How To Kill Ivy – Get Rid Of It Forever

English Ivy is it your friend of your foe?

Although some people find it pleasing to look at, some people find it an unwanted part of the exterior of their home. 

Ivy can provide a habitat for wildlife, provide pollen and fruit for trees, and doesn’t harm walls as long as the mortar isn’t crumbling and is sound. Consider whether the ivy really needs to be removed in this case.

In addition to providing ideal nesting grounds for small birds and other wildlife, many people enjoy letting their Ivy climb their home.

Most people consider this plant a nuisance;  left unattended, it ruins a brick wall causing structural damage, crowds out other plants, grows up a tree trunk and loves t grow up a wooden fence. 

You can eliminate it with some hard graft and by following the steps we lay out in this guide. Patience and perseverance are essential.

In addition to chemical or manual methods of killing the ivy, it is preferred to combine both methods, including thorough disposal, to ensure that the ivy will not reappear.

What is English Ivy ?

Scientific Name is Hedera Helix

It is an evergreen woody vine.  This vine grows vertically or covers a large area of ground.  Young plants have heart-shaped leaves with pointed lobes, while mature plants have broad lanceolate leaves.  It can be a thick, bumpy, gnarly, light grey vine with a diameter of 10 inches.  It blooms in June to October with greenish-yellow flowers.  Drupe clusters mature to a dark blue colour from October to May.

Ivy is not an invasive plant to the UK and is actually native to the UK and Europe. Ivy is the common name for a species of about 20 different evergreen perennial plants, for example Poison Ivy is one of them. Trees do not get damaged by Ivy, Ivy does not harm healthy trees, a common myth about it is that it damages trees; however, this myth is not necessarily true. Saying that Ivy can reduce the capacity of a healthy tree to generate energy.

How does English Ivy Spread?

In addition to producing flowers and seeds that are dispersed by birds, mature Ivy vines propagate through vegetative runners. Controlling mature ivy stands can be challenging. Ivy can be hard to remove by hand or by clipping alone as it grows aggressively when mature. Usually, mechanical and chemical methods have to be used in the home garden when trying to control English Ivy.

How to dispose of English Ivy?

If you are going to remove English Ivy by any method, make sure you take measures to prevent its spread elsewhere. It is possible to compost ivy, but expert gardeners recommend not composting live plants or plants that have been treated with glyphosate or triclopyr. English Ivy can also be bagged and disposed of with your regular garbage or garden waste collection.  In this method, there is one caveat: depending on how the council handle your garden waste collection, you may be passing on a problem to someone else.

If possible, burning the plants after removal is the best option using a garden incinerator.. Seeds will not be able to spread after removal with this method. Be sure you can burn chemicals without creating noxious fumes if you are using a chemical treatment.

What tools will you need?

Garden Shears
A good pair of gardening shears will be the most important tool whatever method you choose for eradicating ivy. You will have to remove the leaves and tendrils whether the plant is alive or dead. You should pick the right size of shears based on how well established your ivy is. Those plants that have grown for quite some time make their stems and tendrils thicker and more rigid, requiring potentially sharper or larger pruning shears. It is best to choose shears that will either chop leaves and stems up to a manageable size or allow you to clip smaller pieces with total ease. You will have an easier life if you have sharp shears. Make sure that your shears are sharp.

Gardening Gloves

Weed Killer
A significant problem with English Ivy is a woody weed, its leaves have a waxy coating, making it difficult for herbicides to penetrate and kill it.  In addition, many herbicides will kill both the ivy and most other plants during the treatment, which makes this method difficult for removing encroaching ivy. A glyphosate-containing herbicide (weed killer) is typically needed to control English ivy; these chemicals can cause damage to green plants if they come into contact with them, so you need to be cautious when you use them.

The best Weed Killer you want is one based on Glyphosate with a 360g/l strength. Or Triclopyr (Vitax SBK Brushwood Killer).  The most effective time to apply a triclopyr herbicide is when the leaves have expanded in the spring. Between two weeks before full bloom and two weeks after full bloom (early summer) is the best time to apply a glyphosate herbicide. We have also created a helpful guide on pet friendly weed killer to use.

Spray Bottle
For the herbicide if using a concentrated weed killer or even a Garden Sprayer.

Garden Fork

Video on an effective method on how to kill Ivy.

The best way to remove Ivy without using chemicals

  1. Starting at the bottom and working upward is the best way to remove ivy. The ivy roots provide the nutrients that it needs to grow, just as they do for most other plants.
  2. Be sure the ivy plant does not touch the ground when you cut it. A single stem of ivy can be sufficient for sustaining the plant because it forms a web of tendrils and stems to support itself.
  3. Ideally, you should make your first cut approximately 6 to 12 inches from the ground. You not only pull the ivy plant uproot from the ground, but also remove the roots from it so that you can uproot the part that is still in the ground.
  4. You should definitely pull the ivy away from any surface it has grown on when cutting it. An ivy plant which has grown unchecked for an extended period of time may cover several square feet by itself.
  5. With a garden fork start digging a circle around the ivy, loosening the soil as you go. Once it’s loose then you can pull out the remaining roots of English ivy.
    Remember to dispose of if properly.

Using weed killer to kill ivy in an effective chemical control method

  1. Weedkiller should be lightly sprayed on ivy leaves to prevent the weedkiller from dripping off the leaves, or better yet crush and damage them before spraying so that the weedkiller can penetrate deeper due to the fact that they have a waxy leaf which almost protects it from weed killers.
  2. Herbicides are usually not dangerous at the amount found on the market, but careful handling is advised, so always read directions carefully.
  3. Apply thoroughly, cover the entire ivy plant. Avoid spraying the leaves of other plants you intend to keep. 
  4. It is important to remove the dead leaves and vines after the ivy has been treated. To completely kill the ivy, several applications 1 to 2 weeks apart are likely to be needed.
  5. If regrowth occurs then re-apply the weed killer.
  6. If the herbicide kills the ivy, then it will still need to be cut at the proper height, about 2 inches from the ground and the dead ivy needs to be disposed of. You won’t get regrowth from the ground roots if you do it correctly.
  7. Avoid doing this method when there are strong winds, thereby avoiding spraying nearby plants by mistake. 

You can also use Vinegar with at least 20% acetic acid strength as a natural safe chemical free weed killer.

How to kill Ivy from trees

  1. You’ll want to start by controlling the lowest ivy first, just as we said about manually and chemically controlling it. When done properly, it will prevent the higher ivy from being able to absorb nutrients, making it easier to remove.
  2. Around several inches to a foot off the ground, work your way around the trunk of the tree, cutting or spraying the ivy.
  3. You can remove some of the lower ivy from the tree once you have completely cut the lower ivy away near ground level, but be careful not to pull the tree bark off.
  4. Cutting away in bands from the bottom of the tree, progressively moving up until you reach shoulder or waist level.
  5. The ivy will die on its own in a few days or you can spray again when it is at shoulder or waist height to speed up the process. As the ivy should no longer be tightly attached to the tree, you can then try removing it high up with a ladder.
  6. You should also cut back any ivy around the tree if it has any on the ground so that it is clearly visible. Limit the possibilities of it re-growing by cutting off the ivy approximately two to three feet around the tree.

Videos on How to remove Ivy from trees

Removing ground Cover Ivy

It is crucial to locate all the base roots of this trailing, ground-cover plant before you can kill it, even in dense growth.

Then you can just follow the steps as in the above mentioned methods.