Ivy has aesthetic qualities which can give a tree character. However, if ivy is allowed to grow into the canopy, it can be harmful to a tree’s health. English ivy is particularly aggressive because it is fast-growing and starves a tree of nutrients and light. Leaving ivy unchecked almost certainly leads to damage that will require work to keep your tree safe.
If left to overgrow and take over the tree, vines become very difficult to control. Dense ivy blocks out sunlight and deprives the bark of contact with air and the vital micro-organisms that trees need to survive. It also competes with nutrients and leaves the tree undernourished.
When trees are deprived of nutrients, they die – and subsequently become a threat to nearby property. In a storm, unhealthy and dead trees can be pulled from their roots, this risk is amplified by a factor known as ‘wind sail effect’ wherein the extra surface area of the ivy leaves significantly increases the chance of trees being pulled over in high winds. It’s therefore essential to remove ivy from your trees at the earliest opportunity.
How To Deal With Ivy on Trees
The easiest way to rid a tree of threatening ivy is to target the roots of the vine. Take a pair of garden clippers and separate the vines from their source of nutrients in the soil.
Pull ivy vines out of the ground around the base of the tree to prevent further infestations. The best time to do this is after a bout of rainfall when the ground is soft.
Once the vine roots are completely removed from the surrounding area, lay a circle of mulch around the base of the tree to preserve the moisture in the soil. Keep the mulch about 3-inches from the trunk to allow the tree to exchange air with the environment.
Removing Dense Ivy from Trees
If the ivy is dense, remove the vine from the trunk. You can do this by hand by pulling it up from the soil and gathering it from the tree. This can be quite difficult to do, especially if the vine is thick.
You may need to use a saw to cut the ivy down and gently ease it away from the bark. Experiment with the tools you have at your disposal to see which are most effective. Be careful not to damage the bark.
A more straightforward solution for removing dense infestations of ivy is to spray white vinegar on the leaves and stems of the vine. This will kill the ivy. Please wait until the leaves turn brown and gently remove them from the bark. If there is still some life in the ivy after a week, give it another squirt of white vinegar.
If you do use the white vinegar method, be careful not to spray nearby plants with it otherwise you will kill them as well.
For infestations which are not too thick, there is no need to remove the vine as the ivy will gradually blend into the tree bark after being cut from the roots.
To protect your trees from further infestations, it’s crucial to remove ivy roots altogether. Where ivy is dense, it may be a better option for you to contact a qualified tree surgeon. GW Tree Surgery & Stump Grinding are happy to help with any ivy issues and provide a full range of tree health services.