Homeowners Urged to Remove Destructive Ivy from Trees

by Katie Pyzyk March 15, 2012 at 11:52 am 19,559 88 Comments

There’s an effort underway to reduce a choking threat, but it’s not what you might think. English ivy is choking off trees and homeowners are being urged to remove the destructive plant.

Although the ivy is often considered decorative, it can actually strangle the life from trees. It can steal nutrients and water from trees it wraps around, and can accelerate tree rot by holding moisture close to the tree trunk. It has been known to kill trees and add enough weight to cause trees to topple during storms.

“Our trees add financial value to our properties and quality to our lives,” said Nora Palmatier, President of TreeStewards of Arlington and Alexandria in a press release. “The investment is worth it. Unfortunately, English ivy is a threat to that investment.”

The Arlington Regional Master Naturalists offer the following tips for removing the ivy.

  • Clip all ivy vines at the base of the tree. The goal is to separate all the vines from their source in the ground.
  • Leave the cut vines on the tree. Pulling them off could harm the tree. The cut ivy will die and blow off over the next year.
  • Create a barrier ring by pulling up all ivy vines from the ground for at least two feet around the tree. This protects from future infestations.

Poison ivy often hides among non-poisonous species, so remember to wear long clothing and gloves while working with ivy.

Palmatier said trained volunteers for Tree Stewards can come to your home and demonstrate how to remove ivy. To request this service or for more information about removing ivy from trees, go to the Tree Stewards website, or email [email protected]

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