If you follow this blog at all, you’ll recall that last Autumn we rented goats to try to read our yard of about a third of an acre of English ivy. The previous owner of our home told us, “I just put out a few sprigs 40 years ago.” The result is that our yard was completely covered in English Ivy, most of it well over ankle deep. After the unsuccessful goat rental, I tried a lot of other things and finally discovered how to get rid of unwanted English ivy in your yard.
It’s a three-step process. The short version is this, but there’s a little more to it.
- cut it with a lawnmower
- spray it with white vinegar
- cover it up with mulch
The whole reason I do this is to get rid of the Ivy. The reasons I want to get rid of the Ivy are many. English Ivy…
- kills trees
- hides snakes,
- makes a great home for mosquitoes
- hides holes in your yard
- will take over if you don’t control it
I love English ivy when it’s in a controlled environment. I can trim all around it either by hand or with a lawnmower. But when it takes over a yard, it’s time to go.
Mow the English Ivy with your lawnmower
Get a regular push lawnmower, set it on its highest setting, and very, very slowly cut the ivy. If your ivy is very thick and tall, this cutting is much easier because, when you cut it, you’re cutting off all the leaves and all you’ll have left is stems. If your ivy is short and very close to the ground, you’ll have to make several passes and maybe even get the weed eater out.
I mentioned to slowly cut your ivy because you never know what’s under that ivy. The previous owner of our home had lived there for more than 40 years, and I found everything from tennis balls to dog toys to bird houses to old yard tools buried under the ivy. The best way to do this cut is to walk all over as if you’re mowing the ivy to see what you step on. Another hazard is not what you step on, but what you step in. Ivy has a wonderful quality of covering up holes in your yard. In our yard, they had taken out dozens of small trees, but they did not remove the stumps. When a stump rots it creates a hole. Ivy covers up that hole and it’s an instant ankle trap.
So take it slow and cut your ivy with your lawn mower so that all you have are all you see are ivy vines and stems.
Spray it with white vinegar
You read that right: white vinegar. It’s cheap and you can get it at any grocery store. Start off with a gallon and see how far that gets you. Using a common yard sprayer, fill it with straight vinegar and then walk around your cut Ivy and spray every inch of it with the white vinegar. Just to be sure, I would do mine twice. I think I did this the first few times because I just didn’t believe it would work, so I figured the more the better. Now I do it just to be sure I got it done.
The vinegar sucks the Ivy dry and removes all water from the vines so that the leaves cannot regenerate. What you’ll have it if you leave it for a few weeks is just hard crusty crunchy dead vines.
Cover it with mulch
You can choose whatever kind of mulch you want. I always go with the free wood chips from local tree services. If I have a good layer of this kind of mulch, it takes care of most unwanted weeds and provides a great base of soil after the mulch itself composts.
Also, I layer it on pretty thick. I usually cover the newly cut and vinegar-soaked ivy with 6 to 8 inches of wood chip mulch. There’s no particular magic number for how thick the mulch should be. I figure the more the better.
If you did this right, you might see a sprig or two pop back up, but that’s about it. If you do this method exactly and you don’t like the look of the wood chip mulch, cover that up with a thin layer of pine straw.
Now you know how to get rid of English ivy in your yard. Have fun!