How to Remove English Ivy

These recommendations are primarily for homeowners and communities that would like to start working in their neighborhood greenspace. For each species, we recommend herbicide-free control methods but have added an herbicide option for some species for those who are comfortable using them. These methods were selected while keeping in mind limiting soil disturbance, reducing herbicide use, and avoiding harm to other species that may be present whether they be other plants/animals. Manual removal is possible for all of them if you have the time. If the infestation is overwhelmingly severe/large, we suggest you look into professional control.


Removal Difficulty: Easy


Removal for this species is listed as easy because the technique is fairly straightforward, with minimal follow-up if the area is removed successfully the first time. However, the removal of this species is very time-consuming.

 

English ivy climbing a tree

English ivy in the ground layer beginning to climb up a tree

 

Remove Climbing Vines

 

Flowering ivy

Leaf shape changing as it grows vertically

 

Removing woody vines growing on trees should take first priority when tackling invasive vines. Be sure to positively identify every vine, because not all vines growing on trees are bad. Avoid cutting native vines, especially poison ivy or you’ll get a nasty rash! When you sever a vine on a tree, everything above that point will die, so there is no need to remove everything growing on the tree. Instead, focus on removing everything from chest height down. This allows you to see very clearly if you missed any vines.

Depending on how old the vine is, you will need to use hand pruners, or a pruning saw to cut the vines. When using a pruning saw, be careful not to saw into the tree itself. Cut a vine at chest height and pull/peel the vine down past the base of the tree. If the vine is thick, cut it down to the base of the tree. You can then either leave the stump (cut-and-leave) or treat the stump (cut-and-treat) with a high concentration (between 18-50%) glyphosate solution to prevent regrowth. If you treat the stump, exercise extreme caution. Do not get herbicide anywhere but on the stump or it could impact the health of your tree.

 

Ivy climbing a tree

Tree trunk covered in climbing English ivy vines

 

Removing ivy from tree

Use hand pruners to sever smaller vines at chest height

 

Cutting ivy vine

Use a hand saw to cut larger vines at chest height

 

Spraying ivy vine

Apply herbicide directly to stem within 5-10 minutes of cutting. Be careful not to get the herbicide on anything by the English ivy stem, especially the tree it is growing on.

 

Tree with ivy removed

All English ivy vines from chest height to tree base have been removed

 

Check out this video of Fernbank Museum of Natural History Ecologist, Eli Dickerson demonstrating how to remove English Ivy from trees.

Hand-Pull Ground Vines

 

English ivy

A thick mat of ground layer English ivy

 

The most effective way to remove this invasive vine growing in the ground layer is to hand-pull and uproot an area. Although this can be time-consuming, you will have the least amount of regrowth and damage to native plants. In areas where thick mats have formed, a hard rake can be helpful in getting started. This tool does not really help uproot the plant, but it clears away a lot of the vines to make hand-pulling easier.

 

Hand raking English ivy

Using a hard rake to break up the thick mat of English ivy

 

When uprooting plants, be sure to tug at one vine at a time to limit the amount of soil disturbance. After removing a segment shake the excess dirt off the roots and toss into a pile to dry out so it cannot regrow. If you have the ability to bag the vines and take off-site, you will not have to worry about segments rerooting.

 

Hand-pulled English ivy

Uprooted segments should have roots still attached to the vine

 

If you have any questions about this guide please email restoration@treesatlanta.org.