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How to Permanently Kill Ivy

ivy image by Alison Bowden from

If it's not controlled and killed, the ivy vine--both true ivy (Hedera spp.) and poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)--can quickly take over your landscape. The vines grow quickly and often smother surrounding shrubs and plants. Homeowners can permanently kill true ivy and poison ivy using both manual control and chemical control. After killing the ivy, stay vigilant. New seeds in the ground can sprout up, and it's much easier to remove seedlings than it is to kill an adult vine.

Put on protective gear. Skin contact with both the poison ivy plant and true ivy can cause an allergic reaction. Wear shoes, pants and a long-sleeved shirt with gloves.

Cut the ivy vine from its base using pruning shears. Unwind the vine itself from its supporting structure, such as a fence or another plant. Discard the vine; do not save it or put it in your compost.

Dig out the ivy's remaining base using a spade. Insert the spade in a circular fashion around the ivy's base to loosen the soil. Grab the base and pull it upwards to uproot it.

Spray the ivy vine with a dicamba or glyphosate herbicide as an alternative to manually removing the plant. This is ideal for those who don't want to expend the physical effort on digging and cutting. Mist the herbicide on all exposed surfaces of the ivy plant. The plant will die within 10 to 14 days. Follow the herbicide's labeled guidelines, since toxicity varies by product and brand.

Permanently Kill Ivy

Whether you initially plant ivy as a ground cover or to grow up a trellis or building, it will spread quickly to fill in any empty spaces in the garden. Ivy can sometimes be controlled by cutting, with either hand pruners for small patches or a lawnmower for large patches. This method requires no chemicals, making it safest for use in close proximity to desired plants, but it requires persistence -- it can take several months to completely and permanently kill the ivy. Nonselective glyphosate herbicide quickly and effectively kills ivy. Whether you cut the ivy or spray it with herbicide, you must wait until the foliage is completely brown and shriveled before attempting to remove it from a structure. Pull gently to test the bond before pulling down hard on the vines. A thick layer of mulch blocks out sunlight to help prevent ivy from growing. After you pull, dig or kill the ivy with herbicide, lay permeable landscaping fabric over the ground, overlapping the edges of the fabric by at least 6 inches. If new ivy shoots push through the mulch layer, cut them as far below the mulch as possible, or cut the tip of the stem and brush on some herbicide to kill the plant.


Never try to remove or kill poison ivy with fire. The smoke carries the plant's poisonous components and, once airborne, can cause a reaction in your lungs or in your eyes.

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