Why do we remove ivy? Since 2004, volunteers have freed over 750 trees of English ivy! We have spent hours of this work, because English ivy, or Hedera
helix, is "an a aggressive
invader that threatens all vegetation levels
of forested and open areas" according
to the National Park Service. It is a serious
threat to the forests in the Ardens, in Delaware
and throughout the country.
According to former Delaware
State Forester Brian Hall, ivy also is a “fire
ladder” and a serious fire hazard to
us in the Ardens. In a fire situation, fire
can rip along ivy vines, and can travel up
ivy-covered trees and set the tree on fire
from the top. This is just another of many
reasons below to cut ivy from trees, and remove
it as a ground cover where possible.
- Its dense growth smothers native plants, preventing sunlight from
- Ivy running up trees can cover branches, preventing leaf-out in trees,
eventually killing them.
- The weight of mature ivy vines can make infested trees susceptible
to blow-over during storms
- Ivy can transmit bacterial leaf scorch, which threatens native elms,
oaks and maples.
- English ivy aggressively creeps beyond its intended space into neighboring
yards, parks and forests.
- Mature vines live for years, and develope seeds which birds disperse
to other areas (reproductive ivy leaves are more heart-shaped).
- Ivy is not even a good bank stabilizer: because its roots are shallow,
and because it out-competes better deeper-rooted bank stabilizers,
ivy-covered slopes erode significantly.
- According to Oregon's experience, ivy's thick mat-like roots are
also good hide-outs for rodents and hold undetected water ponds ideal
for breeding mosquitos.
RETURN TO WEED
AND WALK PAGE.
HOW TO CLEAR IVY FROM A TREE
- Cut a circle of English ivy around the tree trunk. Free a 12-inch
tall section completely around the trunk. Ivy dangling on the tree
will eventually dry up and fall down. Cut with pruners and/or lopers.
Large vines may require a saw.
- Pull ivy from a 3-6 foot circle around the tree root, pulling as
many roots as you can. Freeing this area of ivy will stop it from climbing
back up the trunk.
- Cautiously dispose of the ivy. It resprouts easily!
- USEFUL TOOLS: pruners, loppers, a portable saw for
larger thick vines, a forked tool to pull multiple vines from the ground,
elbow grease and gloved hands! (Afterwards, wash gloves in hot water
just in case a few of the vines were poison ivy.)
SOME WAYS TO PREVENT IVY WASTE FROM RESPROUTING
- Twist it completely to break the cellulose bond
- Chip or chop
- Dry out in the sun on top of a rock
- Close up in a bag for several weeks,
- Deposit in a hot active compost pile.
- Whatever you do, monitor the debris to prevent resprouting. DO NOT
JUST TOSS IVY ONTO THE GROUND in the woods or your garden without doing
the above! IT WILL CONTINUE TO GROW AND SPREAD!
If chemicals are used, one can "paint" the cut side of the
vine still in the ground with Round-up (or generic or other glycophosphate).
If applied very soon after cutting, and the weather is in the 50s or
higher, this may kill the rest of the vine, especially for large vines
that are difficult to pull up.
REPLANT WITH NATIVE GROUNDCOVERS
Suggestions include: wild ginger, mayapple, partridge-berry, foamflower, creeping
phlox, wintergreen, Allegheny (or native) pachysandra, bearberry, asters,
and Christmas fern (evergreen). Also, Virginia creeper is a good native vine
for natural areas but can be too vigorous for gardens.
If you pull ivy from wooded areas where it is just creeping in, native
plants and seeds already in the woods should grow to fill in the cleared
spaces (but watch out for other invasive plants).
Return to Weed-n-Walk page.
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