Asked March 7, 2020, 4:36 PM EST
WHAT SHOULD I USE TO PREVENT GROUND COVER FROM CLIMBING MY TREES ???
Montgomery County Pennsylvania
Thank you for your question. You do not say what type of ground cover is climbing your trees. Two common ones are English ivy and wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei). Both are invasive species and it will be difficult for you to stop them from climbing trees.
You will need to remove the groundcover from around the bottom of the tree whenever you see it getting close to the trunk. The plants are usually easier to pull up after rains have softened the soil. If pulling is done during the winter, any perennials in these beds are less apt to be damaged while they are dormant. Ivy stems are strong and not deeply-rooted, so long sections can be pulled up at a time. Be sure to wear a long-sleeved shirt and gloves, as the sap from English ivy may cause dermatitis on sensitive individuals.
You may need to apply an herbicide to control the groundcover. If English ivy is the problem, apply glyphosate in the spring when it has 2 to 4 new leaves. Retreat about six weeks later if you see re-growth. Be aware that pollinating insects, such as honey bees and bumblebees, can be adversely affected by the use of pesticides. Avoid their use unless absolutely necessary. Always follow the instructions on the container carefully.
English ivy is a woody perennial vine that can return from small stem segments. It is also spread by seed. So, return to the site frequently to remove any newly emerged ivy plants.
For more details see the following article: https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/english-ivy-control/
You may decide to remove the groundcover completely and plant something less aggressive. For a comprehensive list of groundcovers for shade read the following: https://extension.psu.edu/shade-tolerant-trees-shrubs-and-groundcovers