormant. Brambles, however, have a special way to survive during this harsh season: they grow berries! These soft yet prickly fruits provide food and protection for animals living in their branches or searching beneath them for sustenance.

The leaves can stay green during winter. Whilst some will turn brown and dry up. Similar to the stem which will also turn brown and dry up which makes it is an ideal time to clear the area of these pesky weeds.

Brambles die back in the winter but not permanently
Brambles die back in the winter but not permanently

How to Get rid of Brambles

Often, the best way to get rid of brambles is by cutting them at ground level.

You can also cut back branches that are touching your home or other structures on your property in order to prevent future growth around these areas. I

f you’re looking for a herbicide-free alternative, try smothering the thicket with black plastic and then laying down heavy mulch like straw over the top so weeds don’t grow through cracks between pieces of plastic.

It’s important not to forget this task if you want it done right–some people have found success when they’ve returned every year during early winter to pull up any new seedlings that pop up from underfoot!

Method One – Cut the bushes down

Step One: Before beginning the job, put on heavy clothing, high-quality work gloves, and goggles. Bramble bushes are covered in thorns, and doing this job without protection could result in a severe cut. Cover all exposed areas of the skin to avoid this happening.

If you have asthma or allergies, wear a dust mask to protect your ears. Cutting down bushes releases a lot of allergens into the air, which can irritate the lungs.

Step Two: Trim the bramble vines to 6 inches (15 cm) above the ground level. For areas covered in brambles, a hedge trimmer or similar tool with a metal blade is best.

Clippers will suffice if you just have a small bush. Cut down the bramble vines with whatever tool you have until they’re just 6 inches (15 cm) tall.

Be cautious if the brambles are tangled with other plants that you don’t want to cut down. Clip the vines near the bramble’s base, then remove the vines from any plants you wish to keep.

Using a strimmer will not be adequate as the string will not pierce the brambles. Instead, use a brush cutter with a metalhead.

Step Three: Remove all of the bramble debris from your garden with a rake. Brambles are hardy plants that will continue to thrive if you leave any remnants on the ground. Create a mound of all the bramble bits with a heavy rake.

After that, scoop them into a garbage can or other suitable bin. Be certain to clean up all of the trash. Look for any berries that have fallen off the plant and onto the ground. Since the berries contain plant seeds, if there are berries in the soil, a new bramble will sprout.

Infestation of brambles that have consumed a property
Infestation of brambles that have consumed a property

Method Two – Herbicide Treatment

Step One: Weed killer should be applied to the freshly cut plants. Triclopyr or glyphosate are the perfect weed killers for brambles. Look for items with these ingredients in them. Then use weed killer to soak the whole plant down to the soil floor.

Spray the newly-cut tips of the vines to ensure that the chemicals reach the plant.

After chopping the branches off, spray the weed killer on them. Otherwise, the wound will close up and the weed killer will not be able to reach the plant.

The biggest difference between triclopyr and glyphosate is that triclopyr will not destroy other plants, but you won’t be able to plant on that area for many months, while glyphosate will kill almost all other plants, but you’ll be able to replant on that area soon after application.

Step Two: Allow 1-3 weeks for the weed killer to soak into the plants. The bramble should begin to die during this period. Keep an eye on it on a regular basis. The branches will begin to shrivel and turn brown. The plant is dead when all of its visible sections are shrivelled and brown.

If the brambles somehow don’t look shrivelled after a week, add another round of weed killer.

Step Three: To ensure that the plant does not grow back, dig up the roots. Even if the bramble appears to be dead following a chemical treatment, it will recover and grow back. Dig the plant out of the field with a shovel or pickaxe until it has shrivelled.

Pull up the roots, then look inside the hole for any plant remains. Pick these up, too, and dispose of the roots and vines together.

If you don’t want to use any pesticides, dig up the roots as soon as the bushes are cut down. Although this is a lot of work while the plant is alive, it does eliminate the need for chemicals.

Even when it has died the bramble stems remain and are just as sharp
Even when it has died the bramble stems remain and are just as sharp

Removal of the Brambles waste

Either take the waste to a commercial waste plant or burn them on your land.

Plant waste disposal facilities are not available in every area. Look on the internet to see if one is located near you. If not, burn the brambles or dispose of them with the usual trash.

Brambles should not be composted. They’re too woody to provide nutrients to your plants, and if they’re not fully dried out, they can re-grow.

Do not cut anyone else’s brambles on their house. You are only allowed to cut what is legally on your property.

Management of Brambles

If brambles are caught early, it is possible to control them by hand by cutting back and digging out. However, for a faster, deeper kill we would recommend a targeted treatment of herbicide frequently each season to control the regrowth of the weed.

In Conclusion

Brambles are a tough plant but with this guide outlining all areas for attack, we hope you’re ready to fight back against this enemy before they get too far into your garden again!

Brambles are a very adaptable weed that grows in our gardens today and is one of the most resistant. However, using one of the products mentioned below will eliminate it.