Ivy is a fast-growing evergreen vine that can attach itself to nearly any surface or structure. While ivy is sometimes used as ground cover in natural areas, it almost always spreads outside the desired perimeter. Wild ivy grows well in shaded wooded areas, and can threaten the health of the trees and other plants it overruns. Though ivy is not technically a parasitic plant, it poses dangers by smothering other plants. Ivy can also pose danger to your home; because the vine retains a great deal moisture, it can promote wood rot in any wooden section of your house to which it is attached.
Ground Cover Ivy
Put on a pair of work gloves and pull the ivy vines up from the ground and toward yourself.
Cut the vines once you cannot pull them any further. Cut the vine as close to the ground as you can and throw away all of the vine that you cut free.
Insert a screwdriver between the root and soil beneath it. Pop as much of the root as you can out of the soil with the screwdriver. When you cannot pull any more of the root free, cut it as close to the soil as you can. Throw away all of the vine and root sections you pulled free.
Douse the remaining root in the soil with an herbicide labeled for ivy eradication.
Repeat the steps above for each additional ivy vine on the ground.
Ivy on a Tree or Structure
Cut through a section or band of vines growing on a tree or structure. Make the first cut at the vine stem, 12 to 24 inches off the ground. Raise up another 12 inches, and make another cut through the vines so that you have removed an entire section that is 1 foot long. Continue around the entire tree or down the length of the structure so that there is a 12-inch gap between the vines on the ground and those above.
Pour an herbicide labeled for ivy use into a plastic container.
Dip a paintbrush into the herbicide.
Brush the herbicide onto the cut ends of the vine stems close to the ground. By brushing the herbicide on the stems, you reduce the chances of transferring herbicide to the host tree. Brushing also allows you to apply more herbicide to a smaller area. Brush all of the lower vine stems around the tree or on the structure. The herbicide will kill the lower part of the vine, eventually working its way to the root.
Large Beds of Wild Ivy
Spray the bed of ivy with herbicide. Take notice of any nearby plants and avoid spraying them. Herbicide will rarely kill an entire bed of ivy by itself, and should be used in conjunction with another method.
Cover the entire bed of ivy with mulch. The mulch needs to be several inches thick, possibly up to 5 or 6 inches. Wood chip mulch works well because it is heavy and will be less likely to shift or be blown away than other varieties.
Place sheets of cardboard over the mulch.
Weight the cardboard down with bricks or large rocks. The mulch will kill the ivy by smothering it while the cardboard will prevent too much of the mulch from being washed away by rain or blown away by wind. Allow the mulch to cover the ivy for two growing seasons before removing.