How to Remove Ivy

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How to Remove English Ivy

Tools for ivy removal are:

So you don't lose your tools in the ivy, paint handles red or wrap handles in red tape. (Also don't use your best pruning shears, you will lose some anyway.)

For safety don't pull ivy out of tree above you. You may bring down dead branches or a hornets' nest! Wear proper clothing, long sleeves, long pants, gloves and sturdy shoes even in the summer.

In some people ivy can cause contact dermatitis, a mild rash or blistering that develops when bare skin comes in contact with ivy sap. Berries and leaves are toxic if eaten in large quantities.

Protect Flora and Fauna
During spring exercise caution when removing ivy so you do not disturb nesting birds. Also avoid work on the slope during the late winter/early spring when trillium and other natives may be sprouting. Often on slopes there is an abundance of trillium which has been suppressed by the ivy.

Trees First
First remove ivy from trees and then remove ivy from the ground. If you don't remove it from the ground, it will just grow back up on the trees.

Depending on the thickness of the vines, use either loppers or a pruning saw to cut through each vine at shoulder height and at ankle height. Be careful not to wound the bark of the tree when cutting the ivy vines. Strip the ivy away from the tree between the two cuts (some vines may be so big that you will need to pry them away from the tree). Be careful not to damage the bark.

Next start pulling up as much ivy as possible and as deep as possible around the base of the tree. Keep extending the pulled area around the base of the tree until the pulled area is at least six feet from the tree's base all the way around -- this is the tree's lifesaver.

General Ivy Pulling
When removing ivy in the ground, get up all the roots you can. Free up native plants by cutting the ivy around them first and then removing the ivy so other plants are not damaged.

Ivy deserts
An ivy desert where there are few native plants except for sword fern and saplings beneath the canopy of trees. Create ivy logs by pulling up and rolling ivy into a log. This work is best done by two or three "pullers".

Two tactics for protecting native plants while using the log roll.

Pull Through
If the ivy log is small and the native plant is strong and short, the whole log can be lifted over the plant. This can be done with Sword Ferns as long as at least one person is protecting the fern -- making sure all the fronds are through before the log is lower and rolled again. Most other native plants will be damaged if "pulled through".

Cut Away
Roll the log up to the edge of the native plant. Have one or more people grab fist-fulls of vines the size of a cable. Have another person lop through the cable of vines! Once all the "cables" are cut, the log can be separated and brought around the native plant.

A guardian should always be designated to protect the native plant during this process to ensure an escaped vine doesn't catch and break the native plant.

Where stripping ivy might lead to serious erosion because of the steepness of the slope, the cookie cutter method is used. This method is for fairly steep, to steep slopes with significant drainage issues and very heavy ivy infestation. (Note when working on slopes do not place tools down slope of you. If you fall, you do not want to fall on them.)

Ivy logs can also be used on slopes. The ivy log is left perpendicular to the slope, on cardboard, and staked to the slope. This creates an erosion barrier like a wood or coir log.

A mulch protects the soil from compaction by the rain, prevents soil erosion, improves water percolation into the soil, keep moisture in the soil and helps prevent other invasive plants from seeding. Mulch the ground where ivy has been removed with a protective mulch such as wood chips. Use six inches of mulch; it will compact to much less. Keep the mulch at least 3 inches away from the base of woody shrubs. (Wood chips can often be obtained from tree companies for free.)

Ivy Disposal
Smaller amounts of ivy may be disposed of as yard waste. For larger amounts:

You need to go back every year to pull any ivy missed and to remove newly sprouted ivy. The second year will require only about 10% the effort of the initial removal and the third and subsequent years only about 10% effort of the second year. We can win in ivy removal. Ivy is whimpy when compared to Himalayan blackberries or Japanese knotweed, two other invasives.

*Some text from No Ivy League of Portland Oregon.