‘Most effective method’ to get rid of ivy without chemicals

Gardening: How to remove ivy from brickwork and trees

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Ivy is recognised by its dense, evergreen foliage, which in its climbing state, has three to five-lobed glossy leaves. It attaches itself to supports by producing aerial roots along the stems. It can be seen on the outside of properties and climbing up trees in gardens. While it may look pretty, it can cause serious problems. Not only can English ivy cause damage to wall surfaces, it can penetrate cracks or joints which may cause structural damage. For this reason the plant should be removed as soon as possible when it is identified as a precaution.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Fiona Jenkins at Myjobquote.co.uk, the UK’s leading trades matching site, urged gardeners to avoid the typical white vinegar and salt home remedy and instead try a less damaging approach.

She said: “If ivy is growing up your wall and you really want to get rid of it, the most effective method is to remove it by hand. 

“There are some homemade remedies that use strong vinegar and salt, which should be avoided. Using high concentrations of acid and salt could also damage your bricks and mortar.”

Experts at Peppers Home and Garden agreed that vinegar should not be used to kill ivy. They claimed that besides the fact that it can be damaging to your property, it is all ineffective.

They said: “The acetic acid in vinegar works by drying out the leaves and stems of plants it is sprayed on. However, this same acetic acid is quickly neutralised by soil. This means that vinegar does not kill weeds down to the root. 

“As the acetic acid is neutralised by soil, it loses its killing power. This means you’ll damage the visible portion of the ivy, but it will quickly grow back from the roots.”

Rather than using this homemade remedy Fiona advised simply removing the plant by hand. Before starting this method gardeners need to prepare.

She said: “First, you’ll need to check that there are no birds nesting in the ivy. Then, you’ll need to put on protective clothing including goggles, mask and gloves, as ivy can be toxic.

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“Next, you need to saw through the main stem or stems, near to the base. Dig up as much of the woody roots as you can and then cover over the ground with weed control fabric. 

“This will need to be left in place for a couple of years to ensure it won’t grow back.

“Any stems and suckers that were growing along your wall should start to die off and dry out. 

“Once they have, they should be easy to scrape away. A stiff brush is best, to avoid damaging your brickwork.”

Harry Bodell, gardening expert at PriceYourJob also agreed that the best method for removing ivy is to do it by hand.

He 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.”

He warned that the sap of ivy is a “skin irritant” and can “cause breathing problems”, so gardeners should always wear protective clothing, a mask and goggles when doing this.

Another invasive weed which will need control immediately is Japanese knotweed, an aggressive plant which can grow up to 10cm a day.

Harry said: “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. 

“However, if you’d prefer to keep costs down, you can treat it with a glyphosate-based herbicide. 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. Contact your local authority to find out where you can dispose of your cuttings safely.”

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