How to remove ivy safely
Old stone cottages covered in lush green ivy is an image straight of out the picture perfect English countryside, but in reality, ivy is an aggressive weed that grows quickly, it can blanket the ground and strangle any trees it uses for purchase. However, with patience and caution you can remove ivy without resorting to weed killers that would also damage any plants growing beneath the ivy.
Before you start to remove any ivy, make sure you are wearing gloves and if possible cover your arms and any other exposed areas of skin that could come into contact with this weed. Ivy is an irritant, and can be known to poison humans and dogs.
Although pretty, houses may be at risk of destabilising as ivy climbs up outside walls. As the ivy roots push their way through cracks and holes between your bricks, it could make any structural issues worse.
Ivy needs to be removed from walls slowly and as early as possible once the ivy has been noticed. Old ivy could be very difficult to remove, as the older ivy roots get, the harder the roots become. Ripping ivy from your house could result in pulling out any loose mortar or brickwork that the roots have been clinging on to.
Gently cut and pull the ivy away, leaving the roots which can then be scrubbed away using a strong or wire brush.
Dispose of the ivy as soon as possible to avoid animals getting in contact with it, but also to remove the risk of the ivy just growing back from any root cuttings left against the base of the wall.
As ivy wraps itself around your trees it uses all the nutrients it can access for its own growth. As it blankets tree trunks, it prevents sunlight reaching the bark, weakening the tree. Likewise the sheer weight of heavy ivy on the tree can damage the bark itself as well any branches it climbs on to.
Removing ivy from trees must be done incredibly gently, so as to avoid further damage to the trunk beneath it. Do not pull ivy down, as it could dislodge debris and insects lurking above you. Instead you must pull the ivy out of the ground around the tree, making sure to separate all of the root from the rest of the ivy.
Ideally, you should then remove the ivy from no less than the bottom two foot of the tree. Where you might cut ivy away from a wall, you must gently pry ivy from a tree trunk so as to prevent damage to the tree. Ideally, you need to be using a thin but strong tool, like a chisel or flat headed screwdriver to slip between the ivy and the trunk, and then lever the root away from the tree.
Ivy that is left higher up the tree will eventually die without access to roots.
Removing ivy from the ground can be back breaking work. Really, the only way to remove ivy and avoid it growing back is to dig the ivy and all of its roots out of the ground.
If the ivy growth is very dense it might be worth mowing it down over a few sessions so as to gradually reduce the growth to the point that you can reach the roots.
Once the roots are exposed, you can use boiling water to kill the roots or a spray bottle filled with white vinegar. However, both of these methods could result in damaging nearby plants and destroying the nutrients in the soil beneath the ivy.
Once the ivy has been removed it needs to be probably destroyed. Ivy can regrow from cut roots, so you make sure you remove the ivy from your garden once it’s been cut down.