Will weed killer kill my English ivy?

Updated July 20, 2017

English ivy is a hearty plant that will thrive in shade or sun and spreads rapidly in gardens and yards. That makes it difficult to get rid of when the vines and dark, heart-shaped leaves grow up fences or walls, pulling down structures. Chemical herbicides can kill overgrown English ivy, but the job requires preparation and takes several rounds of attack.

Preparing the ivy

English ivy's leathery leaves and root system help it survive chemicals. To get rid of ivy, first mow it down with a lawnmower or hit it with a weed whacker. Cutting the leaves and stems of English ivy allows the herbicide to penetrate into the plant and work more effectively. It is possible to kill ivy without mowing it, but the process will take much longer. To avoid injury, make sure there are no stones or pipes underneath the ivy before mowing.

Spray the weed killer

When using weed killer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Wearing rubber gloves and safety glasses will prevent chemicals from coming in contact with skin or splashing into eyes.

Just after mowing, spray the plant. In about a week, spray it again when new leaves start to grow. Small leaves and new growth are more vulnerable than older, established leaves. As the ivy regrows, mow the plant and spray it. Continue this process three or four times until the ivy plants do not grow new leaves. This process could take a month or two.

Winter is the best time of year to kill English ivy with chemicals, according to Gardening Know How. Spray the plant on a cold, sunny day. The cool weather will prevent the herbicide from evaporating quickly. The sun can help bake the chemicals into the plant and get through the waxy coating on the leaves.

Ivy on trees

If you are trying to remove ivy from a tree trunk, do not spray it with weed killer because chemicals made to kill stems could also kill a tree that has thin bark. Cut vines at the ground and several feet up the tree trunk, then peel the cut vines off the tree, making sure not to peel away the bark. Once you pull the vines about 0.9 m (3 feet) away from the roots of a tree, spray the ivy with weed killer.

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About the Author

Molly P.A. Yun has been a professional writer for six years. She earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Missouri, and has been published in a wide variety of magazines, websites and newspapers, from "Bluegrass Now Magazine" to "Delmarva Quarterly," the "Rolla Daily News" to the "Cape Gazette" and "My Community Trend," a weekly paper inserted into "The Philadelphia Inquirer."