Q: We have just moved to a new home and English Ivy has covered the
ground and trees like kudzu. I am in the process of cutting it from
Hardiness Zone: 7b
Bruce from Marietta, Ga
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.
I'm never a proponent of herbicide use. It kills beneficial plants and soil microbes and worse, it compromises water quality. That said, 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. In any case, you will want to use something designed specifically for woody plants.
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I have found a really inexpensive way to kill vines, weeds, and growing things where you don't want them. Vinegar! I cut the offending growth and then pour vinegar onto and around the cut plant. Will kill the roots and the vine that has grown up the trees and will die, as it isn't getting nourishment. The best part is that the vinegar won't harm pets as the chemicals you mentioned will. Just DON'T pour (from a watering can) the vinegar where you DO want plants. (11/08/2005)
If you can lay newspapers or cardboard boxes over the ivy, you can deprive it of sunlight, and it will die. I have heard that boiling water will kill weeds in the sidewalk. You may want to try that, or even try salt water. If you use salt water or any chemicals, it will kill the microbial things living in your soil as well as the earthworms who nourish the soil. Anything you put on your soil will stay there and you may not be able to plant anything there afterward so you will want to be careful. Good luck! (11/09/2005)
Brush Roundup works great, but you must be careful since it is a poison. Use it anytime during the growing season. If you're cutting the ivy back now, I'd pour some on the root end of the cutting. Hopefully, the plant will take it to its roots and the Roundup will kill it, so you'll have less to deal with in the Spring. Extreme care must be given when using Roundup, especially when it is windy/breezy, since any mist that strays to other plants can kill them too. (11/09/2005)
I guess that I wasn't clear enough on how much ivy I have. I am guessing there is about 15,000 sq feet of ivy, too much to kill each stem individually. Thanks for your replies. (11/09/2005)
Since I placed the post about treating your English ivy with salt water, I've learned that once you're rid of whatever you were trying to kill you may not be able to get rid of the salt from the soil. Other plants won't grow there. I think eventually rain should wash the salts away. However, in the interim perhaps you can grow plants that adapt well to the seashore where there is salt water spray. Salt water or boiling water kills weeds growing in cracks in the sidewalk. Good luck. Please let us know how you fair on your endeavor! (11/18/2005)
Thanks for everyone's reply. I think what I will do is cut it back this December using an old lawnmower. Next spring I will cut it back just prior to the growing season and then spray it with Ortho Weed-be-gone Max. I'll let you know how it turns out. (11/19/2005)
I have ivy branches as thick as tree logs and the ivy covers my whole yard, so I'm considering just killing it with a tree stump killer (that's supposed to kill just the stump, but nothing around it). Do you think this will affect ground water through the roots system? (07/02/2007)
By Emma K.
There is a chemical that you can order and mix it with round-up to kill the ivy. The chemical soaks up the wax on the leaves and then they are very vulnerable to chemicals, so you spray round-up on the ivy that you want to kill. The round up is then very successful. (11/10/2008)
I have Ivy that has been growing for 28 years in the furthest back area of our yard; it's actually a drainage easement (fancy name for a ditch). I have battled with it, and beat it back as best I can. It is a LOT of work. Two years ago, I enlisted a goat service. They came in with 26 goats for 3 days, used temporary electric fence to contain them, and let them "go to town". They'll eat anything, and they took the Ivy down to the stalks. I should have pulled up the stalks and runners then, but I did't, so the Ivy is back. The neighbor behind me likes the Ivy, and complains whenever I cut it back, the goats went about their work quietly, and he never knew. There's a fence, and a wall of Ivy, that separates us. I've been working for almost a month now to remove an entire area of the Ivy, and I'm ready to take the rototiller to it to finish breaking up the roots; then it'll get covered with black plastic after some herbicide is put down first. I really hate this Ivy, but with the neighbor behind me liking it, I have to be careful not to upset him.
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