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Aug 14, 2010 11:28 PM

English Ivy is invasive?

I think I have English ivy growing on my house and a good portion of the yard. I've always figured ivy was cool and looked nice growing along the walls of the house. I'm starting to wonder if my ivy is invasive and if there is a better alternative. I live in Pa.

The good points of ivy are as follows, first no mowing, second ivy dominants "weeds", third ivy looks nice.

The bad points are as follows, first ivy is hard to contain, the ivy keeps growing on top of my containers near the house and I have to cut back the ivy to avoid tripping on the walkway. The whole entire crowding out weeds is scary. An established flower, like lilies of the valley can hold back weeds, but rarely make any forward progress against the weeds even if I help out the lilies.

Any plant that can crowd out weeds fairly easily is most likely invasive in my book. Btw, I was thinking of killing off my grass with my ivy and some periwinkle at the edge of my property. I don't want to spend the time/energy mowing. My questions are as follows?

1. Do I have English Ivy?
2. Is there a better alternative to English Ivy?
3. If my ivy is invasive should I attempt to remove the ivy?
4. Should I rethink killing off most of my grass with ivy or periwinkle?

I can post a video of my ivy later.

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  1. My husband hates ivy and all vinelike plants, he claims it kills everything it touches including trees and also will make mortar and other materials crumble off the house. If he has any scientific evidence, I've yet to see it, but I have to avoid these types of plants because of his unshakable theories. He did allow some pre-existing ivy at our last house to grow way in the back as groundcover and then mowed the edges to keep it at bay, but when it tried to go up a tree he went ballistic on it. Don't know if this helps but unfortunately, due to him, that's all I really know.

    4 Replies
    1. re: coll

      Ivy adds weight to a tree, ivy also blocks out the leaves, climbing eventually to the top blocking out all leaves from the sun, the tree will succumb to the added weight and loss of light. I like to let ivy climb up dead trees.

      1. re: coll

        Your husband's right about ivy and buildings. It will grow into the mortar between brick and block and crumble it away. It does the same thing in sided houses no matter what type of siding, and wood buildings. The tendrils work into any cracks and can actually pull off siding .and split boards. Healthy vigorous ivy growth can completely destroy a standard garden shed in about 5 years if unchecked. It will cover and smother trees and shrubs. I tend to view it as about on par with kudzu.

        Those hallowed ivied halls are probably structurally unsound.

        1. re: morwen

          Thanks guys, don't know why I doubted my husband. I will tell him tonight how smart he is!

          1. re: morwen

            Ivy League halls, Wrigley Field, ect., are covered in Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) or the related Virginia Creeper(.Parthenocissus_quinquefolia) Neither are true ivies (genus Hedera) & adhere only to the surface without damaging the masonry. (Unless you try to pull off live plants)Though like many vining plants they can be invasive. Here are some links to determine what you have.


        2. I have ivy and some other creeping vine type plants in my yard. They come over from my neighbor's yard, so I cannot really stop them...I have to constantly battle them.

          Another of my neighbors apparently replaced their front lawn with ivy (it's a twin with a fairly small front lawn) and it actually looks awful. It does dominate the weeds, but especially hardy ones do eventually find their way up, so then you've got this bed of ivy with weeds growing out of it, and of course you can't just mow it every week.

          It seems like pachysandra is no longer en vogue, but I think that's much better than ivy as a non-grass groundcover.

          1. Yes, English ivy is very invasive and difficult to kill. Rats love to live and breed in an English ivy bed.

            1 Reply
            1. re: raytamsgv

              My husband only semi-joked that to get rid of the English ivy, we'd have to move. Very invasive and will crowd out the plants you want to keep. If you like it, plant it only in pots.

            2. We removed all our grass and replanted our front yard with periwinkle two years ago, and are loving it. If you choose to go with periwinkle, from my experience I would recommend you stick with the regular vinca minor with blue/purple flowers. We tried a few varietals (white flower and veriegated) but they are much slower spreaders and we were weeding in between for longer than we were in the areas that we planted the plain old vinca ...