Homemade Weed Killer Recipes & Tips

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Pulling weeds by hand is not always easy or practical, they’re pesky and determined to pop back up and spread in no time. If you’re looking for more natural ways to control them that don’t include harsh chemicals and are safer for children and pets (bonus: most are pretty frugal too), here is a list of diy recipes and solutions from my collection. I’ve also included a few tips at the bottom.

Pulling Dandelions

  • Vinegar: Kill weeds dead with a good shot of vinegar. For best results, don’t dilute with water and choose a time to spray when there’s no sign of rain. Household vinegar is around 5% acetic acid concentration which will do the trick for new growth. If you can find a stronger vinegar (like pickling which is about 9%), that will give better results for more mature (and stubborn) varieties.
  • Salt: This is effective but keep in mind that significant amounts will cause damage to surrounding soil as well. Salt should only be used in places where you want no plant growth (like driveways, sidewalk cracks, underneath decks and patio blocks, around the foundation of the house, etc.). To use, a ratio of 1 part salt to 2 parts water should do it. You can also drizzle straight salt over top.
  • Salt & Vinegar Recipe: (read note above first). Combine 1 1/4 cups of table salt with 1 gallon of household vinegar. Spray where needed.
  • Vinegar & Dish Detergent: Fill a spray bottle with pickling vinegar and add a squirt or two of liquid dish detergent. Spray during the hottest part of the day.
  • Liquid Dish Detergent: Make a soap solution of 1 part liquid dish detergent to 10 parts water. Soak the pesky growth with this mix.
  • Boiling Water: Plug in the kettle, bring it to a boil then pour the hot water over weeds (you’re basically cooking them to death).
  • Lemon Juice: Either use straight lemon juice or try 1/2 cup lemon juice mixed with 1 quart household vinegar. This works much the same way as straight vinegar, but lemon juice is more expensive. I would only use this if I had more lemon juice on hand than I knew what to do with.
  • Common Recipe: 1 quart household vinegar, 1/4 cup salt, 2 teaspoons liquid dish detergent (only use a detergent that contains no bleach). Mix together and spray.
  • Corn Gluten Meal (this is different than corn meal): This is an all natural product that deters weeds spreading by seed, a great source of info regarding this method can be found here: City Of Ottawa (how and when to apply it, etc.). Effective on crabgrass, dandelions, curly dock, knotweed, lambs quarters, pigweed, plantain and others. Can be used on lawns, flowerbeds, bulb beds and vegetable gardens. Make sure to use CGM that is labeled as “pre-emergent herbicide“, stuff from the feedstore doesn’t have enough protein to work. Keep in mind that using CGM affects seed growth for all types of plants, not just those you’re trying to get rid of.


  • Many natural remedies and products will not only work, but they may also kill surrounding grass, plants and flowers. When using a recipe, make sure to apply to the weed only (keep in mind that liquids will saturate and seep into the ground where roots from favored plants may be able to reach).
  • Use when there’s no sign of rain for at least a day or two, hot sunny weather will give you best results.
  • For gardens and flower beds, consider laying newspapers and mulch in and around your plants–the weeds will have a difficult time rooting and spreading (see tip #9: 12 Ways To Reuse Newspaper Around The House).
  • Weed growth is greatly reduced when using the “No Dig” method of gardening (see Diggin It: No Dig Gardening). The idea is to make a foundation of compost/mulch then only use soil where you plant (make a hole in the mulch, stick a handful or two of dirt inside then plant the seedling).

Did you know: Many weeds are used in home remedies for all sorts of things and some are even edible and tasty! For example, dandelions can be used to make a delicious syrup, wine or jelly, while plantains can be crushed and used to reduce itching from mosquito bites or relieve pain from bee stings. Take some time to research the ones in your area and you may find some pretty clever ways to make them useful–you may just decide to let a few live and flourish in certain parts of your yard ;).

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Published: June 9, 2009
Updated: February 8, 2012

What Readers Are Saying:
96 Comments to “Homemade Weed Killer Recipes & Tips”
  1. elsa says:

    great tip for weeds! live in the Pacific Northwest and weeds abound here! I personally have more than I know what to do with. the way I tackled them before was to pick them as I saw them (I lived in Southern California) and I ended up with a weed free yard! here not everyone takes care of their yards and, of course, weeds have seeds and they blow around … I’m going to try the vinegar and salt for all the ones on the drive and see what happens!
    thanks again for all the tips you send out! love this site!

    • carol wardle says:

      vinigar and salt does not work

      • cc says:

        many people find that it does, but some weeds require multiple applications; try adding dish soap as a surfactant

        • Gino says:

          It most certainly does work, I sprayed a solotion of vinegar, garlic, chilli pepper and detergent around my runner beans, to deter Rabbit attacks, which it didn’t, and unfortunately, some of it must have gotten onto the plants and they died slowly.

      • sherry says:

        Carol add 2 tbs new dawn works great. used it all the weeds are gone.

      • Bonnie says:


        The best formula I have found to work is 1 c. vinegar, 2 tbsps. Dawn, put into a spray bottle, and spray directly onto the weeds you want to kill. It does work and on a really hot day will kill dandelions and crabgrass halfway by sundown. I use this often in my yard. You will have brown spots in the yard until the new grass takes over. Salt is not a good thing to use around vegetables at all as it will kill out tomatoes, watermelon, pepper, squash, etc. for sure.


  2. Ricardo says:


    With the tips published in this article, (well hopfully some of them) will they wok here in Alberta, Canada?


  3. Melanie says:

    HI There, if I use the vinegar/salt/dishsoap combo, when could I grow something in that area? I will not be planting my overgrown garden at all till next spring, it’s packed with scottish thistle (let it take over 2 years ago). So, if I spray it this year, can I plant veggies next year, or would it destroy the soil for planting again?


    • Amelia says:

      Salt will destroy the soil for several years. When I was a teen I sprayed a little salt water on a huge slug next to the grass and for a few years we had a bald spot right next to the drive where the salt must have run off into the grass. I would only use the salt in areas that you don’t want ANYTHING to grow.

    • Bonnie says:


      If you are wanting to kill out a whole bed of grass/weeds, pour straight vinegar onto the area. Do not use salt at all. The vinegar will kill the weeds/grass and you can pull them all out. Do this several times to kill it all out. You can start planting a month later because the vinegar is natural and will go into the soil and filter. You may want to add some Epsom salt to the ground, along with wood ashes to put magnesium and nitrogen back into the soil to help your veggies grow. I used both in my small area for my garden. I added soil in January, mixed with wood ashes and Epsom salt (which is different from table salt), and tilled up the area. My little garden of tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, squash, and watermelon is growing great! 🙂


  4. geraldine says:

    Will this work for med size to full grown weed’s as well… And as for grass that keep’s grown and coming up through the plastic tarp of the ground…. Please help me…

  5. Ed Fox says:

    A neighbour has bamboo growing in her lawn , from next door, it has grown into her tile bed. It has stopped water from draining, iced up tank, What can be done to get rid of it. It has to be strong mixure. Even if they have to get a permit to use it. PLEASE HELP

    • Peggy Horr says:

      I don’t know how to kill the bamboo but I did see on TV that the roots are very invasive and need to be contained.

      • andi says:

        I had a neighbor who had bamboo in her yard. She ended up pouring straight vinegar on the main bush. It worked! Wow, it really worked. Try it. It is cheap.

        • Mikal says:

          About the only way to kill bamboo is to cut them down, wait for new growth to appear and treat the new growth with Baking Powder. Wet the new growth, put some Baking Powder in some cheese cloth or womens hosiery and dust the new growth with the Baking Powder. Repeat process if necessary.

    • Judy says:

      Try cutting it back and drilling holes in the cane stumps. Then pour Epsom salts into the holes. Water thoroughly.

  6. Mari says:

    I have ground ivy that is out of control. Whats a good killer for that, and if I use it am I able to plant in that area? It’s in my garden, coming through the fence from neighbors yard!

    • cc says:

      ivy is hard to kill bc of the waxy leaves; we had a huge yard of it, but killed it by 1. weed-whacked, 2. sprayed cut ivy w RoundUp twice, 3. covered in heavy, black, builders plastic for 9 months, 4. dug out all remaining vine mat – – IT IS GONE!

  7. Earl says:

    Will the vinegar affect other plants like flowers or shrubs?

    • Mikal says:

      Vinegar is non-selective..It will kill all plants to the ground. Draw back is it doesn’t kill the root system effectively unless used repeatedly until no new growth appears anymore. After effective treatment, the ph level of the soil needs to be adjusted.

  8. Kristy says:

    Dandelion milk from the stems of the flower can be used to get rid of pesky warts. Apply a few times a day, for as long as it takes, if its a small one maybe as soon as a week or so. It will turn the wart and surrounding skin black, I’m not sure why, but it will get rid of the wart, pain free.
    And its MUCH cheaper than the store bought stuff.

    • Helga says:

      More about Dandelions

      As a young girl in the early ‘50’s my mother got me to dig up the Dandelions before the peeked through the dirt, (the leaves were still white) she washed them, cut the root off and made a salad with vinegar and oil. I will always remember that as it was such a wonderful tasting salad and I miss that.

      Now if I find Dandelions I use the root for tea..

  9. Mary says:

    Anyone know of an organic way to get rid of 4 o’clocks that are taking over my world?

    • Mikal says:

      Mature Four O’clocks can easily be pulled up. Make sure the tuber is intact on the plant. To get rid of the seedlings, 1tsp Dawn liquid dish soap to 1 gallon vinegar. Spray on existing plants early evening while there is still some daylight left. This way the “broth” will have more time for the plant to absorb it. A second application may be necessary in 3-5 days.

  10. Rachael says:

    I also find boiling the kettle and poring on the weeds kills them as well they can’t handle the extreme heat.

  11. Pauline says:

    I read that borax kills quack grass, Will floweers vegetables and regular grass grow in the area you put the borax Also how do use the boxax? Do you put it on dry? thank you

    • Sharon says:

      I’ve used borax on creeping charlie, by sprinkling the lawn, lightly, so the borax will attach to the leaves. Then I just walked thru the yard, and threw out a light sprinkling, with my hands. It effectively killed the creeping charlie, without harming the lawn.

      I plan to give it a shot on the quack grass, and will let you know if it works. Please let me know if you find something that works.


  12. Pat says:

    I have used the vinegar-soap-salt solution for 3 months on my gravel driveway. It isn’t 100% effective, so there are always..still..spots of weeds that keep coming up all over. I’ve done multiple sprayings and the results are still spotty and disappointing. I really don’t want to go back to harsh chemicals. the ration I use is 2 gallons of vinegar, 1 C soap, 1C salt..should I increase the salt?

    • B. Powers says:

      Going by the recipe in the article you would want to use 1C salt per gallon of vinegar (twice the amount you used) and 8 tsp dish soap per gallon of vinegar (much less than you used). Pickling vinegar works better than regular vinegar as it has a higher level of acidity.

  13. patrick says:

    i have goat heads in my back yard how can i kill them

  14. Lloyd says:

    I am trying to get rid of bermuda grass in my yard, but not hurt my st augestine grasses. what can I use?

  15. Barbara says:

    Poison ivy..how do I get rid of it for good…

  16. Barbara says:

    And also mint in the grass..how do u get rid of it…

  17. beverly says:

    I DESPERATELY need poison ivy control. Extremely allergic and have tons of it. HELP PLEASE

    • Tipnut says:

      Hi Beverly, you pretty much have to dig it up and dispose of it (then pour salt and water or vinegar over the soil it was growing). I have basic details at the bottom of this page: Poison Ivy Remedies

      • Yvonne says:

        DO NOT BURN THE POISON IVY, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES! It is highly toxic and the oil will attach to the smoke and if you breathe it into your lungs you will be in serious trouble, allergic or not!

    • susan says:

      I used posion ivy kill by round up….killed all mine off not had problem since then.

    • Mary says:

      Buy any product labeled “brush killer”, spray according to directions. Only use this stuff on still, dry days as it will kill anything it touches right down to the roots. I had excellent luck with this stuff, spray until it starts to drip off leaves. I also can’t afford to have this stuff within a mile of me…I try to use natural solutions whenever I can, but poison ivy is not just an aesthetic
      problem, it’s a health problem.

  18. Becky says:

    How do I get rid of crab grass (creeping Charlie) in my grass, without killing my grass?? I have tried fertilizing, round up, and pulling them. Now I am becoming more environmentally friendly and conscious, and really don’t want to use the harsh chemicals. Please help!!!!!


    • Lyne says:

      I made a test with boiling water on one patch and another patch a sprinkling of baking soda. The boiling water worked but killed the grass. Still too early to see if the grass will come back. The baking soda killed Creeping Charlie (it turned black even to the root) but some of the grass is still ok. As with the boiling water still too early to see if the test worked. I have pets and am trying to go as eco friendly as I can.

    • Sheila says:

      use a basting or paint brush and “baste” the weeds or creeping charlie with 9% vinegar

  19. Wendy says:

    Would you just use regular household table salt? And what would you recomend for weeds without killing the grass?

    Thanks Wendy

    • foster says:

      Yes table salt, rock salt, sea salt. All dehydrate foliage.
      Not much is available, organic or home made for killing weeds not grass. Spot on treatments of previous listed recipes would be my suggestion.
      Dont over apply( re application is a better choice) if using salt.Be careful to avoid desirable plants.
      Pre-emergent herbicide is another option or a hose application of a weednfeed type product. There are some plant based available sprays also.

  20. Katy says:

    Will the vinegar and salt mixture kill the Cameleon plant. And when could I replant in the same area?

    • foster says:

      It should kill almost any plant by dehydration. As long as you are careful not to allow salt solution to saturate soil you should be able to replant fairly soon.
      Spray solution on undesirable vegetation only. allow it to work. Once dead remove plant.

      If you are still concerned there may be residual salt in the soil, a heavy watering, or rain should dilute it.

      Grab a bag of your choice of potting soil,compost,or mix. Top off the area and replant.

  21. Sheila says:

    using 9% acetic acid vinegar and a basting brush or paint brush “baste” the weeds or creeping charlie. If you don’t baste the grass you do want it won’t kill it. Or use a stream spray on a day there is no breeze and squirt the root of the weed.

  22. C. Dagenais says:

    With the vinegar, salt and detergent recipe, do you spray the weed or the root or both?

    • foster says:

      Just the foliage if in an area with desirable plants. If its a weed in a crack in the sidewalk or a similar location. go ahead and let ‘er have it good. Foliage and root for tough vines n weeds where no vegetation is wanted at all.

  23. Jimmy O says:

    Can I use coarse salt used for driveway in winter when mixing weed killer?

    • foster says:

      Yup, accidentally dumped a gallon of de-icer SALT in my yard. no vegetation in that spot for 2+ yrs.
      Make sure it is salt based. Many new formulations of de-icer are plant friendly and wont harm vegetation.

      Those are best saved for ice removal.

  24. ty says:

    as far as using salt for vegitation killer, is that table salt or rock salt?

  25. cathym says:

    I am trying the vinegar/salt/dish soap today….anyone have good results using this remedy???

    • pierce mac says:

      remedy worked well for i live in ireland and used this on weeds growing on my patio, dead within two weeks

  26. pierce mac says:

    I’ve got one problem with scotch grass in my marigold plot and no matter what I do nothing will kill them without harming the flowers any ideas????

    • foster says:

      Use a pre-emergent (corn gluten or preen type) to prevent new seed from germinating before the grass appears.

      Careful spot on treatment with a herbicide/grass killer may work.

      If you know where the marigolds are exactly, cut some landscaping cloth barrier to fit plot and around marigolds. Use wood chip mulch to cover. Spray undesirables as they show up with one of the recipes listed above.

      Sometimes less is better. Use less to treat to avoid drift or leaching and re-apply when needed.

  27. Conrad says:

    well I just finish to clean up my backyard by hand
    I have a pool and I notice when my dogs shaking off the poll water
    into a spot where there was grass everything slowly dies

    a bag of super shock chlorine is $4.75
    liquid herbcide is $16.85

    however I’m going to try the vinegar
    but I don’t think it will be effective like the super shock chlorine

    Warning plz don’t try the super shock chlorine around the plants you love
    because they will die

  28. Bev says:

    Anyone ever heard of using water softner salt to kill weeds in gravel or rock?

    • foster says:

      Nope, but if contains Sodium (NaCl) it should work.

      A test application may be needed to find out. not sure how pricey it is, might be better off using one of the vinegar/salt recipes which are proven tried and true.

  29. Brendon says:

    Hi there, Can anyone tell me how to kill Wandering Dew ??

    • foster says:

      I think that’s Wandering Jew. Recipes listed above should work for almost all but the hardiest of plants. Should do the job for WJ just fine.
      Poison ivy, blackberry, wild rose and briars are tough to kill. Sometimes traditional chemical herbicides are required.

  30. Mark says:

    I work in a mobile home park and we have several large sumps for water run off, we have weeds galore. I was wondering if large amounts of salt would kill the weeds and what kind of salt? (we don’t care if anything grows there or not).

    • Bonnie says:

      Yes, the salt will kill all of the weeds. You might want to make sure nothing down the way will be harmed tho when you put all the salt on your weeds.

  31. Barbara Y. says:

    I have ground clover through out my entire 3 acre lawn. It is expecially heavy where my husband used roundup ivy killer. I killed everything and the clover is massive in those areas. What homemade recipe can I use on these areas including throughout the grass without killing the grass or vegetation?

    • Cindi says:

      I have lava rock around my shrubs and weeds are beginning to come up. Can I use the vinegar, salt, soap solution to kill the weeds without hurting my shrubs and monkey grass. I have a pool and was going to use the pool salt to do this receipe but don’ want to kill my shrubs in the process. Any advice would be appreciated.

      • foster says:

        Yes, just do it carefully( spray foliage only) and don’t over do it. You don’t want run off. It’s better to make several light applications than one heavy dose if desirable plants are in the immediate area.

        Not sure on the pool salt. I think it would work, Try a small amount on a test weed or two. Just go lightly, wait a few days and see. Re-apply if needed as needed.

  32. Angel says:

    So anyone have a natural solution for blackberry bushes/vines??

    • foster says:

      These are tough. Only thing I’ve found to kill blackberries, poison ivy, wild rose, briars etc.. is glyphosate. Not ideal or natural.

      The boiling water, or salt/vinegar/dish soap may work, using several applications.

      Good luck, that’s a tough one and invasive, but I just love me some blackberries. So if ya can’t kill it, I’ll take the berries 😉

      • grace says:

        there are sprays for the harder to kill plants, like the black berries (poison ivy) But I gave up on the blackberries and put something up, so they would grown up on it, and had the larges blackberries, I’d ever seen. Can you put a fence or something up? something like you would do for grapes, works well. I just think, it’s like trying to make water run off, the closer you try to do it, to nature’s way, the eaiser it is. I love berries! Good luck! or fun, making berry pie!

  33. Dean Martin says:

    How do I control grass in my prennal garden?

  34. Kathleen says:

    I have a front n rear garden that I painstakingly did by hand for 6days.gor-ge-ous. Lo n behold, a weed war. If you can get a syringe load it with weed killer. A lil shot to main stems. Excellent for unwanted vines, poison ivy etc. load up syringe with poison ivy killer n hit that main stem. Whamo ! Just be careful not to inject your self n wear thick gloves. Good luck

    • John says:

      A “Turkey Injector” makes a great weed syringe. Got rid of a Mulberry tree in one season after drilling small holes in the base of the trunk in which to inject your herbicide!

  35. Pam says:

    Does anyone have experience with Japanese Knotweed? Very invasive. We have tried pulling up the new sprouts, but it is back again this year with even more vigor!

  36. jan says:

    How do you get rid of Yarrow in your grass?

  37. D . Swory says:

    I have heard of a recipe for weed killer with vinegar , epsom salt , and dish soap. Can you tell me the exact amounts of each for this recipe ?

    • Bonnie says:

      Vinegar, regular salt, and dish soap will kill the weeds. Epsom salt is magnesium and will only help them to grow. 🙂

      I use 1 c. vinegar, 2 tblsp. Dawn in a small spray bottle. I don’t use salt in it because salt will get into the soil and kill everything around it and it takes too long for the grass to grow back.

  38. Shawna says:

    Keep in mind that salt will pit concrete pavers, sidewalks and driveways.

  39. Kate says:

    Just in case anyone cares. Lambs quarter makes a great spinach substitute, as long as you are positive that it is lambs quarter. There is a similar plant that can be toxic. And Dandelions have been eaten for ages by the Germans. In fact they helped save the lives of some POW’s in WWII. My Great Uncle was at the camp.

  40. Desarae says:

    I used the common method, it worked GEAT. I sprayed in the early afternoon. By mid evening they are already brown. Will be using this method again!

  41. Jenny says:

    I have found no natural remedies for killing thistles. Did Monsanto GE thistle seed???? I have been burning them with a weed dragon, that kills them initially but they keep coming back. I heard that it might take 5 or 6 times of burning till the roots die out. Any advice anyone???

  42. jennifer says:

    hi, just want to ask how to kill weeds on roses plants? should i use the vinegar, salt solution? thanks!

  43. Rose Scott says:

    I need help!!!!!!!! I planted a wild sunflower plant a few years ago that I got at a plant exchange. It is perennial with no seeds. It is so invasive that it is out of control. It has tubers like large carrots, then long white sprout looking straw length vines, then tiny vein shooting from that. They are now growing under my above ground pool and shed. The sunflowers are taller than the shed. They are causing problems and must be destroyed. Please help if you can. The root system is unbelievable.

  44. faith says:

    what could possibly kill very mature trumpet vine

  45. michele says:

    We are putting up a deck and we were advised to put store bought weed killer down, so we followed our contractors advice, well the deck is delayed.I noticed that some weeds are growing through the pea gravel so I experimented with a homemade remedy 1 cup table salt and 1 cup baking soda using 2 gallons very warm water to dissolve I poured into our weed sprayer and dilluted with cool water and sprayed the area well making the solution up 5 times to cover our area. Did I dillute too much or will i have success. I have not noticed any new growth. We had a pretty good rain 24 hours after i applied. we plan to use the salt or vinegar around our burn pile to kill the over growth back there. Thanks for all the helpful advice. Michele

  46. Ashley says:

    Someone asked a.question about goat heads that went unanswered. I am also infested with this weed and it gets worse every year. Will salt vinegar dawn chlorine ANYTHING kill them once they’ve already started to flower and produce the thorns? They take over the entire back yard sk hand pulling or using a back hoe is impossible. Its way yo big of a job. Please, what’s the most effective way to kill massive amounts of goat head weeds?

  47. Scott says:

    If using the vinegar and dish liquid recipe, how long before you can plant something there and it work?

  48. Marcia says:

    There is a weed about 5′ high growing in the center of my gardenia bush. I cannot get to the root. I cut the gardenia back last year to save it but the weed continues to grow. How can I kill the weed without killing the bush?

  49. terry says:

    I live in the mohave desert and the weeds here are tough ! pompas grass for example, I tried a whole gallon of vinegar ( not diluted ) and it didnt work, So, I tried the salt method, salt diluted in water (half pool salt, half water) and once the salt was desolved I dumped it on the weeds and grass, it did not work either. I wanted to kill ALL vegatation period, thats why I used the salt water. but that doesnt work and Im at a loss as what to try next. I no salt is suppose to make the land barren so nothing will ever grow there again, but so far this has not worked. where I live there is a salt layer in the soil, so weeds here seem salt tolerant already. I think I have to go back to the round up to kill them, then bring in a truck load of salt and spread it on the whole yard.

  50. Elizabeth says:

    I just planted expensive ground cover 2- 3 weeks ago in the backyard. (“green carpet” also known as “rupture wart” a low growing drought tolerant ground cover) The backyard was previous filled with weeds that would grow back every winter. I had the gardener scrape out the weeds/grass combo, till the soil and spray the whole area before planting the ground cover.
    Now 3 weeks later I have more grass/crab grass and clover growing in between my expensive ground cover. How do I kill the “weeds” but not the ground cover?

    Any advice would be appreciated.
    Thank you!

  51. Barbara says:

    I have an invasion of Morning Glory, choking out my other plants, have tried digging it up but the roots are fine and go very deep, came back stronger then ever!Would love some suggestions- it is wrapped around my rose and most all of my perennials.
    Thanks for any help!

  52. Jim Glanz says:

    Had to chuckle to myself about the request for help with blackberries. Thought I was doing a great natural thing to get rid of a hillside of blackberry bushes in Oregon. Was told goats eat them like candy so found a fellow who was giving away 5 goats. Took them home and they ate like blackberries were their favorite food. Didn’t realize that their digestive system would not process the blackberry seeds and each seed would be encapsulated in each peanut size dropping. Yep!… next year had 30 times the blackberry bushes. Had I been a blackberry farmer, I would have been grateful for the “windfall”.