Blackberries: Fight them, or learn to live with them?
I have a very healthy blackberry patch along the far end of my backyard, I have a feeling the neighbors on the other side of the fence may be watering them because they stay healthy and green all summer. We've cut them back yearly to keep them in check, but I want to landscape the backyard and I'm trying to figure out a long term plan. I don't think we can eradicate them because no matter what we do they will continue to encroach from the neighbor's side of the fence. The worst part about the whole thing is that they don't get enough sun to produce a lot of fruit, so we have all the negatives without the positive!
I've decided the theme for the backyard design will be 'woodland meadow' and I want to plant natives and other low water plants that will need little care or water once they are established. I want to leave the open space open, plant it with meadow grasses and stuff, and plant a nice green screen around the edges to give the illusion that the backyard is a clearing in a forest instead of backing up against other houses. But is there anything that can compete with those blackberries? Will I have to continue to cut them back every year, or are there some things that will eventually get strong enough that they won't need my help to survive? The area is part shade/mostly shade, you can see in the pic where there is more sun because the blackberries are larger. There is a hose in the back so it won't be hard to water things until they are established.
Right now there is an old rabbit hutch near the back fence, we don't raise rabbits and I want to remove it and put some other kind of focal point there. Originally I wanted a mix of plants that would give four seasons of interest. But after fighting the blackberries and looking at that old hutch for a couple of years I'm thinking a good looking shed might be better, like one made to look like a rustic forest cabin maybe?
Here's a pic, I would like the new focal point to go on the right of the little oak tree instead of the left, and I want it to be big enough to block the view of at least some of that blue building.
The oak trees branches are a few feet away from the fence at the closest point, I know that it is bad to plant things under oaks and I want to keep my oaks healthy, but I hope that I can squeeze a couple of things between them and the fence to cover up views of my neighbor's stuff.