Does Ivy Hurt Trees? – How To Remove Ivy From Trees

Does Ivy Hurt Trees“Does Ivy hurt trees?”  is a question our arborists receive a lot from homeowners in this area. Although many people love the look of ivy growing on trees, Ivy is a threat to your tree.  In fact, these aesthetically appealing vines can actually accelerate rot, steal nutrients, deprive the tree of sunlight, and cause it to fall during a storm. Below you will find out how Ivy hurts trees and how to remove ivy safely.

Does ivy hurt trees? Yes, and this is how:

Steal Nutrients: As vines become larger and climb the trunk of a tree they begin to compete with the tree for water and nutrients. Because ivy is aggressive, the tree is left with very little water and nutrients to support its annual processes and keep itself alive.

Accelerate Rot & Insects:  An invasion of ivy weakens a tree. When trees are weakened they are targets for secondary invaders such as fungi that lead to rot, insects, and diseases.

Deprive The Tree Of Sunlight: Once ivy reaches the canopy of your tree it will block sunlight from reaching the leaves of the tree thus interrupting the process of photosynthesis. When this process is interrupted the tree isn’t able to produce the food it needs to push out new growth the next spring.

Falling During A Storm:  When ivy grows on a tree the tree is forced to support the weight of the ivy vines. With this extra weight, the tree and its branches have a higher risk of breaking and falling on your home during a storm.

How To Remove Ivy

When removing ivy from trees you need to be very careful. Although it looks like you can just pull the ivy off of the tree this is the worst thing you can do. The ivy’s strongly anchored to the tree’s trunk and when pulled can cause damage to the tree.

Instead, ignore the ivy that has climbed the tree and focus on the ivy on the ground around the tree. You will want to remove all the ivy in a 3 to 5-foot circle around the tree. The Ivy will be easier to remove after it has rained when the soil is still soft.

  1. Use clippers to cut a 1 to 2-inch section of the ivy’s roots at the base of the tree. This will starve the ivy that has grown up the tree’s trunk.
  2. Pull all the ivy within a 3 to 5-foot radius of the tree trunk out of the ground. This protects the tree from future infestations that will climb up the tree.
  3. For best results lay down mulch in this 3 to 5-foot radius that is now clear of ivy.
  4. As the vines dry out over the next few weeks dead ivy can be easily removed from the tree.
  5. Keep an eye on the tree to catch any ivy you missed that is starting to regrow.

BE CAREFUL:  English ivy can cause a rash in sensitive individuals. Poison ivy may also be mixed in with the English Ivy on your tree.  We suggest wearing gloves and long sleeves when you remove ivy.

If you prefer us to remove the ivy from your tree give us a call at 703.573.3029 or book an appointment online.


2 thoughts on “Does Ivy Hurt Trees? – How To Remove Ivy From Trees”

  1. George Ruppert says:

    What bug spray do you suggest to use on Leland Cypress trees. I have quite a lot of brown needles on the trees. Thanks George

    1. Rtectree says:

      Good Morning Mr. Ruppert,

      Brown needles can be caused by a lot of insects, diseases, and even heat stress. The treatment would be dependent on what is causing your brown needles. We recommend that you have an Arborist diagnose and treat your tree. Feel free to schedule an appointment with our arborist at or by calling 703.573.3029.

      We are not able to recommend any do it yourself applications. The products we use are regulated and not available for homeowner purchase because they must be applied by a licensed applicator. It is also very important that treatments be applied correctly, at the correct mixture rate, and at the right time or they will not be effective and could harm your tree.

      Let us know if you’d like an Arborist to come out and take a look!

      Samantha H.

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