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 or these tips aren’t proving effective, we suggest you consider qualified professional services.
Hedera helix – Georgia EPPC Category 1 (serious problem in Georgia)
Removal for this species is fairly straightforward, with minimal follow-up if the area is removed successfully the first time. However, removal of this species is very time consuming. In high density areas, it is difficult to pull up all the roots on the first pass.
English ivy in the ground layer beginning to climb up a tree.
Sever Climbing Vines
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 20-50%) 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.
Tree trunk covered in climbing English ivy vines.
Use hand pruners to sever smaller vines at chest height.
Use a hand saw to cut larger vines at chest height.
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.
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
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.
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.
Uprooted segments should have roots still attached to the vine.
“Category” refers to description of invasiveness based on information from the Georgia and North Carolina Exotic Pest Plant Council (EPPC) and do not necessarily reflect the severity of invasions in Atlanta specifically. View our Resource “Atlanta’s Top Invasive Plants (A to Z) Expanded List” for more information.
A great opportunity to learn is volunteering with us at a Forest Restoration project. Please view our Calendar of upcoming service projects or consider enrolling in our annual Forest Stewardship training program. For other species removal, also read: How to Remove Our Top 10 Invasive Plants.
If you have any questions about this guide please email firstname.lastname@example.org.