When and how- best methods to eradicate invasive ivy

Asked January 18, 2017, 10:53 AM EST

I have some trees (mostly poplar) that are getting smothered by poison as well as English ivy. Is there a non-manual, inexpensive way to kill these off? I have tried a machete with no impact....too hard!! I am not really a fan of toxic weed killers because I don't know if they also will affect the trees and shrubs. Would vinegar or salt work without damaging trees? Thank you!

Anne Arundel County Maryland

1 Response

The easiest method is not too hard.
First step: Use hand clippers to cut off the vines close to the base. It's also a good idea to cut them again a couple of feet higher just so you can see clearly that all vines have been cut. Only that section of vine between the 2 cuts should be pulled off the tree. You do not need to remove the top vines because they will all die, disintegrate and fall off all by themselves.

The 2nd step is important! Use a systemic herbicide containing either the ingredient glyphosate of triclopyr, and within 10 minutes spray it just on the newly cut stems. Systemic herbicides travel through the "system" of the plant and down to help kill the roots. Try to do this when the vines are actively growing (spring-summer). Because you are spraying only on the cut stem, you are applying a very very small amount of herbicide and do not need to worry about contaminating your landscape. However, do not get the herbicide on the tree. Hold the sprayer nozzle very close to the stem. You can also use a piece of cardboard in between the stem and the tree as a shield.

Here is an excellent fact sheet on killing English ivy, with many more methods and specifics:https://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/hehe1.htm

Congratulations on removing these damaging invasive plants!