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How to Remove English Ivy

By April Sanders ; Updated September 21, 2017
English ivy can quickly become invasive, necessitating its removal.

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

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.

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.

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 .

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

Remove Ground Ivy

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.

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.

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

 

Things You Will Need

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

Tip

  • Set discarded vines out to dry in the sun, then add them to compost or burn them.

Warning

  • 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.