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Ivy Removal Tip Sheet

1. Start with the Trees:  Since ivy does not flower and produce seeds until it can climb up on a tree or fence, it is best to start by removing it from trees, thereby eliminating the seed bank. Cut out a 3 - 6 inch chunk of the vines at the base of the tree using clippers or a hand saw. Take care not to damage the bark of the tree. At this point, leave it on the tree to dry out and shrink so as not to damage the tree further.

2. Divide and Conquer:  Divide your area to be cleared into manageable sections so as not to get overwhelmed.  Completely clear the ivy and roots, going through all steps, from one section at a time.

3. Roll it Up:  When a large area is blanketed with ivy, a team of people can work from one end to another, pulling and digging ivy out and rolling it into a tight bundle. The bundle can be left to decompose on site. If you are working on a slope, let gravity work for you by starting at the top, and rolling the ivy down like a carpet. Make sure you are pulling the plant out by its roots. It’s easiest to work in the spring, or after rains have loosened the soil.

4. Cover with Mulch:  Sheet mulch the area after all the ivy has been removed. First lay down 10+ layers of wet newspaper, overlapping the sheets 6 - 8 inches. You can also use cardboard, either alone or in addition to newspaper. It is important not to leave even the smallest gap. Then cover the cardboard with 3 - 5 inches of wood chips. Be aware that chips from tree companies can contain weed seeds; avoid chips from acacia or eucalyptus. Keep mulch well away from existing tree trunks. It is best not to disturb the mulch for at least a year to eliminate ivy, roots and all. Two years is even better. When you do decide to re-plant the area, try to choose native plants that will grow quickly.

5. Pluck the Seedlings:  When new ivy seedlings sprout up, pluck them right away. They are easy to pull out by hand, or you can use a hula hoe (also called a scuffle hoe) for larger areas of seedlings.

 6. Don’t give up:  It IS possible to eliminate ivy, but in most cases it is a multi-year project. Ivy removal requires continued diligence to eliminate any seedlings planted by birds that have eaten the berries of your neighbor’s ivy. Imagine an ivy-free future!

Look below to download a spreadsheet of native plants great for replacing ivy!
San Pablo Creek,
Aug 14, 2012, 4:05 PM