When tangles of ivy climb your tree’s trunk, you either love the pop of color or resent the invading vines. But how do trees feel about the leafy green growth?
Keep reading to learn how ivy can harm trees as it grows and how to remove ivy from trees altogether.
Does it harm trees for ivy to grow?
“A bit of ivy can look nice on a tree, and some people really love the look. Regardless, once too much ivy is growing on your tree, you should remove it. Typically, that’s when ivy is starting to grow into the tree’s canopy,” said district manager of Davey’s Long Island, New York office.
At that point, ivy can begin to harm trees–especially English ivy since it’s fast growing and hard to control. Here’s why.
Four Reasons to Remove Ivy from Trees
- Trees and ivy rely on the same supply of water and nutrients. Because ivy can be more aggressive, there’s a chance your tree isn’t getting its fair share of nutrition.
- Ivy growth crowds tree branches, blocking sunlight trees need to make food.
- Vines can weigh a tree branch down, putting it at a higher risk of breaking in a storm.
- Over time, an ivy invasion weakens a tree, making it a target for opportunistic pests.
Best Techniques for Removing Ivy from Trees
There are two ways to stop ivy from harming your tree: pull it out by hand or drench it in vinegar. Either way, getting rid of the roots is the most important thing, so the vines won’t pop up again.
How to Get Rid of Ivy Roots (By Hand)
- Water beneath the tree or wait until after a rainfall. In soft soil, ivy is easier to remove.
- Use a hand pruner to cut ivy stems from their roots around the bottom of the tree’s trunk.
- Getting as deep as you can, pull the roots out. Remember, this is the best way kill the plant for good.
- Leave the ivy growing on the tree to die on its own. It’s tempting to rip the plant off, but this can seriously damage tree bark!
- Check the tree periodically to make sure new ivy sprouts haven’t cropped up. If they have, repeat!
Killing Ivy with Vinegar
- Fill a garden sprayer with white vinegar.
- Spray a generous amount of vinegar right on the ivy plant. Be sure not to wet nearby plants or grass because the vinegar can kill those, too.
- In a week, check the ivy to make sure the leaves have turned brown.
- If green leaves are still present, don’t pull them off as that could damage the tree bark. Instead, keep spraying the tree every few weeks until the ivy plant is completely brown.
- Once the ivy looks dead and brown, carefully remove it, starting at the roots.