Chemical herbicides offer a quick solution for controlling broadleaf weeds or blackberry brambles. But if you are concerned about possible health effects such chemicals might have on you, your family members, pets or the environment, consider natural methods for controlling broadleaf weeds and blackberries. Although blackberries make good jams and pies, the invasive Himalayan blackberry has taken over large areas in the Pacific Northwest and California. The thorny bushes have taken over environments where native plants struggle to survive. Broadleaf weeds are a common nuisance in many landscapes, but can be controlled with non-toxic methods.
Controlling Broadleaf Weeds
Combine 1 gallon of 10 percent acidity white vinegar with 1 oz. orange essential oil. Add the mixture to a spray bottle. Spray broadleaf weeds with the mixture. This method is most effective if you apply the spray on a sunny day. Continue to spray every other day until weeds die back.
Hand-pull broadleaf weeds if they are surrounded by grass or other landscape plants that you don't want to kill.
Burn broadleaf weeds with a propane weed burner. This tool works well in areas such as the cracks in sidewalks because no other plants exist nearby that might catch fire.
Controlling Blackberry Vines
Hand-cut large blackberry vines to ground level, using garden clippers or loppers if the stems are large. Wear sturdy garden gloves to protect your hands from the sharp thorns.
Mow or trim your cut blackberry vines to ground level. Spring is the best time to cut back vines, as the plant is in its active growing season. Mow again every time you notice new sprouts emerging from the soil surface: if you keep cutting them down, they will eventually die.
Cover the area with flattened cardboard to smother the roots and crowns of the blackberry plants you have previously cut or mowed to ground level.
Dig out blackberry roots by hand if you don't mind a slow, labor-intensive project. The Northwest Coalition For Alternatives To Pesticide describes this method as a "slow but sure" way to get rid of blackberries. Small pieces of root can remain buried. Tilling the area several times after you dig out the majority of roots, the University of California advises, can chop up roots small enough so they do not regenerate.