Ivy is the common name for a species of about 20 different evergreen perennial plants. Depending on where they grow, they can be both ground creepers and climbers of nearby rocks, trees, buildings, or anything else that their stems can grab onto.
When ivy has a solid base, it can climb up to heights of almost 100 feet. When they grow on the ground level, though, they will rarely go any higher than six inches or so. While they may be beautiful to look at, they can cause real chaos around your yard if they are left unchecked.
Ivy are invasive plants, such as weeds, and can take over anything in your yard if given the opportunity. Getting rid of the ivy, particularly without the use of chemicals, can be an important tool to have at your disposal.
Getting Rid of Ivy Without Chemicals
The best thing to have in your home is white vinegar. White vinegar is a universal cleaning tool that has so many applications, it’s ridiculous. It can be used to treat stains, clean surfaces thick with grime, and it can even deter certain types of animals and pests.
Make sure that you have white vinegar in your home at all times because you will undoubtedly need it at some point in the future. It is too handy and versatile a cleaning tool to not have at your disposal whenever necessary.
With the white vinegar in hand, you will need to either purchase or borrow a garden sprayer if you don’t have one already. If you decide to borrow one from a friend, family member, or neighbor, it is important that you flush it out first.
By flushing it using water a couple of times, you can remove any traces of insecticide, herbicide, or fertilizer that may be inside.
For smaller infestation, a small spray bottle will work just fine. In most instances, though, ivy rarely spreads in small batches so it is more likely that you will need the garden sprayer rather than the smaller spray bottle.
Fill up your sprayer with a mixture of water and white vinegar. Remember that white vinegar is very potent and needs to be diluted in some way to help mitigate the smell. Make sure that you spray any of the infested areas with your white vinegar mixture thoroughly.
When you are spraying your mixture, be certain that you are aware of any vegetation in the area that you don’t want to get rid of. Vinegar is naturally nonselective and will kill any plants and grasses that it comes into contact with, in addition to the ivy.
During the process of spraying down the ivy, make sure that you saturate them as thickly as possible. Ivy can grow to be quite thick in nature and you need to ensure that there is enough vinegar to properly kill the vines.
After you’ve finished spraying your vinegar concoction, give it about a week before checking on your infested areas again. When the ivy leaves and vines are dead, they will appear to be brown in color. Remove any of the dead areas and throw it away.
Should you notice any ivy with green in it, or simply green patches in the middle of your dead ivy, spray those green areas down using the vinegar mixture once again. Apply it in the same way continuously until you completely remove all of the ivy in question.
In a pinch you can make due with salt and soap as another effective method for keeping the ivy under control. Combine ¼ cup of liquid soap with three pounds of salt into a gallon of water.
After mixing the entire thing together thoroughly, pour the mixture into your garden sprayer or spray bottle and follow the same steps as outlined above with the white vinegar.
Boiling water is another great way to kill the root of the ivy. Just keep in mind that if you are trying to kill poison ivy, it will maintain those irritating oils so remove them carefully.
If you use boiling water, make sure that there are no plants in the area that you want to save because the boiling water will kill them too.
Killing Ground Covering Ivy
Before you start doing anything, find all of the base roots of the ivy and mark them off for reference. Make sure that you leave a foot or two of ivy coming out of the main roots for later. Begin cutting out the ivy in patterns while pulling out each section at the same time.
When you’re done cutting, pile everything up for later disposal (this will come after treatment). Spray those freshly cut vines and any remaining leaves using the concoction of your choice.
It can certainly be a weed killer but for those who don’t like to use chemicals, a white vinegar solution or boiling water will do fine.
Keep repeating this process over the next few weeks. Ivy can grow to be pretty thick and comprehensive, so it will likely take a few applications to properly remove it from the area entirely.
Make sure that you properly dispose of any of the dead ivy in your trash bin or in a garden bin if your community provides one.
Killing Climbing Ivy on Trees
Climbing ivy may be a little more difficult to deal with, but it is entirely manageable.
Start by cutting all of the vines down to about waist level (three to four feet above the base of the structure or tree) using garden shears. This will make killing the roots and vines more manageable.
Allow the ivy left hanging to dry out and die off. This could take a month, so try to remain patient. It is important that you don’t pull any of the vines until you’re completely sure that they’re dead.
This is important for ivy hanging on trees as they can damage the bark of the tree.
Take out as many of the ivy roots by hand as you can from the trunk. Leave a safe zone of about three or four feet so that you can act fast should new ivy vines start to emerge.
Whatever is left on the ground, you can use the same methods for getting rid of that creeping ivy.
Killing Ivy on Walls
Ivy climbing up your walls can be particularly annoying. Start by pulling each vine gently; you don’t want to damage the wall during the removal process. Any of the leftovers should be left out to dry. This will make them easier to remove later on.
Apply your ivy killer to the ground roots of the ivy. This is meant to prevent the ivy from growing back again and climbing up the walls once more.
Any of the remaining tendrils and rootlets should be then scraped away using a steel brush. If you have a wooden house exterior or a wooden fence, use a sander instead as the brush can damage the surface of the structure.
The key to getting rid of ivy is to attempt to remove it all at once and be persistent during the removal process. Ivy is invasive and resilient and can come back if left unchecked.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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