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Old 02/21/11, 03:21 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Aquilla, Texas
Posts: 57
Question I have got to get rid of the briar!

Ok, here is the scenario...
Ten acres of thick woods and the thorny green-briar is choking out and killing my trees! Then the trees fall and I then have a giant briar patch pile too thick for trees to grow up through. I have heard the ideas of over-grazing goats or using weed killer but am not convinced these are the best remedies and I don't want to kill my trees. I had a thought and wanted to pass it by you all and see what you thought... ready?

I've thought of waiting for a wet day and using one of those big propane torches for fence line weed control to burn and sever the briar at the ground around all the trees. I know I would have to return frequently at first to stay on top of it all but would this work? I foresee the briar dieing and whatever remains up in the trees will rot away and eventually fall.

Am I crazy?
Thanks for any insight... John
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Old 02/21/11, 03:29 PM
Heritagefarm's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Southern MO
Posts: 11,189
That should work. By briars, what do you mean? Are you talking about multiflora rose? Blackberries?...
If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be - a Christian.
Mark Twain
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Old 02/21/11, 03:38 PM
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My gas powered weed whaker is powerful enough to doubble as a brush cutter. I remove the head that holds the line and replace it with a saw blade like a 7 1/4 inch skill saw blade. It can cut down bushes up to 4" in diameter.

Cut the brambles off just above the ground and the stems in the trees will die. The stumps will send out shoots so you have to cut them off too. Usually takes a few years for them to die and stop sending up shoots.
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Old 02/21/11, 03:39 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Originally Posted by johncotexas View Post
Ok, here is the scenario...

I've thought of waiting for a wet day and using one of those big propane torches for fence line weed control to burn and sever the briar at the ground around all the trees. I know I would have to return frequently at first to stay on top of it all but would this work? I foresee the briar dieing and whatever remains up in the trees will rot away and eventually fall.

Am I crazy?
Thanks for any insight... John
I like that idea for a start!
But. I would then get a couple of goats to come back through once in a while.
I understand greenbriar is persistant and grows back from the root readily.
One hint, the shoots of the briar are high in vitamin C. So just go on out and nibble on some!
Goats would help with other unwelcome growth, and wouldn't hurt the trees unless you left them on the area too long.
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Old 02/21/11, 03:44 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posts: 1,470
We have blackberries and chose Finnsheep because they like to browse. They have done an excellent job in 2 years of eliminating all the leaves off the blackberries. However, they have left naked thorny stems and we now need to either mow over them with the tractor mower or hand-clip them off at the ground. We also had a couple times when we needed to go into the field and clip the thorny stems off one of the particularly stupid ewes because she had entangled herself and couldn't move.
We have tried burning them, but even without leaves they are wet, filled with non-combustible sap, and don't burn worth a darn. We were spending so much time and propane that we quit. In Texas, they may be more dry and willing to burn for you. In the Pacific NW, we have wet briars!
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Old 02/21/11, 04:33 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Carthage, Texas
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If you have ten acres of em, you're either going with the goats (as long as the trees are tall enough to avoid being pruned to death). If goats aren't an option, your looking at spraying. You can burn the above ground portions of green briars till you exhaust the local propane dealers inventory, to no avail... greenbriars have gnarly tuberous roots, and they'll just resprout. Pulling those roots up by hand? By the time you get through, it'd be time to come back (a year later) and start pulling up all the ones you missed the first time.

What is your idea of thick woods? If it's hardwoods, above ten feet tall, they'll be (briars) gone soon, as the trees will shade them out. If it's pine trees, above ten feet, don't worry. If it's pines, less than head high, it's normal for it to be an impenetrable jungle. One does not wander into a young pine plantation for about six or seven years. It just isn't done... I won't even hunt next to one... to kill a deer, and have to retrieve it a hundred yards in, would be suicidal.

I don't think greenbriars are going to stunt trees several years old.

The large timber owner nearby sprays their plantation with defoliant, a few months before planting, and a year after the trees have been growing. It kills everything, except pine trees.

When I 'loosed' to the goats on some close to the house briar patches, the patches disappeared. I still have some patches here and there... but they're not hurting anything. I really don't manage a lot of my land, except that near the house... nature gets her done pretty good all by her self!
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Seneca
Learning is not compulsory... neither is survival. W. Edwards Deming
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Old 02/21/11, 04:39 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Eastern North Carolina
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By briars, what do you mean?
It's right there in the OP:

the thorny green-briar
Don't look for hidden meanings in my posts.
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Old 02/21/11, 05:07 PM
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Old 02/21/11, 05:08 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: wisconsin
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I say run goats to eat the green above ground then pigs to till the soil and eat the roots. Thats what I did with 5.5 acre of black berry briers. Now I have lush pastures.
I'm so done here.
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Old 02/21/11, 05:40 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Oregon
Posts: 1,640
My goats eat the briar leaves, but leave the vines. Have to go through and whack them down later. And trust me, one or two goats won't do much on 10 acres. My dozen goats aren't fed any supplemental feed from May to October, and they can't keep up with my 9 acre brushy nasty oregon coast range wild patch. They come off it fat and sassy and I'm just glad for the trails they keep clear. Briars don't have a down season either, they grow through snow I think! I would guess you'd need more like 100 goats to do any good! Starving goats.
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Old 02/21/11, 06:21 PM
anette's Avatar
Five Oaks Ranch-in SW AR
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: SW AR
Posts: 292
I think what you are calling green-briars, are what we call saw briars. It has the big tuberous roots that texican described. My thought is, for goats (or donkeys) to be effective you should cut them as planned. The foragers would browse down the leaves as they sprouted....maybe???

Good luck to you!

I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have.
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Old 02/21/11, 07:22 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: N. E. TX
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Smilex. The devil must've invented it.

We have 20 ac, 10 is wooded & where ever there's 2 or more trees, there's not only green briar but honeysuckle, VA creeper, poison ivy, & wild grapevine.
We've clipped it, mowed it, bush hogged it, DR mowered it.
Nearly got it licked in a lot of spots (mostly where we can mow). But only been at it 8 years.
My book is out! Go 'like' it on FB:!/pages/Goo...83553391747680

Last edited by Tricky Grama; 02/22/11 at 08:33 AM.
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Old 02/21/11, 08:33 PM
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Those things are terrible! A lot of folks around here call 'em wait a minute vines. You know, when you're walking through the woods with a friend and get hung up on one.....

I had mountains of those tubers where I had dug up as many as I could and nearly twenty years later, they are still all over the place. Nasty things!!!
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Old 02/21/11, 09:43 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,512
I'm afflicted too and I'm in suburbia! Wetlands border means I can't go crazy with chemicals or machinery. BUT, I've done pretty good at clearing the masses. I'd say I only have another 10000 more vines to

It is amazing how fast they grow. Multiflora, greenbriar, japanese honeysuckle, jasmine, trumpet vine and the mack daddy...poison ivy.

Don't you just LOVE vines. ARGH....

Goats are the only real answer to help keep you at stasis between bouts of your own manual removal.

For greenbriar, multiflora and honeysuckle I tied those plastic border marking streamers around bases of "mother vines" once I got the above ground stuff removed. That helped me remember and sight where I needed to be vigilant. If you cut them off completely every time they pop up over time they will eventually die off. If you miss one it regenerates the base right back to normal. You can also drill a hole in the base vine when you find it and put ivy killer in it and it will work pretty well. But you have to find the base of the mother vines to work it like that.

I just took advantage of my nice weather weekend to work on mine. I have a long term warfare strategy and I felt really fulfilled and victorious as a plan I've been working for 2 years came to fruition. I'd been doing the base killing and all the way around a tree I pulled off the stuff (most now dead) that was 40 feet up the tree. It turns out it is a very pretty tree!
Growing Human

When wearing narrow lenses of hate and ignorance, is it any wonder one finds it difficult to see clearly? - Me
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Old 02/21/11, 09:59 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 4,443
Definitely goats!

I cleared some land a few years ago with goats and they did an excellent job and didn't harm the bigger tree's at all. I ran goat kids for two summers in a electrical fenced in piece of property. I would buy the kids in early spring and let them have access to all the underbrush they wanted. I would keep them in the fenced in area till late fall and then sell the kid goats so I wouldn't have to take care of them through the cold winter months. Then come early spring, I would buy some more kid goats and put them in the same fenced in area. By late summer I would have to start selling off a few kids at a time cause by this time there's not a whole lot left for them to eat anymore. Then come late fall I would sell off the remaining goat kids.

Two things good came out of this. The first one was that I made money off the goat kids. At that time I would buy them for about $20 - 30 each at the beginning of Spring and then they would grow throughout the summer and when I sold them at the auction they went for twice the amount I bought them for. So therefore I doubled my money on goats.

The second thing was that after running the goat kids on the fenced in peice of property for two years. They killed out all the briar patches, the honey suckle vines, the buckbrush vines and many other weeds and any small tree they could ride down. Plus I cut a lot of small to mid size trees down to thin out the number of trees and any regrowth on the stumps were eaten right away which killed the stumps out.

What I ended up with was peice of property with trees spaced sporadically and lots of grass growing instead of weeds and vines. It looks very nice compared to what it did look like. So I would go with the goat idea.
r.h. in oklahoma

Raised a country boy, and will die a country boy.
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Old 02/21/11, 10:10 PM
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 3,129
Originally Posted by Heritagefarm View Post
That should work. By briars, what do you mean? Are you talking about multiflora rose? Blackberries?...
Have you ever seen black berries in tree branches? You must not have ever seen green briar. Mine was in the tops of 20 ft trees. I cut it and pulled lots out with leather gloves over brown jersey gloves. Keeps the thorns out of your hands. Mine was curtian thick in places. I just drove a front end loader threw it with a brush hog following me. Worked great. One pass is all it took. Now I can do it with a string mower if I want. Great stuff to start a fire with. It rolls up just like barbwire.
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Old 02/21/11, 10:13 PM
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Location: Ouachitas, AR
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I would definitely go for goats too. You may not need to buy any either, if your neighbors have some them might be willing to loan them to you in exchange for the free browse. There are people who rent them too for clearing fields and woods.
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Old 02/21/11, 11:17 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Aquilla, Texas
Posts: 57
Originally Posted by texican View Post
If it's hardwoods, above ten feet tall, they'll be (briars) gone soon, as the trees will shade them out.
I don't think greenbriars are going to stunt trees several years old.
Well, the trees are almost all over ten feet tall and most are twenty plus but the vine still grows to the top, smothers out the tree and in a few years the tree is nothing but a giant blob-mass of briar that will fall over from rot or weight. That allows light in to let more briar succeed. These trees have DOZENS of briars going up each trunk. It is a major attack.
I think that I will try a combo of cutting with trimmer, torch and mowing what I can and letting a bunch of goats assault it for a while and see how that works.
I thank you all again for the input!
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Old 02/22/11, 12:16 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: South of DFW,TX zone 8a
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Careful if you burn them, they burn like they have gasoline in em. I would go with the goats, myself, unless you have a big coyote problem there. Constant mowing will help to control but not eradicate, and if you try to pull em out of any trees, make sure you dress properly and have lots of bandages.
"Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness."
Thomas Jefferson to George Washington 1787
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Old 02/22/11, 01:18 AM
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Location: Alabama (east central)
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Oh don't EVEN get me started on vines! Some of the Smilax on our property are bigger than my thumb at the ground and run all the way up into the high branches, 30 or so feet at least! To add insult to injury, we also have a LOT of muscadine vines that are as big as my thigh at the base. Then there's the honeysuckle...

I hate vines!
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