The Q&A Archives: Eliminate English Ivy

Question: What is the best way to eliminate english ivy?

Answer: Overgrown English Ivy (Hedera helix) vines can become pests
in the garden. The vines will grow up a building or other
structure, attaching by sticky feet. They will also scramble
across the ground rooting at the nodes as they go. You can
try either a manual or chemical approach or a combination
of both to achieve some control.

If the problem is on a building or a tree, you can pull the
vine off and trace your way to the primary root for that vine.
The root can then be dug out (repeatedly if need be), or be
smothered with a heavy layer of newspaper or cardboard
plus mulch, or with black plastic, over a period of several
years. These methods rely on exhausting the plant's root
reserves, so you can try these at any time of year.

On the ground, manual removal is more difficult because the
plants have so many individually rooted sections. You can
rip away the vine and foliage, being careful to pull roots as
you go, and then grub out or smother any remaining roots
individually but this is quite a task.

You might elect to use an herbicide such as a product
containing glyphosate to control the vines. The best time to
apply this type of herbicide is when the plant is actively
growing. The reason for this is that the plant translocates the
chemical from the leaf to the root where it kills it. You must
be patient while this process occurs because the leaves will
brown and look dead long before the entire process is
complete. Be sure to follow the label instructions. Apply it
very carefully when working near desirable plants because
this is a non-selective herbicide and as such it will be
absorbed by all green leaves it touches.

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