How To Kill English Ivy – Removing It Forever

Is English Ivy your friend or foe?

While some people find it aesthetically pleasing, others see it as an unwelcome addition to the exterior of their home.

However, Ivy can provide a habitat for wildlife and offer pollen and fruit for trees. It generally does not harm walls, as long as the mortar is not crumbling and is in good condition. Before deciding to remove it, consider whether it is necessary.

English ivy ground cover
English Ivy ground cover

Moreover, many people enjoy allowing their Ivy to climb their home, as it provides an ideal nesting ground for small birds and other wildlife.

Nevertheless, most individuals consider this plant to be a nuisance. If left unattended, it can damage a brick wall structurally, outcompete other plants, grow up a tree trunk, and take over a wooden fence. Eliminating it requires hard work and following the steps outlined in this guide, as well as patience and perseverance.

To ensure that the ivy does not reappear, it is recommended to use a combination of chemical and manual methods to eradicate it, including thorough disposal.

What is English Ivy ?

English Ivy, scientifically known as Hedera Helix, is an evergreen woody vine that can grow either vertically or horizontally, covering a large area of ground. Young plants of this vine have heart-shaped leaves with pointed lobes, while mature ones have broad lanceolate leaves. The vine can be thick, bumpy, and gnarly, with a light grey color and a diameter of up to 10 inches.

During the period between June and October, English Ivy blooms with greenish-yellow flowers. In the months between October and May, drupe clusters mature to a dark blue color.

Ivy is a common name for about 20 different evergreen perennial plants, with Poison Ivy being one of them.

English Ivy Spreading
English Ivy spreading like crazy in a cemetery and up trees.

Does English Ivy Kill Trees?

Although it is a myth that Ivy damages trees, it can reduce the ability of healthy trees to generate energy. Nonetheless, it does not harm healthy trees, as some people may believe. However English Ivy does weigh trees down and weak trees may fall because of this.

How Does English Ivy Spread?

English Ivy spreads through various means, including the production of flowers and seeds that are dispersed by birds. Additionally, mature Ivy vines propagate through vegetative runners.

Removing mature Ivy stands can be challenging, as it grows aggressively and can be difficult to remove by hand or by clipping alone. Home gardeners often have to resort to using mechanical and chemical methods to control English Ivy.

Disposing Of English Ivy

When disposing of English Ivy, it is important to take measures to prevent its spread to other areas. While it is possible to compost Ivy, it is generally recommended by expert gardeners to avoid composting live plants or plants that have been treated with glyphosate or triclopyr.

Another option is to bag the Ivy and dispose of it with regular garbage or garden waste collection. However, there is a caveat to this method, as it may pass on the problem to someone else, depending on how the council handles garden waste collection.

Burning the plants after removal is the best option, using a garden incinerator if possible. This method ensures that the seeds will not be able to spread after removal. However, if using a chemical treatment, wait at least a week before burning, this allows the chemicals to dry out reducing the change to any toxic chemicals being released.

Burning Ivy
Burning Ivy

Tools do you need to remove English Ivy?

You will need a good pair of gardening shears, preferably sharp and with the right size to handle the thickness of the ivy’s stems and tendrils. Gardening gloves are also recommended to protect your hands from the ivy’s leaves and potential exposure to herbicides.

If you choose to use a weed killer, a glyphosate based herbicide with a strength of 360g/l or a weed killer containing Triclopyr is recommended. Keep in mind that whatever herbicide you use it will not only kill the English Ivy but also plants near it, so use caution when applying them. You may need a spray bottle or garden sprayer to apply the weed killer.

A garden fork can also be useful for removing the ivy’s roots from the soil.

It is important to note that English Ivy should not be composted. It can be disposed of with regular garbage or yard waste collection, or burned in a garden incinerator if possible.

Video On How To Remove English Ivy

Best Way To Remove Ivy Without Using Chemicals

The best way to remove ivy is to start at the bottom and work upward. Like most plants, ivy roots provide the necessary nutrients for its growth.

To ensure successful removal, it’s important to avoid letting the ivy plant touch the ground when cutting it. A single stem of ivy can provide enough support for the plant to sustain itself through a web of tendrils and stems.

The initial cut should be made approximately 6 to 12 inches from the ground. This not only uproots the ivy plant from the ground but also removes its roots, allowing you to extract the remaining portion still in the ground.

When cutting the ivy, be sure to pull it away from any surface it may have grown on. If left unchecked for a long period of time, ivy can cover several square feet on its own.

Using a garden fork, dig a circle around the ivy, loosening the soil as you go. Once the soil is loose, you can then extract the remaining roots of the English ivy.

Lastly, remember to dispose of the ivy properly to prevent any potential regrowth or spread.

Best Weed Killer For Killing English Ivy And How To Use It

To effectively use weed killer to kill ivy, it’s important to lightly spray the leaves to prevent the herbicide from dripping off. Alternatively, crushing and damaging the leaves before spraying can help the weed killer penetrate deeper since ivy leaves are waxy and can protect the plant from herbicides.

While herbicides are generally safe in the amounts found on the market, it’s important to handle them with care and always read the instructions carefully. Thoroughly cover the entire ivy plant with the weed killer, being careful not to spray any leaves of plants you want to keep.

After treating the ivy, it’s important to remove any dead leaves and vines. To completely kill the ivy, several applications may be necessary, spaced 1 to 2 weeks apart. If regrowth occurs, reapply the weed killer.

Once the ivy is dead, it should be cut down to a height of about 2 inches from the ground, and the dead ivy should be disposed of properly. This will prevent regrowth from the ground roots if done correctly.

It’s important to avoid using weed killer in strong winds to prevent accidentally spraying nearby plants. Alternatively, a natural and safe weed killer option is vinegar with at least 20% acetic acid strength.

English Ivy in hanging basket
English Ivy in a hanging basket as a houseplant.

How Remove English Ivy From Trees

To control ivy effectively, it’s best to start by targeting the lowest ivy first, as mentioned in both manual and chemical control methods. This prevents higher ivy from absorbing nutrients, making it easier to remove. Begin around several inches to a foot off the ground and work your way around the tree trunk, either by cutting or spraying the ivy.

Once you’ve completely removed the lower ivy near ground level, you can also remove some of the lower ivy from the tree, but be careful not to damage the tree bark. Work your way up the tree in bands, cutting away progressively until you reach shoulder or waist level.

The ivy will eventually die on its own within a few days, but you can speed up the process by spraying it again when it reaches shoulder or waist height. Once the ivy is no longer tightly attached to the tree, you can use a ladder to remove it from higher up.

It’s important to also cut back any ivy on the ground around the tree to ensure it’s clearly visible. To limit the possibility of re-growth, cut off the ivy approximately two to three feet around the tree.

Videos on How to remove Ivy from trees

Removing Ground Cover English Ivy

When dealing with a trailing ground-cover plant, it’s essential to locate all of its base roots before attempting to kill it, even if it’s growing densely. Once you’ve located the roots, you can follow the steps outlined in the previously mentioned methods for effectively controlling and removing the plant.