Disaster backyard. Need Advise and Help!!

Discussion in 'Garden Design and Plant Suggestions' started by mhern, Jan 2, 2008.

  1. mhern

    mhern Active Member

    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Richmond BC
    This is our backyard. We've just moved in Richmond and will have a major work in our backyard as we have wild blackberries and tall grasses. Any help/advise on how to clean up this mess would be appreciated. Also, any landscaping hints and design ideas would be welcomed as well. We're thinking of doing some work before calling in the 'experts' to avoid huge cost as we are dealing with >300ft x 65' lot.

    Thanks in advance.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,526
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Victoria Australia [cool temperate]
    If you have patience and a good pair of cutters. A pair of welding gautlets and a spray bottle with Round up in it you can start in one corner and start cutting the blackberries out and spraying each stem. [mix it the correct strength for blackberries]. I have just had someone in to do that for my place after 6 years of letting the rotton things go. It was a machette and cut lunch to get into my bottom garden. The dogs had tunnels to get around like the Viet-Cong.

    When that is done and you have a big satisfying heap then it could be mulched or let dry. Rescue the leaf fall as compost and quick burn the canes or let your goats eat them. :) Usually it is a small number of plants spreading miles. I always find them easier to remove while green. When they have been sprayed in situ they become dry and really nasty or at least the ferrals we have around here do.

    The reason for us doing them by hand was the plants that were beneath that have since revived after a good prune. If you have no plants beneath, then try a whipper snipper (weed wacker ) of the heavy kind and mow the whole mess down then hand dig the roots out and keep right on top of them the minute they show new growth either with a sppray or digging them up.

    After that landscaping

    Good luck

    Liz
     
  3. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    843
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Beaverton, Oregon
    If there is no fencing and metal stuff in there, power hedge shears can become very good friends, along with a pitch fork to handle the debris after it's dissected.
     
  4. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    11,129
    Likes Received:
    357
    Location:
    Britain zone 8/9
    Whatever you decide to do, don't do any clearing in the spring or summer, as it is highly likely that birds will be nesting in the blackberries, they're ideal habitat (thick, dense, cat-proof thorny cover) for a lot of species.
     
  5. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,058
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Good point about birds, Michael - except I wouldn't be against finding a nest or two of feral cats in there too once spring is sprung.

    For design, you need a lot more info than just a "before" photo as it depends on how you want to use this space, who you are as gardeners, and what your needs are with respect to views, privacy, and structures, and what trees you want. I'd highly recommend you peruse some landscaping books, and maybe check out both current and old threads on the landscape design forum on GardenWeb. Having a vision for the space, or at least being engaged in creating it, may provide you with some needed momentum for the task of clearing.

    To be honest, I'd be tempted to use heavy equipment rather than doing this by hand. It isn't clear from your photo whether there is any area that is mostly overgrown grass and thus could be just chopped and then maintained by mowing, or whether that blackberry patch really does extend through the whole yard... but with the amount of space you've got, I'd be quite tempted to have the blackberries at least dealt with by a small digger, and then burn it or something if you're allowed.

    However you clear, you will have recurrence of the blackberries, and of most other weeds - so be prepared to maintain whatever you clear, depending on what it is replaced with. A concrete RV parking pad may block recurrence, but a kids' sandbox or a flower bed probably won't.

    Do consider hard how you will maintain once you clear, especially if you aren't ready to decide on grass, flower beds, patios, trees, and so on, because once you clear, you have created new territory for weed seeds to sprout and sprout they will unless you do something with the space quickly. In some ways, what you have now, especially the grass, is a fairly low-maintenance, low-invasiveness ground cover that will hold the property until you decide what you want to do with that space. The blackberries should be curbed ASAP, as the longer they grow the bigger the headache they create.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,749
    Likes Received:
    578
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Perhaps none of the weeds shown (definitely the broom and blackberries) are native and therefore might be of comparatively little use to native birds, as far as it goes. That said I have had the unpleasant experience of exposing a dusky song sparrow nest while cutting away Himalayan blackberries during the growing season. If you have the funds (and you definitely will need a certain minimum amount of money budgeted to clear this space and make and keep a garden on it) probably the most straightforward and successful approach would be do rent a Bobcat and bulldoze the weed layer away. Possibly a dumpster could be rented to put the scrapings into, the soil content will certainly make it heavy and you will have to do something with the material generated. Otherwise a contractor with the right equipment would have to be hired, this would be much more expensive than doing it yourself with rented equipment.

    The existing plants make it appear that the site has already been bulldozed and is mostly subsoil, perhaps a foundation excavation was spread over it as well - I wouldn't worry about damaging topsoil by doing your own scraping of the upper layer to get out the perennial weeds. The blackberry in particular will put up a good fight, perennial grasses such as canary reedgrass (if that one is present) can also be very tough. And if there is any field horsetail you will never be rid of it trying to use hand tools only - it can even be difficult to eliminate with chemicals.
     
  7. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,771
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Fraser Valley, B.C. ,Canada
    As karin mentioned it's hard to tell the actual area covered with the blackberries. Would start with powered hedge trimmers and pitchfork as M D Vaden suggests before spring growth and pile the brambles where they can be safely burned later or easily hauled away. New growth can be repeatedly hit with Roundup or cut back. Fall when the plants are going into dormancy {1/3 leaves yellow}, then again midwinter seems most effective with the Roundup here. If you decide to go with a machine {maybe even after cutting} it's likely best to wait for very dry weather , making less mess, ground compaction, and the dry soil falling from the roots more easily. Usually cheaper for me to hire one with a good operator when in the area, avoiding moving charges, and a better job done faster . Liz's idea of a goat is interesting if you have proper fencing, actually a pig or two would do wonders as they get the roots and fertilize, but the neighbours may object. Would expect it may take a couple of years to get them under control by hand, which isn't bad. If there is broom there as RonB mentions, maybe a machine would be necessary.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2008
  8. mhern

    mhern Active Member

    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Richmond BC
    Thanks for all the replies. My husband is in great favor of goat(s) but the kids and I would probably just pet the goats and then would let them sleep in our bedrooms :). We'll probably go with the roundup first then some heavy artillery (?) - equipment and as chimera said...roundup works best in the winter time..so I guess I'll get my husband to do it right now :). Stay tuned for the after photos (I hope that won't take 2 yrs in the making).
     
  9. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,771
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Fraser Valley, B.C. ,Canada
    Roundup works well in winter as a second hit after a fall application, not so sure how well it works in winter as the first hit. Believe above 45 degrees Fahr. is needed for about 6 hours, but the dealer should know or maybe more experience among members here, best of luck.
     
  10. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,058
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Vancouver
    I was told it Roundup needed higher temps to work so should only be used in summer...? Or something about plants having to be in active growth...? I'm sure there's good info out there in internet land, or, who knows, perhaps on the label!
     
  11. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,526
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Victoria Australia [cool temperate]
    I do it when it is going to be a warm clear windless day if it is going to be a large area. Also needs to be done so no rain follows for a day or so. When doing blackberry canes I give a quick squirt with a hand bottle to the cut area. That is not so weather
    orientated. I am going to do my re emerging dock weed tomorrow as it is going to be nice and warm hopefully that will be the end of my major weed problem then back to normal chemical free eradication

    Good common sense article

    http://www.epinions.com/content_56145841796

    Liz
     
  12. mhern

    mhern Active Member

    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Richmond BC
    Re: Disaster backyard. Need Advice and Help!!

    Thanks for all the responses. My husband and I have decided to get llamas and let them do the work. Though we've tried clearing the area over the weekend by using our hedger and other tools. Also one of the neighbors helped out with his bobcat - very useful tool. So we'll see if the llamas can really get rid of the blackberries. Stay tuned for the after photo.
     
  13. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,771
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Fraser Valley, B.C. ,Canada
    Interesting, didn't know llamas eat blackberries, just hear they are really good at keeping coyotes away.
     
  14. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,526
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Victoria Australia [cool temperate]
    They are not necissarily good at either. The llama will look after it's self and may look after a small herd of animals like sheep and alpaca if they are bonded properly. The trick is to use one in conjunction with a bonded livestock guardian dogs such as Maremma, Pyrenean, Anatolian etc. The Lama is still a prey animal and when it comes push to shove it will look after it's self first. The height of the Llama act like eyes in the sky and the dogs will pick up alert signals if they have not already worked it out. The dogs will definatly take care of intruders that is what they are bred for. Llama eat black berries but not as efficient as goats.

    Been there done that and am still using goats and dogs.
    Liz
     
  15. Scubaman2151

    Scubaman2151 Member

    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Ohio
    You may try to rent a small brush hog, that should help you clear the land.

    Scuba
     
  16. mhern

    mhern Active Member

    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Richmond BC
    Thanks Scuba. We're taking all measures we can get right now. Liz, we decided to settle with 2 small goats + our dog. We're surprised that our lab protects the nannies.
     
  17. mhern

    mhern Active Member

    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Richmond BC
    Well...we tried getting goats but realized later on that we can live in a farm like area but can't live as farmers and raise goats. It's just too much for us. We did try to use chainsaw to cut most of the blackberries but since both hubby and I have day jobs, there's just not enough time to do it within the timeframe that we want. So, any recommendation on a reliable garden company that can help us (1) clear the blackberries, (2) level the soil, (3) put good drainage, and (4) lay new sod would be appreciated. Pls send me private messages if you don't want to consider this forum as 'advertisement :). Of course we will consider all recommendations.
     
  18. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    4,776
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    I wish you the very best of luck in clearing the blackberries. Here in Ecuador they're considered a noxious weed along with a valued food source, and have actually invaded the Galapagos. It's a high-paid but miserable job to go live on the islands and chop mora cane.

    This said, they are EXTREMELY difficult to get rid of, even with nasty noxious chemicals like Roundup. Goats, sheep, llamas, and alpacas will all eat the cane, but only goats go fast enough to really kill it. If you can find a landscaper who is willing to 1 - chop it all down, 2 - rototill and remove all root fragments, 3 - level and drain, you're ahead of the game.

    But I wouldn't put in that much grass. For the first part, sod's expensive, and for the second, see the Garden vs. Grass thread. I'd put in walking paths in moss, then build up terraced beds for the actual gardening part. Depending on sun exposure, maybe a shade tree.
     
  19. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,058
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Vancouver
    I too am diverted by the question of whether sod is such a brilliant idea. If that is what you are going to do - depending on whether you plan to do something in the space, such as play soccer - just to cover the ground, well, the ground is covered now already. What are your needs in the area, other than to have it look good? You might be better off planting a small forest than planting grass, and the blackberries cover the ground in the meantime.
     

Share This Page