Garden Shredder Tips

This garden shredder tip concerns how you can use your shredder to reduce the menace of brambles in your garden.

Autumn Garden Tidying

It’s autumn again. We have been doing some much needed tidying up around the garden and have encountered more brambles than we would like. Here’s how we use our quiet shredder to help get rid of the brambles.

Deep Hedges

We have talked of our expanse of hedges before. We have 40m of 3m high mixed Laurel and Elm hedging on our roadside boundary. There is a couple of Lilac bushes and an a Holly bush embedded in the hedge.

Roadside Hedge - 40m with Laurel, Elm, Holly and Lilac
Roadside Hedge – 40m with Laurel, Elm, Holly and Lilac

The major problem with looking after this hedge is its depth. At places it is well over 2m thick. This provides great privacy with super sound insulation from the road. It does make it a challenge to cut. It also provides an incredibly good environment for brambles to grow.

Brambles Grow Quickly

Brambles don’t need a lot of light to grow. They get seeded from bird’s droppings which, quite naturally, fall right in the middle of the hedge. Brambles grow incredibly quickly and can easily put on a couple of feet in a few days as they reach for the top of the enclosing bushes and shrubs. Once they reach the top the brambles will spread out and put out lots of leaves to make best use of the sunshine.

The first time we know we have brambles is when we see the leaves or flowers sticking out the top of the hedge. Come to think of it, the first time I usually know we have brambles is when my arms and hands get scratched while cutting the hedge.

Some of these brambles can be 20 feet or more long.

Avoiding Bramble Weed Killer

I don’t like using any of the chemical bramble killers – they all seem a bit toxic for my liking.  Most of my shreddings are composted too. Using weed killers on things to be composted in not a good idea. In any case, part of the reason for the depth of the hedges is to provide a habitat for birds, insects and hedgehogs.

It’s got to be said, there are times when we get some decent blackberries from our brambles. I am not sure I would like to eat these (apple and blackberry crumble is on of my favourites) if I had been using bramble killer in the garden.

Garden Shredder Tips.  You might love the Beautiful Black Berries but the brambles don't belong in the garden
Beautiful Blackberries

Instead I try to cut the brambles as low to the ground as possible. If I can force my way in (2m thick hedge can resist my attempts to get to the middle pretty well) I will try to dig out the roots. Failing that I try to reach in and use the hoe to destroy as much root as possible. The vain hope is that some natural disease will be able to enter through the ragged cuts in the roots and kill the bramble that way.

Disposing of the Bramble

That still leaves me with a great long bramble to dispose of.  No matter how you try to handle them, brambles seem well able to wrap round your hands and limbs leaving lots of small and not so small grazes and scratches.  Disposing of brambles always used to be a bit of a problem too.

What we have found is that, if you get the root end of the cutting fed into a quiet shredder, the self feed mechanism will pull the whole bramble through quite easily.  Don’t stand too close to the bramble once you have started the feed – it is still going to do its best to reach out and snag you.

The shredder will chop the bramble up into 1-2cm, crushed chips. The cutting and crushing gets rid of most of the thorns and barbs so you can handle these shreddings pretty safely (while wearing gardening gloves of course).  Once chopped up we just throw the bramble onto the compost heap (admittedly right at the back where we don’t usually take any compost from).

We’ve had no cases of regrowth from the cuttings in the compost.  Sadly, unless you can really get in and remove the roots, the brambles do grow back in the hedge.