The Dangers of Ivy and How to Safely Remove It
Ivy may remind you of the peaceful English countryside. However, there is a dark danger lurking in these climbing vines! While ivy may look attractive, it is actually an invasive plant species that can wreak havoc on your trees and garden. The professional arborists and landscape experts at Monster Tree Service are here to help you identify invasive ivy species, learn the risks of these climbing vines, and remove them from your trees. Now, let’s dive into the dangers of ivy and how to safely remove it!
Are All Types of Ivy Invasive?
First of all, not all types of ivy are invasive species. Virginia creeper, crossvine, and American Wisteria are all non-invasive deciduous variations that offer nectar for pollinators, berries for birds, or symbiotic relationships to trees.
English ivy (Hedera helix) is the most invasive ivy species, but many people still purchase and plant it intentionally as a ground or wall cover. However, this pesky vine can take over your garden (or even the regional ecosystem), leaving a climbing trail of destruction in its wake.
Why is Invasive Ivy Dangerous?
English ivy has thick glossy leaves with five lobes that range from medium to dark green with lighter color veins running throughout. It is invasive, aggressive, and hazardous to neighboring plants. Invasive ivy doesn’t offer benefits to the ecosystem but instead poses a threat. The evergreen plant grows year-round, choking out neighboring vegetation and providing nesting spots for pests. Invasive ivy thrives in various climates and is challenging to remove once it takes over.
How Can Ivy Damage My Trees?
Here are the three main ways ivy can damage your trees.
Ivy Climbs and Covers
You can safely grow English ivy as a ground or wall cover. However, the problem begins when ivy gets out of control and begins to climb trees or pose threats to the health of nearby vegetation. Ivy climbs trees to seek sunlight. However, this gluey vine adds weight and weakens the tree, leaving it more susceptible to disease, branch breakage, and even falling.
Ivy Competes for Nutrients
As ivy begins to cover the trunk of a tree, it starts competing for nutrients and sunlight. Over time, ivy can suck nutrients from the surrounding soil. The vine can even overtake the tree's branches, completely blocking out the sun from the tree’s leaves.
Ivy Conceals Other Problems
Ivy covers and hides, which means it conceals other underlying problems. For example, English ivy provides shelter for fungi and pests that can go on to infect your trees. Once the tree is infected, it will be difficult to see because the ivy will hide the signs of any tree health issues.
Top 3 Tips to Remove Ivy From Your Trees
Now that you know how dangerous ivy is for your trees, you need to learn how to remove it. Here are our certified arborists’ top three tips to remove ivy from your trees.
1. Don’t Rip
Never attempt to rip ivy off of your trees. Ivy firmly attaches itself to anything it climbs, so pulling will not only remove the ivy but also tear the tree bark. When tree bark tears, the tree is left vulnerable to pests and disease. Instead of ripping, cut the ivy at the roots. Once the vine no longer has a supply of nutrients, it will die and eventually fall off the tree.
2. Target the Roots
English ivy is highly invasive and difficult to remove. After cutting away as much of the vine as possible, dig up the root system to prevent future growth. Be careful to protect the roots of trees and nearby plants. In some cases, you can use herbicides to target and kill ivy. However, never use an herbicide on ivy that is climbing a tree or positioned close to other plants, as it can damage those as well.
3. Monitor and Protect
Finally, remove any ivy debris and continue to monitor future growth. Invasive ivy is difficult to eradicate. So, don’t be surprised if it comes back again. Mulch the base of your trees to help suffocate any growth and remove the first signs of ivy when they pop up to keep the situation under control.
So Long, Ivy!
While ivy may channel the feeling of the English countryside, this invasive vine is no walk in the park! Invasive ivy can quickly take over your garden, killing other plants and trees in the process. If you are concerned about the health of your trees, contact your local Monster Tree Service team about our high-quality tree services at an affordable price. Together, we can say so long to ivy!