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How to Kill English Ivy

By Tracy Morris ; Updated September 21, 2017
Removing English ivy can be difficult.
Ivy image by Tomasz Pawlowski from Fotolia.com

Although some landscapers plant English ivy as a perennial groundcover, others see the plant as an invasive weed. English ivy can completely cover all other vegetation, smothering it out and creating ‘ivy deserts,’ areas where only English ivy grows. According to The Ardens, the unofficial website of Arden, Delaware, English ivy is also a fire hazard as well as a haven for rodents and other pests. But because ivy will return from the roots, killing English ivy can be a tricky undertaking.

Cut a 2 inch section out of an English ivy vine for every 12 inches of vine. Start at the base of the vine and work your way out. If a vine begins to climb, you can use a ladder to follow the vine up as far as you are comfortable going.

Paint the cut stems with a systemic herbicide containing glyphosate. Wait for the vines to die before attempting to remove them. Dead vines will turn brown, and leaves will turn brittle when the vine is dead.

Dig the root system of the ivy up using a garden shovel and rake. This is known as grubbing. Although systemic herbicide may kill some of the roots, it may not kill them all. If you do not remove all ivy roots, new plants will spring up from the roots. Digging up the root system is the surest method of removing ivy.

Pull vines down from trees and the sides of buildings, or up from the ground once the vines have died. Ivy vines have a root system that anchors into trees and buildings to help the vine climb. Any attempt to remove vines before they have died may damage trees or buildings.

Place vines and roots in plastic garbage bags and discard them. Do not attempt to compost mature vines and roots. This may cause you to spread ivy into your compost.


Things You Will Need

  • Pruning saw
  • Pruning shears
  • Glyphosate
  • Gloves
  • Face mask
  • Ladder
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Plastic garbage bags


  • Always wear protective gloves and breathing protection, such as a face mask, when handling herbicide.

About the Author


Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.