Ivy (Hedera), so long in fashion, is now classified as an invasive plant and removal is an important project for many gardeners. The popular English ivy (Hedera helix) was planted at colleges on the East Coast of the United States, leading to the description of the schools as the "Ivy League." According to the Washington Native Plant Society, modern gardeners should understand that ivy will take over a garden and kill trees and shrubs in its path--in addition to attacking the mortar in brick walls. Ivy removal opens up space in your garden for new ground covers and vines that give you a chance for more creative landscaping.
Remove Ivy From Trees
Put on your gloves and take the smallest possible pruning tool to cut the ivy vines on the tree trunk. Cut each vine at ground level and at your shoulder level. Avoid cutting the tree trunk.
Pull the cut section of vines off the tree trunk.
Pull vines from the ground surrounding the tree, until you have a 6-foot area of cleared ground on all sides of the tree. This open space is called the tree's "life saver," said Linda McMahan of the Oregon State University Extension Service in "Ivy Removal in a Home Landscape."
Stack the vines you have pulled in your municipal yard waste container.
Leave the dying ivy vines in the tree above your shoulder level. In a few months they will be dead and winter storms will blow them down, McMahan said.
Remove Ivy From the Ground
Put on gloves and use pruners or loppers to cut the ivy that is around shrubs or plants.
Pull ivy up by the roots and leave the roots exposed to the sun to kill the vines.
If there is a solid mass of ivy, pull the roots nearest you and roll the ivy toward you into a log shape. This is most easily done with two or more people.
Dispose of the ivy logs and piles of pulled vines in your municipal yard waste.
Cover the newly exposed ground with 6 inches of mulch to protect the soil from being compacted by rain and snow. Choose wood chips for an easily obtained mulch.
About this Author
Daffodil Planter's writing appears in the Chicago Sun-Times, and she is the Sacramento Gardening Scene Examiner for Examiner.com. A member of the Garden Writers Association, she has a bachelor's degree from Stanford, a law degree from the University of Virginia and studies horticulture at Sierra College.