The Q&A Archives: Killing Ivy

Question: Is there any pesticide that kills ivy?

Answer: If you wish to permanently kill ivy then you have a lot of work ahead of you! It is very difficult to kill the entire ivy plant, and can only generally be done with a lot of hard work and persistence. Generally it is very difficult to kill an entire ivy plant by use herbicides alone. The two major factors that protect the ivy plant are its waxy leaves that prevent the uptake of the herbicide, and the other is its almost phenomenal resistance to most toxins. It is certainly possible to brown out foliage, and in some cases it will appear to have controlled the ivy plant permanently. However generally, over time, green shoots will appear out of the dead foliage. Timing of treatment is a factor, too. Different mixes of herbicides and surfactants applied at different times of the year seem to have different levels of effectiveness. Round-Up is the herbicide of choice and appears to be the most reliable in killing ivy.

Skill and experience of the individual applying the herbicide also seems to have an effect. The best way to apply herbicide is to paint it onto fresh cuts in the plant stems. The alternative to herbicides is to use good old manual labor. Simply remove all the ivy shoots from your trees/fences/walls, and then attack the roots. Chop the roots down as far as you can with pruning knives, axes, pruning-saws, or whatever you have handy, and then try to pull up or dig up as much of the root system as you can. If you do this thoroughly enough then you may be able to kill the ivy plant completely.

Unfortunately it is rarely the case that you can attack and remove the roots completely. They may well grow under brick walls, or across your wonderfully turfed garden which you do not want to dig up completely. Therefore in most cases you will want to do a combined attack to kill the ivy. This involves cutting the ivy plant back as much as possible, and then painting any remaining exposed roots or stems with a concentrated herbicide. You may find that you have to do this several times a year, and possibly have to experiment with different herbicides before you finally kill the entire ivy plant. GOOD LUCK!

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