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Looking for "useful" plants to compete with English ivy

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I have some large patches of English ivy in my yard in areas that get a lot of shade. I'm looking for ideas on things I might be able to plant in this area that have some "useful" purpose (e.g., edible, livestock fodder, building/craft material) aside from just a ground cover. Oh, the perfect plant would also be able to successfully compete with the ivy so as to not get choked out. Am I dreaming, thinking that there's such a plant out there?


P.S. I live in Atlanta GA.
Posts: 3202
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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I think this is the place where it's traditional on Permies.com for someone to encourage you to edit your profile to give some indication of your location or climate zone. It's really hard to answer questions like this unless people know what your growing conditions might be. My instant thought was Passionfruit vines (edible, medicinal, attractive) but I have *NO* idea if they would grow where you are because I don't know where that is.
Charlie Fairchild
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Great point! I live in Atlanta, GA.
Posts: 81
Location: Long Island, NY (Zone 7)
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I'm not very experienced with anything plant-related, but I have a 1/3-acre suburban lot that was overrun by English Ivy. My wife and I inherited the house from my mother-in-law (who loved the way it looked) and my father-in-law (who liked that it was cheap and maintenance-free).

As for things that will out-compete it, I haven't seen anything. On our lot, it killed several trees (including a formerly beautiful 50'+ Blue Spruce), most of the other larger plants, and nearly every bit of grass. The only surviving plants of note were a couple of wild roses and wild onions. It has also invaded the yards of all of our neighbors and damaged several sections of wooden fencing.

The rest of the bad news: The fact that you are posting on a permaculture forum leads me to believe that you are reluctant to pump glyphosate or anything else onto it. I was too and found that the only real method that worked for me was pulling the stuff out by hand. Mowing only knocks it back temporarily.

Not knowing how much of it you are dealing with, I don't know what methods would be acceptable/affordable. Also, I don't know what you might be wanting to do with the areas going forward.

You could try torching it or dousing with boiling water before overplanting.

You could try mowing followed by solarizing it if you don't mind having plastic sheeting randomly covering your yard.

You could try burying it under several inches of mulch/compost/topsoil and overplanting with something more "useful".

You could mow it as close to the ground as possible, cover with cardboard, and build raised beds on top of it.

Hope this helps (or at least gives you hope that it -can- be defeated).
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Location: Pennsylvania Pocono Mt Neutral-Acidic Elv1024ft AYR41in Zone 5b
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As far as fodder and medicinal remedies for live stock...

Referencing Juliette de Bairacli Levy's book "The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable"

Ivy (Hedera helix Araliaceae) " This is a well known evergreen climbing plant. Distinguished by its peculiarly shaped leaves, small, honey colored, sticky flowers, which develop into succulent black berries of pea size. The berries are a famed cure for fevers; they are also used to induce perspiration. They possess mild purgative and emetic properties. They are an excellent tonic for poultry. The leaves are a valuable external aid for poulticing enlarged glands. Sheep, goats and deer eat ivy greedily. The Greek peasants say that the woodland gods gave the ivy to the animals to guard them against starvation in times of heavy snow. Many people have the belief that ivy is a totally poisonous herb... all parts. But one has only to observe how the bees crowd to it flowers, and the birds to the berries, and how animals seek out its leaves, to discredit this idea. I think that the name of that dangerous plant poison ivy, which is not of the same plant family as true ivy at all...indeed a totally alien plant... gave the poison belief to common ivy. Overeating of this herb, however, will cause discomfort and sickness. This is especially true when ewes are pregnant. Ivy is one of the best herbs for complete internal cleansing after birth. Feed one handful to sheep and goats immediately after giving birth. Larger quantities for cows and mares. In treatment of retained afterbirth make a strong brew, one handful leaves to one pint water. Give half pint drenches every three hours. Use ivy brew also in difficult birth, same dose. I have saved many goats and dogs with this help from ivy brew. Use: Treatment of all fevers. Loss of appetite, dropsy, constipation. Inflamed joints, enlarged glands, chilblains, birth. Dose; Two tablespoonfuls of fresh leaves finely cut and mixed into bran, or brewed in one and one half pints water, two dessertspoonfuls honey added. Give one small cupful daily. Externally: make a standard poultice from the bruised leaves and berries. Ivy is an effective treatment for warts and horny growths, is a pulp of fresh ivy leaves packed over the area and bound with strips of cloth soaked in vine sap."

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