When to control
When undertaking work on ivy check that there are no birds nesting, as it is an offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 to damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built. The bird nesting season is usually considered to run March to August (though it may last longer for certain species or multiple broods so always check if in doubt).
First, consider whether this can be done using non-chemical means such as digging out or cutting the stem off at ground level. Where these methods are not feasible, chemical controls may need to be used.
The RHS believes that avoiding pests, diseases and weeds by good practice in cultivation methods, cultivar selection, garden hygiene and encouraging or introducing natural enemies, should be the first line of control. If chemical controls are used, they should be used only in a minimal and highly targeted manner.
Where possible, use non-chemical methods. The stems should be cut back to the ground and the woody stump dug out.
If proximity to foundations prevents removal, regular cutting of the stems to ground level may weaken the ivy over time, but is unlikely to kill it.
See section below on RHS research into preventative methods of control using metal sheeting or paints.
- Ivy can be killed by severing the stem and treating the stump with a proprietary stump and rootkiller based on glyphosate (e.g. Roundup Tree Stump & Rootkiller, SBM Job done Tough Tree Stump Killer (soluble sachet only), Doff Tree Stump & Tough Weedkiller and Westland Resolva Pro Extra Tough Weedkiller, Westland Resolva Pro Tree Stump Weedkiller) or triclopyr (Vitax SBK Brushwood Killer)
- Top growth may be treated with glyphosate or triclopyr also, but ivy is not easily controlled by weedkiller sprays due to the glossy nature of its leaves. Repeat application may be necessary. Once the foliage has been killed, it can be pulled from the wall
Dead foliage and stems are relatively easy to remove from walls but aerial roots are persistent and can only be removed using a hard brush or paint scraper.
Inclusion of a weedkiller product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener.
Weedkillers for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining weedkillers available to gardeners; see sections 1a and 4)
Chemicals: using a sprayer
Chemicals: using safely and effectively
Chemicals: using spot and broad-scale weedkillers
Weeds: non-chemical control