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Hi! I have a south-facing garden backing onto a small woodland. In recent years I've noticed more and more bracken popping up in the borders. As fast as I pull it up, more appears. I have no idea how to get rid of it without digging up the whole garden - which I cannot do. Any ideas how to control or weaken it without compromising my other shrubs and plants? And yes, it's an acid soil - we have rhododendrons and azaleas growing.

flowering rose

you will have to dig the root right out ,it is very persistent .

The Moorland Association recommends using glyphosate weedkiller while protecting nearby plants with plastic sheeting. It sounds like a nightmare whatever you do. As bad as mare's tails.

We have the same situation in my parent's house, and the neighbour who owns the woodland next door glyphosates the bracken regularly. It keeps it well in check. Bracken is a tricky thing to live with, because the spores are carcinogenic if you are exposed to large amounts for long periods over several years. Best to attack it head on. I'm not sure if weed supressing membrane works for bracken. It might just lift it up and carry on through your garden. I suspect that even very organic folks would have to go with glyphosate in this case, just as if they had japanese knotweed. 

Thanks for the replies. It's going to be very tricky dealing with it as it's popping up in the midst of established clumps of plants, so I'd have to smear glyphosate onto each bracken stem and cover that with a plastic bag. Would that work? I've just been pulling them up when I find them up till now. Does pulling them up weaken them eventually or not?


That does sound tricky. A single bracken plant can be very very large (miles long I believe) so pulling up stems will not weaken it. However, it might discourage it from spreading further in your garden. Smearing with glyphosate and bagging the stems sounds like a good idea. I'd love to hear updates if you try it. 

GRRRRR. MILES of bracken under my soil? There was no emoticon for 'totally aghast face'! I hate the stuff. It's also in my neighbour's garden and that is a bit of a mess - they aren't interested in gardening so bracken and bramble is running riot and invading our garden. Can anyone recommend a product then that contains glyphosate that I can smear on the b******s and try bagging them to kill them off? Spray would affect neighbouring plants so i don't want to  use that.

Yes, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news. It's a real problem if your neighbours are letting serious weeds run riot. Your best bet may be to put on some thick rubber gloves and then hold a cloth soaked in weed killer and rub the bracken with the cloth. That way you are not risking spraying the other plants (or yourself). If you use that method then you can just go to the garden centre and choose the cheapest bulk box of glyphosate. Be careful though, as liquids will eventually penetrate rubber gloves. It's good to change then regularly and throw the old ones away. (I'm not giving official advice here, by the way. I'm just another gardener. Please do take care and use your own judgement.).

I just checked and bracken doesn't seem to be one of those weeds where the council will approach your neighbour under a bye law. It seems as if you may just need to talk to them yourself. Good luck. 



cotton buds dipped in glyphosphate

Thanks, Jennifer. I deam of  torching Neighbour's garden in the dead of night so the bracken problem might be solved at a stroke. Plus we might get some nice new neighbours afterwards.....

In case anyone from Special Branch is reading this, that was a JOKE. The torching is in my imagination ONLY. *sigh* but I fear they are not to be reasoned with.It's taken over 10 years for them to get round to having a horrible conifer removed which was draining our garden of light and moisture, and theirs too. A monster of a tree. They still have another they won't remove because it hides a hideous mess of invasive perennial weeds and detritus. Makes our garden look like Sissinghurst.....and I am no Vita Sackville-West!

I will try the tickling of the bracken with glyphosate, but it might well take me a while to pluck up courage to make a start. I don't want to affect any wildlife so that will take a lot of thinking about. Points taken about the rubber gloves - will take appropriate Elfin Safety precautions. Thank you!






Emma - cotton buds??? Really? That would take me well into the next century....and I'm 60 in August 


lol use a paint brush then  

Hi wisehedgecrone,

Yes I know just what you mean. Our neighbour's garden presents a wall of bindweed when I look over the fence. Very tricky. I like your nod to special branch. Nice to think that one of them is reading gardener's world forum.

It's such a shame that your neighbours are not helpful. When I had the same problem 20 years ago, I did just pull up the fronds in my garden, and my neighbours did the spraying, as the bulk of the plant was on their grounds. It meant that they were able to finish off the plant in one shot without affecting bought plants. Might be a thought to contact the council noxious weeds dept just in case they can help.

The idea of the paintbrush is nice, for not getting the stuff on your hands, though perhaps a paintroller would be more the thing. The problem is that the fronds are so whippy, that you really need to grasp them to cost the surface with liquid. 

Good luck anyway, Please do let us know how you get on.





I was thinking a bit more about this. I remembered that when our neighbour had bracken, though it crossed the fence into our herbaceous border, it didn't cross into our other neighbour's lawn. I don't know if it would be possible in your garden but if you could have lawn against the fence and your herbaceous border away from the fence, then it's possible that the bracken would not cross the mowed area. 



Would you mind my asking what became of your bracken? I'm interested to know what you did and whether it worked.I have a similar problem just now with perennial rye grass that I need to get rid of in my garden. I don't like to use glyphosate, as it would need a lot to do the job, but I think it may come to that. 





Put a plastic bottle with the bottom cut off over the bracken plant and spray into the bottle.  If you can cover adjacent precious plants with flowerpots or dustbins they will be protected from any accidental drips and spray.

Hi all

I haven't been well so the bracken has taken a back seat, so to speak. Nothing more has happened about it and of course now it's hard to see where it's been as I did pull up each frond as soon as I saw it.

It's not an option to move lawn or borders but next spring I will try the idea of the plastic bottle - provided there aren't too many coming through! I don't like the idea of glyphosate but I think that next season I will definitely have to do that, or it's just going to spread and I can't dig up the whole garden - it's too big as it is! I will start saving plastic bottles ready for action. Not sure how you get rid of rye grass - that isn' t the same as couch grass, is it?

Sorry to hear you haven't been well.I hop things look up for you. Pulling the fronds up is probably good scheme to just keep the annoyance at bay. You don't really need to finish it off, if you just want to be free of the above ground structures. 

I think it will be glyphosate for the rye grass too.I've tried all the organic options and the rotten stuff refuses to go. I have to choose between creating an entirely grass-free garden design, or glyphosating the lot. Tricky business. 


I'm reading this and thinking about the large clump of bracken in my tiny garden and, yes, it butts up against lawn and goes no further. One side is up against the garage base, the other against several inches of slaye and the back against the fence so all in all it appears to be contained. Glad I read this though as I was planning to extend the border upto the fern which I now won't do.

Caz 2

Sorry people.  I looked at this site for help because my late parents' lawn is being invaded by bracken from the neighbouring How. So, grass is not impervious to the hateful stuff.  Am I right in thinking the glyphosate will polish off the lawn too if I'm not careful?