Replacing ivy with something safe and strong om a hill

Asked March 12, 2013, 8:47 PM EDT

We have a crew coming this summer to, yeah! yank out the neighborhood ivy that is taking over! We have a steep northern exposure cliff-like hill running along the lower side of the Historic Columbia RiverHighway. There are three families on our driveway who want to plant local ground overs to safely hold the bank but not introduce any unnatural invasive plants. What do you suggest? I don't want to cause ANOTHER problem (like bamboo ... Or ivy!!)

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

Thank you for asking about this project you and the neighbors are taking on. Removing the ivy is generally recommended. I want to sound a note of caution, however, and am glad you are asking questions well before the ivy removal on your "cliff-like hill".
Issues to consider include: How successful will the first ivy pull be? If the ivy regrows it can be difficult to control if the bank is already replanted with desirable choices. Will the bank hold against erosion while replacement plants get established? The first few summers the replacement plants may need water and removal of invasive weeds that seed on the newly bare ground. How will that be handled? Will completing the project in phases over a number of years yield better results? Will retaining walls need to be engineered? Drainage systems revised/installed? Which natives will thrive in your soil and light conditions? Which native plants are available in the quantities and size needed? (Perhaps ordering ahead will be required).
I do not want to discourage you from removing the ivy, but encourage you to plan the whole project before you actually make changes to a steep hillside.
Where to turn for advice? Check with the East Multnomah County Soil and Water Conservation District to see if you qualify for a site-visit: (Their web site may have other resources too.) Is there help offered because of the historic highway designation? OSU publication ec 1595, Invasive Weeds in Forest Land-English Ivy, has resources listed in it, such as the No Ivy League. There are also professional firms for hire to engineer the bank and do landscape planning. Although unable to make specific recommendations, I do encourage you to get help if this is not an appropriate do-it-yourself project.