English ivy (Hedera helix) is a beautiful climbing plant with shiny leaves grown for landscaping. One common problem with ivies is that they are invasive and often reach a state where you need to kill them to remove them.
The best way to get rid of English ivy is to spray weed killer containing glysophate. After this, prune all the stems close to the base. If the stems are thick, use a saw instead of pruners. Dig the soil deep and pull out the roots. Dispose of the entire plant and don’t use it for composting.
You might need to repeat this process as English ivy is hard to kill or eliminate.
If you are troubled with your English ivy growing like weeds, this article will help you kill them and destroy all the excess growth. So, keep reading.
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Why kill an English ivy?
If you haven’t faced the problem of ivy overgrowing and destroying walls or trees, you might not understand why we are discussing this.
Many use English ivy for landscaping and ground covers to hide weed growth.
The problem is that English ivy is an invasive plant that can grow like weeds in no time.
If it gets the ideal conditions, it will grow fast and become a problem for the surrounding trees and structures.
English ivy contains holdfasts which are small suction-cup-like structures that enable them to grip the structures firmly.
When English ivy grows fast, it starts to climb surrounding trees and kill them by preventing sunlight from reaching them.
On the other hand, removing ivy from the buildings also becomes a challenge as there are possibilities of damaging the buildings.
It is best to control its growth before it gets out of hand.
But, if it’s too late, the following sections will help.
How to kill English ivy?
Killing an English ivy is not an easy task and requires some effort.
Even when you conduct an entire process of removing the overgrown ivy, you might need to repeat it as ivies are that hard to remove.
Let’s take a look at the supplies you will need to remove the ivy:
- Garden gloves
- Weed killer with glysophate
- Wire brush
1. Hand-pull the English ivy
Many try to pull their English ivies, but I don’t think that is a long-term solution as they will grow back again.
But, I understand if you prefer this as it is an organic way of getting rid of the ivies.
If you want to use this method, the best time is after the rain.
The soil remains moist, so taking the ivy out becomes easier.
You should be careful while pulling the ivy, so you don’t damage the surrounding plants that you don’t want to remove.
You can mulch the area with cardboard and wood chips to prevent the regrowth of the English ivy.
Ensure that the wood chips are clean and don’t contain weeds like ivy.
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2. Burning the ivy
Burning weeds is not uncommon.
You can use a blow torch to burn the ivy repeatedly, ultimately killing them.
Here’s how you do it:
- Remove all the debris from the spot and ensure there are no flammable materials.
- Light the blow torch and pass the flame slowly along the English ivy.
- Target the roots if possible, as this will dehydrate the plants.
Do this when your English ivy is still small, as it will prevent all the overgrowth.
If you are going for this, do this in early spring or summer.
3. Use herbicide to kill the English ivy
A popular way of getting rid of English ivy is to use a weed killer containing glysophate.
Not all herbicides will work on the ivy because it has a shiny coating on its leaves that’s hard to penetrate.
Use this if you have the ivies spread across a larger area.
The best time to go with this is spring when new growth appears on the plant.
The new leaves don’t have the shiny coating that mature leaves do, so the herbicide will penetrate easily.
You should be very careful when using herbicides, as any wrong move can do a lot of damage.
Always read the label and the instructions carefully to avoid making mistakes.
Make a solution of 2-3% glysophate and spray it on the ivy.
Another ingredient that can be used as an herbicide is triclopyr.
You can prepare a solution with 2-5% triclopyr and spray it on your English ivy.
Do this during spring and target the new leaves.
Avoid applying triclopyr if the weather is humid and warm, as it may remain longer in the soil than glysophate.
Don’t use it if temperatures are above 85 ºF.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Avoid spraying near the roots, trunks, stems, or foliage of trees or plants you don’t want to remove. Herbicides can penetrate and harm the desired plants and trees if you are not careful.
- If you want to save desirable plants, cover them with plant containers or apply glysophate before spring.
- Spray it on a sunny winter day. The low temperatures will not allow the spray to evaporate easily, and it will be able to work more effectively on the ivy. However, there’s another opinion. Herbicides can affect pollinators. To avoid that, many people suggest spraying in the evening. Follow the instructions on the label to understand the best practices.
- Herbicides work slowly. You might need to reapply a few times to eliminate the ivy. You will need to apply every 4-6 weeks.
- Glysophate is banned in many states as WHO probably considers it carcinogenic for humans. Therefore, check the law before using it.
- Always wear masks and gloves while using herbicides.
- Don’t spread herbicide around kids and pets.
- Don’t spray herbicides near water bodies as the water can get contaminated and harm the plants and animals that live in the water or use it.
- Don’t use herbicides on windy days.
4. Remove the English ivy manually
If you don’t want to go for herbicides or any of the methods mentioned above, try digging the ground and pulling the English ivy with its roots.
This is a great organic way of killing the English ivy.
Dig the ground wide and deep as the roots of the English ivy go deep and can be hard to remove.
Remove the vines along with the roots.
Try to remove as many roots and vines as possible as these can easily regrow if you miss any parts.
5. Kill English ivy with vinegar
Take a spray bottle and mix:
- 80% water
- 20% vinegar
Spray it all over your English ivy but don’t spray on the plants you want to keep.
Let this mixture stay on the ivy for a few days.
This will kill the ivies, and when you check next, you should be able to remove the dead ivy easily.
You can use another effective alternative where you make a solution with apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp of salt, and dish soap.
Add this to the spray bottle and spray it on the ivy.
How to kill English ivy on the wall?
If your ivy is growing along a wall, it might be most tricky to deal with it.
Here is a step-by-step process for killing and removing English ivy growing on a wall:
1. Start by spraying an herbicide.
Spray a weed killer with glyphosate on your English ivy.
Remember to read the instructions so you apply them the right way.
I have also mentioned things you should keep in mind while using herbicides in an earlier section so go through that.
2. Pull small sections
Once the herbicide starts showing results and you find yellow leaves, start pulling small sections of the ivy.
Be gentle and careful as pulling with too much force can damage the walls.
If there is too much resistance, leave that section for pruning.
3. Prune the vines
Take sharp pruners and start pruning the vines from the base.
Also, prune the sections that you were not able to peel from the wall.
Don’t forget to dispose of the pruned vines.
4. Dig the ivy roots
The ivy will grow again if you don’t remove the roots.
Dig the ground and try to pull out all the roots from the base of the ground.
If you still notice regrowth, respray herbicide.
5. Clean the wall
When English ivy plants grow on the wall, you will find remains after getting rid of the plants.
These are the holdfasts that you must remove.
Use the scraper to remove them from the wall.
You can also prepare a solution by mixing:
- 3 parts water
- 1 part bleach
- A bit of dish soap
Mix these well and pour them into a spray bottle.
Spray it section-wise on the wall.
After doing this, take a brush and wipe the wall to remove anything left.
How to kill English ivy on a tree?
Don’t neglect if you notice English ivy is growing around a tree.
The vines can damage the tree, and as the ivy reaches the top, it will prevent sunlight from penetrating the leaves of the tree.
So, we must kill the English ivy before it weakens and kills the tree.
Don’t try to pull the vines, as that will damage the bark.
And don’t use herbicide as that will damage the tree.
- Start by pruning the vines at the base of the tree.
- After this, prune the same vines 5 feet up the trunk.
- You can leave the vines to dehydrate or start peeling them from the tree.
- The vines that are hard to peel will eventually dehydrate and die along with those higher up the trunk. Once these are dead or weak, pulling them out of the tree will be easy.
- Now dig the roots from the base of the tree. You might be unable to remove all of it, and there might be regrowth. Be prepared to remove any new growth as soon as you notice them so you can avoid all the hassle.
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Can I use bleach to kill English ivy?
Yes, bleach can be considered for killing English ivy, but it is not the best way as it damages the organic matter.
If you have other plants nearby, don’t consider bleach, as it will damage the plant cells and kill the plants.
Bleach might not even be effective enough for English ivy as it might not reach the roots of the plant.
So, the ivy won’t die permanently but will keep regrowing.
However, if you want to use bleach to kill your English ivy, follow these steps:
- Apply concentrated bleach to the base of the English ivy.
- Pour a bleach solution into a spray bottle and apply it to the ivy leaves.
- You’ll notice that the leaves will start getting discolored.
- Reapply the bleach every 3 days and continue this for a few weeks.
Smaller English ivy plants will die faster, while the bigger ones will take more time.
Will roundup kill English ivy?
Roundup is a herbicide that is either glyphosate or triclopyr based.
These will affect your English ivy within half an hour.
You will notice the leaves changing color from green to yellow.
Apply this to your English ivy during the spring months when it starts producing new leaves.
You will start noticing a visible difference in your ivy after 24 hours from the roundup application.
You can use a concentrated roundup formula if you want to kill your English ivy fast.
Will Creosote kill English ivy?
Creosote is a carbonaceous chemical derived from wood or fossil fuel.
Avoid using this as you have better alternatives to kill English ivies when they grow like weeds.
I don’t recommend creosote because it is considered carcinogenic and can kill other plants along with the English ivy.
It can also cause skin irritation if you don’t use them correctly and cause a burning sensation in your eyes.
So, it is best to use any other method of killing your English ivy mentioned earlier.
Reference: Researchgate, University of Tennessee, Mississippi State University, Central Florida Research and Education Center, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.
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