English Ivy on Fir Trees

Asked February 25, 2013, 7:32 PM EST

I own a 2 ac property in Oregon City that has many large fir trees. Large = 4' dia and bigger. The ground is covered with English ivy and it has grown up the fir tree. Some of the ivy stems are 1-2" in diameter. Can I simply cut them at the base of the tree to kill them? I know I will never be able to control the ground cover in the area. but should I use some kind of herbicide around the base of the tree to keep the ivy off the trees? Is the tree in danger of dying and falling over? I do not live in the area so what kind of professional can I call to evaluate whether the tree(s) is in danger?

Clackamas County Oregon weed control

1 Response

Thank you for your question to Ask the Expert.

Here is general information about English Ivy: http://your.kingcounty.gov/dnrp/library/water-and-land/weeds/BMPs/english-ivy-control.pdf

Removing ivy from the trees is the first step to control of this very tenacious plant. Cut all of the vines going up the trees at both shoulder height and ankle height and pry the vines away from the trunk of the tree without damaging the bark of the tree. This procedure cuts the flow of nutrients to the vines in the trees and eventually can kill those vines. Also, remove ivy from the base of the tree to keep it from growing up the tree again in the short term. Here is more information on mechanical ivy removal: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/article/201781#Ivy%20Removal%20Methods

In terms of herbicides, ivy has waxy leaves which limit the effectiveness of herbicides. New, less-waxy leaves will absorb herbicides better than older, more waxy leaves. Here is a publication with more information regarding use of herbicides on ivy:

As for professionals to help you, you might look for arborists or tree care companies to help you to perform the work needed to start to control the ivy that is growing up the trees. I would recommend getting bids from at least several companies.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.