English ivy is often suggested as a quick-growing, attractive ground cover plant for troublesome spots in landscaping or yards. But it can cause its own trouble, as it is a very aggressive and invasive vine that will have no problem taking over the rest of your yard or lawn if left unchecked. For large areas of ivy, spray with herbicide before trying manual removal, not only to make it easier on you to remove, but also to avoid soil disturbance, which can actually stimulate more ivy growth. Small patches can be manually removed from the lawn without herbicide if you prefer.
Get the English ivy ready for maximum herbicide absorption by mowing it with the lawnmower. This will cut it back so you need to use less herbicide, and will also shock the plant into reaching for all available water and nutrients, resulting in more effective poisoning. Apply herbicide mixed with water as directed by the manufacturer, but do so as quickly after mowing as you can.
Spray the ivy with a triclopyr-based herbicide like Garlon 3A or Garlon 4. Check with local environmental agencies to see if you need any licensing or inspection to do this. Triclopyr is recommended for lawn invasions of English ivy because it will target the ivy and leave the grass alone, but it is water soluble and highly toxic, so wear safety goggles, don’t use it near water or wetlands, and apply it on a cool day with no wind to minimize environmental harm.
Wait a day to see how the English ivy responds to the herbicide. It should show significant death and browning within one to two days. Keep pets and children away from the lawn in this time period so the toxic chemicals do not affect them. If the ivy isn’t dying, repeat the application of herbicide after a few days, taking all appropriate safety precautions.
Pull up dead ivy by hand to avoid large soil disturbances that can be caused with a rake or hoe. Wear garden gloves and long-sleeved shirt and pants with closed shoes to avoid getting the irritating ivy juices on your skin. The shallowly rooted vine should come up easily once it has dried up. Be sure to get it all up; English ivy is very resilient and could come back next season if you miss some.
Get the bare patches ready to be filled in with new grass. Lay down a layer of old newspapers to deter any weeds from springing up in the bare spot, and cover the area with grass seed mixture. This will help fill in the lawn and keep any further ivy from growing back.