Evergreen and ever growing.
Often called Climbing Ivy or Common English Ivy. It's common all across the UK. Low maintenance and year round green make it a popular choice for gardeners & landscapers.
Unfortunately, the same resilience and ease of care that can make ivy the choice of landscapers makes it difficult to get rid of.
While its removal can be frustrating, time and patience are the only things required. Remember, procrastination is a gardeners worst enemy and Ivies best friend.
What you'll need
Obviously the method you choose to get rid of your Ivy problem will depend on the time you have and amount of money your willing to spend.
If money is no object and your short on time then the easiest and best way is to call a professional landscaper or gardener.
If you choose to do it yourself you will find that regardless the method, it takes a concerted effort to kill English Ivy as once it sets in roots, the plant's interconnected structure makes it difficult to completely kill.
Using chemical or manual methods will likely require multiple "treatments" ... Ivy is notorious but with persistence and patience it can be easily eliminated.
Eliminating that PESKY Ivy isn't an expensive job and even if you have zero gardening equipment it can be picked up for less than £20 at your local garden store.
Garden shears and gloves
The most important equipment no matter what method you choose to eradicate your Ivy is a good pair of gardening shears. This is because live or dead, you will need to cut away the tendrils and leaves.
The size of shears will likely depend on how established your ivy has become. The longer its had to grow, the thicker its stems and tendrils will likely be, requiring potentially larger or sharper pruning shears.
The best choice for shears are ones that likely allow you either to chop away large stems and tendrils or allow for quick and comfortable clipping of smaller pieces.
MAKE SURE THEY ARE SHARP!
Consider both a smaller set of shears and a larger pair as you will need to trim away smaller pieces along with the larger stems. Long armed pruning shears may also come in useful if the Ivy is growing in a hard to reach place.
On its own, herbicide is difficult to use for two reasons:
The first problem is that English Ivy has a waxy layer on its leaves, making it difficult for herbicides to penetrate and take effect on the ivy.
The other issue is that many herbicides will kill not only the ivy, but most other plant life, making this method difficult for the removal of ivy that has encroached on other plants.
Most likely you will have to use an herbicide that contains glysophate which will damage other green plants if they come in contact with the glysophate, meaning that you will need to be careful when applying.
TOP TIP :
Get the Pump n Spray deluxe. It'll Kill Ivy no matter how established. Pour, pump, spray & wait. It's that easy.
An alternate to glysophate that is more ideal for ground cover ivy is triclopyr, which is suited for weeds that grow in grass.
If ivy has encroached onto your lawn, triclopyr can minimize damage to grasses. But keep in mind that triclopyr is harmful to trees and shrubs,
Regardless of what you've read online, there are no DIY weed killers that will kill Ivy, they may burn parts of it but it will just regrow.
Even with herbicides, which are easier and less work intensive at first, they do require similar clean up and trimming to remove the dead ivy as chemical free methods. You will also likely have to make several applications to completely kill off the ivy.
The clear advantage is that most herbicides will also kill the roots of plants, preventing their return once the leaves wither.
TOP TIP :
Add dish soap to your weed killer to aid in the penetration of waxy leaves. Alternatively you can roughen up the leaves with a rake before application of the weed killer. Always use a sprayer when applying weed killer to Ivy for accurate dispersal.
A disposal method
No matter your method of removal, you will likely need some way to dispose of English Ivy in a way that will prevent its spread to other areas.
While ivy can be composted, most knowledgeable gardeners do not recommend that you compost live plants, or plants treated with glysophate or triclopyr.
You could also bundle and dispose of the English Ivy with your regular trash or garden waste pickup. One caveat with this method is that depending on what is done with your garden waste, it is likely possible that you could be passing on this problem to someone else.
A better choice if possible is to burn the plants once removed. This will prevent any seeds from spreading after removal. Make sure though that if you used a chemical treatment that those chemicals can be burnt without noxious fumes being created.
Get rid of Ivy without chemicals
- Removing ivy requires you to start close to the ground and work your way up. This is because like most other plants, ivy needs draw nutrients from its roots.
- Cut thoroughly to ensure that the ivy plant has no contact with the ground. Since ivy creates a web of tendrils and stems to support itself, even one living stem can be enough to sustain an ivy plant.
- You first cuts should be roughly six to twelve inches from the ground. This not only deprives the ivy plant of its roots, but gives you enough plant to grip to uproot the part of the plant in the ground.
- As you are cutting, you will want to pull the ivy plant away from whatever surface it is growing. Depending on how long your ivy has grown unchecked, a single ivy plant could cover several square feet on its own.
- If cutting ivy that is growing on a tree, be mindful to not damage the tree as the ivy has likely weakened the tree and any cuts may make it more susceptible to disease.
TOP TIP :
Sharp pruning shears are a must. Ivy isn't too thick but make sure you get a well made pair as it's likely you will be cutting a lot.
Click here see more manual weeding tips for other tough weeds and general gardening.
Kill Ivy with weed killer
- Because of the waxy coat on the leaves of ivy, it is advisable to rake over the leaves in order to strip away some of that protective coating to allow your herbicide to enter the ivy.
- While most herbicides are not dangerous in the low concentrations found on the market, it is advised to follow the safe handling instructions on the herbicide.
- Spray thoroughly trying to coat the entire ivy plant, but try to avoid foliage of the plants you want to keep. Watch for over spill, if you stand on it then your grass it will kill your grass.
- After the ivy has been treated, you will want to clear away the dead ivy. It is also likely that it will take several applications 3-4 weeks apart to completely kill off the ivy.
- It is best to follow the stated guidelines on the label of your weed killer. Most glyphosate based weed killers will take several weeks to work and may need re-application after 3-4 weeks if regrowth occurs.
- Once the herbicide has killed the Ivy you will still have to cut roughly 2 inches from the ground and dispose of the dead Ivy. If done correctly the Ivy won't regrow from the roots.
TOP TIP :
Add dish soap to your weed killer mixture to more easily penetrate the waxy Ivy foliage. If using weed killer we recommend using a sprayer set for accurate and efficient distribution of the chemical.
How to prevent Ivy
- In North America and many parts of the world, ivy is considered an invasive plant and in some areas illegal to even introduce into an area. Since you are reading on how to kill English Ivy, it is likely that you live in an area which has little ability to naturally limit the growth of ivy.
- English Ivy can be a pleasing addition to your landscaping if care is taken to prevent overgrowth. This means that you will need to trim the ivy back to contain it to its desired area.
- Planting ivy in a pot or basket and confining the plant to just sprouting from that can help assist you in containing the ivy to a given area.
- Also, when disposing of ivy, either burn or dispose of the ivy in dumping site for garden waste ideally, or for pickup with other garden waste.
TOP TIP :
If properly killed and disposed of it's unlikely to return. If you are going to kill Ivy use a weed killer and let it do it's work then remove by hand and burn the plants.
The weed killer will ensure the Ivy is properly killed so that it doesn't regrow from the root system. Ideally leave it for 30 days after application before removing.
How to kill Ivy climbing trees
- Similar to what was already said to manually and chemically controlling ivy, you will want to start with the lowest ivy first. If done correctly, will cut off nutrients to the higher ivy, making it easier to remove if necessary.
- Work your way around the trunk of the tree at around several inches to a foot off the ground and cut or spray the ivy.
- Once you have completely cut away near ground level, you can tear some of the lower ivy away from the tree, being careful to not strip away bark.
- Continue progressively moving up the tree, cutting in away in bands until you get to about shoulder height.
- Once at should height, you can spray again at that point to speed the death of the ivy to about a day, or wait a few days for the ivy to die off on its own. Then you can get on a ladder to try to remove higher ivy if desired as it should no longer be tightly attached to the tree.
- Finally, if there is any ivy on the ground around the tree, you will want to cut back the ivy around the tree about two to three feet, creating a cleared ring around the tree and limiting the possibility of the ivy regrowing onto the tree.
TOP TIP :
If using a herbicide be ultra careful not to get on to the tree. You can use a sprayer or paint the concentrated weed killer on with a brush or similar. Most weed killers can't be absorbed through bark but the Ivy may have damaged underneath.
Get rid of Ivy growing across the ground
- Unlike with trees, it is likely that you will have to work progressively through the patch of ivy, continually cutting away stems attached to the ground. You can either spray or cut first. From experience, clearing is easier if you cut first.
- You will need to cut the same height as if cutting around a tree to make pulling the roots of the ivy easier.
- Starting at one edge of the ivy, systematically cut the ivy off from the ground.
- As you cut, roll the ivy onto itself. This will expose the next series of stems to cut and make disposal simpler.
- Once the ivy is cut away, it should roll easily and be able to be taken away for disposal.
- With the ivy cleared, you will then want to pull the roots or spray the stems with herbicide to kill off the ivy plants.
Did you know?
Ivy is a perrenial weed and can easily regrow from left over roots. If you don't use a weed killer make sure you get all the roots.
Patience is key with Ivy, even with a strong weed killer you may need 2 applications to completely eradicate the climbing Ivy.
How to get rid of Ivy on walls or fencing
- Similar to trees, the ivy will attach itself to pores in the bricks or fencing material. This only means that you will need to work incrementally, removing the ivy in manageable pieces.
- Since it is unlikely that there are other viable or desired plants around ivy growing on walls or fencing, you might find it easiest to spray herbicide and then clear away the dead ivy plants.
- Be mindful that ivy might have grown into cracks or gaps making its removal damaging to the structure the ivy is growing. This is another reason it is wise in this situation to work in pieces.
- Again, start from the bottom and work your way up, keeping an eye out for other wood or gutters where the ivy could have also taken root.
- With brick, concrete or stone, it is recommended that you scrub away the ivy that worked itself into the surface like in this picture usually this can be done with a brush and sprayer or a powerwasher.
Top Tip :
If you don't mind waiting you can cut the Ivy at the base of the wall or fence and pull up the roots. This will slow down the growth until you can get around to dealing with it properly.
Ivy, friend or foe? You decide.
While it can be a pleasing part of your landscaping, can also be an unwanted part of your garden. Many enjoy allowing their Ivy to climb their home and it provides ideal nesting grounds for small birds and other wildlife.
Many believe it a nuisance plant and if left unchecked it will damage walls, crowd out other plants and even grow into your concrete,
Through a concerted effort and diligent work, you can remove it. The key is patience & persistence.
While it is possible to kill off the ivy through both manual and chemical means alone, it recommended to combine the two, along with thorough disposal, in order to most likely assure that the ivy does not recur..
Did you know?
Ivy was hugely popular in the 60s, 70s & 80s for landscaping. It is still relatively common across gardens in the UK.