Blackberry free just a dream?

Blackberries on bush.
Photo credit: Dave King
Q:

Is there a safe way (spray) that can be put on unwanted blackberry bushes in my yard? I have had them cut back two years in a row and they continue to spring back up. I do not want to use harmful pesticide. I think the roots are not being destroyed.

- Clackamas County, OR
A:

What you’re doing is similar to mowing a lawn. You’re tidying up the place, and then the blackberries grow again.

To get rid of blackberries you must get rid of the roots either by physically removing them or by starving them. To be successful will require several years’ work on your part. If you stop for a breather, the blackberry will return to full vigor.

These are the basic strategies:

  • Dig out the roots, then during the next several years, remove any new growth within 2 weeks of seeing it.
  • Cut off the canes, and then immediately paint the cut surface of the stub that remains in the ground with triclopyr, the active ingredient in Crossbow and in Lily-Miller Blackberry and Brush Killer.
  • During the next several years, remove any new growth within 2 weeks of seeing it.
  • For as long as you live there, do the same as other Oregonians do: Remove seedlings as soon as you see them.
Jean R. Natter
Master Gardener Diagnostician
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