When kept in line, ivy can really add some character to a house. However, it becomes a problem when that ivy starts to creep into your chimney, wind its way into your window frames, and generally become too much to handle. Whether you just want to trim your ivy back a little, or remove it from your brickwork completely, read on to discover how to do just that!

The first thing you’ll need to do is get out a ladder and start pulling the ivy away from the wall. This is easier when the ivy is damp, since this makes the vines more pliable. You may therefore want to wait for the winter months to do this, or at least until after it’s rained. Living ivy also comes away easier than dead ivy, so you shouldn’t need to use any weed killer here. You don’t have to be all that careful at this point, since you’ll be getting all those little roots later on. For now, just grab those vines and start pulling!

Of course, it’s not just about the vines- if it was, then this process would be a snap. You’ll also have to contend with the little hairy tendrils that fix onto the brickwork and keep the ivy attached. A lot of the time, these tendrils will just die off when the main vine has been removed. If not, then you may need to use a putty knife to get in there between the bricks and pry the tendrils away. This time, you will have to be gentle, as if you scrape too hard, you might end up chipping some of the mortar away. In extreme cases, a little chemical assistance might be needed. Again, it’s all about how long the ivy has been growing for. If it’s had many years to worm its way into the brickwork, then it could take a few more years before all the evidence of the ivy disappears. Just be patient, and keep an eye out for any new shoots to eliminate them before they start climbing again.

Disposing of Dead Ivy

The easiest way to get rid of all that dead ivy is to simply burn it in a garden incinerator, along with any other garden waste you might have. Depending on the extent of your ivy issue, you may well end up with a mountain of ivy to dispose of. While it can be a pain, you should dispose of the ivy asap, or like a zombie, it can reanimate and take root wherever you leave it. There’s also the risk of spreading seeds all over your garden, so it’s a smart idea to keep the dead ivy on a tarpaulin instead of letting it sit directly on the ground. Burning dead ivy is sure to destroy the seeds, so it is the only way to completely eradicate the ivy for good. That being said, you should be careful when burning ivy that’s been treated with weed killer. You don’t want to breathe these chemicals in, so wear a mask around the bonfire to keep yourself safe. You could also put it through a your garden shredder first to if yo you plan on bringing it to the recycling centre.

It can be tempting to add ivy to your compost, since you’ll likely end up with quite a lot of it. It may seem a shame to let all that go to waste, but if there’s any green ivy left in the pile, then throwing it on the compost heap will allow it to recover and start growing again. Before you know it, you’ll have another ivy problem on your hands, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you really want to add some ivy to your compost, then we suggest that you only do so a little bit at a time. Put some of the dead ivy into a bin bag for a few days to ensure it’s completely dead, and then add it piece by piece to your compost pile so that it can decompose properly. If you used weed killer to treat your ivy, then do NOT compost it- especially if you used glyphosate. The chemicals contained in the weed killer will then seep into your compost, and could easily end up killing whatever you spread it on.

Control of Ground Ivy in the Lawn

A common weed in many lawns is ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea). Ground ivy is a low-growing, creeping, invasive perennial. It spreads by seed and the vining stems which root at their nodes. The leaves of ground ivy are round or kidney-shaped with scalloped margins. Stems are four-sided. Flowers are small, bluish-purple, and funnel-shaped. Ground ivy thrives in damp, shady areas, but also grows well in sunny locations. A member of the mint family, ground ivy produces a minty odor when cut or crushed. Ground ivy is also known as “creeping charlie.”

Control of ground ivy in lawns is difficult. The key to control is the use of the proper broadleaf herbicide. The most effective broadleaf herbicide products are those that contain dicamba. Trimec and Ortho’s Weed-B-Gon Weed Killer for Lawns are two widely sold products that contain dicamba. Fall (mid-September through early November) is generally the best time to control ground ivy. Two applications are usually necessary. The second application should be 14 days after the first. As always, when using pesticides, read and follow label directions carefully.

Ground ivy infested areas that contain very little grass should be completely destroyed and the turfgrass reestablished by seeding or sodding. The small amount of grass is simply not worth saving. Ground ivy infested areas can be destroyed by using the non-selective herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) or by tilling and removing the plant debris. When seeding shady areas, be sure to select seed mixes that contain shade-tolerant grass species.

Once the ground ivy has been effectively controlled and a healthy lawn reestablished, the home gardener needs to use good mowing, fertilization, watering, and cultivation practices to maintain a dense, healthy, competitive stand of turfgrass that should help discourage future invasions of this aggressive weed.

Borax and Ground Ivy

In the early 1990s, research at Iowa State University found that borax (sodium tetraborate) can be used to selectively control ground ivy in turfgrass. Borax contains the element boron. All plants require small amounts of boron for growth. However, boron becomes toxic when large quantities are present in the soil. Sensitivity to boron varies greatly between plant species. Borax can be used to control ground ivy in turfgrass because the ground ivy is more sensitive to boron than the cool-season turfgrasses.

To selectively control ground ivy in turfgrass, dissolve 10 ounces of borax in 2 to 3 gallons of water and apply the solution uniformly to 1,000 square feet. Selectivity is achieved by applying a specific amount of borax to a given area. Problems may occur if the borax solution is misapplied. For example, if the solution containing 10 ounces of borax is applied to only 250 square feet, both the ground ivy and the turfgrass may be destroyed. For small areas, dissolve 5 teaspoons of borax in 1 quart of water and apply the solution uniformly to 25 square feet.

This article originally appeared in the 10/10/2003 issue.

Ground Ivy Control for Home Lawns (E0006TURF)


May 28, 2015 – Author: Ronald Calhoun

Mention ground ivy or creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea) to lawn care professionals or homeowners, and you’ll most likely make them wince, scream or both. Ground ivy is a common invader of lawns. In some parts of southeastern Michigan, it is regarded as the most common and most difficult-to-control weed problem in home lawns. Ground ivy is an aggressive, low-growing perennial that favors shaded, moist areas. A member of the mint family, it has square stems and is mildly aromatic, particularly after mowing. If you roll the stem between your fingers, you will feel the ridges of the stem and can get a sense of the square stem phenomenon. This pesky weed has very distinctive coin-shaped leaves with round-toothed edges. This plant is competitive in lawn situations because it creeps along the soil surface and can establish roots at each node (where the leaf attaches to the stem). This feature allows it stick to the ground surface like Velcro and makes hand weeding frustrating, if not impossible. When the soil conditions are just right, however, it is possible to pull up a long string of plants, which brings a smile to the face of most gardeners.

Integrated Management Strategies

As with many turfgrass problems, the long-term approach to managing ground ivy begins with a critical evaluation of the growing conditions for the desirable turf. In most cases, the conditions favorable for ground ivy are not favorable for robust turf growth. Combinations of shade, wet soils and poor fertility stack things against the turf and in favor of the ground ivy. Correcting these conditions will allow the turf to compete better with the ground ivy. In addition, make sure your mowing height is at least 2.5 inches and preferably 3 inches or above – this will give the turf a competitive edge.

The aboveground runners (stolons) allow ground ivy to quickly fill in voids in the turf.

Removal: Spring and Fall

Hand weeding is certainly an option for removing ground ivy, but it is usually a tedious task because of the many roots along the stem. Most often the will of the ground ivy to invade outlasts the will of the gardener to weed. Chemical strategies are also effective if the timing of application is correct. In general, fall is the best time to apply postemergence herbicides for broadleaf weed control. Fall is, in fact, an excellent time to treat ground ivy. However, in a compelling study, Dr. Frank Rossi examined several herbicide products and timings and identified another effective time for ground ivy control. Herbicide treatments were effective not only in the fall but also in the spring when the ground ivy was in flower. Ground ivy has small, bluish purple, funnel-shaped flowers that usually appear in May. Using 2,4-D alone provided adequate control when applied at each of these timings. Combination products of 2,4-D, dicamba and MCPP/MCPA provided better control than 2,4-D alone.

Removal: Summer

All the products in these studies provided less effective control when applied during the summer. Plants are often more difficult to control in the summer because of slow uptake and metabolism associated with high temperatures. Late spring and summer control options do exist, but the products are currently limited to professional lawn services. Studies at MSU have shown that certain combinations of broadleaf herbicides with quinclorac (Drive) are effective against ground ivy during the summer. Quinclorac is primarily a postemergence crabgrass herbicide that also has good activity on clover and knotweed. Results from the past several years indicate that the broadleaf weed control (ground ivy, speedwell and violets) of several broadleaf herbicides can be dramatically increased by tank mixing them with quinclorac. Products containing 2,4-D have benefited the most from this combination. These combinations deserve consideration for mid-to late summer weed control applications.

Herbicide Conclusions

Products containing triclopyr (Confront, Chaser, Battleship, Momentum, Weed-B-Gon purple label) have proven to be highly effective in spring and fall and more effective than 2,4-D-based products during the difficult summer period. Triclopyr is available to homeowners and has activity on weeds that are traditionally labeled hard-to-control (i.e. 2,4-D didn’t work). For this reason, triclopyr is probably the first alternative to try when a 2,4-D mixture has failed to provide acceptable control. Because of their complementary activity, combinations of triclopyr + 2,4-D can be very effective.

Alternative Approach?

Researchers at Iowa State University reported control of ground ivy using 20-Mule Team Borax. That’s right – the laundry product on the shelf at your favorite market that has been around since the frontier days. Dr. Rossi also used this treatment in the Wisconsin study. The rates were 20 or 30 ounces mixed in 1 gallon of water. ISU researchers concluded that the ground ivy was sensitive to the boron in the Borax and was injured to the point of dysfunction. The treatment was not effective in Dr. Rossi’s trial, and he concluded that Wisconsin soil conditions likely tied up the boron before it had any effect on the ground ivy. This treatment is untested in Michigan. If you try it, please let us know the results.

Take-home Message

Ground ivy control from herbicide applications will be temporary, at best, unless the growing conditions that initially encouraged the infestation are improved. Combining good maintenance practices with judicious herbicide use is the best strategy to combat ground ivy in the lawn. Always read, understand and follow the directions on the herbicide label.


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Ground Ivy

Ground Ivy has scalloped leaves like Henbit and Dead Nettle

Most of the time when someone mentions Ground Ivy the comment usually is something like “How do I get rid of the damned stuff?” Here at ETW we have have the solution.

Ground Ivy Flower

Ground Ivy, Glechoma hederacea, is a creeping perennial that roots at the nodes and smells similar to mint when crushed or mowed. It’s a prime weed of turfgrass and landscapes. If you like well-behaved Engish type gardens then Ground Ivy will drive you insane because it may be small but it’s the Botanical Bull in the China Shop. It doesn’t take over, it takes command. While there are no look alikes — if you look closely enough — there are four species which from some distance might be mistaken for Ground Ivy. It is often misidentified as a Common Mallow (Malva neglecta), but the square stem of Ground Ivy distinguishes it from the Common Mallow which has a round stem. Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule), Purple Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum) and Persian Speedwell (Veronica persica) are somewhat similar in appearance to Ground Ivy, but none of them have creeping stems that root at the nodes. Of these four all but the Persian Speedwell are edible.

What Insects See in Ultraviolet Light, Photo by Bjørn Rørslett – NN/Nærfoto

Ground Ivy, once known as Nepeta glechoma and Nepeta hederacea in the Catnip genus, is a native of Europe and southern Asia. It was introduced into North America by 1672, probably earlier, for medicinal uses. Gound Ivy moved west and was naturalized in Indiana by 1856 and Colorado by 1906. How and exctly when it was distributed is not known. While it concentrates in the deciduous and riparian forests of the Northeast and around the Great Lakes it is now found throughout North American except for the desert southwest (New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada) and the three top tier northwest Canadian Providences (the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut.) It also surprisingly missing on the east end of the continent from the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Don’t know where Saint Pierre and Miquelon are? This is your lucky geographic day: The islands are situated at the entrance of Fortune Bay off the southern coast of Newfoundland. They are not part of Canada but still part of France, a leftover toehold in the New World from colonial days. Residents are French citizens and vote in French election though the home county is more than 4,000 miles to the east. It was from these islands that a large amount of Canadian whisky was smuggled into the United States during prohibition. Makes you think they should have called it French Whisky, or at least French Canadian Whisky.

Though you may think Ground Ivy’s botanical name has some Scottish influence it’s totally Mediterranean…well, almost. Glechoma is latinized Greek, or in this case very bastardized Greek for pennyroyal. The Greek word is Βλήχων, said VLEE-kon, yes, with a V. How that got mangled into gleh-KOH then gleh-KOH-ma is any linguistic guess. This also why the genus spelled Glechoma and Glecoma because there is no agreement on how to translate the Greek X into Dead Latin or English. The X is close, though, to the CH as in a Scottish “loch” but not as hard. Hederacea (head-er-ah-SEE-uh) is Dead Latin for “like ivy” read creeping. When all put together it kinds of means Pennyroyal Ivy. Common names include Alehoof, Catsfoot, Field Balm, Run-Away-Robin, Lizzie-Run-Up-The-Hedge, Herbe St. Jean, occasionally Creeping Charlie — which is the name of many plants — and Gill-Over-The-Ground, the latter perhaps being the most common after Ground Ivy. “Alehoof” means “ale herb” a time when Ground Ivy was used like hops.

While humans can consume it within reason. Ground Ivy is toxic to horses in large amounts. There are a dozen species in the genus.

Green Deane’s “Itemized” Plant Profile: Ground Ivy

IDENTIFICATION: Glechoma hederacea: Flowers usually in clusters of three in the axils, the area between the stem and petiole. Flowers blue-violet, 3/8 to 5/16 inch long. Leaves are opposite, nearly round or occasionally kidney-shaped, on long petioles. Edges scalloped, large rounded teeth. Leaf veins rise from the same point. Stems square, trailing, rooting at the nodes, mostly hairless but with occasional short, stiff backward-pointing hairs. Seed, tiny nutlets, egg-shaped and brown in color. Each flower produces four seeds.

TIME OF YEAR: In cooler climes blooms later spring to early summer. Here in Florida it is a spring and fall plant, avoiding the hot summer. In Canada it can be found September to November.

ENVIRONMENT: Thrives in moist not saturated shaded areas, but will also tolerate sun. Common plant in grasslands, wooded areas disturbed ground, around damns. Because of rooting at the nodes it survives mowing, is found in lawns and around buildings. Has no particular soil requirements but is difficult to permanently remove from any soil other than very loose.

METHOD OF PREPARATION: While it is in the greater mint family Ground Ivy is not a gentle mint as many are. Use very young Ground Ivy for greens and soup et cetera, older leaves for tea and medicinal applications. Fresh or dried leaves are used for herbal tea, bitter, young shoots and leaves eaten like spinach, cooked in soups which they flavor, try first. The Saxons added it to their beer for flavor like hops, to clarify the beer, and add shelf life. It is very high in iron.

Herb Blurb

A 1986 study found that Ground Ivy’s ursolic and oleanolic acids inhibited the Epstein-Barr virus and protected mouse skin from induced tumor growth. A 1991 study showed the species fatty acid stimulated enzyme activity in blood platelets. Traditionally it was used to treat sciatica, ringing in the ears, constipation caused by lead poisoning, kidney disorders, indigestion, coughs, and tuberculosis. Animal research has not supported its use for cough. Leaves, dried or fresh was stuffed up the nose to relieve headaches.

This is a guide that discusses the various methods that are used to kill and remove Ivy. As you probably already know, English Ivy can be a tough weed to remove. It’s thick roots can embed themselves into the ground and it has a habit of spreading itself up the side of buildings and trees.

Although Ivy can look like a beautiful adornment, the fact that it can penetrate cracks and cause structural damage means that you might find yourself in a situation where you need to get rid of it.

Killing Ivy with salt water.

One trick that I saw online involved killing the Ivy with salt water:

  1. Find the vines that are closest to the ground and chop them so that they are exposed at the top. The cuts should be fairly flat at the top.
  2. Create a “cup” around the top of the freshly-cut vine using duct tape. This “cup” should be tightly wrapped so that it can hold liquid.
  3. Pour table salt into the cup.
  4. Pour in some water so that you’ve created a cup of salt water that is made out of duct tape.

The idea here is to force the freshly-cut Ivy vines to consume our salt water mixture. The salt can dehydrate the Ivy and disrupt its internal water balance.

Here is a photograph of the duct tape cup, just in case you are having a hard time visualizing it:

The best thing about this method is that it allows us to carefully kill the Ivy without negatively impacting its surroundings.

Dig out the ground roots.

You can also kill Ivy by simply digging up its roots and dragging it down off the wall. A lot of people do not like this approach because it can involve a lot of hard work, especially if the roots are thick and deeply embedded. If killing the Ivy is not your main goal, you could cut the stems that are just above the ground and then tear the vines down. Note that the Ivy will probably grow back at some stage in the future if it is left alone.

Be careful about where you throw the pieces of Ivy that you take down, as viable stems and roots may sprout and regrow in places that you do not want them to!

You should also be cautious when you are tearing down Ivy. If it hasn’t died off enough, you could end up damaging whatever it has latched onto.

Inject the Ivy with a syringe.

Another method involves injecting salt water or Roundup weedkiller directly into the stems using a syringe. The best place to do this is nearest to the ground, where you are closer to the roots. You may want to drill a downwards-pointing hole into the stem so you can inject or pour whatever mixture you’re using directly into the Ivy. To make sure that the liquid remains in place, you can wrap the hole with duct tape.

Spraying the leaves with weedkiller.

I’ve heard of several success stories from people who simply doused the Ivy in vast amounts of weedkiller such as Roundup. In these cases, they used far more than the recommended amount. Note that Ivy leaves have a waxy layer and that the weedkiller may trickle off them. You could damage this waxy layer by striking the Ivy with a bundle of willow sticks. This might make it easier for the weedkiller to penetrate the leaves.

To make the weedkiller stick better, you might want to also consider mixing it Dijon mustard and some vegetable oil. A recipe that was used by a stone mason:

  1. 1 liter of thin vegetable oil.
  2. 60 ml of Roundup / glyphosate.
  3. A pinch of salt.
  4. 30 ml of Dijon mustard.

Others have reported success by mixing Roundup weedkiller with some lemon washing up liquid and then sprayed it onto the leaves.

Instead of spraying the leaves, you can also cut the vines that are closest to the ground and then spray them with weedkiller. If you do this, try to leave about 3-4 feet of a safe zone between the vines and the Ivy that is growing overhead.

Spraying weedkiller can be dangerous to the plants and trees that surround the Ivy, so this might not be the best solution for everybody.

Kill Ivy with vinegar and salt.

If you’re looking for a homemade solution, you can try mixing the following into a sprayer:

  • 3 cups of vinegar.
  • Half a cup of salt.
  • Washing up liquid.

Mix those three ingredients and then spray the mixture onto the leaves of the Ivy. Note that it should be mixed until the salt is completely dissolved. The salt and the acetic acid in the vinegar will draw the moisture out of the leaf, whereas the washing up liquid will act as an emulsifier that helps the liquid stick to the leaf.

Note: This homemade solution will kill other types of plants and weeds as well, so don’t be indiscriminate while spraying it!

Killing Ivy that is growing on a tree.

If the Ivy is growing up the side of a tree, you will need to be a bit more careful with your weedkiller.

  1. Cut the vines about 3-4 feet from the ground.
  2. Treat the vines below the cut with weedkiller. Alternatively, you use the duct tape & salt method that was listed above.
  3. Allow time for the Ivy above the cut to die off. Do not try and tear it down before it has died, as this may damage the bark of the tree. Ivy can take several weeks to go brown and die off properly, so patience is a must!

How to Kill Ivy Plants
and Roots. 

Ivy growing up trees, ivy up walls, ivy in and around the shrubs, coming in from the neighbour’s garden etc! Most of us will have experienced this problem weed at some time in our gardening lives. Yet it can be killed – dead and gone!

There are two basic ways to kill Ivy and its roots. (Forget about digging it out unless it is just a mite of a plant). The best time to tackle ivy is in the late winter – just before the spring growth starts.

Method 1 – Strimmer or shears.

Cut the ivy down to ground level, getting rid of all of the foliage – every bit of it. This can probably best be done with a heavy duty strimmer, or a pair of garden shears. Take extreme care if using the strimmer. As the Ivy starts to re-grow in the spring, just keep cutting all of the new leaves and growth off. Don’t even leave one leaf to grow. Eventually this will starve the roots of the nutrient it gains from the leaves, and they will die out. It is one way how to kill ivy roots.

Variegated Ivy – whilst an ornamental plant – can also be invasive, so steps are sometimes necessary to eradicate it.

These include two favourite climbing ivy types – Hedera colchica and Hedera canariensis.

Be aware of the environmental issues with Ivy – which when in flower; other than being spectacularly attractive; is a late supply of pollen and nectar for bees and other insects. Flowering Ivy is particularly beneficial to friendly insects

Ground Cover Ivy

Ivy (Hedera helix being the common English Ivy) will often form a dense ground cover over a patch of garden. This mat of ivy can be controlled and ultimately killed in one of two ways – chemical weedkiller control or black plastic sheet.

It is highly unlikely that the patch of groundcover ivy will be in a regular shape, but a plastic sheet can still be used to kill a large portion of it. Alternatively – depending upon what other plants are growing in or near the ivy cover, a few applications of chemical weedkiller can be utilised to bring it under control of kill it off completely – roots as well (important).

Whichever method you decide upon – either use a garden strimmer to remove as much existing growth – or simply don a pair of wellington boots, and trample the whole lot down. This will have the effects of ‘softening up the foliage which will be necessary for the first application of weedkiller to have a good effect, and also flatten the area ready for a plastic sheet.

For a weedkiller solution, proceed as outlined below by treating all of the new growth that appears after the initial application. Do this as soon as the leaves start to grow – after the first growth of foliage.

If using the black plastic sheet method, it will have to be weighted down – particularly at the edged in order to exclude all light. That which starts to re-grow around the edges of the sheet – as it will do – can either be spot treated with chemical or after a few months the sheet can be removed, leaving you with a lesser area to deal with than before. The remaining ground covering ivy can either be regularly strimmed or cut with shears, but falling back on some form of weedkiller application to finish the job properly.

Method 2 – Chemical Weedkiller for Ivy

If you decide to use a chemical for killing the ivy – be patient. It will take a few applications. It is best to cut back as much growth as you can – late winter is a good time again. Then, as the new foliage starts to grow, treat it with a weedkiller containing Glyphosate. (This is totally harmless to the soil – however it will damage or kill any other plant that you spill it on!). I find that the older leathery leaves do not seem to absorb the chemical like the new growth does. It is no use trying to kill the roots by treating them with Glyphosate; it needs to be absorbed via the foliage – that is the correct way how to kill ivy roots

It will take a couple of weeks before you see any ‘progress’. This is because the Glyphosate is working its way through the plant – having been absorbed by the spray on the leaves.

Each individual case will call for a certain method of application. Either spray; apply with watering can with fine rose; or even brush it on to the individual ivy leaves if it growing amongst plants you wish to save. It may take three or four applications to finally get rid of the ivy – but it works!

Out of Control: How to Get Rid of Ivy (For Good)

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Hedera, which we commonly refer to as English Ivy (pl. Ivies), is a family of around 20 species of evergreen perennial plants. Depending on their surroundings, these woody plants can be both ground creeping or climbing nearby trees, rocks, buildings, and pretty much anything they can lay their stems on.

Given a solid base, the ivy has the ability to crawl up and reach heights of more that 30m. On ground level it rarely exceeds ½ feet in height. As gorgeous as this chef-d’œuvre of nature is, it can still cause mischief around your property if left unattended. It’s considered an invasive plant after all, meaning it’ll not knock on your door to ask if it’d be OK to crash in your yard for the night.

So here’s our handy guide on how to get rid of common ivy.

Table of Contents

The Dark Side of Common Ivy

Now that you think of it, the ivy is quite the troublemaker. In addition to being an invasive plant which could potentially attach to and damage your property, it is also harmful to children and pets, causing allergic skin reactions from a mere touch, or vomiting if ingested.

The creeping and climbing habits of English Ivy pose a great menace to flowers and trees in your garden, stealing their essential nutrients and water. Its foliage blocks valuable sunlight from reaching other plants, and also creates shelter for different kinds of pests such as mice, rats, birds, bats, and insects. Ivy’s berries also attract wildlife, mostly birds, butterflies, moths, bees, and wasps.

How to Identify Poison Ivy

Nature is unique and it finds extraordinary methods to survive. One of them is for certain species to imitate a dangerous and poisonous lookalike. Poison ivy’s cousins don’t make an exception – there are, in fact, dozens of impostors. Some of the lookalikes are harmless, but others – such as poison sumac or poison oak, can cause even more pain and suffering. To identify the poison ivy plant you’ll need to:

  • Identify the plant’s leaves. Vines with leaves grouped in three are a telltale sign. This is definitely the most outstanding feature amongst all doppelgängers. Remember the catchphrase – “Leaves of three, let it be!“.
  • Check its growth pattern. Even though poison ivy bears the name of the type of plants that grow upwards only, it can spread in any direction. It also grows in bushes or as a single plant.
  • Mind the colour. Even though it is no longer green, poison ivy is still poisonous even in a reddish suit.
  • Identify fruits. Poison ivy has distinct white translucent fruits. As a matter of fact, poison oak has similar fruits, so either way, stay away.

Do you know your ivies? Test your knowledge with our Poison Ivy Identifier Quiz!

Article continues below.

How to Kill Ivy

Your best bet to completely eradicate invasive ivy involves the use of chemicals and about a month’s time for this method to take effect. Before you commence the process, be sure to have the following supplies at hand:

  • Rubber gardening gloves (£2 – £10)
  • Garden shears (£5 – £20)
  • Pruning saw for thicker ivy vines, if any (£10 – £20)
  • Spray bottle or sprayer (£10 – £20)
  • Weed killer of your choice (£20 – £30)
  • Long sleeves, long pants and boots (£5 – £20)
  • Strong patience (priceless)

Got them all? Good, let’s move onto the steps to kill ivy.

Pregnant women should stay away from the garden after it has been treated with commercial weed killer. Going through your garden in a fast manner should not pose any complication for your pregnancy, because your lungs and placenta will filter out the toxins. Even so, we recommend you have no contact with the fumes as results from different products could prove unpredictable.

Here are the steps to get rid of ground covering ivy:

Step 1. Find and mark all the plant’s base roots.

Step 2. Leave around 1-2 feet worth of ivy coming from the main roots untreated, for later.

Step 3. Start cutting the ivy in patterns, simultaneously pulling out each section.

Step 4. Pile up everything you’ve cut to dispose of it after the chemical treatment.

Step 5. Spray the freshly cut vines and remaining leaves (from Step 2) with a weed killer of your choice.

Step 6. Repeat this process every few weeks until the ivy is defeated for good.

Here’s how to kill climbing ivy on trees:

Step 1. Cut its vines at waist level 3-4 feet above tree trunk base with the garden shears, all around.

Step 2. Leave the ivy that remains on the tree to dry out and die off within a month or so. Do not pull the vines unless you’re sure they are dead. Otherwise, you will damage the tree’s bark.

Step 3. Remove as much ivy roots as you can around the trunk by hand, leaving a safe zone of at least 3-4 feet radius. This way you can act fast if new ivy vines emerge.

Step 4. For what’s left on the ground, apply the same procedure as killing ground creeping ivy.

Follow the steps below to remove ivy from walls:

Step 1. Pull out each vine gently to prevent damaging the wall.

Step 2. Leave any leftovers to dry out with time, so they could become easier to remove.

Step 3. Apply weed killer to the ivy’s ground roots to prevent it from growing back again.

Step 4. Scrape off remaining rootlets and tendrils with a steel brush. For wooden house exterior and wooden fences use a sander instead.

Home Remedy Alternatives

Not a fan of chemistry, eh? No worries, we got you covered. Here are 3 non-toxic, Eco-friendly methods to deal with overgrown ivy. Note that these require time, usually months, before you can see any positive outcome.

The good ol’ white vinegar method

Arm yourself with a garden sprayer or a regular spray bottle. Fill in the container with a mixture of 80% water and 20% white vinegar. Spray the ivy plants thoroughly, making sure you don’t affect any other plants you don’t want to get rid of. Wait for a couple of days and inspect the result of your efforts. Pull out and remove any dead ivy and re-apply the same solution as much as needed.

Duct tape, table salt, and water

This trick is suitable for treating thicker vines. Make a fresh cut on each one using your garden clippers, wrap them around with duct tape to form something like a cup. Pour ¾ table salt in each cup and apply a bit of water. This way you attack the ivy’s vascular system and the plant should be completely dried out within a couple of months.

Sheet mulching

Create thick layers of mulch by using old newspapers, cardboard, dead leaves or grass, or other similar matter, and place them on top of the area where ivy grows. Your goal here is to suffocate the ivy, preventing it from receiving its life-sustaining resources like light, water, and air. As for those mulch materials, they are biodegradable, meaning they will decompose with time and become one with the soil.

Check out our tips on how to get rid of weeds in your garden using natural, organic methods that do not harm the neighbouring plants.


Did you like this guide? What are your tips and tricks to battling ivy – when it’s not welcomed in your garden? We’d love to hear your take on this matter in the comments below.

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How To: Kill Ivy


Characterized by its showy, star-shaped foliage, English ivy (Hedera helix) might seem a fine choice for landscaping as a potted plant, ground cover, or groomed exterior wall accent—but don’t let down your guard just yet. Left unchecked, the evergreen perennial can become an invasive enemy to your yard. Ivy knows no bounds: It grows quickly in all directions, both horizontally and vertically, clinging to other vegetation and depriving it of all sunlight. If the vining plant doesn’t smother and kill trees, shrubs, and grass, it’ll infect them with rot or disease. If you’ve already seen such destruction, save your property from the aggressive greenery by following these steps for how to kill ivy and prevent its return.

  1. Don appropriate protective gear for the project choose a day with suitable weather.
  2. Detach the ivy from the surface on which it’s been growing.
  3. Dispose of the ivy with your household trash (i.e., do not compost ivy).
  4. Apply herbicide to the area in order to kill remaining roots.
  5. Monitor the area (and repeat Steps 2 and 3 if necessary)

Read on for the full tutorial on how to remove ivy from your house or yard—and just as important, how to prevent it from returning.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
– Gardening gloves
– Brush cutter
– Gardening shears
– Herbicide (with glyphosate, imazapyr and/or triclopyr)
– White vinegar (optional)
– Spray bottle (optional)

STEP 1: Protect yourself and your plants

First things first: Protect yourself and your plants. To do so, suit up in gardening gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, and pants—exposed skin may be bothered by the oil that ivy secretes. Then choose a day with the right forecast to ensure no mishaps during chemical treatment. Topical chemicals used for killing ivy are only effective when the temperature is somewhere between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll also want to work on a day with minimal wind in order to prevent any chemicals from blowing onto nearby gardens and landscaping.


STEP 2: Detach the ivy

Detach the ivy from the surface that it’s covering, whether across the lawn or up a tree.

  • For ivy on the ground, mowers may shred the leaves but generally aren’t effective for attacking the vines. You’ll need to use a tough brush cutter or a long, sharp pair of gardening shears to separate ivy from the ground. Working in small sections a couple of feet wide, cut straight through the ivy’s vine system where it meets the earth. Then roll up each section like a rug, tugging and clipping with the shears or brush cutter along the way to entirely detach all pieces of ivy. Repeat as needed until all ivy has been sectioned and rolled. A word of caution: Ivy only needs one remaining vine to take root again, so take your time and don’t leave any pieces attached to your lawn.
  • For ivy on trees, there’s no need to detach every strand on the trunk. In fact, since ivy adheres strongly to a tree’s bark, removing it may harm the tree. Instead, concentrate only on detaching the three to five feet of foliage closest to the bottom of the tree, where the vine connects to its roots. Or, if the ivy doesn’t reach the ground, concentrate on the bottom two or three feet of the climbing vines. Separate the ivy from the tree with sharp shears, and take care not to cut into the bark—that will only weaken the tree further.

STEP 3: Dispose of the ivy

Bag up the ivy and throw it away. If you leave your detached ivy in clumps on your property, it can quickly snake its way back into the ground or up a tree trunk, undoing your hard work. (It can even take root in your compost pile, so do not don’t try to compost ivy!)

STEP 4: Apply herbicide

Select a herbicide made with glyphosate, imazapyr, triclopyr, or some combination of these chemicals, all of which target the ivy roots. Ortho GroundClear Vegetation Killer (view on Amazon) works well for the purpose.

If you prefer a more natural approach, you can substitute vinegar in a large spray bottle instead. Application for either is fairly simple: Thoroughly cover the whole area you’ve freed from the ivy with the liquid. If working on a tree, also cover the bottom foot or so of the vines remaining on the tree.

Herbicide alone isn’t necessarily the best way to kill ivy, because the waxy cover on ivy leaves blocks the chemical from properly attacking the root system. But by applying the deterrent soon after removing ivy from a tree or ground (Step 2), you can increase the commercial or DIY herbicide’s effectiveness.

STEP 5: Monitor the area (and repeat Steps 2 and 3 if necessary)

Every two or three weeks, examine your property and make sure ivy vines haven’t popped up again. If you spot any new vines, pull them out with a gloved hand and gardening shears (Step 2), then a repeat spray with your herbicide or white vinegar to spot-treat the stems (Step 3).

Note that if you purposely grow English ivy as part of your landscaping, you must follow some strict guidelines in order to prevent it from overrunning the place. Keep the vines contained by surrounding them with mulch and trimming the edges whenever they begin to creep. Ivy can be a charming addition to any yard, but containment and maintenance are critical if you want to keep your other vegetation thriving alongside it.

English Ivy Control

English ivy (Hedera helix) has spread into a bed and is beginning to compete with and shade out an ornamental coral bells (Heuchera americana ‘Dale’s Strain’).
Joey Williamson, ©2014 HGIC, Clemson Extension

English ivy (Hedera helix) is an evergreen vine that has been planted for many decades in South Carolina communities as a shade-loving groundcover. It is fast growing, drought tolerant, and generally maintenance free as it rarely has insect pest or disease problems. However, its mat-forming growth habit allows it to smother out perennials and smaller shrubs in the landscape.

Being a vine, English ivy has a tendency to climb anything it can for support, such as fences, homes or trees. This ivy is unique in its ability to attach to objects by the production of aerial rootlets from the stems that cement themselves to the object. On trees, English ivy travels quickly to the top in order to flower and set fruit. The fruit are eaten and disseminated by birds. Tree limbs that are covered with English ivy are often smothered as the dense ivy foliage covers the foliage of the tree.

If English ivy is allowed to grow up the side of a home, the attachment of the aerial rootlets can damage stucco, wood, or the mortar of brick homes. The dense foliage makes for a haven for insects and small animals, and the shading may trap moisture that can cause damage from rot.

Many retail stores sell miniature-leafed or variegated ivies, which make for nice house plants. However, sometimes these plants are added to the landscape either intentionally, or by the containers being placed outside where the ivy grows beyond the container and takes root in the soil. Both the miniature-leafed and the variegated ivy cultivars are much slower growing plants. The problem that can arise from these plants is that when grown outside, sooner or later these cultivars with smaller, white or yellow leaves may revert back to the large-leafed, totally-green, and fast growing type of English ivy. The resulting larger-leafed, green vines will outgrow the more decorative cultivars that were originally planted, and they quickly get out of control.

English ivy (Hedera helix) has climbed and is smothering a mature oak by blocking out sunlight.
Joey Williamson, ©2014 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Although it may take a few years for a house to be this engulfed with English ivy (Hedera helix), damage can occur where it does adhere to wood, stucco or mortar.

Slower growing, variegated forms of English ivy, such as this Gold Heart ivy (Hedera helix ‘Gold Heart’) typically revert back into the totally-green and more aggressive form. The greater amount of chlorophyll within the totally-green leaves allows for faster growth.
Joey Williamson, ©2014 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Cultural Control of English Ivy

The first step is to sever the vines of the English ivy that have climbed trees in the landscape. The viney stems of the ivy are attached tightly and must be pried up from the trunk to be cut. A large flat-bladed screwdriver can lift and help make the vines easier to cut with pruners. Cut these vines several feet up the trunk at a height that is comfortable to attain. Then loosen the vines below these cuts and pull them downward from the trunk. Cut them off at the base of the tree.

Larger vines may require the use of a saw, but be careful not to damage the tree trunk. Removal of the vines can be done at any time of the year. The hotter and drier the weather, the faster the remaining sections of vines up the trunk will die.

English ivy on the ground is usually easier to pull up after rains have softened the soil. If pulling is done during the winter, any perennials in these beds are less apt to be damaged while they are dormant. The ivy stems are strong and not deeply-rooted; so long sections can be pulled up at a time. Be sure to wear a long-sleeved shirt and gloves, as the sap from English ivy may cause dermatitis on sensitive individuals.

Proper method of cutting and controlling English ivy (Hedera helix) growing up trees.
Joey Williamson, ©2014 HGIC, Clemson Extension

A thick mat of English ivy (Hedera helix) covers the ground and shaded out the original plantings.
Joey Williamson, ©2014 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Chemical Control of English Ivy

Herbicides may be required for the control of large areas of English ivy. The spring is the best time to apply an herbicide when 3 to 5 new leaves appear on the English ivy vines. This new growth does not yet have the waxy cuticle covering present on the older leaves, which allows for better penetration of herbicides. Alternatively, the English ivy can be mowed or cut back with a string trimmer. When new growth appears, herbicides can be sprayed. Mix and spray a 2 or 3 % solution of glyphosate for best results. Always follow label directions for mixing, use and safety. Watch for new growth from areas missed or inadequately sprayed because of multiple layers of vines and foliage, and then repeat the application of glyphosate.

Glyphosate is a general, non-selective, systemic herbicide that has the least soil activity and is less harmful to the roots of nearby trees and shrubs than other herbicides. If desirable plants are in the beds, spraying may either be done before perennials appear in the spring, or individual plants may be covered with plant containers. Spray when temperatures are above 55 to 60 ºF. Repeated treatments will probably be required. Do not allow spray to contact the foliage, stems, exposed roots, or the trunks of desirable shrubs or trees. A glyphosate solution may penetrate the bark of many landscape trees causing injury. Examples of products containing glyphosate are listed in Table 1.

Triclopyr is the active ingredient in many brands of brush killers and is a systemic, broadleaf plant herbicide that can be used for English ivy control. Apply a 2 to 5% triclopyr solution in the spring as new growth appears (3 to 5 new leaves per vine). Always follow label directions for mixing, use and safety. Watch for new growth from areas missed or inadequately sprayed because of multiple layers of vines and foliage, and then repeat the application of triclopyr.

Triclopyr may remain in the soil slightly longer than glyphosate, but if applied during moist and warm conditions, microbial degradation is much more rapid so that it is less apt to affect the roots of nearby desirable plants. Triclopyr is applied as a spray, but do not allow the spray to contact tree trunks or exposed tree roots. Do not apply triclopyr if air temperatures are higher than 85 ºF, as there may be increased volatility of the sprayed product that might affect nearby broadleaf plants.

Caution: Pollinating insects, such as honey bees and bumblebees, can be adversely affected by the use of pesticides. Avoid the use of spray pesticides (both insecticides and fungicides), as well as soil-applied, systemic insecticides unless absolutely necessary. If spraying is required, always spray late in the evening to reduce the direct impact on pollinating insects. However, it is very important to always read and follow the label directions on each product. For more information, contact the Clemson Extension Home & Garden Information Center.

Table 1. Herbicides for the Control of English Ivy in Residential Landscapes.

Active Ingredient Examples of Brands In Homeowner Sizes
Glyphosate Ace Concentrate Weed & Grass Killer (41%)
Bonide KleenUp Weed & Grass Killer 41% Super Concentrate
Eliminator Grass & Weed Killer Super Concentrate (41%)
Gordon’s Groundwork Concentrate 50% Super Weed & Grass Killer
Gordon’s Pronto Big N’ Tuf 41% Glyphosate Weed & Grass Killer
Gly Star Plus Glyphosate Herbicide (41%)
Glypho-Max (41%)
Hi Yield Super Concentrate Kill-Zall Weed & Grass Killer (41%)
Hi-Yield Super Concentrate Kill-Zall II (41%)
Martin’s Eraser Weed & Grass Killer Concentrate (41%)
Monterey Remuda Full Strength (41%)
Roundup Original (41%)
Southern Ag Weed Pro Glyphosate (41%)
Southern States Grass & Weed Killer Concentrate (41%)
Surrender Brand Eraser Systemic Weed & Grass Killer (41%)
Tiger Brand Quick Kill Grass & Weed Killer (41%)
Ultra Kill Weed & Grass Killer Concentrate (41%)
Zep Enforcer Weed Defeat III (41%)
Triclopyr Bayer Advanced Brush Killer Plus Concentrate; & RTS (8.8%)
Ortho Max Poison Ivy & Tough Brush Killer Concentrate (8.0%)
Ortho Weed B Gone Chickweed, Clover, & Oxalis Killer for Lawns Concentrate (8.0%)
Ferti-lome Brush Killer Stump Killer Concentrate (8.8%)
Southern Ag Brush Killer (8.8%)
Hi-Yield Triclopyr Ester Ultra Herbicide (61.6%)
Monterey Turflon Ester Specialty Herbicide (61.6%)
RTS = Ready to Spray (a hose-end spray bottle).

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