English ivy is a plant known for its decorative appeal, however it is an invasive plant that can damage your trees if not controlled properly.
English ivy climbs up trees and walls by attaching with suction-cup-like roots called hold fasts. These little attachments are so strong that they often need to be removed from walls with sandblasting. As the English Ivy grows, it’s vines becomes thick.
Once English Ivy starts over-running a tree, the tree has to compete with the Ivy for sunlight, water, and nutrients- all vital to the health of the tree. As the Ivy deprives the tree of these necessities, the tree will become weaker and more prone to disease, branch dieback, and snapping. English Ivy also contributes to added moisture around the bark, attracting bugs and tree rot. Since the plant grows from the ground up, branch dieback is usually evident at the bottom of the tree first. As the tree loses branches and accumulates weight at the top from the overgrown ivy, the tree becomes imbalanced and top heavy, causing it to become a hazard.
If the English Ivy is intended for decorative appearance, you must keep it from climbing if you want to keep your tree healthy. Allowing the plant to climb allows it to reach maturity, so keeping it on the ground will essentially inhibit the plant. Once a tree has been over-run by the ivy, the best remediation is to kill the ivy without removing it, in order to avoid pulling off bark from your weakened tree. To kill the ivy, cut the plant at the bottom around the circumference of the trunk and pull the roots out of the ground. This will cause the ivy to wilt and die and in time the tree trunk will grow around the old vines
Due to the extra ground cover and foliage, English ivy can also bring unwanted pests such as nesting birds, squirrels, and most commonly rats.