How to Get Rid of English Ivy in the Landscape

English ivy, or Hedera helix, is a quick-spreading vine that can invade large areas, often smothering trees and other groundcovers, consuming all the nutrients and blocking sunlight. These aggressive plants are also known to cause wildfires to spread, with flames climbing up the vine-covered trees, igniting the foliage. 

English ivy

English ivy looks lovely and, yet, can be so destructive. Tips on how to get rid of ivy will help you maintain yours.

Tips on How to Get Rid of English Ivy

Wear durable gloves and remember to wear long sleeves, long pants and proper shoes to keep ivy from touching your skin. Though nothing like poison ivy, English ivy may cause skin irritation.

Removing Ivy from Trees

Make sure not to pull on ivy that is above you—bees/bird nests may be hidden there. Remove any ivy from the base of the tree trunk to roughly 3 to 5 feet high—remove the vine at least to waist level. The higher ivy will eventually die off. To properly eradicate the aggressive vine from the tree, place a screwdriver or any flat, sturdy object—such as a pry bar, under the vine and gently pull away from the tree.

Ways to Remove Ivy Without Chemicals

  • You can mow ivy groundcover to ground level several times a year to slowly kill the spreading vine.
  • With a pair of thick gardening gloves, pull out any English ivy, making sure to remove all of the roots. A trowel can be used over hand-pulling to help with any stubborn roots.
  • Some use white vinegar as an alternative to herbicides for English ivy removal. Put the vinegar in a sprayer or spray bottle, and lather the vine thoroughly—making sure not to squirt any nearby vegetation. Wait roughly a week or so, and check treated areas for dead/dying ivy.

After removal, throw away the removed ivy immediately after removal because new plants can grow from cut/broken stems. Do not compost it, as it will root in your compost pile!

Cover the eradicated area with a thick layer of mulch—typically 6 to 8 inches—to keep the English ivy from returning.

Image: Alain.jotterand

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