How to Control the Spread of English Ivy


English ivy is often first introduced to the landscape as an ornamental vine. But this aggressive grower and prolific spreader rarely stays put. English ivy easily outcompetes most plants in its vicinity and if left to grow unchecked, it quickly takes over the landscape. Early control of the spread of ivy is advisable whenever possible. Substantial ivy colonies can take down mature trees, damage buildings and harbor rats and other pests underneath their foliage. And the larger the colony gets, the more difficult it is to control the spread.

Step 1

Pull up the ivy. English ivy is an aggressive spreader, but its roots are quite shallow. Grab the ivy as close to its roots as possible and systematically pull it up. More often than not, its roots will come up with it. After the ivy is pulled up, use a hand tiller to till the soil where the ivy was growing. This will expose any root pieces that may have been left behind. Pick these up and discard them. They are capable of regenerating.

Step 2

Pull ivy off of trees. Use lopping shears to cut back much of the ivy's foliage. Then use a screwdriver or similar tool to pry the ivy's tendrils from the bark. Leave any ivy that is too tall to be easily reached--it will die when cut off from the ground supply. Uproot the vines at the base of the trees or the ivy will simply climb back up. Wait several months or at least until the English ivy's next growing season to see if any ivy comes back.

Step 3

Pull any plants up as you spot them.

Step 4

Plant a competitive ground cover where English ivy grew previously. This will discourage another outbreak.

Step 5

Spread a 1- to 2-inch layer of organic mulch within the drip line of previously infested trees (but at least 1 foot away from their trunks). This will discourage English ivy from coming back.

Things You'll Need

  • Lopping shears
  • Hand tiller
  • Screwdriver
  • Ground cover
  • Organic mulch


  • King County, Washington: English Ivy
  • Oregon State University: English Ivy
Keywords: English ivy, control English ivy, spread English ivy

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.