English Ivy (Hedera helix) is considered an invasive species, and although it covers areas very quickly, it will take over almost anything in its path.  It’s ok to keep ivy for its decorative appearance but you should work hard to keep it on the ground and prevent it from climbing a tree.   We often have clients ask us our opinion about a tree on their property covered in ivy and if it is harmful to the tree?  Our vote is YES.  We recommend getting rid of the ivy climbing on a tree.

English Ivy Characteristics

This plant was first introduced in the United States during the colonial period.  It’s an evergreen leafy vine that enjoys shade in woodlands and forests and an also be found along coastal regions.  Leaves are lobed with three or five points and usually variegates in color with shades of green and white.  It can survive in many climates and soil and is found in plant hardiness zones 5 to 11.

Why Remove Ivy from a Tree?

The actual ivy plant doesn’t kill a tree, but rather the damage it does after the ivy has started growing. 

Creates competition for nutrients, water and sunlight.   English ivy makes a tree weaker and more prone to disease and branch dieback since it grows from the ground up and competes for nutrients, water and sunlight.   It climbs up trees with suction-cup-like roots called ‘hold fasts’. These attachments are strong and as it grows up the tree, the vine becomes thick and very wide.  Eventually the branches become imbalanced with the ivy at the top of the tree, making a tree more prone to falling during high winds.

When ivy grows tall and in the sun, it blooms and produces seeds which are dispersed widely by birds. 

How to Get Rid of Ivy without Harming the Tree

Wait until the growing season when everything is green and growing again, and then simply cut or saw through the vine down near where it grows at the base of the tree trunk, and them immediately pain the cut surface (the side with the roots), with a product like Brush-B-Gone.  This is a systemic herbicide which is taken into the root system of the vine and kills it.  The top of the vine will die over time as it no longer has roots.  Be sure to follow all label instructions.

Another method is to clip it at the bottom around the circumference of the trunk and pull the roots out of the ground in a circle 2 feet around the tree. 

Either way, you leave the ivy intact on the tree.  Without roots, it will wilt and die and in time the tree trunk will grow around the old vines.

Never hesitate to call Whitehouse Landscaping for any landscaping questions you may have.  We have over 18 years of landscaping experience and our expertise is backed by industry certifications and ongoing education.  We have created our website  to help inspire you, see our capabilities and answer question you may have.  Call 484-300-4290 or contact us  on our website.