English ivy (Hedera helix) is an invasive creeping vine with rootlets that cling to a vast range of vertical surfaces like block walls, cement and brick. It is possible to cut English ivy vine stems near the ground, but they will probably grow back. Clinging vines that remain on a block wall will continue to live for many growing seasons. In the end, you may need to resort to herbicides to eliminate it entirely.
Eliminating by Hand
English ivy is an evergreen vine that can grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5a through 11. Cut small vines with pruning shears and pull them up by the roots. A pruning saw or hand ax is crucial to cut larger vines that can grow several inches thick. Forked lawn tools or massive screwdrivers are useful for stripping the vines that cling to the wall that can’t be eliminated just by hand. Cut vines will grow back, demanding you to repeatedly pull them up by the roots to keep them off your own wall.
Applying Herbicide to Cut Stems
Use pruning shears to cut ivy vine stems 2 inches above the ground. Use a spray bottle or paint brush to apply 1 part herbicide containing the active ingredients glyphosate or triclopyr to 3 parts of water straight on cut stems. Make sure that the herbicide covers the group of living tissue just inside the bark of the vine stem.
Applying Herbicide to Foliage
Spray herbicides tryclopyr or glysophate on ivy leaves in summer to fall. Apply 8 to 20 ounces of triclopyr or glyphosate to 3 liters of water mixed with 4 ounces of vegetable oil or other nonionic surfactant. Repeat applications may be necessary should you spray with glyphosate. A surfactant assists the herbicide to cling to leaves. Molecules at nonionic surfactants such as vegetable oil have no electrical charge.
Applying Herbicide to Ivy Bark
The vines of mature ivy can grow several inches thick. To apply herbicide onto the bark of mature vines, use a hand saw or string trimmer to remove leaves in a band along the wall in a comfortable height above the ground. Paint a solution of 2 1/2 quarts herbicide containing the active ingredient triclopyr to 3 gallons of basal oil, diesel fuel, kerosene or fuel oil on the exposed vine stems. The temperature should remain above 50 Fahrenheit for many days. You can acquire basal oil specially devised for applying herbicides in many garden supply centers.
Precautions for Herbicide Use
Triclopyr and glyphosate are non-selective contact herbicides, meaning that they kill all plants they touch. Do not spray them as soon as the wind is blowing. Be careful not to let them come into contact with ornamental or landscape plants. They’re also poisonous to humans. Wear protective eyewear, long-sleeved shirt, long trousers and gloves when applying these herbicides. Do not inhale them or get them on your eyes. Indicators of glysophate poisoning range from skin irritation and breathing problems to internal bleeding. While triclopyr is less poisonous to humans, it may irritate your eyes. If you feel you’ve been poisoned by both of these herbicides call a doctor or the National Pesticide Information Center, 1-800-858-7378.