Removing Ivy - Knowledgebase Question

Name: Susan Tache
Memphis, TN
Avatar for s_tache
Question by s_tache
October 8, 1999
The previous owners of our home planted ivy as the front "lawn" under two large sugar maple trees. The ivy has grown up the trunks of the trees and I understand that we should remove the ivy for the health of the trees. My question is what is the best way to do that? Just rip it off or cut it leaving the pads on the bark? How far back should we prune the ivy around the base of the tree?

Answer from NGA
October 8, 1999
Ivy can cause all kinds of problems when it is allowed to climb up tree trunks. It can hold too much moisture against the bark, leading to rot. It can cause splitting of the outer bark of the tree due to the shear force of the growing vines. If it's allow to climb up very far, it will become heavy enough to cause stress to the tree and it can act as a sail, catching wind and pulling a tree over. Add this to the potential of strangulation and girdling, and the facts indicate you've made a wise decision to remove the ivy from the tree. At a minimum, cut enough ivy away to expose the flare of the trunk of the tree where it meets the ground. It would be even better to remove the ivy within several feet of the trunk. After removing the roots and cutting the vines at ground level, pull what you can from the tree. This might mean that you'll have to cut the intertwining vines and pull them off in pieces. Anything you can't reach to remove (including the disc-like pads), will eventually weather away. Don't worry too much about removing the pads - they won't produce new plants. And, unless a piece of an ivy vine has gotten a foothold in a crevice or other moisture holding spot on the tree, the vine should die off after being cut at ground level.

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