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clearing land of Ivy

I have a plot of land 13x50' and it's full of Ivy. It's been growing there for about 20 years so it's very, very thick. I'd like to clear it myself. What's the best way? Do I spray something on it first and wait till it dies back (if it will) or just use "elbow grease" and cut and pull? Thanks for your help. Susan

Backyard Expert - Cathy Nordstrum

Dear Susan,

The best way to approach Ivy removal is to use that 'elbow grease' and remove as much of the surface growth as possible. That in itself will be a huge chore so you may want to clear your area taking small segments at a time. The next step is to work on the underground roots. Remove as much of them as you can.

At this point you can try several things. You could wait until new growth emerges and cut it back repeatedly until the plant wears itself out and dies. This could take many months, but just as with bamboo, this method works. Or, you can wait for new growth to emerge from any roots you didn't get and zap it with a Glyphosate product until there are no more emerging shoots. The better option is to put a thick layer of newspaper down after you have cut it all back. It should be at least 1" thick when wet. Then cover the entire area with a thick layer of mulch since the goal here is to block the sunlight from any remaining roots, and to lay the groundwork for future soil. One more thing, make sure you have a barrier between your area and any Ivy that may remain adjacent to it. If you don't make a trench at least 15" deep, the Ivy will continue to move into your area.

Try to hold off for six months before planting trees and shrubs. I wouldn't use this area as a perennial bed since short plants will not cast enough shade to keep any surviving Ivy roots from getting light and re-sprouting. It would be much better to keep the area shaded with woodland trees and shrubs. In so doing you will have the beginnings of a wildlife habitat, just in case you don't already have one. Good luck!

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