“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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- For best results lay down mulch in this 3 to 5-foot radius that is now clear of ivy.
- As the vines dry out over the next few weeks dead ivy can be easily removed from the tree.
- 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.