Novice
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Aug 29, 2007 1:49 am
Location: Missouri

cut down trees/shade now sunny/ivy dead/replace with what?

My backyard has a steep slope into a creek. The ground is covered with english ivy and has mature trees. I removed a few very large trees that used to provide a lot of shade to the area. The area now has enough sun each day to slowly kill the ivy. It is unsightly and want to pull it out.

What is the best way to get rid of what's left? The area is too steep to use a lawnmower. I plan on pulling it out by hand but are there any thoughts on covering the area or hitting it with a weed wacker and then spraying the area with chemicals? We have kids -- should we stay away from chemicals?

Most importantly, what do we plant in place of the ivy????? The area is now partly/mostly sunny and is on a steep incline. I have to put something down that won't erode the soil, and I want it to look nice. It is steep enough that no one will be walking down the hill, so grass seems like the wrong choice.

We are in Missouri and don't know much about gardening.

Thanks for any advice!!!

Newt
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Hi Novice,

I realize it's been a long time since you wrote in for help and I was wondering if you ever got any help with this project. If not, I would like to try and help you. It would be good to know your hardiness zone for plant recommendations. Missouri has hardiness zones 7 through 4. Here's a zip code zone finder.
https://www.belgicactus.be/succulentindex/succulent/index.html

It would also be helpful to know the sun conditions better.
Full sun is 6 hours or more of direct sun.
Part sun is 4 to 6 hours
Part shade is 2 to 4 hours
Shade is 2 hours or less of sun.

Exposing English ivy to more sun won't kill it off. You will find it turns red in the fall and drops it's leaves. It will be back in the spring. DO NOT spray the area with chemicals as you risk killing your trees.

Newt

Novice
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Aug 29, 2007 1:49 am
Location: Missouri

english ivy

Sorry about that...I am never on these boards. I opened my original post and could only see your original response. Not your follow-up response posted today. If it just takes time, I'll check back in a few hours. If it should already be there, could you try again? Thanks.

Newt
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Novice, I am working on it, I promise. I have a list of about a dozen plants, but I take a break and answer other questions and come back to it. I promise to try and finish in about an hour. You should get a notification in your email as to a response just like you did the first time. :)

Newt

Newt
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

It took me longer then I thought as I got so tired I had to stop. But here we go!

Received this response in a pm and am posting it here for continuity.
Thanks for responding. We are in St. Louis which I believe is zone 6. The back of the house faces north and is a wooded area that slopes down to a creek. Close to the house, there are about 8 tall trees with the ivy. Three years ago, a few very large sick trees were cut down. Since then the shady area changed to a partly sunny area. At that time, the ivy started dying where the trees were. The ivy continues to die at a slow pace, creeping across the area. I definitely think that sun exposure caused by the trees disappearing caused the dying to start. This past spring I cut down 3 overgrown yews. Underneath them, the ivy looked very healthy. After the ewes were cut down, the ivy died. Now, half the area has healthy ivy and half has dead brown vines. Any help on what to do would be greatly appreciated!!!!!
Here's what I would do. Hand digging is always an option but you might want to consider using vinegar. Household vinegar is 5% acidic and horticultural vinegar is 15% to 20% acidic. Vinegar is used as you would any non-selective herbicide as it's sprayed on the leaves of weeds. With woody weeds such as ivy you would need to soak the vines in the vinegar when it's in active growth and has leaves. You may have to wait for spring to do this but if it's still warm where you are, give it a go and see what happens with a vine or two. I would suggest you try some full strength household vinegar for this. I used this method to get rid of trumpet vine - campsis radicans that has a similar root invasion habit to other vines like wisteria and ivy before I knew about vinegar.

When I moved into this house 19 years ago as a renter, I inherited a trumpet vine - campsis radicans. Here's my horror story and what I've learned about this vine. Over time the vine began to bloom and pop up everywhere in the yard. I would pull the sprouts only to find more year after year. When it pops up in the lawn it can just be mowed. After 13 years we purchased the house and had to cut down 5 trees and regrade the land due to overplanting and flooding. When we dug up the stumps from the trees and regraded we discovered roots of the vine 3' to 4' deep in the soil, up to 30' from the parent plant and as large around as my wrist! We dug and dug and, well you get the point. A year later we still had sprouts coming up from bits of roots that we'd missed.

Here is how I've learned you can get rid of it. Now, up until this point I had NEVER used herbicides or pesticides in the garden. Here's what I did and you can do to get rid of it. Put about an inch of Round Up Weed and Grass Killer Super Concentrate (you could also use Brush B Gone) in a clear plastic container with a tight fitting lid like you might get at the deli with potato salad. Cut a slit in the lid and insert the tips of the vine in the solution when in active growth (has leaves on it and the leaves need to be in the solution). Leave the vines in the solution for 48 hours and then cut the vines near the lid. To remove the vine from the lid, be sure and take the container to a safe place so that no solution splashes on anything precious. You can reuse the solution until it is all absorbed. Every time I find a new sprout I do this same procedure. So far there have been no sprouts from areas that were treated this way.

Now what to replace the ivy with. Since this is part sun, on a slope leading to a stream and you have kids, I would suggest some native groundcovers or non-natives that aren't invasive in the environment. These won't take over, will help to hold the soil in place and offer berries and nectar to wildlife. For a large area you could select 3 different ones so it won't look too busy. Using mostly evergreens would probably be best in your zone so you'll have something to look at in winter when there isn't snow cover. Everything here is carefree once established. Here's some ideas. All are evergreen unless noted.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi 'Point Reyes' aka bearberry aka kinnikinick. Probably best in a sunnier spot and one you can more easily weed if needed.
https://www.entomology.cornell.edu/Extension/Woodys/CUGroundCoverSite/Arctostaphylos%20uva-ursi.html

Carex glauca aka Blue sedge. It's not native but isn't invasive and will give the look of grass in areas you would like to see a grassy look.
https://www.entomology.cornell.edu/Extension/Woodys/CUGroundCoverSite/Carex%20glauca.html

Carex pennsylvanica aka Pennsylvania sedge wouldn't make the best groundcover to suppress weeds, but could be very valuable for holding the soil and for wildlife near the stream.
https://www.entomology.cornell.edu/Extension/Woodys/CUGroundCoverSite/Carex%20pennsylvanica.html

Chrysogonum virginianum aka Goldenstar aka Green and gold can be a bit fussy about where it likes to grow, but once it finds a spot that makes it happy, it's lovely. It doesn't like wet leaves on it in winter and summer drought will send it shriveling up. Once it gets water it springs back. I used to grow this but lost it during a the major renovation above. I did share some with a neighbor and it's still happily growing in a sunny spot under his south facing shrubs. It may not stay evergreen in a cold winter for you, but it did in my zone 7 garden.
https://www.entomology.cornell.edu/Extension/Woodys/CUGroundCoverSite/Chrysogonum%20virginianum.html

Gypsophila repens aka Creeping baby's breath isn't native and will do best in a sunny spot in a rocky area, but would be a lovely accent in a few well placed spots. It isn't evergreen and there are pink flowered varieties available as well.
https://www.entomology.cornell.edu/Extension/Woodys/CUGroundCoverSite/Gypsophila%20repens.html

Houstonia serpyllifolia aka Creeping bluet aka Thymeleaf bluet is a native that will need a moist shady spot and looks alot like moss when not in bloom.
https://www.entomology.cornell.edu/Extension/Woodys/CUGroundCoverSite/Houstonia%20serpyllifolia%20.html

Koeleria cristata aka Junegrass aka Koeler grass aka Prairie junegrass is a native that is great for erosion control once established. It will seed around a bit and you'll find it as a happy surprise. It grows in clumps and is great for wildlife. The flowers are tiny and on spikes. It is not evergreen.
https://www.entomology.cornell.edu/Extension/Woodys/CUGroundCoverSite/Koeleria%20cristata.html
https://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/junegrass.htm

Laurentia fluviatilis aka blue star creeper is not native and probably won't be evergreen in your zone.
https://www.entomology.cornell.edu/Extension/Woodys/CUGroundCoverSite/Laurentia%20fluviatilis.html

Mazus reptans aka Creeping mazus isn't native and probably won't be evergreen in your zone, but it should bloom on and off for a long period of time and is good at suppressing weeds.
https://www.entomology.cornell.edu/Extension/Woodys/CUGroundCoverSite/Mazus%20reptans.html

Microbiota decussata aka Russian arborvitae aka Siberian cypress is one of my favorite evergreen conifers. When you get sick of seeing junipers and getting scratched by them, this is the one to plant. It will spread very wide (up to 12 feet) so site it well, but it will hold a hillside together and has soft foliage.
https://www.entomology.cornell.edu/Extension/Woodys/CUGroundCoverSite/Microbiota%20decussata.html
https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/groundcover/microbiota_decussata.html

Here's how it looks in spring.
https://oregonstate.edu/dept/ldplants/mide5.htm

Phlox subulata aka Moss phlox aka Moss pink is a native that will need full sun. It's flowers come in different shades of either pink, blue or purple. There are several types of phlox so choose by scientific name.
https://www.entomology.cornell.edu/Extension/Woodys/CUGroundCoverSite/Phlox%20subulata.html

Rhus aromatica 'Grow-Low' aka Grow Low fragrant rhus aka 'Gro-Low'. This is the dwarf selection of this native plant so you'll have to purchase it by specific name. Gorgeous fall color. It is not evergreen.
https://www.entomology.cornell.edu/Extension/Woodys/CUGroundCoverSite/Rhus%20aromatica.html
https://www.arhomeandgarden.org/plantoftheweek/articles/Fragrant_Sumac.htm
https://www.marysplantfarm.com/_photos/shrubs/RHUS%20AOMATIC%20GRO%20LOW%20(FALL).jpg

Asarum canadense aka Canadian Wild Ginger is a native groundcover for the shade that will gently spread and looks wonderful under trees. It even looks great with ferns growing through it. It is not evergreen. There is a non-native woodland ginger that has shiny leaves, but I like the native one better.
https://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/groundcovers/directory/ginger.html
https://www.ct-botanical-society.org/galleries/asarumcana.html
https://www.grownative.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=plants.plantDetail&plant_id=58

Isopyrum biternatum aka false rue anemone is a lovely native for the shade that isn't evergreen.
https://www.grownative.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=plants.plantDetail&plant_id=159
https://www.missouriplants.com/Whitealt/Isopyrum_biternatum_page.html

Mitchella repens aka partridge berry is a native evergreen woodland groundcover with red berries in the winter.
https://www.cnr.vt.edu/dendro/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=147
https://www.missouriplants.com/Whiteopp/Mitchella_repens_page.html

Gaulheria procumbens aka wintergreen aka teaberry is another wonderful native evergreen woodland groundcover.
https://www.fw.vt.edu/dendro/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=148

If you want to drool over some plants that grow in your region you can spend a sleepless night here. Not all are natives and some are invasive but you can scroll to the bottom of the page for the listing of all the plants and use it for research if you like.
https://www.missouriplants.com/

If you think you might like to add ferns to the shadier areas, this site has a nice list of natives.
https://www.grownative.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=plants.shadesunlist&char_id=3

My favorite would be one of the Maidenhair ferns. Adiantum pedatum aka Northern Maidenhair fern. This native fern would look stunning planted on the hillside or near the stream.
https://www.grownative.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=plants.plantDetail&plant_id=231

Even better would be Adiantum capillus-veneris aka Southern maidenhair fern aka common maidenhair fern planted near the water. This wouldn't be evergreen or a groundcover for you really, but just something lovely to dress up an area.
https://www.sbs.utexas.edu/bio406d/images/pics/pte/adiantum_capillus-veneris.htm
https://www.missouriplants.com/Ferns/Adiantum_capillus-veneris_page.html
https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ADCA

I know I've thrown alot at you, but you can research any of these and others you find at google. You can even click on 'Images' to get lots of pictures.

If you decide to mailorder any plants you can check references here. You can even search by state and plant material.
https://davesgarden.com/products/gwd/

Don't hesitate to ask more questions.
Newt

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