Gardening: How to remove ivy from brickwork and trees
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Invasive plants are more than just weeds. Beyond the garden they can cause serious economic and environmental damage, and sometimes even harm to human health. Invasive non-native species typically tolerate a wide range of conditions and easily outcompete other plants through prolific seed dispersal and rapid growth rates. These successful adaptations are compounded by a lack of equalising agents, such as pests and diseases, that would typically be present in the plants’ native ranges.
Intrusive plants don’t always look unpleasant as they spread throughout the garden, with the attractive green leaves on Japanese knotweed and the clinging evergreen vines on ivy offering an enticing garden display, but this makes them even harder to identify as harmful species.
Harry Bodell, gardening expert at PriceYourJob shared a few effective ways to get rid of invasive plants from gardens.
He explained that with plants such as ivy, pruning is a great way to kill them while keeping the costs down.
The expert said: “If common ivy (Hedera helix) is causing problems, the best and most cost-effective way to remove it is by pruning it right down to the base.
“Let the vines die off, then you can remove it by digging up the stump.
“You should always wear protective clothing, a mask and goggles when doing this as the sap is a skin irritant and can cause breathing problems.”
Ivy can become a terror for homeowners, growing rapidly and climbing up walls up to 30 metres.
It can not only damage property, but some types can cause allergic reactions.
Unlike ivy, Japanese knotweed is “very difficult” to completely eradicate, so ideally you want to “catch it early” and call in an expert to make sure it’s dealt with properly, says Harry.
However, if gardeners prefer to keep costs down, they can treat it with a glyphosate-based herbicide.
Harry advised: “Make sure you wear full protective clothing as it contains chemicals that are considered toxic.
“Spraying it onto cut stems works best as this targets the heart of the weed and minimises harm to other plants.
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“Contact your local authority to find out where you can dispose of your cuttings safely.”
Similarly to ivy, for invasive rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum), the gardening pro suggested cutting it right back, as near to the base as you can.
Harry explained: “You may need a garden saw and loppers for this.
“Then, target the glyphosate-based herbicide directly into the stump. You may need to reapply the herbicide if new shoots start to grow.
“Once you’re sure it’s dead, you can cut up or dig up the stump. Avoid planting anything new in the ground until you’re sure you’ve successfully eradicated it.”
For those looking for a natural way to get rid of invasive plants, without harming those you want to keep, an expert has shared the kitchen staples you need for the job.
Tom Hilton gardening expert and director of hydroponic specialists, National Greenhouse said: “For those in search of an organic removal method, it is possible to use vinegar as a herbicide.
“Use four parts cleaning vinegar, one part water, and a dash of dishwashing liquid.
“After giving your solution a good mix, pour it into a spray bottle, and start spritzing the invasive plant on a dry day.”
Alternatively, gardeners can use a combination of boiling water and mulch to banish these plants.
The gardening pro said: “you could also pour boiling water on the invasive plants, or smother them with tarp or heavy plastic – which is a longer, yet effective process that works best for areas that are heavily consumed.”
Another method that “works well for smaller populations of invasive plants” is to remove them by “digging and pulling them out”, according to Tom.
He added: “However, be wary that you may never be able to completely get rid of the plant, and you’ll need to maintain your garden by checking regularly to see whether any new sprouts have emerged.”
The expert also shared how gardeners should correctly dispose of these plants.
Tom said: “The disposal phase is just as important as the removal of invasive plants.
“Without taking care to get rid of all garden waste, you could risk scattering seeds and causing more growth.
“There are a variety of methods you can use to do this – such as drowning, composting, burying, bagging and burning – but this will depend on the species you’re dealing with.
“Invasive plants, such as poison ivy, produce toxic smoke when burned, so it’s essential that this is avoided.”
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