English Ivy – Control Tips

It’s a vine lots of gardeners want to control in their landscape. English ivy can smother woodland plants, can provide a hiding place for critters and can be detrimental to tree health.

Here are quick tips on how to control it:

PULL IT OUT
There’s a great Web site about English ivy removal. The Ivy Removal Project  is based in Portland, Oregon. Over the past ten years, they have developed several specialized techniques for eradicating ivy. From “Make a Lifesaver” to “Roll it Like a Log”, their approaches are tested and refined by real-life experience.

REMOVE FROM TREES
English ivy is not parasitic. It does not suck sap from the tree it ascends. Nonetheless it should never be allowed to climb a tree unchecked. When I find a vine that has grown far above me in a tree, I use a flat prybar to prize the vine from the trunk so I can sever it with my loppers. Not content with a single snip, I usually cut a twelve inch section out of the vine at waist height. This gives me a better view of smaller vines that may be hiding beneath the larger one. After cutting, I immediately spray the lower vine stump with glyphosate (click for sources) to prevent resprouting. I also pull the vine out of the ground for three feet away from the trunk, making an easy-to-monitor clear space.

NOTE: It will take at least three months for the vine to turn brown on the tree trunk above your removal efforts .

CHEMICAL CONTROL
Herbicides like glyphosate (click for sources) and triclopyr (click for sources) will kill English ivy but the process is slow. Ivy’s leathery leaves and frequent roots aid in its survival from chemical attack. I use chemicals to maintain a ivy-free swath between my azaleas and another neighbor’s viney plot. Death is not immediate; I spray every six weeks or as needed.

Given a large area between trees, I think an initial mowing would get chemical control off to a good start. Be sure to check for hidden stones, stumps, wire and sinkholes before you push your mower into an ivy sanctuary. When new leaves emerge a few weeks later hit them hard with one of the herbicides mentioned above or keep mowing until the plants starve from lack ofsunshine.

ENJOY BUT MONITOR
Contrary to the information above, maybe your ivy is covering a steep slope or a natural are where you want to keep it. It’s a free country, so you can do what you like, but do keep an eye on the ivy, controlling its unguided growth regularly.

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English ivy desert

English ivy desert

dead English ivy three months after clipping

dead English ivy three months after clipping

English ivy controlled with glyphosate

English ivy controlled with glyphosate