How to Manage English Ivy


English ivy (Hedera helix) is a fast-growing, evergreen climbing vine. It is desirable for its ability to climb over and hide unattractive structures and is often used as a way of adding interest to a wall or fence. As a ground cover, English ivy appears as a thick mat of attractive dark green, light green or variegated leaves. English ivy is a very hardy, fast-spreading plant that can quickly become invasive. For that reason, it should not be left alone to grow unchecked but should instead be managed carefully.

Step 1

Plant English ivy in the right location. It is excellent when used as a ground cover, especially on slopes, as it can control erosion. Do not plant it where it can invade a neighbor's garden, or where it will grow over and cover nearby shrubs or plants, as it will become almost impossible to manage.

Step 2

Prevent English ivy from climbing. If English ivy is not allowed to climb, it will not mature and proliferate, according to Gerald Klingaman, a horticulturist with the University of Arkansas. English ivy is attractive when grown as a lush, green mat around a tree trunk, but the tiny tendrils of the vine will quickly climb and overtake the tree. To prevent this, clip any vertically growing branches, then spray the clipped stubs with a broad-leaf herbicide to prevent new sprouts from growing.

Step 3

Mow any undesirable patches of English ivy, then hit it with a liberal application of herbicide. Finish by laying down a thick carpet of mulch. Six inches of mulch will prevent the ivy from sprouting. You can also rip up the ivy by hand or with a shovel.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear protective clothing, including work gloves and long sleeves, as English ivy is poisonous and can cause painful and itchy rashes if it comes into contact with bare skin.

Things You'll Need

  • Work gloves
  • Protective clothing
  • Clippers
  • Lawn mower
  • Mulch
  • Shovel
  • Broad-leaf herbicide


  • University of Arkansas: English Ivy
  • Walter Reeves: English Ivy ontrol

Who Can Help

  • Portland Online: The Problem With Ivy
Keywords: Hedera helix, English ivy, how to manage

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.