How to Get Rid of Ivy Roots-In 5 Easy Steps

April 5, 2018

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How to Get Rid of Ivy Roots
ivy roots climbing on a wall

Getting Rid of Ivy Roots in 5 Easy Steps

If you have ever asked yourself the question of how to get rid of ivy roots once they have taken over your yard, this is the blog for you! While it is a beautiful, dark-leaved, plant, this vine needs to be used with great care in the landscape. Left unchecked, this evergreen perennial will become invasive and can totally take over your yard and climb anything and everything it attaches to. Ivy knows no bounds and will climb houses, walls, fences, the ground, trees, power lines, and anything else in its way. It can choke out other plants and destroy power lines with its weight and damage your home as it attaches and climbs. If you’ve already seen such destruction, it is important to protect your home and property from further damage by removing the ivy from your property, all the way down to the roots! The best way to get started and to see great success is to start with the right materials and tools:

Materials and Tools for Getting Rid of Ivy Roots

  • Gardening gloves that fit well and have good grip support and protection for your hands
  • Brush cutters of some kind to help you cut through the stems of the ivy plant
  • Gardening shears to cut back the vines that trail down from higher elevations
  • Shovel or hoe to dig out deeper root systems and turn the soil as you clean up the vines
  • Herbicide to help kill the ivy roots, something with glyphosateimazapyr, or triclopyr
  • White vinegar is an optional product you can use in a spray bottle to spot kill the ivy

Once you have your materials together you are ready to start working on taming the ivy and finding the answer to the question of how to kill ivy roots and fight the spread of these invasive vines!

1. Protect Yourself!
First things first: you must remember to protect yourself and take steps to protect your plants. Wear protective clothing like pants, long shirt, goggles, and a face mask if needed to protect yourself from the chemical sprays you are using. Protect your plants as well by making sure it is a still day with no wind so the herbicide spray doesn’t get on  other plants. Pick a still day that is warm and with no chance of rain; this all give the spray the best chance of working on the ivy faster and killing it back faster.

2. Remove the Ivy From All Surfaces
The next thing you will need to do is remove the ivy from the surfaces it is climbing on:

For ivy on the ground, you can mow over ivy vines on the ground but it won’t do much to the stems, so you will need to dig and pull the vines up by hand. A word of caution: Ivy only needs one remaining piece to take root again. This is why it is so hard to get rid of and why you need to take your time and get as much of the ivy vines and roots out of ground as possible. They more of the root system you can remove at the start the less chance there is of the vines re-growing and the sooner you can finish killing the root systems and be free of the ivy vines.

For ivy on trees, you don’t need to stress about pulling every piece off of the trunk of the tree. In fact, ivy can send small tendrils into the outer layer of bark so yanking it off can damage the tree.  The best method is to cut the vines so they no longer are connected to the ground and removing as much of the vines as you can from the bottom 5 feet of the tree. Then move to the ground and work on digging up the vines from the base of the tree carefully avoiding damaging the roots of the tree itself as you work.

3. Bag and Remove Ivy
All of the bits of ivy you have cut and pulled up need to be bagged and removed from your property. This is critical because ivy is tough and eve pieces that have bee cut and dug up can last a few days out in the elements and will begin to re-root and start to grow again! It is important to remember this and clear off all debris as soon as possible so you don’t encourage a whole new generation of ivy vines to take root in your yard.

4. Select The Best Herbicide
Ivy is a tough plant to kill because it is naturally reliant, will grow back from a small section of root, and the leaves are coated with a wax like substance that makes it hard to penetrate. For the best results, you need to select a herbicide uses glyphosateimazapyrtriclopyr, or some combination of the three chemicals. These chemicals are specially designed for touch plants and will target the ivy roots. The danger is that many of these chemicals cannot be used easily around other foliage as it can kill any and all vegetation it touches- making it a poor choice for use on trees and around other plants. A more natural approach that is safer for use around trees and other plants is white vinegar. Using a spray bottle, you can spray parts of the ivy that you cannot fully remove or pull off or dig up and it will kill the remaining vines and roots and is less likely to damage neighboring foliage.

5. Check Ivy and Reapply Herbicide if Necessary
The final step takes time and will need to be repeated a few times before you are done with your fight against the ivy vines. Every two or three weeks, you will need to examine your property and check the areas where you were working and removing the vines. Check to make sure ivy vines haven’t re-rooted or started to sprout from any remaining roots. If you see new vines and sprouts forming, pull them out and dig deeper to get more of the roots- like in step 2 and reapply your choice of herbicide or vinegar spray- like in step 4. Depending on how much ivy there was originally, how well established it was, and other environmental factors you may need to spend a few weeks keeping the ivy back. Over time, as you keep removing bits before they can become established any remaining fragments will eventually die and stop growing and you will be clear of the ivy at last.

Killing Ivy Roots
Even though ivy may look nice, not everyone wants it in their yard!!

Helpful Tip

If you decide to grow ivy intentionally in your yard as part of your landscaping, it is important to follow some key points to keep it inline and control where it goes and how it grows. Keep the vines confined to a limited growing area and make sure the root systems are more contained by surrounding them with mulch or by planting a larger pot of ivy in the ground so the sides of the pot act like a barrier that keeps the ivy from spreading as much. You will also need to do weekly trimming of the edges to keep them in place and keep them from creeping and spreading and climbing. It is a beautiful plant but takes special care and preparation to ensure it does not become more work than it is worth and if the ivy in your landscape has already gotten out of hand following these tips can help you regain it back in and reclaim your yard!

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