The Q&A Archives: Getting rid of Ivy

Question: How do I get rid of Ivy?

Answer: English Ivy is tough to eradicate (as you have probably figured out). Its waxy leaves render most herbicides ineffective, yet hand pulling can be impractical if you're covering a large area. Make sure you wear gloves when you're cutting and hand pulling. Some people develop a contact rash on their skin from touching ivy sap. If you continue to cut and remove the ivy by hand, the good news is you can expect the second year to require only 10% the amount of effort as the first year and the third year to require only 10% the effort of the second year.

If you're considering a two-pronged approach (hand pulling plus chemicals), you're going to need to apply an herbicide containing glyphosate (like Round Up Pro). It's best to mow the ivy down first and then paint the herbicide on to fresh cuts in the plant stems. Be very careful to only apply it to the ivy.

One problem with using Round Up Pro is that it can be very damaging to nearby tree species, especially conifers. They are supposedly less susceptible to this damage in the fall, although how much less susceptible no one knows. Unfortunately, Round Up Pro (specifically) is supposed to be most effective if applied to English Ivy in the spring (during new leaf growth). You can expect to repeat your efforts several times no matter what approach you take, so you may want to apply it now, and wait until spring to evaluate your success.

Good luck with your project!

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