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Ivy OVERLOAD! Possible to Remove a LOT of Ivy?

We just bought an old house in the bay area that we knew would need a lot of work, inside and out (but it's the bay area and you take what you can afford, even if it means more work!). One of the first things I want to tackle outside is this INSANE amount of ivy that is overrun nearly everywhere in the perimeter of the yard. My husband doesn't mind it, but there is SO MUCH, it's crazy. I don't know if it was planted intentionally or what, but it's clear that it has been growing for probably decades without being kept under control at all (see pics!). I seriously don't even know where to start.
There is a fig tree on the other side of the fence (neighbor's yard) that branches over and I do not want to damage it but it has ivy growing all over it. There's 3 stumps at the back of the yard that we want to dig out, and the *entire* back of the fence where the stumps are is covered in ivy, with the exception of some other kind of tree coming off the top of the fence (last pic). There is a walkway along the side of the house that is completely filled with ivy to the point where it is unusable. I feel like we should probably bring in a professional but wanted to see if it was something we could handle ourselves first.

I don't much care about the rest of the plants that are intertwined with the ivy except the fig tree, mainly because the whole yard is so overgrown that I'm not sure what can be salvaged. There is another large tree (unsure what it is) that has ivy going all the way up the top of it (3rd pic). Another part of the property (not pictured) has ivy growing along with jasmine on the fence line and my other neighbor is already complaining that "the ivy is choking the jasmine", like we've only been here for a few months - give us time, haha. The former owners were elderly and I don't think they did much with the yard (clearly?).

Thoughts? What did we get ourselves into? Yikes! It is a very nice, large yard if it weren't so overrun with all the ivy and other unruly shrubbery.
Last edited by elevation24 on Thu May 18, 2017 9:07 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Oh wow! You definitely have your hands full don’t you! I would start by cutting the ivy from the base wherever it’s climbing structures, trees, etc. Anything left that is no longer connected to the roots will eventually die so it isn’t entirely necessary to pull down. You’ll want to pull the roots up as much as you can and put your energy into that effort. Once you’ve done that you should have a better idea of what you’re working with in your yard… if there’s anything salvageable or if you’ll be wanting to start over entirely. I’m only seeing the one photo… are there more?
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Re: Ivy OVERLOAD! Possible to Remove a LOT of Ivy?

It is a huge amount of work and will never really be done! But yes, cutting off everything climbing trees etc at the base and then generally pulling as much of the ivy out by the roots as you can. One thing that helps if any of ti is growing in flat areas that you can mow is just to keep it mowed. Mowing every couple weeks or so, with your mower set low, will kill the mowed part by the end of the season.
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Re: Ivy OVERLOAD! Possible to Remove a LOT of Ivy?

First thing I would do is to familiarize yourselves with exactly what kind of vegetation are growing in the mess of ivy. If you see different leaf shapes, take pics, etc. You don't want to be wading in there up to your elbows, then find out that there are poison ivy, poison, oak, poison sumac, wild parsnip,....etc. AND you are allergic.

Then you will know what kind of battle gear and outfit you will need.

English ivy -what I'm seeing- sets down roots at intervals along the Vine so it won't be easy to pull where they have securely attached themselves. Effect of pulling at them will depend on how deeply they are attached. They may be strong enough to rip at trees and structures and cause damage.

Pulled vines will grow roots if given a chance -- I pile them where they can't reach the ground and let them dry out completely to kill them. Don't burn them if there are any toxic plants mixed in them urushiol can be persistent and can become ...what is the proper term? Vaporized? ...part of the smoke.

I only have to deal with the ones that creep in along the ground to keep them out of my yard. The vines are tough and you can get a fair length out at once. I find it's easier to yank them up either after a period of drought when the roots have dried a bit and weakened their grip, OR after good soaking rain has softened the earth.

I don't spray or use any chemicals by choice, but I have heard that their waxy tough leaves resist herbicides on their surface, but are more likely to absorb the chemicals when cut end is painted or dipped immediately.
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