|How can I get rid of (kill, I guess) out of control English Ivy that is growing on a steep slope in my back yard?|
I am sorry for this delayed reply to your gardening question. The spring rush has brought a deluge of questions and we are working hard to catch up!
It is a challenge to get rid of since it it not easy to kill. However you can get rid of it from your landscape by hand pulling, spraying or a combination of the two. Vines growing up tree trunks can be cut at the base and any ivy in the tree will then die and the leaves will fall out in time. If you wish to remove vines from tree trunks you can pry them away with a large screwdriver. To remove ivy ground cover grab the ivy vines and pull to strip them out of the soil. This is best done when the soil is moist. If the area is large you can literally pull and roll the ivy out creating an "ivy log" as you go. This is work but is effective. Make sure and try to get any rooted broken off sections left behind in the soil. Spraying is done with a product containing either glyphosate (Roundup is an example) or triclopyr (Brush B Gone is an example). The foliage of ivy is slick and leathery and resists uptake of these chemicals. Adding a squirt of dish soap helps a little. Use the strongest label rate for the products. Foliar sprays are partially effective and will need to be repeated more than once. A better approach is to use a weedeater to remove most of the foliage and to wound the vines in numerous places prior to spraying. The apply glyphosate in a strong solution (25%) to the exposed vines. Take care not to overapply. All you have to do is moisten the vines not drench the soil, and don't apply just prior to a rain. Remember that these products are damaging to your desirable plants to and will kill them if you get them on green growth. Whichever method you use, hand pulling or spraying, be ready to follow up with a retreatment as you won't get it all in one shot. A final possibility is to mow/weedeat the ivy to the ground and then cover with cardboard or 10 sheets of newspaper followed by 6 or more inches of leaves. This will smother it out for a good while. As the paper breaks down some ivy will likely appear and can be re-smothered in the same manner to continue to kill the surviving plants.
Thanks for the question. Best wishes for a wonderful gardening season. Please stop in again soon!