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Question DetailsAsked on 5/28/2011

Any tips on removing the ivy from the side of a house?

The east side of our home is entirely covered with ivy (and lots of it). It's a brick home. My husband and I are both new to ivy so any veteran able to provide some words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated!

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7 Answers

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Megan, I've wrestled with some strange plants. My experience with ivy has to be one of the most memorable. There are many varieties of ivy and I've found it to be one of the most beautiful and aggressive things you can put into the ground. I've even had ivy that found a way to come into a house by pulling itself through a very, very small crack in the morter between bricks near a window.

It's hard to kill and almost as hard to remove once it gets it's claws into something. You don't say you want to kill the ivy but I'll let you know what I did in case you want to.

First, you need to cut the current vines off low on the house, just at or just above ground level. Most things green will die if you apply a chemical like Roundup. Ivy isn't most green things. There are chemicals similar to Roundup that target woody plants like ivy and you'll likely have to make a couple of applications. I even used an axe to chop the "trunks" into sections to wrestle with over the course of a summer.

After you cut the vines at or near ground level, about the only thing I've found is to pull the climbing vines from whatever they've attached to. I would cut the main vine every six feet or so and just pull sections from the house not being too fussy about getting every last piece since there will be plenty of clean-up later on...and plenty of time to get the stragglers. Wear gloves and by all means, get a wooden pole to use as leverage to pry the things off.

Once you cut the vines, take your time. If the leaves die off, you will wrestle with the woody part. If you have to get on with it, you'll wrestle with the woody part and the leaves.

Can you tell I don't have fond memories?

I plan to follow your post and see if others have a magical idea. If there is a short process that is less strenous I want to have it in the back of my mind. LIke I said, ivy is beautiful and I wouldn't mind having it again in the future if it can be managed without steroids!

Good luck!

Answered 7 years ago by Old Grouch

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SIGH! Mike wasn't kidding. I too remember weeks of IVY labor although it hadn't invaded the house or caused mega damage to a brick fireplace chimney. Virginia Creeper did!

Answered 7 years ago by tessa89

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Megan,

Ivy is indeed an invasive b**tard. I'm a Master Gardener, and I'm amazed they still sell the stuff in garden centers. Of course this means there are fools out there who pay money to bring ivy home. I bet you won't be doing that in the future, will you?

Mike's advice is sound. Cut the ivy off at the ground and leave it on the house until the vines go brown. Leave it as long as you can so that when you try to pull it off you do as little damage to the mortar as possible. Meantime spray the remaining ivy on the ground with regular Roundup. The trick with this plant and with other plants with hard shiny leaves is to stomp all over it, breaking up the leaves and opening wounds, before using Roundup. It takes a long while to die, but when you see the edges getting brown you'll know it's on it's way to Ivy Hell. Another dose will do the trick.

I've heard it's best to remove the dead tendrils from the top down, if at all possible. This is not something I've had personal experience with, but it's supposed to be easier to get a good start with the weakest tendrils, which are at the tops. Then, if they are well and truly dead as they should be by that time, they can be pulled off a lot more easily than if you tried to pull off a live vine.

Be sure to check the mortar as you go. Odds are if this ivy has been there for a long time it will have pried its way into any loose mortar.

Good luck.


Answered 7 years ago by Commonsense

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Thanks everyone for the advice! Wow, we knew this was going to be a project but man... this is a project with a capitol P! (for pain!)

Good advice from all. Thanks so much!

Answered 7 years ago by Megan

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Megan, I sure don't envy you. my muscles scream in sympathy.

Another step that I don't think anyone addressed is the importance to thoroughly remove all roots or branches near the parameter of your homes foundation.. If your home has a basement or if it's built on a raised foundation, don't overlook the crawl space.

Answered 7 years ago by tessa89

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Tessa,

If you break up ivy's roots you only cause six more plants to grow each time. The only way to get rid of ivy is to be persistent and keep using Roundup. Besides, it really isn't wise to start digging deeply around foundations.

--Just one person's opinion.


Answered 7 years ago by Commonsense

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Thanks, Commonsense. Believe me, I remember battling ivy at the first home we purchased. The entire porch was overgown with it!. it took several years of diligenent labor to totaly erradicate it.

Of course that was in the 60s before RoundUp was marketed to the general public and DDT had finally been acknowledged as potential cancer causing toxin.

Be it ivy, "Virginia Creeper", Bermuda grass, bamboo, etc, some plants are incredibly tenacious and invasive. At present we''re attempting to erradicate Bermuda before re-landscaping to avoid making the same mistake a neighbor did by not digging out the roots (he thought he'd killed it using RoundUp) - his oops has reappeared and is now making it's way into our yard...


Answered 7 years ago by tessa89




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