Does Salt Kill Ivy?


Efficacy of Salt on Ivy

When considering methods to combat unwanted ivy, salt may come up as a potential solution. However, you should be wary of depending solely on salt as an effective weed killer against ivy. This is primarily because salt, while dehydrating to plants, can struggle to penetrate the robust structure of ivy. Ivy has waxy leaves and a sturdy root system designed to withstand harsh conditions, making it less susceptible to the desiccating effects of salt compared to other plants.

Used indiscriminately, salt can also render soil inhospitable, not only to ivy but to other vegetation as well. This is because salt can dramatically increase the salinity of the soil and may lead to the death of nearby plants as a result. The application of salt should be done with care, as its residual effects can last for an extended period, potentially causing more harm than good to your garden ecosystem.

Here are some key points related to salt usage on ivy:

  • Desiccating effect: Salt can dehydrate English ivy, causing the plant’s cells to collapse.
  • Targeted application: To minimise collateral damage, apply salt directly to the ivy, avoiding the surrounding soil and vegetation.
  • Concentration: A higher concentration of salt, such as rock salt, is typically needed to affect ivy, given its hardy nature.
  • Time frame: The effectiveness of salt can vary, and while some sources suggest results in as little as a week, it often requires patience and may need repeated applications.

Given these considerations, while salt can harm ivy, it’s not a guaranteed or necessarily environmentally friendly method to eradicate this resilient plant. When using salt, it’s important to weigh the potential impact on the wider garden and soil health, proceeding with caution and informed judgement.

Types of Salt and Their Impacts

When you are considering salt as a remedy to kill ivy, you have a couple of options. Each type of salt has a distinct impact on plants and the environment.

Rock Salt

Rock salt (sodium chloride) is commonly used for de-icing roads and can dehydrate plants, including English ivy, leading to cell collapse. When you apply rock salt around the ivy, it’s absorbed by the roots and can be effective in as little as a week. However, it can also affect the soil quality and other nearby plant life, so its use should be managed carefully.

  • Pros: Fast-acting, inexpensive
  • Cons: Potentially harmful to soil, non-targeted plants and wildlife

Table Salt

Table salt is a finer, more refined version of rock salt and functions in a similar way. Due to its fine texture, it easily dissolves and permeates into the soil to reach the ivy roots. While it might seem convenient, it’s also just as capable of harming other plants and the soil as rock salt.

  • Pros: Easily available, effective
  • Cons: Can damage soil structure, harmful to surrounding vegetation

Epsom Salt

On the other hand, Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) is sometimes touted as a gentler alternative because it adds magnesium to the soil, which some plants require. Nonetheless, Epsom salt can still desiccate ivy through dehydration.

  • Pros: Also acts as a fertilizer for some plants
  • Cons: May still cause dehydration in ivy and other plants

Note: Whenever you use salt to kill ivy, make sure you apply it carefully to avoid collateral damage to your garden’s ecosystem. Always consider the lasting impacts on your soil’s health and the surrounding biodiversity before proceeding.

Methods for Applying Salt to Ivy

Using salt to eradicate ivy can be effective if done properly. Salt dehydrates plants and disrupts the internal water balance of ivy, leading to its demise. Here are methods to apply salt to ivy infestations:

Direct Application:

  1. Rock Salt:
    • Find the Base: Locate the main roots of the ivy.
    • Apply Rock Salt: Pour a layer of rock salt at the base of the ivy stems.
    • Monitor: Check daily and reapply rock salt if plants show no sign of decay within a week.
    • Repetition: Continue applying weekly until the ivy dies.

Salt and Water Solution:

  1. Saltwater Solution:
    • Dissolve Salt: Mix hot water with a substantial amount of salt until fully dissolved to create a highly concentrated solution.
    • Spray or Pour: Use a sprayer or a watering can to apply the saltwater solution liberally to the ivy leaves and stems.

Salt-Vinegar Soap Mixture:

  1. Salt-Vinegar-Soap Mix:
    • Create Mixture: Combine salt and vinegar in equal parts, adding a small amount of liquid soap to enhance adherence.
    • Application: Apply the mixture thoroughly to the ivy, ensuring it reaches the roots and the surrounding soil.
    • Repeated Application: More than one application may be necessary for the desired effect.


  • Protect Soil: Salt can harm the soil and nearby plants, so use it sparingly and only where necessary.
  • Timing: It is best to apply these methods during dry weather to prevent dilution and runoff.

This approach is intended for targeted use, and care should be taken to avoid affecting nearby vegetation.

Environmental Considerations

When considering the use of salt to eliminate ivy, it’s crucial to understand the broader environmental impact. Salt is not a selective killer; it can affect other plants and the soil composition. Deploying salt to kill ivy may lead to soil degradation, reducing its fertility and impacting the health of nearby plant life.

Soil Health

  • Salt can lead to increased soil salinity.
  • Affects the soil’s ability to retain water.
  • Leads to a decline in beneficial soil organisms.

Nearby Vegetation

  • Risks of collateral damage to surrounding plants.
  • Potential for root uptake by non-target plants, causing them harm.

Water Pollution

  • Salt can dissolve and run off into local waterways.
  • Elevated salinity levels can harm aquatic ecosystems.

It’s paramount to use salt sparingly if you choose this method. You should apply it directly onto the ivy, ideally in a manner that minimises contact with the soil and other plants. Consider using barriers or shields for protecting nearby vegetation.

Furthermore, assess your garden’s drainage. Poor drainage might exacerbate the problem of salt spread. Also, be aware that salt use may be regulated in your area due to its environmental effects. Checking local guidelines before proceeding is advisable to ensure compliance with regulations.

Safety and Precautionary Measures

When considering using salt to kill ivy, it is crucial to take safety and environmental precautions into account. Salt, although effective, can have negative impacts on the soil and surrounding plants.

Personal Safety:

  • Wear Protective Gear: Always wear gloves and protective eyewear. Salt can irritate your skin and eyes.
  • Avoid Inhalation: Use a mask if dealing with large quantities of salt to prevent respiratory irritation.

Environmental Precautions:

  • Use Sparingly: Salt can lead to soil salinity, which might harm beneficial organisms and plants.
  • Targeted Application: Apply salt directly to the ivy, avoiding spillage onto surrounding vegetation or soil.

Considerations for Wildlife and Pets:

  • Wildlife: Be aware that salt can affect the creatures that use ivy as habitat or food source.
  • Pets: Keep pets away from treated areas as salt ingestion can be harmful.

Before Application:

  • Check weather forecasts to ensure no rain is expected, preventing salt from washing into unintended areas.
  • Identify the ivy: Ensure it’s not a lookalike plant that may be beneficial to your garden.


  • Remove and dispose of dead ivy safely in accordance with local garden waste regulations.

By following these precautions, you can use salt effectively against ivy while minimising risk to yourself, the environment, and local ecosystems.

Frequently Asked Questions

In addressing the challenges posed by English ivy, specific methods and substances have proven to be more effective than others. Below you’ll find clear responses to some common questions regarding ivy eradication.

What is the most effective herbicide for eradicating English ivy?

Glyphosate is widely considered the most effective herbicide for tackling English ivy. It disrupts the plant’s protein synthesis, leading to its eventual death. It’s crucial to follow the application guidelines meticulously for the best results.

How can ivy be removed permanently from outdoor areas?

To remove ivy permanently, you must combine manual removal with herbicidal treatment. Start by cutting the ivy near the base and removing as much of the plant as possible by hand. Then apply a herbicide like glyphosate to the remaining roots to prevent regrowth.

Are there any natural solutions for terminating ivy growth for good?

Yes, a natural solution like a salt and vinegar mixture can be applied to the soil around the ivy to dehydrate and kill the plant. It’s important to use this method cautiously as it may affect the soil and surrounding plants. Bleach isn’t natural but may work against already damaged Ivy.

Can vinegar be successfully used to kill ivy, and if so, how?

Vinegar can be used to kill ivy when applied directly to the leaves and stems of the plant. The acetic acid in vinegar works to dry out the plant tissue. However, repeated applications might be necessary for complete eradication.

What is the minimum amount of salt required to effectively eradicate ivy?

The necessary quantity of salt to kill ivy can vary, but generally, a half-inch layer of rock salt applied around the base of the plant is a starting point. Observe the plant and reapply weekly as needed until the ivy dies.

Is it possible to rapidly destroy ivy, and what method achieves the quickest results?

For rapid destruction of ivy, cutting the ivy at the base to sever it from its roots, followed by an application of concentrated glyphosate herbicide, tends to work fastest. Bear in mind that it may still require several weeks to see full results.

About the author 


Hey there, I am founder and editor in chief here at Good Grow. I guess I've always known I was going to be a gardener. I'm on a mission to share my UK based weed control & lawn care tips with you all. If you have any queries please post in the comments below.

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