‘Highly effective’ natural methods to ‘eradicate’ ivy ‘for good’

Gardening: How to remove ivy from brickwork and trees

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When it comes to getting rid of ivy in the garden, the natural way may be the best. While it is tempting to opt for powerful weed killers, there are some less toxic ways to control this climbing plant, which can cling to and damage masonry and fencing – and they may even be hiding in your kitchen cabinet. 

Jim and Mary Competti, gardening experts at Old World Garden Farms, explained that autumn is a “great time” to kill ivy as this is the time when the plant is a bit “vulnerable” as it starts to “shed its leaves”.

They said: “By hitting them in early fall with your choice of a few great natural sprays, they can be eradicated in just a few applications.”

With that in mind, here is a look at the best ways to rid gardens of ivy once and for all.

1. Spray with vinegar 

Vinegar is known to be a natural ingredient that attacks ivy the most. Gardeners can either use horticultural vinegar or regular household white vinegar.

The experts said: “Horticultural vinegar is highly effective in eradicating ivy and spraying in the fall, just as the leaves begin to turn is a great time for taking out the plant for good.

“Horticultural vinegar (also sometimes referred to as industrial vinegar) is a much higher concentration of acid than regular kitchen vinegar. 

“Kitchen vinegar is usually around five percent strength, where horticultural vinegar can be upwards of 30 to 45 percent acidity. However, kitchen vinegar can still be used if you don’t have access to horticultural vinegar.”

Just as vinegar can be used to kill weeds on driveways, patios and paving joints,  it also kills ivy. To use, simply put the vinegar in a spray bottle and use at full strength.

The gardening pros instructed: “Spray the leaves liberally with the solution and watch it work. Spraying during the heat of the day and in direct sunlight will increase its effectiveness even more.

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“Be careful when spraying around other plants to only hit the leaves of the ivy. Vinegar is non-specific, meaning the acid will kill any plant that it comes in contact with. It will usually take a couple of applications a few days apart to completely kill ivy down to the roots.”

Always wear protective eye and hand protection when using high strength vinegar. It is still an acid and can cause burns to the skin and eyes when it comes in contact. 

2. Spray with salt water 

If vinegar is not your cup of tea, gardeners can always use a salt water solution to “kill ivy naturally”, says the pros. 

To make this solution mix two cups of salt with half a gallon of water. The experts also suggested adding a few drops of washing up liquid into the solution as well.

They said: “This helps the spray cling to the ivy leaves instead of just dripping off. Place in a hand sprayer and apply liberally to the ivy leaves.

“Just as with vinegar, the salt solution will harm any plant life it comes in contact with. Be careful to only spray the leaves of the ivy and not the foliage of surrounding plants.”

“The salt solution may take a few extra applications to completely kill the ivy. Spray every three to four days until the foliage is completely dead to be sure you have killed the roots.” 

Again, spraying in the heat of the day and with full sunlight will help to increase the salt solution’s effectiveness.

3. Remove the plants by hand

Although this is the most labor intensive, removing plants by hand is a “fast and highly effective method”, according to Jim and Mary. 

Ivy can be hard to find in the spring and summer months. The foliage can easily blend in with many other plants and go unnoticed.

The experts said: “The key to removing ivy plants for good is to get to the roots. Follow the main stem of the plant to the ground, and dig out the roots to a depth of at least six to eight inches.”

Carefully bag all of the leaves and stems and dispose at your local waste centre. Make sure not to add it to compost piles so that the plant can’t grow back again.

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