How to Kill Ivy Plants

People intentionally brought ivy plants from Europe to America many years ago because it makes an attractive groundcover and grows well in many areas. Unfortunately, it grows so well in some areas that it tends to invade forests and garden spaces, according to Oregon State University Extension. Ivy climbs trees and buildings, covering more than just the ground. Gardeners can kill ivy plants by physically removing them or by using chemicals.

Put on gloves for protection from cuts, scratches and poison oak or ivy.

Remove ivy vines from tree trunks and buildings by clipping the vines at the base of the plants, as recommended by Oregon State University Extension and the National Park Service. Then pull as much of the vines as possible off of the vertical surfaces.

Decide whether to physically remove the rest of the ivy plants or use a chemical to kill them. Physical removal takes longer and requires more physical exertion than using a pesticide, but it does not damage nearby plants as much or cause as much pollution as pesticides.

Physically remove plants by pulling the vines out of the ground, as recommended by Oregon State University Extension. Pull out as much of the plant roots as possible to prevent them from growing back. Gardeners who choose to physically pull plants rather than using an herbicide may have to pull plants several times as they continue to grow back from leftover roots.

Hoe garden spaces after physically pulling out ivy, as recommended by Iowa State University Horticulture to disturb the ivy plant roots.

Apply an herbicide to ivy plants on the ground. Oregon State University Extension and the National Park Service explain that herbicides can kill ivy when applied to ivy plant leaves, and that they can also work to kill ivy plants when gardeners apply them to cut ivy stems. Iowa State University Horticulture says that the cleaner Borax also kills ivy. The school also notes that some gardeners prefer to use Borax instead of pesticides, because Borax is made from naturally occurring minerals. It suggests dissolving 284gr of Borax in 118ml of warm water and then diluting the solution in 2.5 gallons of water for every 1,000 square feet of ivy. Gardeners who choose pesticides instead of Borax should apply them according to their manufacturer's instructions.


To help remove ivy from vertical surfaces, Friends of Sligo Creek suggests prying it off of buildings and trees with a screwdriver.


Pay attention when pulling ivy off of trees to make sure that the vines are not damaging the bark. Sometimes ivy pulls off easily, but it sometimes sticks strongly to the bark and pulls takes some of it off with itself.

Things You'll Need

  • Plant clippers
  • Gloves
  • Hoe
  • Borax or herbicides
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About the Author

Lisa Chinn developed her research skills while working at a research university library. She writes for numerous publications, specializing in gardening, home care, wellness, copywriting, style and travel. Chinn also designs marketing materials, holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and is working toward a PhD in cognitive neuroscience.