How to kill ivy

Written by c. giles Google
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How to kill ivy
Ivy can quickly spread over an entire wall. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

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.

Skill level:

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Things you need

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

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    How to kill ivy on trees

  1. 1

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

  2. 2

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

    How to kill ivy
    Gardening gloves protect your hands from the ivy. (gardening gloves image by Sandi Chetwynd from
  3. 3

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

  4. 4

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

  5. 5

    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.

  6. 6

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

    How to remove ivy from walls

  1. 1

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

  2. 2

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

  3. 3

    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.

Tips and warnings

  • 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.

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