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Brambles

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Brambles

Postby smojo » Tue May 06, 2014 5:38 pm

So it looks like I will at last be a woodland owner, I have set the wheels in motion to buy a plot - yeaahh. It's heavily covered with brambles. Been reading some posts on here about bramble clearance but would appreciate a bit of your valued advice. Here's the rough plan of what I intend. The plot is bordered on three sides by rides and on one side it merges into the adjacent plot. I want to maintain an appearance of a certain wild look from the outside and encourage wildlife so will leave the brambles around the perimeter but make the interior easier to move around in and clear some of the open ground to allow new planting and give saplings chance to grow. So my first project will be to start creating paths around the interior and along the border with next door. So it looks like a brushcutter has to go on my shopping list. Probably a second hand Stihl or something of similar quality. Probably a budget of about £200. Any recommendations or what to avoid please (have read the post on the husky brushcutter review by the way).

Secondly what do I do with the chopped up brambles after using the brushcutter. Leaving it as a mulch doesn't sound great as it's spiky prickly stuff. I'm thinking best to rake it up from the paths and burn it when dry.

Next question - I have had allotments in the past and know that bramble is very resilient and will come back in no time unless you get the roots up. I don't want to put poison down so is it best to cut it back as described then wait for the re-emergence and start uprooting (big job though). Is there an easier way to eradicate it more thoroughly.

Thanks folks
Last edited by smojo on Fri May 16, 2014 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Brambles

Postby Bearwood » Tue May 06, 2014 8:13 pm

Congrats on your news Smojo. Exciting times ahead indeed!

Oldclaypaws started a thread recently on Brushcutters which may prove useful and can be found here;

Brushcutters
viewtopic.php?t=1685
Brushcutters

I opted for the secondhand route and it worked out well, although the brambles in my wood are isolated patches and are currently manageable with a biannual cutting.

I leave the cuttings in situ as the blade I use is a mulching blade similar to this:

http:/www.abbeygardensales.co.uk/strimmer-brushcutter-accessori/oregon-brushcutter-blades/showitem-OR-90-31.aspx
(No connection to the seller etc.)

Collecting and burning the cuttings after using such a blade would be tedious to say the least. Finally; don't be tempted to cut wet grass with the same blade as this. The wet grass can adhere to the downswept wings and cause the drive to slip, causing excessive wear.
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Re: Brambles

Postby Dexter's Shed » Tue May 06, 2014 8:54 pm

you'll find quite a few of my video's here on cutting paths through our brambles, have never bothered with digging up roots or poisons, a couple of strims and they have rarely showed up again, I strimmed our camp area only last weekend, the first time for months, just to take a few tips off.
as for the strimmer, again you'll find my video's and recommendations on Chinese imports via e bay, £60 upwards, I have two, both are still going strong after a years use, and being cheap I leave them at our woods, as initially you take a few things with you, back and forth each visit, but each visit see's you taking more and more stuff, and loading/unloading the car gets a pain, so we took a chance, and touch wood, everything has been ok so far
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Re: Brambles

Postby oldclaypaws » Tue May 06, 2014 10:00 pm

They are not as daunting as first appears if you use the right kit. To initially vapourise, use a decent brushcutter, they are 20 times as quick as manual slashing. Put on a mulching blade, there's no leftovers, its compost and rots in weeks, no need to burn- it nourishes the soil. Jury out at the moment on best follow up after shredding- either spot treat regrowth with something like SBK or yank with a Canterbury Fork. Trying both, but the bottom line in regeneration and diversity of regrowth is astounding after 1-2 years, 13 species appearing where their was one. Nuke them.

Do spend a year observing before doing anything- at this point you simply don't know whats there without a season under your belt.
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Re: Brambles

Postby Binz » Wed May 07, 2014 6:58 am

we use a spear and jackson bc we got from argos a few years ago, it does brambles OK and is fine for using a few days a year to keep them under control. If I was using it more regularly on thicker stuff i'd probably want something with more oomph (it is 33cc). It has a harness rather than strap which I agree is much better, as well as weight distribution they also have plastic shield so bc doesn't rub on you. Amazon has a couple of options 52cc with harness for under £100 (probably same machine, different branding) if you don't want to spend a lot.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/ACTECMAX-PETROL ... rushcutter

http://www.amazon.co.uk/TIMBERPRO-Heavy ... d_cp_diy_0
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Re: Brambles

Postby Rankinswood » Wed May 07, 2014 7:10 am

Hi Smojo,

I think that you might well be about to apply gardening techniques and thought processes instead of woodland management practices.

I note that Chilterns is running a bramble growth and natural control experiment on The Oxfordshire Woodland Group phenology forum to record and demonstrates how bramble growth and reduction of same ocurrs on a seasonal basis and also that the overall growth and spread of bramble is a function of light reaching the woodland floor thus it is likely that your woodland currently has too much sky and too little trees to control this woody plant.

If you are tempted to cut back bramble with a brush cutter how do you intend to prevent cutting small trees and sapling that might already be taking root within this natural tree shelter since these will be the very things that will eventually overcome and suppress your bramble problem.

It really might be best for you to start thinking about long term solutions to what you currently perceive to be a problem when in fact it is simply an overt feature of natural woodland sucession.

Posting a digi pic would be helpful.

Rankinswood
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Re: Brambles

Postby oldclaypaws » Wed May 07, 2014 8:49 am

If you are tempted to cut back bramble with a brush cutter how do you intend to prevent cutting small trees and sapling that might already be taking root within this natural tree shelter since these will be the very things that will eventually overcome and suppress your bramble problem.


Agree that brambles thrive where theres light and eventually tree growth will suppress them, also that there will be potentially seedlings among them so care has to be taken. However, the most noteworthy word here is 'eventually'. Where there's a dense cover of brambles they do their best to smother young trees and slow the tree growth. If you can shred them while leaving any obvious saplings (you can spot most saplings if brushing slowly), you'll get tree cover quicker, which will in turn keep the brambles down. I have areas where there has been regeneration from a blank canvas 25 years ago- yes there are Willows and Hazel there starting to win, but also still a dense cover of brambles in between, growing through the lower boughs of the trees, and making the area inaccessible. In the centre of my wood where its dappled shade, there was a botched coppicing job done about 12 years ago. Plastic netting was put round the cut Hazel stools to protect them from deer, but that was it, after that nobody came back to control the brambles. The Hazel only grew slowly because of the shade from the oak canopy, the brambles outpaced them, went over the top of the Hazel, and the result was much of the hazel died and theres about 10% of the Hazel growth that there would have been had the brambles been controlled, and virtually impenetrable bramble. Like Smojo, I don't have 30 years to wait for the Hazel and other trees to eventually win through, it needs a friend to hack back the brambles and give it a chance, plus a programme of thinning the canopy so the regenerating trees can grow quicker. Where I've BC'ed the brambles and pulled them off the previously choked few Hazel survivors, theres now loads of new growth from the base of the Hazel stools as they are finally getting a chance. Theres also numerous new varied herbaceous species springing up where there was just monojungle bramble.

Nuke them (carefully to avoid saplings). I will leave limited patches of bramble as they do have some useful ecological roles and will be impossible to totally eradicate, but want to progressively get rid of 80-90% of them.

Philosophically, we could do nothing and just let the wood become totally natural, but thats not where it started from, the big oaks were planted as timber, the Hazel was planted, and in all woods its a balance between nurturing natural processes sensitively and also developing sustainable human use, which means encouraging what we want and disposing of unwelcome invasive stuff.
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Re: Brambles

Postby Dexter's Shed » Wed May 07, 2014 10:37 am

Rankinswood wrote: how do you intend to prevent cutting small trees and sapling


I'm lucky in that I have these things called eye's in the front of my head, how else would one navigate their day with driving/walking etc
Im sorry, but we have a new soon to be woodland owner, and already he's getting told, don't touch anything :o
one would hope that he first walks the area's that he/she wants to cut pathways into, and takes note of any bushes/trees/saplings that he wants to save, or if he wishes, he can cut right through the lot, after all, it will be his/her wood by then, and the mishap of cutting through something that he/she didn't realise was growing there until it was too late, will not be the end of the world, tomorrow will still come,
come on please lets keep this in perspective, rain forests are disapearing daily, let's not make a new woodland owner worried about using a strimmer
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Re: Brambles

Postby smojo » Wed May 07, 2014 11:25 am

Thanks again guys, lots of great advice, need to read them again when I have more time maybe discuss some comments further but just to quickly add some more info about myself, my attitude and plans and my wood (to be) then you can get to know me better and know where I need most advice (and any is very welcome). Not blowing my own trumpet, this is just me.

I am an intelligent and sensitive person. I worked as a telecommunications engineer until recent retirement so I have a good dextrous skills and logical reasoning. Done quiet a bit of woodworking too. Very handy with most things. A bit of a perfectionist and an eye for detail (it was my job to be meticulous). I don't rush into things, I give important things plenty of thought and planning. I love nature - birds, plants and trees of course so intend to shape my wood into something that will encourage wildlife. I want to do some camping there and practise some bushcraft skills, observe nature and enjoy just being there as well as working on it. I have had allotments and therefor a pretty good understanding of how things grow.

This is my loose plan so far. I have thought about the possibility of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" when cutting the brambles and damaging young growth. Roughly half the wood is sycamore stand and although quite dark, is covered in low brambles so this part might need nuking but initially just cut some paths to get easier access. The other half is the best bit for me. Quite diverse, no really mature trees though but some nice samples. All sorts of small saplings at various states of growth and some open grassy areas ideal for my campsite, so in this area I will handle with extreme sensitivity. I'll probably draw a rough plan of what exists, then what I want to change. Any young trees will be treated with with kid gloves and any brambles interfering with their growth will probably be manually cleared with smaller tools. Like Paws - I don't have decades to see my small trees mature into big specimens so want to give them as much encouragement as poss. Finally I want to plant some new trees to add diversity. Ones that flower, produce fruit/nuts if possible.

I shall probably just start clearing my campsite area first, not much bramble there but more than I want. Next start cutting a few paths into areas I like best for easier access. I'll leave most of the perimeters with a couple of metres or so of bramble to act as deterrants to people wandering in. The rest I'll wait and see which areas of it produce decent fruit and leave those as crops. Then during autumn & winter when things have died down, start nuking the areas that need it. Sounds like a plan eh?

I'll be posting more topics about all this for discussion soon but now you know a bit more about me and my wood. Thanks for taking the time to read all this and answer. It really is appreciated. I'll try add some photos later too. I took a few a couple of weeks ago. Can't remember how to do it now.
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Re: Brambles

Postby smojo » Wed May 07, 2014 12:39 pm

Think I've sussed the photo thing. Here's a few of my bramble problems.

Looking into Northern edge of sycamore stand - will leave a good "hedge" of bramble to deter wanderers but eventually nuke the interior for better access and less competition for trees.

Image

Looking across the southern edge of the sycamore stand - probably the densest area of bramble. Might keep some of this for blackberry picking if it proves fruitful.

Image

Looking into the southern edge of stand - keep the best blackberry picking areas but clear foreground for new planting

Image

Part of the southern half - like to clear some of this for new planting

Image

Part of southern half where I would like to encourage the hazel for coppicing and other sapling conservation - some sensitive clearing needed here

Image

Finally my camping/bushcraft area, a place to hang out and enjoy - not much needed here but wanted to show you anyway.

Image
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