Controlling English Ivy in Urban Landscapes

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Joe Neal | 3/5/2019 | NC State Publications and Factsheets

English ivy (Hedera helix) is a shade-tolerant, woody perennial vine. When established it creates a dense ground cover with attractive dark green foliage. But, left un-checked this introduced plant invades woodlands, climbs (and kills) trees and is considered an invasive species. Pursuing the internet you can find several “recommendations” for controlling English Ivy. Some good, some are questionable.

English Ivy

Culturally, this plant is difficult to control.

  • English ivy can be controlled with mowing. But the mowing must be frequent (like mowing a lawn) and you must mow the entire infestation to “starve-out” the plants.
  • Pull it up. There are several on-line videos demonstrating how to “roll up” the English ivy vines. Cutting the vines into sections, and then cutting the vines where attached to the roots. This will be a very labor-intensive effort. But, if you put enough effort and hours into it, most any weed can be removed by hand. Many vines will grow back from the roots, so return to the site regularly to remove re-growth.
  • Remove it from the trees. English ivy in trees can be killed by cutting the stems at the ground and removing the vines from the tree as high as you can easily reach. The remaining vines in the tree will die and eventually fall off.

Again, if you look on-line, there are many reports and recommendations – some good, some not so good. One of the most commonly recommended herbicide treatments is triclopyr. But, in my experience triclopyr is less effective than glyphosate. What does the research show?

  1. Timing makes difference
  2. Formulation matters
  3. There is a clear does response

To find more information on the research and other options, view the entire factsheet.