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What to do about English Ivy?

 
master steward
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A friend of mine has a small urban lot, and a shady part between her garage and fence has bindweed, blackberry, AND English Ivy. She really wants to use permaculture methods to help control and battle it. Would bunching bamboo do the trick? Any other tips or tricks?

I've only got experience with battling blackberry and bindweed, but I've--thankfully!--never had to deal with English Ivy. Anyone have any ideas?

Thanks so much!
 
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Tea time? The problem is the solution?

English ivy is medicinal. It's the main ingredient in a good number of natural cough suppressants. And it is generally anti inflammatory so arthritis pain relief is a potential use as well.
 
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Continual cutting at ground level until it runs out of energy. I've done it.
 
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Dale's solution is good. I've been doing this and it takes time but eventually you win.

For the impatient I think the only way to go is tactical nukes. Not very permie.
 
Nicole Alderman
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I'm thinking that maybe the English Ivy is coming over or under her neighbor's fence, which makes battle of any sort a lot harder, as it will just keep coming back. Are there any plants that ivy can't grow through/on? Anything that takes up the same niche that will keep it in check?

I've noticed with my bindweed, that it really can't take over if I pull most of the strands I see and it's surrounded by blackberry/salmonberry. It keeps growing, but not nearly at the pace that it does when growing free in the lawn or amidst cut down salmonberry stalks.
 
Phil Stevens
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Nicole, that's the exact problem we have. From three different properties adjoining ours there is a steady stream of ivy, tradescantia, jasmine and other insidious pests sending their tentacles across the line. We drop hints and I've even offered to go over and help them. No takers yet, so we're left with the monthly tour of the fencelines with a pair of secateurs in hand.

Don't know of anything that repels them apart from fire.
 
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Maybe this would be a good spot for a goat or sheep pen?
 
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I like Hamilton's idea if it is a practical spot.  If you don't want to use large animals, rabbits would work as well.  I have even been using some rabbits for plant control primarily.  I just keep one gender in the pen and don't harvest them.  If you do finally harvest them, their skin is a bit thicker if you want to try your hand at tanning (I have had poor results but haven't tried a lot) and their meat is still pretty good.  It's not as tender as the fryers but doesn't get tough and stringy like older chickens.  I find it truly amazing how voracious rabbits are.  If this is a property line, then you could build a long, narrow pen that they can patrol for you.  To prevent digging, either bury the fence well or lay 4" welded wire fencing on the ground.  They are quiet so won't bother neighbors and you periodically harvest manure from their poop spot(s) to keep smells down.  If bugs become a problem, put a couple chickens in there with them.
 
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A few thoughts:

Part of the area could be a very deep compost bin - perhaps with layers of cardboard and paper at the bottom... Just keep piling leaves and other debris and leave it.

If the ivy is coming through from the neighbors it's more of a challenge because it will continue to come.  I have trained mine to cover a 6 ft. fence - makes a nice evergreen "hedge".. needs occasional pruning but then I have compost material...

And if worse comes to worse, make baskets! English ivy makes wonderful basket material.  It's pliable and easy to strip of it's leaves - and when it blooms it makes amazing bee food!    
 
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Glenn Ingram wrote:I like Hamilton's idea if it is a practical spot.  If you don't want to use large animals, rabbits would work as well.  I have even been using some rabbits for plant control primarily.  I just keep one gender in the pen and don't harvest them.  If you do finally harvest them, their skin is a bit thicker if you want to try your hand at tanning (I have had poor results but haven't tried a lot) and their meat is still pretty good.  It's not as tender as the fryers but doesn't get tough and stringy like older chickens.  I find it truly amazing how voracious rabbits are.  If this is a property line, then you could build a long, narrow pen that they can patrol for you.  To prevent digging, either bury the fence well or lay 4" welded wire fencing on the ground.  They are quiet so won't bother neighbors and you periodically harvest manure from their poop spot(s) to keep smells down.  If bugs become a problem, put a couple chickens in there with them.



I like this idea!
 
Nicole Alderman
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Hamilton Betchman wrote:
Maybe this would be a good spot for a goat or sheep pen?



Their lot is not large enough for goats or sheep :(

Glenn Ingram wrote:
I like Hamilton's idea if it is a practical spot.  If you don't want to use large animals, rabbits would work as well.  I have even been using some rabbits for plant control primarily.  I just keep one gender in the pen and don't harvest them.  If you do finally harvest them, their skin is a bit thicker if you want to try your hand at tanning (I have had poor results but haven't tried a lot) and their meat is still pretty good.  It's not as tender as the fryers but doesn't get tough and stringy like older chickens.  I find it truly amazing how voracious rabbits are.  If this is a property line, then you could build a long, narrow pen that they can patrol for you.  To prevent digging, either bury the fence well or lay 4" welded wire fencing on the ground.  They are quiet so won't bother neighbors and you periodically harvest manure from their poop spot(s) to keep smells down.  If bugs become a problem, put a couple chickens in there with them.



My friend and her husband are both vegan, so I'm sure any animals they keep, they will not be wanting for meat. They have been thinking about chickens or ducks for eating slugs and weeds and food scraps. Will bunnies or chickens eat English Ivy? I know my chickens and ducks do not eat blackberry vine, and the chickens don't seem very interested in eating bindweed. My ducks never did too much to the bindweed, either. Right now, I have my chickens' run where my bindweed grows and there's blackberry that's grown in there, too. They haven't touched the blackberry, and have slowed the progress of the bindweed...but I think a lot of that slowing is caused simply from me going down there more often and pulling the weeds.
 
pollinator
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A free source of biomass! It may or may not need to be hot composted to kill the cuttings thoroughly.
 
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Ivy is a challenge... I deal with it for my restoration work. If you are careful about getting the roots up you can actually do what we call ivy rolls where you just keep rolling it up until it looks like a big roll of carpet. That roll can be put on a couple pallets or a tarp and left to dry and then used as mulch once you are sure it is dead (stems of ivy can root). You will need to do some followup pulling later on since some roots will be left. But this does work to knock out a patch.

As far as keeping it from coming through the fence... one challenge with ivy is that it's shade tolerant which makes it hard keep out. As far as just leaving it... your friend would want to at a minimum keep it from climbing the trees. Eventually it will get very thick and woody and I have seen it bring down whole trees on multiple properties. I have seen old English ivy with woody stems up to 8 inches across... There is a "round" of ivy sitting in my office that is about 4 inches across (see attached pic). It's hard for trees to support ivy when it gets that big...

There are different types of English ivy and some rarely get big and rarely climb trees.

But on my restoration sites I have noticed that properties with thick existing native vegetation (herbaceous plants and small woody plants plus good large shrub and tree canopies) that the ivy tends to not dominate the system. But if the understory is not well established it will dominate the understory and create what people in the restoration world call ivy deserts because there is just so little diversity compared to a healthy forest. The issue is that there is so little at eats English ivy in the Pacific Northwest that it just spreads unchecked if it gets in a disturbed area. This prevents a lot of the native plants from coming in on their own.

Though I should add that even on sites where it does not dominate it tends to run around under the native vegetation until it finds a tree and then grow up the tree to get above the competition. In that case it is important to periodically remove it from the trees. If done about once or twice a year this can create a manageable situation.

With animals not being a great option if it was my place I would just install a barrier along the fence to keep the ivy from spreading in. Not ideal but it would work and the issue would be solved. Then I would establish a large diversity of plants on my side of the fence. I would still keep an eye out for new ivy but establishing a diversity of plants should help. My neighbors down the road have ivy and the starlings like to eat the berries. The result is that under my trees I find little ivy seedlings from time to time. I just pull them up and so far it has not been a big deal.

If a barrier is not an option then I would have your friend remove all the ivy on their side of the fence. Then I would try bunching bamboo (the right type won't really spread), and a large diversity of other plants to leave no open space for the ivy to get established. But it's likely that ivy will still pop up from time to time. I would stay up on those and cut them back to the fence. I have seen ivy spread a good 20+ feet through mulch and leaf litter with no visible leaves to then popup when it finds an open spot or a tree to climb.

Your friend could also try this plant: Emerald Carpet Raspberry

It fills a similar niche as ivy but it does not climb other plants and while it forms a thick ground cover it does not seem to smoother other plants like ivy can. Could be a nice alternative--I have it growing at my place under my Logan berries and it's doing great and is playing nice overall though it does cover a wide area fairly quickly. I just walk on it and cut it back occasionally to keep it under control

Hope that helps!
english-ivy-round.jpg
four-inch English ivy round
four-inch English ivy round
 
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Some external uses such as anti-inflammatory sound promising.  Others, such as anti-cancer and anti-viral aren't conclusive.

http://cms.herbalgram.org/expandedE/Ivyleaf.html?ts=1570037528&signature=26803456d20b3d48eb818e6771db87e1

John S
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I ran into this question on facebook a few months back and someone mentioned Pumpkins. I googled Pumpkins to control bindweed and came up with an article on Mother Earth Living, and in the second paragraph I found these statements:

"Another strategy is to plant a weed’s adversary; planting pumpkins to control bindweed, for example. Pumpkin fights bindweed in two ways. First, it exudes chemicals from its roots that are unfavorable to bindweed. Secondly, its viney growth pattern crowds bindweed and therefore inhibits its growth. While there are no other plants known to chemically inhibit the growth of another, you can strive to plant desirable plants that grow in a fashion similar to the weed you are trying to control. In other words, give those weeds some healthy competition. Also, in areas of the garden that seem to be particularly weedy, any fast-growing plant will help to crowd out the weeds."

I don't know if you want to grow pumpkins or not, but it might cover two problems one the bind weed and the other food for the winter.
 
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When we moved into our place 19 years ago, there was a hillside covered with English ivy.  It was out of control, and worse, it was a snail factory.  HUGE snails -- most commonly the brown garden snail.  Additionally, slugs, slugs, slugs.  You wouldn't think that they'd be able to travel far but it's like they could smell anything edible and would go 20 yards or further to wipe out seedlings that were nowhere near the ivy.  Snails are pretty amazing, but I'd rather not share my existence with them.

So I mowed.

Weekly, I mowed over that ivy patch.  Where it was coming over the wall, I cut it back to the neighbor's property line and encouraged them to keep it from coming up and over the block wall.  Once it was well mowed and all the biomass that had accumulated below the thick ivy thatch had been mowed-up, it was relatively easy to rip up the vines where they'd rooted.

It was gone within a year.

All that mowed ivy went into a hot compost pile.  140 degrees, hot.  None of it re-sprouted.  When mowed up like that, it composts rather easily.  Long stringy vines would be a different story --- if you want to compost it, it'll be much easier to do if you have it finely chopped.

I still get a lot of snails coming over the wall from that neighbor's ivy patch, but we put out beer traps under pieces of plywood on the ground.  They crawl under those cool, wet boards where it's easy to flip over and crush them.  The ones that don't drown in the beer get squashed on the bottom side of the plywood, and that apparently is attractive to the next wave of snails. It only takes a couple of weeks of doing that and 95% of them are gone. That's how I keep their numbers down.  I wish my neighbor would get rid of it, but that's his decision, not mine.

 
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Daron Williams wrote:If you are careful about getting the roots up you can actually do what we call ivy rolls where you just keep rolling it up until it looks like a big roll of carpet. That roll can be put on a couple pallets or a tarp and left to dry and then used as mulch once you are sure it is dead (stems of ivy can root). You will need to do some followup pulling later on since some roots will be left. But this does work to knock out a patch....
Eventually it will get very thick and woody and I have seen it bring down whole trees on multiple properties. I have seen old English ivy with woody stems up to 8 inches across... There is a "round" of ivy sitting in my office that is about 4 inches across (see attached pic). It's hard for trees to support ivy when it gets that big...



Wow!  That's an impressive piece of ivy wood.

I do basically what Daron describes, yank and roll, and let it dry out.  It's my talisman plant (fidelity), so I want it present, just disciplined.  On the north side of my house, pachysandra and English ivy are about equally matched.
 
Evelyn Mitchell
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Marco Banks, In one of Bill Mollison's lectures he said that snails live in plants that make a natural fire break, another one is Comfrey also very good biomass. In that same lecture he said that you could put up an electric fence to keep snails out, by using a piece of 1/2 or 3/4 inch PVC pipe and stringing a wire on it to a little solar battery.

This is not Bill Molisons Lecture But it does the trick:
https://www.reddit.com/r/gardening/comments/ae2a9s/electric_fence_for_snails/

Also in the Pest control in a Greenhouse thread is a post by: Seth Wetmore, https://permies.com/t/30100/Pest-control-greenhouse
 
Glenn Ingram
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My friend and her husband are both vegan, so I'm sure any animals they keep, they will not be wanting for meat. They have been thinking about chickens or ducks for eating slugs and weeds and food scraps. Will bunnies or chickens eat English Ivy? I know my chickens and ducks do not eat blackberry vine, and the chickens don't seem very interested in eating bindweed. My ducks never did too much to the bindweed, either. Right now, I have my chickens' run where my bindweed grows and there's blackberry that's grown in there, too. They haven't touched the blackberry, and have slowed the progress of the bindweed...but I think a lot of that slowing is caused simply from me going down there more often and pulling the weeds.



My chickens are not interested in most woody or hardy plants.  Overall, I find they are a bit picky preferring the soft herbaceous plants.  My chickens won't really eat mature grass even.  When I only used chickens on a piece of land, all of the woody weedy plants and vines would take over because the chickens ate or scratched all the competition.  Chickens and ducks are really omnivores preferring bugs and worms.  

Rabbits, on the other hand, are herbivores.  Mine are not picky at all.  I have not seen anything they won't eat but I have not given them English Ivy.  I even noticed that they will sparingly eat things that are supposed to be poisonous to them, but they will eventually eat it.  They will definitely eat Japanese Honeysuckle which is a big pest around here.  They don't prefer it but will nibble it and take it on back if left on the honeysuckle patch.  They will definitely eat blackberry and greenbriar.  Mine love the leaves and will even nibble green stems.  They will strip saplings of bark so can be effective against shrubs as well.  You can greatly increase their efficiency if you cut or even knock down tall weeds so they can get to them more easily.  The biggest difficulty with rabbits is the difficulty of keeping them fenced in.  It requires burying so you can't just put up a temporary fence as with chickens.  Honestly though, if you are not harvesting the rabbits, then you can handle them often and they can become your buddies.  They won't run away from you so it's not a big deal if they escape unless you have predators.  They won't go far and you will usually find them next to the fence.

They will use the same watering nipples as chickens as well.  So I rigged up a 50 gallon barrel that gravity feeds down to the rabbits and chickens and they can all drink from the same nipples.  The barrel collects some water in rain but I have to fill it every now and then.  I don't have very many right now but we used to have about 15 rabbits and 6 chickens being watered for almost a week with the 50 gallon barrel.  It makes it very easy to take care of.  In winter, I put a trough heater in the barrel, and I also ran a hose coming back from the pens to the barrel so I could hook up a little pump to keep water flowing through the lines in the winter.  It works well into the 20s at least.  If you buried pipes from the barrel to the pens, it would be much better.  If you are collecting rain water for the barrel, do check the nipples now and then to be sure they are working as sediment can clog them.  I just unscrew them and clean them and they are good for another several months to a year.  Getting a bit off topic now so I'll stop.
 
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The ivy didn't seem to spread successfully into areas that were already dominated by Himalayan Blackberry or Quackgrass.  Problem solved lol

So yea, for well established English Ivy, in early summer cut it at the ground and roll it up, prop the ivy mats up off the ground and leave it to dry out and die.  From there you go out and dig up and pull roots that didn't come up with the mat.  Wait until they grow new leaves so you can actually spot remaining roots.  I probably went looking for ivy leaves and digging up attached roots once every 6 months.  2 years later and the former English ivy is eliminated. I still see small plants popping up in mostly shaded places, because there are massive English Ivy plants on nearby properties and the berries travel.

I removed 3 patches of Ivy from this location...the smallest patch was about 200ft^2.   I cut the ivy at the base of three 70-year old Coast Doug Firs like 8 years ago, and all 3 trees still have ugly dead ivy vines hanging from them 30 feet up in the air.  In the former ivy patches I did not plant or manage (save pulling Ivy and Himalayan blackberry) it was first replaced by a tangled mat of Oregon blackberry.   Sword ferns, snowberry, and baldhip rose started after 2 years.   Now it's turning into a thicket of these plants.  So maybe a total-darkness-thicket of these plants established along the desired border will MOSTLY stop English Ivy. haha.
 
John Suavecito
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Cutting the ivy vines around the trees is a great first step. They spread much more rapidly from a vertical position. We cut around the trees at say, waist height, at my dad's place at the Oregon Coast and we found three trees that had been hidden under the ivy.  Maintaining the ivy off of the trees is very simple, once you cut the four inch diameter vines.  Sometimes they take 6- 8 months to die up there. They did kill a large tree.
John S
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Wild Black Berry is not a weed, per se, but it is rampant, coming from my neighbors land. Roots running under my fence etc. I mow my land to keep it in check but I don't want to use fossil fuel. Looking for a biological solution that will choke out the roots. Sudan Grass, Kenaf or maybe industrial hemp.
 
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English ivy (Hedera helix) is an indoor and outdoor ornamental vine. This plant contains saponins, which have caused poisoning in cattle, dogs, sheep, and humans.

https://answersdrive.com/is-english-ivy-toxic-to-humans-5540169
 
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I have those three too! Blackberries root under our garden wall and get dropped by birds, ivy has roots under the house.  My take has been to see them not as a threat but just as a seasonal management thing which gives me biomass. A couple of times a year - maybe three times if I'm feeling enthusiastic, I'll just pull back / pull up what I can get to and pop it in the compost cut into short bits.
It has become as threatening as cutting the lawn. In some areas I have nearly eradicated the ivy, in other spots I have weakened things enough that it's no longer a big job. I have also used rolling and drying for a bit of variety.
 
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I wish I had this problem, rather than bare, dry shade dirt....
 
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