How to Remove English Ivy

Overview

English ivy (Hedera helix) is an attractive, evergreen vine that is often planted to cover unsightly fences or add visual interest to the sides of buildings. English ivy, which can grow in full shade, is known for its fast growth and hardiness. The plant is such a prolific climber that it can quickly spread into undesirable areas and overcome healthy plants. For this reason, many states have classified English ivy as invasive. Removing English ivy is sometimes necessary to stop its spread or to save overtaken plants.

Removing English Ivy From Trees

Step 1

Cut the ivy at shoulder height, then again at ankle height. Sever the stems in several places. Do not attempt to yank it out of the tree, as this can bring down birds' nests or, worse, a hornet's nest.

Step 2

Carefully pull away all of the ivy you have clipped. Ivy still will be attached to the tree above shoulder height, but it will die and fall off on its own with time. Try not to damage the bark.

Step 3

Pull up the ivy growing at the base of the tree, removing as much as possible and digging as deeply as possible. You may need to use a spade to get it up. Remove as many of the roots as possible. Continue until you have a 6-foot area cleared around the tree .

Step 4

Spray the cleared area with a broad-leaf herbicide (this will not hurt established trees).

Remove Ground Ivy

Step 1

Free up plants that are covered with English ivy by first cutting the stems of the ivy all the way around the plant. Then, carefully remove the ivy from the plant, disturbing the plant as little as possible.

Step 2

Pull up as much of the ivy from the ground as you can. Use a shovel or spade to make sure you get the roots out of the ground.

Step 3

Cover the area with a thick mulch or spray it with an herbicide to discourage any new English ivy growth.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear protective clothing, including long sleeves and work gloves. English ivy can cause contact dermatitis, which will manifest as an ugly, itchy or painful red rash. In some people, the rash can even blister.

Things You'll Need

  • Work gloves
  • Long-sleeved clothing
  • Pruning shears or clippers
  • Broad-leaf herbicide

References

  • University of Arkansas: Plant of the Week: English Ivy
  • IvyOUT: How to Remove English Ivy
  • The Star Ledger: It Will Take Hard Work to Remove English Ivy

Who Can Help

  • WalterReeves.com: English Ivy--Control
Keywords: English Ivy, Hedera helix, get rid of ivy

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.