Controlling Greenbrier: How To Get Rid Of Greenbrier Vine

Controlling greenbriar vine is a challenge. It looks benign but will take over your yard.

Greenbrier Vine
(Image credit: Tamara Harding)

Greenbrier (Smilax spp.) starts out as a lovely little vine with glossy green, heart-shaped leaves. If you don't know any better, you may even think it's a wild form of ivy or morning glory. Leave it alone, though, and it will soon take over your yard, twining around trees and filling corners with giant piles of brambles.

Controlling greenbrier is an ongoing job once it gets established, so it's best to get rid of greenbrier vine as soon as you identify it. Pay attention to the weeds you pull from your flower and vegetable beds so you can identify greenbrier weeds as soon as they pop up.

Greenbrier Plant Control

So what is greenbrier and how does it appear? Greenbrier vines produce berries that birds love to eat. The seeds pass through the birds and land in your garden, spreading the greenbrier plants around the neighborhood.

If you don't recognize and eradicate these seedlings right away, underground stems will produce rhizomes that sprout multiple plants all over the garden beds.

Once these plants appear, the vines will quickly grow up any vertical object, including its own stems. If your garden has been taken over by these vines, it's very difficult to eradicate them.

Tips on Getting Rid of Greenbrier Weeds

There are two basic methods for greenbrier plant control, and the method you use depends on how the vines are growing.

If you can untangle the vines from your good plants, do it carefully and try to remove the roots and tubers wearing heavy gloves.

Pull them out by the roots or cut the vines to ground level and try digging them up where they're rooted. Cover the plant stubs with heavy black plastic and secure it, leaving them covered long enough for the ensuing heat to kill them. This is an ongoing process and you'll need to be vigilant as this vine can pop up anywhere on your property.

You can burn greenbriar vine to get rid of it but don't put it in your compost pile.

Several applications of horticultural vinegar will kill this vine, although it will also kill other surrounding plants so use it carefully.

Consult with your local garden center or university extension agency for information on the safest way to eradicate this invasive in your area.