Massive overgrowth of Poison and English Ivy on tree and grounds

Asked May 24, 2016, 11:01 AM EDT

We moved into a rental home last year so this is our first Spring in this house. To our horror, we've watched as two entire trees and an extended shady, woody patch (better described as bramble) have quickly become covered in a mass of English Ivy and what we suspect to be Poison Ivy as well as other spreading weeds. One of the trees is looking as if it is on its last legs. With the other tree you can barely see the leaves among all the Ivy. The landlord wants to use Roundup or another spray to get rid of this mess. I would rather not have poison in our back yard because we have a dog and out of concern for the environment. Can you recommend any safe, reliable means of getting rid of a massive growth of vines on the trees and the ground? I've seen sites that recommend cutting the vines from the base, using a vinegar mix on the vines and trying to dig out the roots. Do you think this is sufficient and/or necessary? Are there better means? Can you recommend a good resource that does not say to use glyphosate? I would like to send a reputable link to the owners. Thank you.

Montgomery County Maryland

3 Responses

The vine on the left looks like mature English Ivy, an invasive plant. The vine in the middle and right photos looks like virginia creeper, a native vine. It is up to you if you want to keep it.
English ivy - if it is in trees, cut it off at the base of the tree. Also, to make it easier to see what has been removed, cut the vine off again at about shoulder height so that you can easily see a bare area about the tree base. Do not let new tendrils start going up the tree again. Keep it off. If you want to use an herbicide cut it off at the base of the tree and paint the newly cut end of the vine with a systemic herbicide (one with the ingredient glyphosate or triclopyr) at a high strength. Do not let the herbicide get on the tree. Household Vinegar will not be effective. If you want to tackle the vines on the ground, In the spring, you can pull, prune out or even mow all the vines down to the soil surface, so there are no mature leaves left and you've removed as much vine as you can. You can also physically pull or dig up the root. Be prepared to dig up any new growth.
See the fact sheet on English Ivy

As I said, I am looking for a solution that does not include using herbicides. I want to avoid using glyphosate or tricloppyr if at all possible. Do you have any recommendations that do not involve the use of toxic chemicals? If not, can you recommend a resource that might have such information?

As mentioned 2 of the photos you sent were of Virginia creeper. This is a native vine that does not need to be controlled,
The 1st photo is of English ivy an invasive plant,
Organic herbicides, including vinegar, will not kill vines such as these or mature poison ivy (which is not present in the 3 photos you sent). The reason being is that organic herbicides provide a quick burning of the leaves but are not systemic and therefore do not kill the roots. Mature vines such as you have will regrow unless the roots are killed. If you do not want to use herbicides the vines will have to be manually removed. We do not always recommend using herbicides but controlling mature vines can be challenging. If you want information on using pesticides in a responsible manner go to, Their mission is pesticide safety. You can even call them for advice.