How to Get Rid of English Ivy

The English Ivy is listed as an invasive plant species in many National Park sites because it can spread like wildfire.

There are several ways in which one can manage invasive ivies, including home remedies, herbicides, and even chemicals. As a gardener in California, it is up to you to decide how you want to treat them. This blog takes you through all the options and the process to get it done.

What is English Ivy

The Hedera helix, or English Ivy (as it is better known), is native to Europe and Western Asia. Records show that it was imported to North America in 1727 and has been primarily used as ground cover.

However, the aggressive plant made its way into the environment and now poses a serious threat to many ecosystems. It’s no wonder why many parts of North America have designated Ivy as an invasive species and a noxious weed.

The plant spreads by sending runners to create new plants. It also propagates when birds eat its seeds. The seeds are then dispersed through bird droppings. Although English ivy prefers to grow in full sunlight, it does fairly well in shady areas.

Getting Rid of English Ivy

First things first: wear protective clothing to keep the Ivy plants at bay. Wear durable gloves and shirts with long sleeves that can cover the entire hand.

Wear proper shoes and long pants to cover all skin on your lower body. Exposure to English Ivy can cause skin irritation.

The exact method of removing English ivy depends on where they grow.

Removing English Ivy from Trees

To remove English Ivy growing on trees, you can cut off the vein from the ground. This will starve the vines of nutrients and weaken them. This way, you won’t hurt the tree bark or disturb any beehives or other animals.

Once their vines dry out, you can easily pull them off the tree and discard them. If the vines are deeply entrenched in the tree, pry them loose with the help of a screwdriver.

Try not to pierce the tree in the process.

Removing English Ivy from Walls

Perhaps you like the look of English Ivy growing around your walls. It’s a good aesthetic look – until the ivies envelop the entire wall.

In any case, you might want to get rid of English Ivy from your walls. The removal process may take a few weeks to remove all English Ivy.

Cut the vine at its base and dig out the rots. Make sure to collect all the roots and leaves. Don’t leave anything behind because it could undo all your efforts!

Once you have gathered all the contents, place them in a plastic bag and tie them securely. Discard it properly in a garbage pile.

Replace the area with a thick layer of mulch to prevent the ivy plants from returning.

It may be tempting to use the leaves or roots for your compost pile, but that’s a major risk. English Ivy can multiply very quickly.

Any part of the Ivy you allow to touch the ground can become a new plant.

Next, gently pull the vines off the wall. In the case of older and thicker vines, you might want to allow them to die out. Deprive them of their nutrients so that the plants can slowly wither.

Once they get weak enough, you can remove the vines. This will ensure that you don’t end up damaging the walls.

Removing English Ivy Without the Use of Chemicals

Most gardeners in California are against the use of chemical solutions to kill Ivy leaves. There are alternatives to removing English ivy from your yard without using chemical treatments.

  • If you have a lawnmower, use it on the patch of land where the ivy leaves might grow. Do this a few times a year to discourage the vines from growing.
  • Remove the leaves by pulling them out. Don’t forget to clear out the roots as well to get rid of the plants. Make sure to wear special garden gloves. You can also use a trowel to help remove stubborn roots.
  • White vinegar is a good homemade solution to remove Ivy Killer. You can pour some solutions into a bottle and spray it around the plant. Make sure the vinegar doesn’t affect other plants because it will also kill them.

Removing English Ivy Using Herbicides

If nothing else works, you might have to bring in the big guns: herbicides. Most gardeners in California are probably against the use of herbicides.

But when the going gets tough, the tough get going. You may have to use herbicides if you have a massive area full of old English ivies.

A powerful herbicide that can get the job done is glyphosate. It is an efficient product that can stop the growth of English ivy right in its tracks.

The plants develop a waxy layer to protect themselves from predators and toxic materials. For the herbicide to work, it must get past this barrier.

Most herbicides will evaporate before they get a chance to pierce the barrier. A quick workaround is to buy a herbicide that can work in both winter and summer conditions.

During the colder months, the herbicide will not evaporate. The herbicide can pierce through the plants in the summer months as the sun clears the waxy layer.

To speed up the process, you might want to cut the stems of the Ivy to kill them permanently. You may use a weed eater to get at the stems.

After you’re done with the process, you can apply some glyphosate to what remains of the Ivy plant. Even the toughest cases of English ivies will die out.

Using Boiling Water

There are alternative solutions if you don’t want to risk touching the English Ivy. Boil some water and pour it directly over the plant.

This method is slow and requires multiple applications depending on how widespread the plant is.         

Make sure not to burn yourself. The only problem with this option is that it’s too aggressive. It will also indiscriminately kill any and all vegetation around the English Ivy.

So if the English ivy is growing around other plants, use a more concentrated method to avoid any other plants.

Cover the English Ivy

If you are looking for a quicker solution with the least amount of effort, you could kill the plant by covering it up.

This method requires covering the plant with plastic, wood, chips, cardboard, or other materials. The goal is to toss the entire sun from coming into contact with the area.
This will kill the growth of English ivy since the plant cannot grow without sunlight.

Using Goats

Don’t like using chemical herbicides? You could try to bring goats to your property.

These adorable animals can easily eradicate English ivy without getting affected by the plant. Goats have an enzyme that allows them to digest the plants safely.

If you don’t have goats or know anyone who has animals, you could rent them to clear your land.

Why Should You Get Rid of English Ivy?

English Ivy may be an attractive plant but it can easily spread to cover the entire yard. This means it will compete for resources with other plants, such as oxygen and nutrients.

Such hazardous conditions will eventually kill off your other plants. English Ivy also poses numerous health risks because it is poisonous and can cause dermatitis, an itchy skin condition.

Moreover, English Ivy creates the perfect conditions for mice, spiders (poisonous and non-poisonous), rats, termites, and even snakes!

In the wild, you may see English Ivy covering forest floors and penetrating forest canopies with a thick layer.

Despite being non-native to the US, English ivy can propagate like wildfire. However, despite its aggressive nature, people are fond of the plant because it can purify household air, fight mold, and looks good.

Its vines can scale up tree trunks to cover branches and twigs. This may block sunlight from other plants and disrupt photosynthesis.

Moreover, English ivy collects snow and ice in the winter. This can overburden trees and result in broken trees.

English ivy leaves can be extremely hazardous if consumed. This can be a problem If you have small children or pets that go outside. Ingesting the plant can cause:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach problems
  • Respiration problems
  • Low muscle strength
  • Coordination issues
  • Hallucinations

Due to its high toxicity levels, English ivy should be removed from your house if you have pets and small children.

English ivy is also a fire-hazardous plant with characteristics that allow it to ignite readily and spread to other parts of the forest.

This characteristic allows wildfire and diseases to quickly spread throughout the area.

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Wrapping Up

English ivies are beautiful plants that enhance the beauty of all landscapes. But if they grow out of their lane and become invasive, it becomes necessary to eradicate them.

How to get rid of English Ivy in California without affecting other plants in your garden? The steps outlined in this article are suitable for most situations of English ivy growth.

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