How to kill ivy

Updated April 17, 2017

While ivy can be an attractive, ornamental addition to a garden, it can quickly grow out of control, damage trees and brick walls, and look messy and wild. Ivy on a tree can grow into the crown and stop both new and existing buds from developing. On a wall, ivy can, over time, work its way into cracks between bricks and dislodge the mortar. Killing ivy is not a simple job and it takes perseverance, but with the right tools and techniques it is possible, no matter how overgrown it is.

How to kill ivy on trees

Wrap red tape around the handles of your tools to make them easy to spot if you lose them in the ivy.

Wear long sleeves, long trousers, sturdy shoes and gardening gloves.

Cut through each vine at shoulder height and ankle height using loppers. Use a pruning saw for thicker vines.

Pull the ivy away from the trees between the two cuts, taking care not to damage the tree bark.

Pull up vines from the tree's base, using a tree pruner, until a circle 6 feet in diameter around the tree is free of ivy. It is crucial to remove ivy from the ground to stop it growing back up the tree.

Cut ivy around native plants before pulling the vines, to minimize damage to other plants.

How to remove ivy from walls

Hose the vines with water to soften them and make them easier to remove.

Cut each vine away from the wall, using pruning shears and working down from the top of the wall.

Leave tendrils and suckers in the cracks in the wall in place until they become dry and darken in colour. This should only take two or three weeks; after this time, use a stiff brush and washing detergent to remove them.


Do not pull ivy from above your head; use the ladder to make sure you are level with it. Dead branches or a hornets' nest can cause injury if they fall on you from above.

Keep bare skin away from ivy; the sap can cause rashes or blistering.

Things You'll Need

  • Red tape
  • Gardening gloves
  • Lopping shears
  • Pruning saw
  • Tree pruning shears
  • Garden hose
  • Stiff brush
  • Washing detergent
  • Ladder
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About the Author

C. Giles is a writer with an MA (Hons) in English literature and a post-graduate diploma in law. Her work has been published in several publications, both online and offline, including "The Herald," "The Big Issue" and "Daily Record."