5 Reasons You Should Remove Ivy From Your Trees

Ivy gives your yard a certain something that other types of greenery doesn’t – for many people, it appears to be romantic, beautiful, and even unique, depending on where you live. However, ivy can actually be very dangerous for your trees. While the plant itself might not always be a problem, what the plant conceals can be a problem. So next time you are thinking about doing something around your yard, you might want to consider removing some of that ivy – or all of it.

Aren’t convinced? Here are a few reasons to remove ivy from your trees:

5. It Steals Nutrients From Your Trees

  • Food comes from the same source
  • Eventually steals water
  • Ivy overpowers tree

Anything you plant near or around your trees is going to compete with that tree for the nutrients and water in the soil. This includes ivy, which spreads so quickly and thoroughly that it will suck up the nutrients and water from all over the garden, leaving nothing behind. The worst part is that the more nutrients it steals, the bigger and more powerful it gets.

In order to keep your trees healthy, they need to have access to as many nutrients and as much water as possible. Note that this is mainly for trees that are younger and still growing. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, “It is also found mainly on established or mature trees where, unlike young trees, some competition can be tolerated.”

4. Harms Bark

  • Stops air from naturally cleaning debris from tree
  • Stops the process of photosynthesis
  • Really harmful for decorative barks

Most people who own trees that have decorative bark already keep them pretty free and clean of ivy. However, most people don’t realize that all tree bark suffers when covered with ivy. As the Tree Steward Program stated, “Ivy can strangle trees, and once it is in the tree canopy, it can block sunlight from the trees’ leaves. Dense ivy cover deprives the tree’s bark of normal contact with air and microorganisms and competes with the tree for nutrients and water. Ivy is a threat. But we can beat it with simple landscaping work.”

Do not allow your trees to face off against this kind of competition. It will severely shorten the life of your trees and can even make them susceptible to other problems like diseases and rot.

3. Higher Risk of Breakage

  • Impacts trees of all ages
  • Even healthy trees can fall prey
  • Especially dangerous in summer months

Even if you have a tree that looks to be relatively healthy and happy with ivy growing on it, the tree itself is likely undergoing a lot of stress. Individual branches or the entire tree itself can be weighed down by itself, or the added weight can help to pull down the tree when it faces pressure from a storm, according to Home Guides.

A few twines of ivy won’t do too much, but that weight adds up as it wraps continuously around the tree’s branches and trunk. Removing that ivy too late will keep your tree open to problems, especially because once a branch is weak, it will never go back to the strength it could have been.

2. Can Lead to Pests

  • Ivy makes a good home for some pests
  • Weakened trees allow pests to infiltrate the tree
  • Ivy makes it harder to spot the problem

One of the biggest problems that trees face all over is pests. Pests need homes and they tend to find them in places where they can easily seek shelter, build homes, and get nutrients. Trees offer all of that and more. When a tree is covered in ivy, they are weakened and quickly become the most attractive places for pests to go. If you’ve never had pests in your trees before, know that they are extremely difficult to eliminate.

According to Gardening Know How, “Weakened plants and trees are more susceptible to problems like pests or disease. It is best to always remove the ivy from the tree and keep it away from the trunk of the tree, at least 3 to 4 feet, to prevent it from climbing up the tree again.”

1. Hinder Safety Inspections

  • Blocks off sight lines to vulnerable parts of the tree
  • May not spot issues until too late
  • Camouflages obvious signs of problems

The biggest problem with ivy isn’t a way that it hurts the tree, but rather that it is just so all-encompassing of the tree that it really camouflages any problems that may pop up. Breaks, diseases, rot, and infestations easily hide amongst the ivy, making it impossible to spot.

According to Arbor Ecology, “Where mature trees are growing in residential gardens often close to dwellings or public open space, it is important to be able to complete regular hazard assessments and monitor the decay of old wounds. In such circumstances, it becomes essential to remove the ivy.”

If you have an older tree or a tree where you can’t perform visual inspections, you may need to eliminate the ivy.

Overall, eliminating ivy from your trees may be the best way to keep them healthy. Sure, it may not look as stately as some other homes do, but you can be sure that your trees and therefore your home is safer in the end.

At Ridgeline Tree Service, our goal is to ensure that your trees are happy, healthy, and prosperous. We do this through routine maintenance, best practices for tree care, and other essential activities. We serve the greater Richmond area with our professionalism, perfection, and experience. If you have any questions about tree care or you feel that something is going wrong with your trees, give us a call today at (804) 378-2900 to schedule a meeting.

We are more than willing to offer you a free consultation for how to deal with some of the problems that face trees. Whether that is ivy or you have another concern that is more pressing. Don’t delay.

Header photo credit: Rolf Dietrich Brecher on Flickr!



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