‘Most effective’ agent to kill ivy ‘permanently’ and stop it returning

Gardening: How to remove ivy from brickwork and trees

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A vine that grows rapidly and is capable of creating an invasion wherever it grows, English ivy is known to choke or strangle other types of ground covers and even trees. English Ivy does this by blocking out the sunlight and becoming engrossed with all the plant’s nutrients. While the leaves of English ivy are shiny and beautiful and might make it desirable to create a ground cover under your trees where nothing else seems to thrive, this plant is very invasive. So how can gardeners kill it and ensure it doesn’t return?

White vinegar is known to be an alternative to herbicides for English ivy removal. 

This method involves putting the vinegar in a sprayer or spray bottle, and lathering the vine thoroughly – making sure not to squirt any nearby vegetation. However, this may not be effective for all ivy cases.

While the natural option to remove ivy tends to be what many favour, simply dousing the plant in white vinegar may not be enough to get rid of some ivy plants.

Adriana, gardening expert at Backyard Garden Lover said: “If you have a huge area or old vines, you might need to use herbicides. One such herbicide is glyphosate, it is one of the most effective products used when trying to control English ivy.”

When killing English Ivy vines effectively, gardeners need to get past that waxy barrier covering the leaves. The way to do this is to buy an herbicide that will be just as efficient on a cold wintery day as a warm sunny day, according to the expert.

She said: “When the weather is cooler, an herbicidal spray will not evaporate as rapidly as when it is warmer. 

“The herbicide can penetrate through the leaves during warm weather because the sun warms the wax coating. 

“Because of the waxiness of the outer part of the leaves of English Ivy, it is hard to kill with herbicides. Yet, glyphosate appears to be the most effective chemical agent at killing this plant permanently.”

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Gardening experts at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) also recommended using glyphosate to kill ivy. They said: “Ivy is not easily controlled by means of weedkiller sprays, partly due to the very glossy, moisture-resistant nature of its leaf surface. 

“In this situation it is best to try the tough formulations of glyphosate (e.g. Roundup Ultra or Rootblast Super Strength Weedkiller).”

However, they warned: “It is essential to avoid spray coming into contact with the foliage or green stems of other plants, so cover adjacent plants with polythene, kept in place until the spray has dried. 

“Bruising the leaves by trampling or with the back of a rake prior to treatment may help with the uptake of the weedkiller. Repeat treatment is usually required for good control.”

Be careful when using weed killers as the chemicals involved are very potent. There is an increasing amount of research into the dangers of exposure to glyphosate during pregnancy, for example.

When the ivy has been successfully killed, you can peel the plant from the walls and surfaces it’s grown on.

Again, be careful as the tendrils could still be anchored in fairly firmly to the surface the ivy has attached itself to.

Pull gently and don’t be afraid to switch to a brush or scraper if needed.

Once the plant is killed, gardeners need to carry out one final step to ensure the ivy doesn’t return.

Andria said: “The best way to prevent it from returning is to lay out a barrier.

“Put out some cardboard on the place the ivy once grew; layer several pieces that overlap. As the cardboard is decomposing into the soil, it also averts the process of the Ivy root re-sprouting.

“Or you can put some netting over the entire area. Lastly, you can use a landscaping fabric as a barrier for weeds.”

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