Trespassing Blackberries

Out-of-control blackberries can overtake a creek bed.
Photo credit: Smith and Lever Blog
Q:
Our neighbors' house has gone back to the bank and their already unruly yard is turning in to a major menace, especially the blackberries (surprise!). We've hacked them back from our side, but they're out of control; now that the berries are coming on, we're wondering if we can take advantage of the "low-hanging fruit," and pick them before we do any more hacking, or if we should quickly cut them back now before berries/seeds fall on our side of the fence . . . does it really make much difference?!?!? And, ultimately, is there anything else we can really do about this situation when we can't access their yard? Thanks! - Benton County
A:

Any plant or fruit on your side of the fence is yours. You can pick the fruit or hack the plants all that you want on your property.....however...

If the damage done on your side (cutting, digging, slicing, spraying) affects the mother plant on their side, you're liable. This is rare except for the use of a herbicide which would kill the mother plant on the other side of the fence.

Blackberries are a noxious weed that needs to be controlled, but there is no noxious weed control board in Benton County.

Plant material coming from their side is actually called vegetative trespass, a civil issue.

The berries are a seed source and the blackberry bushes can grow up to 3 feet per week.

Talk with the bank and complain about the vegetative trespass that the owner or bank is allowing to happen.

Ross Penhallegon
Horticulture faculty
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