Oops -- Sorry -- It's English ivy we're having trouble with. We've been ripping it out by hand, but it's slow going and we've got TONS of the stuff. I read an article that suggested you could cut/roll the stuff like logs, but was hoping for something easier -- but due to tree roots, etc. I suppose tillers would be out of the question. Are we stuck with ripping it out by hand? (Thanks for the poison ivy info -- we've got some of that too!)
We live in Virginia Beach close to the water and are restricted from using harsh chemicals... We just moved in to our house 6 months ago. We have ivy everywhere (neglected for years) - growing up established trees to heights of 30-50 feet,,, Can someone help us with the best pan of eradicating the ivy? We thought we could just till it out but that seems pretty work intensive. Any ideas? M&M in Va Beach
It depends on how quickly you want to use the land for other things. If you don't mind a long-term plan, you can just keep mowing it until it dies. My neighbor did that successfully, but it took months. If you want to do it more quickly, you'll have to dig it up. As for the ivy growing up into the trees, just cut it at the bottom of the trees, and all of the growth above the cuts will die and eventually fall off the trees by itself.
I don't think you'll help much by tilling because I think root sections can resprout. (and I guess it would hurt the tree) Roundup may need several applications because of the waxy leaf, not soaking it up so well. Maybe mow it and apply Roundup to the young growth a little later. It'll be a tough job; hopefully somebody who ahs done it will chime in.
1) Start with the trees. They need help ASAP. Cut all of the vines completely around the entire tree. "Strip" off what you can. That won't make a lot of difference because eventually (weeks to a month) everything above where you've cut will start browning and dying. The stripping of the vines can give some satisfaction, however, because it immediately looks like you've accomplished something. Some of those vines will be deeply attached to the tree bark, especially if it's rough bark. Don't damage the bark. If it won't strip, it still is going to die. Below the cut (what I actually did was initially cut out about a 2 foot gap all around, just to be sure the little buggers wouldn't grow back together, like fallopian tubes can sometimes do after a tubal ligation), rip and pull down to the ground and then clear by pulling a big space around the base of the tree.
2) Chemicals - I know they are supposed to go down through the roots and kill the whole plant. Dream on. Maybe enough chemicals, enough applications, enough time. I tried both Brush B Gone and Round up. Neither were effective beyond small portions of leaves on portions of the vines. New leaves were growing back on the treated vines within a few weeks. (The Brush B Gone did work very well on the poison ivy.)
From reading here in particular I learned a few reasons why the chemicals were not nearly as effective as I thought they'd be. One reason is, as someone already pointed out, is that the leaves are waxy and the chemicals don't penetrate well. Mixing with a surfuctant and hand applying can help with this, but I did that later in a few small test patches and I still did not find it to go backwards into the real roots. Another reason is the timing of the chemical application. Fall is best because more nutrients (and the chemicals) are being taken back down to the roots for storage rather than being used to produce as much new growth as during the more prolific growing seasons. During the hot summer months the ivy growth slows and the chemical transportation (along the vine) also slows. I'm sure there are more reasons for why I did not get satisfactory kill.
In my opinion, toxifying large areas for small, imperfect results is not worth the mental stress of worrying about how many little animals and birds and microscopic critters are dying, even if slowly, from an accumulation of what I put down and what neighbors all around are also dumping on their land.
3) Solarization - this is a great time of year to do this. Use the lawn mower with bagger to cut the ivy down. You may have to set the height up for the first pass because the vines, if too old and thick, will keep clogging the mower. Cover the area with thick clear plastic (Home Depot or Lowe's) or tarps. Then pile on leaves, bricks, junk cleared out of your garage, anything that will weight down the plastic or tarps. Let that sit for as many months as you can stand it. In the Spring do as many other yard things as you can and leave the unveiling to last.
When you unveil the area, M. Nature will have given you a big assist. Much of what has been covered will have rotted and weakened enough that raking over it will pull it out of the ground. Do not believe it is dead! It isn't. It will be weakened and much easier to rake and pull out, especially if you have been religiously going to the gym and lifting weights all winter.
4) Tilling - I once rented a big tiller to "redo" the grassy area of my backyard, and I also ran it over some of the vinca and ivy. The vinca promptly wrapped all around the blades and wheels and was a real mess and frustration. I can't recall the ivy being as much of a problem like that, but I wasn't much into it. The tiller loosens the vines but doesn't actually remove them - lots of pieces left in ground. Unwinding from the axel is as much effort as pulling the vines. I did not even consider trying a tiller when I seriously decided to remove the forest of vinca and ivy.
5) Raking/cutting/pulling - I found that getting down on the ground and using a clippers to cut a small path on both sides of a strip of ivy, leaving about 3-4 feet in the strip, let me rake and pull the ivy up more easily than just starting in on a big area. It would sort of rake up like a hay bale to a certain point and then just "jam". Pulling really hard with the rake wouldn't budge the bale. Then I get down on the ground again and cut the vines. Roll the bale off to the tarp I was using to haul the bales curbside. Start raking again to get a bale.
6) Mowing - I know repeated mowing doesn't work for vinca, but I think Zuzu is right that repeated mowing wears out the ivy and it kind of gives up - eventually. If there is a "mowable" area, I would certainly try that over and over. At the very least it will control the ivy in the area you can mow while you work on other parts of your yard. I do think you should rip and pull in a wide area around the tree bases.
Good luck. You have a lot of hard work ahead of you. It can be done, and it is satisfying to see the cleared land.
I was looking at a site yesterday where english ivy covered approximately 2 acres of land. I really believe they will never be able to eliminate all of it. Sure they can reduce the quantity, but complete elimination will take years.