English Ivy is a vine often used as a ground cover in landscaping. They can also climb up trees, brick walls, and other surfaces, thanks to some aerial rootlets. You either want them, or you don’t.
Once they start growing, it can be difficult to remove them. Before we get into the steps on how to get rid of English Ivy, we will talk about why you would or wouldn’t want them in your garden.
Pros and Cons of English Ivy
English ivy vines have dark green leaves with whitish veins. They spread vigorously even with little care and maintenance. Many people value the Ivy and use them as an excellent cover on walls, soil beds, and trees.
Another advantage of these vines is that they’re said to lower the mold in the air. If you have someone in the family who has asthma, you might want to consider having these vines around.
On the downside, this same plant is a nuisance to many horticulturists. They grow and spread aggressively, which can overtake other plants in your garden.
When they attach to trees, they can block sunlight and steal water and nutrients, thus possibly hurting the tree. It may look nice, but the tree will not be as high as it should be. Trees wrapped in English vines have higher chances of falling in severe winds than bare trees.
Also, the plant contains a substance within its leaves and berries that are poisonous to both pets and people.
When you ingest the fruit, it can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, and dilated pupils. These are the mild symptoms. The more severe case includes breathing difficulties, numbness, muscle coordination, and even coma. If you accidentally ingest the fruit, seek medical attention right away; preferably before you notice any symptom.
How to Get Rid of English Ivy
If you want to get rid of English ivy, there are two ways to do so. The first one is with herbicides and the second is through manual labor.
1. Tips for Using Herbicides
Using herbicides on English ivy is quite tricky because the leaves have a waxy texture that prevents full herbicide penetration. You will need to break through that barrier first if you want the herbicides to be effective. One way you can do so is being mindful of the timing.
The best time to use herbicides is on a sunny day in winter. The cold temperature keeps the herbicide from evaporating too fast, while the sun makes the waxy leaves easier to get through. That way, the herbicide can penetrate better, and there's more time for it to get through to the plant.
Another thing you can do to help kill the English ivy with herbicide is by wounding the plant first. Using a weed wacker or another garden tool, cut some parts of the stem, so the herbicide has an entry point. It can help the herbicide work faster.
2. Tips for Manually Removing English Ivy
The second of getting rid of English ivy is by manually removing them. That can be quite tricky because the plant attaches very well and if you leave some stems and roots on the tree, ground, or wall, it can regrow. So, make sure that if you do it manually, you aren't leaving any stems and roots behind. You will need pruning tools of different sizes, depending on the extent of the vines.
Manually Removing From a Tree or Wall
Manually removing English ivy from trees is probably the most difficult one to do. You can't just pull it out or rip it off because it can hurt the tree. The roots attach that if you pull it out, you will most likely pull out the bark of the plant as well. The most important tool you need is a pair of sharp clippers or loppers. You'll need it to cut the vines that attached at the base of the tree.
With your cutting tools, carefully and thoroughly cut every vine and stem around the tree. For thicker vines, you might need a handsaw to cut through them. Make sure there are no stems left because a single one can grow to more.
Once done with the base, make your way up to the shoulder level of the tree. Cut around the tree as you did on the base. Then you can also put sections of the vines gently, trying not to pull plant bark along with it. Examine the tree well, making sure there are no roots or vines left behind. Then, remove any ivy on the ground, so it won’t grow and climb back up to the tree.
For walls, follow the same steps. You still need to be careful because you can also damage the wall by ripping out some cement or bricks.
Manually Removing From Around a Tree
If you're removing a mat of English ivy around the tree, you're preventing it from growing upwards. That is called the lifesaver cut.
You start by cutting the tree outwards to about 4-6 feet. Cut more lines as you please, but the point is you are creating sections that will be easier to take out, section by section. When all done, make sure you check for any roots or stems left behind.
Manually Removing From the Ground
For removing ivy in the field, you will also need to cut lines to create sections. Then you can remove them section by section. If you want to get rid of ivy on a hill, cut two or more vertical lines. That way you can roll the mat of ivy down the hill.
After you manually remove the vines, cover them with mulch so that they won’t take root. Mulching will also make them die eventually. You can also use mulch to create a barrier if you want to have ivy on certain parts of your garden.
3. Using Both Manual and Herbicides
If you want to be very sure there aren’t any vines left, you can make use of both manual removal and herbicides. You can do manual removal first, follow by herbicides to finish off.
If you want to get rid of English ivy in your garden or on your walls, you can either do it chemically or manually. But the most efficient way of killing them is probably by a combination of both methods.
Make sure you get rid of roots and stems because they can easily grow back to a nuisance. If you do want to keep them, just bear in mind that they can steal nutrients from other plants.