What Can Kill English Ivy?

Written by michelle brunet
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What Can Kill English Ivy?
English ivy - is it invasive or impressive? (English Ivy image by Keith Pinto from Fotolia.com)

Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder when it comes to English ivy (Hedera helix). To those who purposefully grow or adore English ivy in their yard or home, they are happy to see the vibrant green, lobed foliage climbing up a wall or trellis. To others, English ivy is an invader, overtaking native ground flora, weakening the branches of young trees or destroying the siding of their homes. Whether you want to kill or save the English ivy on your premises, you can proceed with some measures that are not overly strenuous.

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Manual Control

If you want to remove English Ivy from your yard, manual control may be the easiest method and have the least impact on the natural world surrounding your home. If the weed is low to the ground, remove the entire plant and dispose of it into a plastic bag. Watering the soil first will make pulling out the weeds easier. If the ground cover is abundant, you can mow or whipper-snipper the plants first and cover them with a natural mulch to prevent them from receiving any sunlight. If the English ivy is climbing up a structure, cut the stems at arm level and remove as much as the plant as you can, remembering to pull out the roots at the base. The English ivy that is above your height will die since it is no longer accessing the soil.

Herbicidal Control

If manual control methods are not successful, you may want to apply a chemical herbicide to your English ivy infestation. The University of Tennessee's Institute of Agriculture recommends sprays such as a 3 per cent solution of trichlopyr or a 2 per cent solution of glyphosate. Alternatively, to eliminate the English ivy infestation with a homemade, organic spray, use a one-part water to one-part vinegar solution or a one-part bleach to one-part water solution.

Fungal and Bacterial Control

If maintaining English ivy in your home or yard is a priority, and you are concerned about potential fatalities, keep an eye on the foliage for leaf spots. English ivy may be attacked by bacterial leaf spots, which tend to be dark and outlined with yellow-green rings. The Hedera species also may be attacked by fungal leaf spots which may show up as red, brown, dark or white specks and splotches. If you notice these symptoms, remove and dispose the infected leaves right away. To prevent diseases, thin out the ivy occasionally as reducing the density reduces the risk. Water the plants in the morning and avoid getting the leaves wet by applying water only to the soil.

Insect Control

Insect pests, such as spider mites and aphids, may attack English ivy leaves leading to the death of the entire plant. Check the underside of the leaves as well as the tops for signs of these pests. According to Smith College and Cornell University, you can lightly bathe the leaves and stems in warm water or warm soapy water to eliminate insects. Repeat this process once a week until the insects have resigned. It may be beneficial to pat dry the leaves with paper towel, or to bathe the leaves only in the morning, to avoid potential bacterial or fungal problems.

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