You can have my portion of ivy in this world. Ivy looks very classy on University buildings and grand manors. It is, however, a pest. I have seen it choke out trees, tear off brick, and engulf other plants. It is not a friendly plant and is a terror to remove. Getting rid of ivy might be likened to getting rid of politicians. The roots are tenacious, the plant is Teflon to most disease and pests, and it likes almost any condition provided it is advantageous.
English Ivy Vines in the Garden – Don’t Do It!
My neighbor erected a rather lovely living fence between our two properties. It consisted of ivy on a chicken wire frame. If sheared once or twice per year, it was a perfectly useful green barrier. However, over time, the stems got woody, thick, and heavy, and the plant was no match for the chicken wire. Sagging, crushing and eventually all but demolishing the wire, the plant was the winner in the match for tasteful fencing. Ergo, it must be removed.
My neighbor was a very fit septuagenarian, who got up on his own roof to clean it and had muscles that would put most men half his age to shame. He and I decided we could remove the stuff and then we would build a wood fence. So started the tussle with the tenacious vine. It started out innocently enough. Patiently cutting away the ivy vines to find the crushed wire was fairly easy. But the English ivy vines had twined through every gap in the wire and pulling it through was an exercise in stoicism. It turns out getting rid of ivy isn’t quite the uncomplicated task it had appeared.
Had we known upon installation we would have provided more severe ivy vine control. The ivy vines, once cut back, revealed themselves to have colonized every square inch of soil. It seems one ivy plant becomes many, as they root anywhere they touch soil. Extremely vigorous pulling, digging, and much sweat was required to get it all out. Or did we? The soil looked free of vines and we patted ourselves on the back for a job well done. But just a few weeks later, little tendrils of the stuff started showing up everywhere. I don’t like chemicals, but it was time for some serious ivy vine control at this juncture.
Herbicide was cautiously and regretfully applied to the new growth. I felt like I was doing a bad thing, but what else could we do? A 40-year-old and 75-year-old were not going to win here, so we hung our heads and sprayed. It worked. But it seemed the plant wasn’t through with us. We both took half the vines to compost. By the next year our compost heaps were infested with ivy too. It was a cruel joke for two gardeners who were trying to be conscientious.
The compost had to go, but the fenced area was now ivy free. The plant laughed at us all the way to the end. The wood fence went up and was knocked over by a freak wind storm the next year. The whole affair seemed like a farce. But an important lesson was learned. Never, ever, ever, plant ivy vines in the garden.