Fence Ivy Removal – How To Efficiently Do it
Unless you always keep your garden minimalistic, you will probably have no issue with certain plants making their way into your garden.
Flowers like daisies, dandelions, and clover can add a splash of colour to your lawn and if kept in check, can make a welcome addition to attract bumblebees and butterflies.
Some plants, however, are universally unwelcome in out back yards and when left to their own devices, can destroy garden structures in months.
The Problem with Ivy
Ivy is an invasive species that creates a real headache for gardeners and homeowners alike.
Ivy is unique in that it attaches itself to walls, windows and practically any vertical structure it gets close to. Unlike many other plants, you cannot simply rip a well-established ivy plant down; its stems produce a naturally forming glue and shape changing root hairs that can penetrate even the smallest hole.
Wooden fences are not safe from the scourge of ivy, as slated fences give it a firm structure to wind itself around and grow over the top of. By doing this, it can destroy your fence either by introducing water into the tiny crevices, causing the wood to rot or pushing it over under its sheer weight.
Dig it up!
If you have access to the area where the ivy is growing from, grab your pruning shears and cut the stems just above ground level. Remove and long stems from the floor area to make is safer to walk on.
In the event that the ivy is growing over a fence, simply cut it as far back as you can.
Depending on how established the plant is, the next part will be trickier. Get your shovel and fork and try to dig up as much of the root system as you can. This part is very labour intensive so do not exhaust yourself and if possible, get someone else to help you. While it is difficult, it is also the best way to stop the ivy plant dominating your fence again.
Removing Ivy from Your Wooden Fence
Now that you have pulled the roots up, you are faced with actual removal.
You will need-
- Garden gloves
- A hose or buckets of water
- Weed killer
- Even if the ivy appears ‘loose’ on the fence, do NOT pull on it with extreme force. Ivy is a strong plant and can easily pull the fence down on top of you.
- Do not touch ivy without wearing gloves, long sleeves, and covered shoes; you may develop a reaction to its sap, which can be painful and itchy.
Using the hose or water buckets, wet the ivy plant so its stems will be easier to remove.
Make sure you are wearing gloves.
Starting at the ends, GENTLY start to pull the ivy away from the fence and snip off the thicker vines with the shears. Remove all cut stems away from the area to prevent tripping.
Once all the ivy has been removed, check the damage to the fence.
If it is cracked or rotten, you will need to replace it, so use this time to remove any damaged planks or areas.
With your weed killer, spray the remaining planks to prevent any leftover ivy from reattaching itself.
Wash your shear, put your gloves in the wash (if possible) and wash your hands thoroughly.
If you feel unwell or notice a rash after handling ivy, seek medical attention.
Prevent It from Growing Back
Bad News First
After removing an ivy plant and saving your fence, you will undoubtedly be feeling immensely proud with yourself. You have earned that cup of tea.
The bad news is that no matter how deep you dug into the ground if it was a well-established ivy plant, you haven’t killed it.
It takes an immense amount of time and effort to actually kill English Ivy and, if you didn’t hire professional help, you are very unlikely to have succeeded.
Once ivy lays down its roots, its interconnected underground structures make it difficult to completely eradicate a plant.
Prevention is better than cure with all things, and that includes ivy wrecking your fence.
Regularly check the cleared area for signs of re-emergence. When you spot it, how you proceed is up to you.
Luckily, ivy prevention is not as expensive or labour intensive as removal so there are a few cheap options you can use.
Herbicides; an obvious one is to kill and ivy runners with herbicides. Take care not to spray on any neighbouring plants and use specially designed organic versions if pets or children us your garden.
Brute Force; just grab the runner and pull it up. This won’t work as a long-term solution, but it keeps the area clear.
Suffocation; this is better suited if you have a vague idea of where the ivy will regrow from. Using either cardboard, a bin bag or carpet, cover the area and just leave it. It also works if there are runners poking out; no sunlight means no photosynthesis which will kill the plant and drain its reserves.
Boiling water; cheap, easily available and effective. If you spot the ivy poking itself up through the ground, pour boiling water on to its visible leaves and stems; this will scald the plant and stop it being able to transport nutrients. Repeat a couple of times a day until the plant has died.
White Vinegar; similar to the herbicide but with no harsh chemicals that can harm pets or children, spraying white vinegar on to any re-growing ivy plant will kill it; don’t spray on to any neighbouring plants.
Procrastination is a gardener’s worst enemy. If you spot an ivy plant creeping over your fence, deal with it soon to avoid any structural long term damage; it can kill other plants in your garden with ease, so tackle it as soon as you spot it.