How to re­move English ivy from a tree

The Hamilton Spectator - - Style - NEWSDAY

Q: I hear con­flict­ing re­ports: is ivy good when it climbs up a tree or is it bad for the tree? And if it’s bad, how does one con­trol the spi­ralling, up­ward growth?

A: English ivy (Hed­era he­lix) is harm­ful to trees upon which it grows. It clings to sur­faces us­ing ten­drils, aerial roots and a sticky sub­stance called gly­co­sides. Those roots and ten­drils tend to grow un­der bark, dam­ag­ing it, and the weight of the plant, which can eas­ily over­take a tree, can weaken its branches. That weight also places the tree in dan­ger of fall­ing over dur­ing wind storms, im­per­il­ing peo­ple and prop­erty. In ad­di­tion, a blan­ket of ivy will block cru­cial sun­light from the tree, cur­tail­ing its abil­ity to pho­to­syn­the­size. This can de­prive the tree of nu­tri­ents, essen­tially starv­ing it. Ivy is also a breed­ing ground for mos­qui­toes and other in­sects, so you’ll want to re­move the climb­ing of­fender as soon as pos­si­ble.

The process isn’t as sim­ple as yank­ing it off, how­ever, as those pesky roots and ten­drils will hold on tightly, and you’ll in­ad­ver­tently re­move the tree’s pro­tec­tive bark along with the ivy. In­stead, us­ing lop­pers or a prun­ing saw, cut the ivy all around the tree, about three feet off the ground. One by one, care­fully dis­lodge its branches from the lower por­tion of the plant, which is still grow­ing from the ground. Then dig up and re­move it by its roots. Mon­i­tor and re­move new growth reg­u­larly until the plant is de­pleted.

Leave the sev­ered ivy on the up­per por­tion of the tree, where it will wither and die.

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The process isn’t as sim­ple as yank­ing it off the tree.

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