Ask a Question forum: Trying to eliminate English ivy

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Sep 25, 2016 9:24 AM CST
We recently bought a home that had 40 years of ivy covering the front yard. It took weeks and weeks but we removed all of the ivy and some of the underground feeders. For about a month we have been waiting to see how many new green leaves pop back up, to figure out if we have it under control. There are still the occasional one or two a week green leaves that shoot out, and more like a dozen after a good rain, but we want to go ahead and cover the yard with landscape fabric, do some plantings, and cover that with mulch. The question is: will that landscape fabric and mulch be enough to suppress the ivy, or is there more that we need to do to make sure it doesn't come back through?
central Illinois
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Sep 25, 2016 10:12 AM CST
I'll be watching here to see if a solution works. When we bought this place 20 years ago the front yard was all ivy, looked nice and still does; however, somehow it's gotten into the back yard where it's not wanted and creeping further every season.
You mentioned weeks and weeks of removal to get to the place you are now. What did that involve? Manually tearing it out? herbicide?
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids Tropicals Region: Mexico
Sep 25, 2016 12:31 PM CST
I promise you, you will regret the fabric. I know no one who has used this who is not sorry. I did exactly what you are planning 20 years ago.
Out of frustration, I wasted all the money you are about to waste, on fabric and mulch, and put in several weekends of hard work, it did not work for long, and it was so disappointing to see that weed after all that work.
I finally killed the ivy completely. Do not pull it, it only spreads it. Read about runner roots. Never pull them.

For what I am recommending I must say, please never spray roundup near your face. Pour don't spray for something this intensive.

moving on.
Twice a week or so, look for vines. Let it get some length (the more leaves to drench, the better job the round up does) As you let the vine get longer, keep it off soil. If your vines are long now, cut to 4 feet approx.
When long enough:
Put on rubber gloves. Have round up poured into something you can pour from with no spillage, and reseal, for next time, (Vodka bottle for me Rolling on the floor laughing )and have baggies for whatever size your vine winds up well for:
Now, as if this is the most rare and expensive plant you have ever handled, GENTLY wind the vine like a hose, no bends, or breaks, and place in a baggy. Pour in roundup, just enough, it works without over kill. Seal as best you can, and leave to bake. I lay it on sidewalk when possible, for the heat. Remove the mushy mess in a few days. I got pretty good at hiding these from plain view, with rocks, or behind plants. It is simple, but I promise you this works.
I hope I have talked you out of this fabric. It is my single biggest gardening regret. Just try this for one year first. Save time and much money and years of regret from my mistake, not your own.

Laurie B
[Last edited by lauriebasler - Sep 25, 2016 12:39 PM (+)]
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Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids Tropicals Region: Mexico
Sep 25, 2016 12:34 PM CST
If your vines are long and many, I started this process with garbage bags, it was not long I could use gallon baggies, and then sandwich. Much luck guys, I feel your pain. This is a battle you can win.
[Last edited by lauriebasler - Sep 25, 2016 12:38 PM (+)]
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North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Sep 25, 2016 10:38 PM CST
I've been thru your pain but with a different vine. Don't think the battle is over yet. I'm still in a wait and see mode.
Do NOT use landscape fabric. Won't help. The mulch will be protecting the soil during this painful process. Mother Nature does not like to be naked. That's where the mulch comes in. And good mulch (shredded native hardwood bark) will eventually provide nutrients to the soil.

I personally would not use Round-Up. You don't say what Zone you're in or where you're located. If you are still getting hot weather you can try using 20% vinegar (some say 10%.) Not something you would be able to find at the local grocery. And something to be very cautious using - wear protective clothing! Anyway, applying vinegar on the leaves, and maybe on the roots if you can see them, during a sunny day will kill - but I think it needs to be multiple days. Use a spray bottle. Some people have used a little paintbrush to apply the vinegar. You don't want to harm your soil any more than necessary. (You can google vinegar as a weed killer and see if there's any mention of ivy or vines.)

How about a picture or 2 so we can see your progress?

Here's a picture of the 'remains of the day' that I've almost eliminated. Haven't had enough direct sun to try the vinegar on any remaining roots. I've been using little yellow flags to mark where I've pulled up the roots that you'll see in the picture. I want to be sure that none of them are going to live and I want to know where they started, if this makes any sense. Sorry. I'm getting worked up. It's war! But it is time that I get some good mulch down or I will be growing mud! Not going to plant anything else for awhile but that has more to do with location, etc.

Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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Sep 26, 2016 4:35 AM CST
I agree about the landscape fabric, I think we've all found that out the hard way! If you keep decapitating the plant eventually it will die because it can't make food and will eventually starve. But this may take too long, another option would be what's called a "cut stump" treatment, where you cut off the main trunk and immediately, don't wait, apply a herbicide like glyphosate (e.g. RoundUp) or a brush killer to the cut surface. The herbicide will then translocate to the roots. There is some information in the "chemical" paragraph here on the proportions of certain herbicides to use for cut stump treatment of English ivy.

I personally don't like vinegar as a herbicide. The ones used for that are very strong acetic acid and can cause eye damage, even blindness if splashed in the eye. They also typically only kill the top growth unless the plant is very small.

Sep 26, 2016 9:03 AM CST
My husband and I had good luck using a mix of Roundup and Crossbow in the fall to eliminate ivy growing in our front yard. Timing is important in applying the herbicides. Fall being best as energy is going back to the root system. You need Crossbow as it is for the woody plants which ivy of any age is. This is, of course, if you are not opposed to using chemicals. If you are... I wish you luck!
Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids Tropicals Region: Mexico
Sep 26, 2016 11:10 AM CST
Noxious weeds are found in every state, and Bindweed is one in my state. I tried to fight it organically for years. I did the thing that AlexinSD is considering. A few years later, when that failed, I dug up to my knees many areas, gently following all those runners and removing, not pulling them. That made a difference, but the vacant lot next door seeds and blows the stuff back in.

I have a bottle of Roundup that is on it's third summer in my shed next to my tools for weeding. It only comes off the shelf for bindweed and blackberry, from the vacant lot adjoining me, and without it or something much worse, it would be rampant in my yard.
Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids Tropicals Region: Mexico
Sep 26, 2016 11:16 AM CST
@Dudie58, my neighbor works at a nursery. He has to adjoin the same vacant lot we do. We have been chopping and burning and smothering blackberry for two years, while he has them controlled. He used Crossbow and Roundup too. All neighbors except he and I, received critical letters from the city about controlling any black berry vines. Due to this, we will probably use the same solution if needed, so thank you for that post.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Sep 26, 2016 1:31 PM CST
Bindweed. Nasty stuff. Same with nutsedge. Gives me the willies just thinking about them.
Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
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Sep 26, 2016 2:32 PM CST
As a non-toxic deterrent, you can't beat a couple of goats. They will eat everything in sight right down to the ground. Especially effective if you can tie them out and let them really concentrate on a problem area. I have both blackberries and English ivy. We no longer have goats, and I've had pretty good luck just clipping them both back to the ground frequently. I'm not too tweaky about getting every scrap out of my yard though, so it's not an all-out battle for me.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.

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