If ivy (Hedera helix) is to be removed from the garden, the climbing and groundcover plant proves to be a stubborn and stubborn plant. In order to destroy it completely, it needs a professional approach.

Problem: roots

The main problem in destroying an ivy lies in the roots. With increasing age, the soil roots anchor themselves up to 40 centimeters deep. In very dry soil, the root depth reaches 60 centimeters or more. Simply pulling them out is less advisable, because minimal root remains are enough to sprout and proliferate again. If the ivy grows as a tendril on walls, facades and/or other surfaces, the adhesive roots make it difficult to remove. Their adhesive power is usually enormous. In addition, if done incorrectly, they can lead to damage, especially to masonry. Therefore, care should be taken when removing a Hedera helix.

Best time

A Hedera helix can be slowed down in growth at any time of the year. A day after a rain is best, so that the earth and ideally the climbing surface is damp/wet. Due to the massive growth, it is advisable to fight between autumn and early spring before the start of the growth period. The latter proves to be the better time for removing masonry if subsequent damage and/or unsightly marks are planned, for example by painting. Due to the weather conditions, autumn is usually not the best time for masonry/facade work. It should also be noted that there are statutory pruning dates that prohibit more extensive plant destruction between March 1st and September 30th.

Instructions: Ivy removal by hand

Depending on the substrate, a different approach is required to successfully combat ivy:


If it grows as a ground cover and is to be removed, the following work steps are advisable:

  • Cut shoots into small pieces and carefully lift to pull them with clinging roots
  • ideal: work from the outside to the ground root area
  • After removing the shoots, search the exposed soil surface for adhesive roots and pick them up
  • dig up the main root
  • make sure that no root pieces are cut off by tools (makes total root removal more difficult)
  • Dig the ground deep and wide enough so that the root can be picked up without breaking it
  • After removing the roots, search the planting hole for root remains (everything has to come out to prevent renewed sprouting)
  • Fill in the planting hole – done

Unplastered substrates

  • Same procedure as for plastered walls, but several shoots can be pulled off at the same time from top to bottom (e.g. from wood or clinker)

plastered walls

  • begin at shoot ends
  • pull each shoot down individually (proceed carefully so that wall paint or plaster is not torn off by adhesive roots)
  • if shoots cross over and are stuck, cut free so that each shoot can be carefully pulled down
  • Cut off shoots close to the ground
  • Finally, dig out the roots over a large area
  • Check the soil for root remains and remove everything


The use of chemical agents is extremely harmful to the environment and there is also no product available that can be used to combat ivy in the long term. It offers a maximum of a short-term partial removal of the foliage and the adhesive roots. The ground root remains unaffected and continues to sprout. It should also be noted that the use of some chemical agents on “sealed” surfaces is prohibited by law. These include, for example, terraces and paved or asphalted surfaces.

Fight with flaming

Destroying the ivy with a flame burner is easier than tedious manual work. The shoots as well as the attached and exposed ground roots are simply burned. If the soil root remains covered by soil, flaming it will not work. This method can only be used on heat-resistant and fireproof substrates. However, a subsequent pulling off of the burned shoots together with the adhesive roots and disposal of the ground roots is not spared. Careful handling of a weed burner should be a matter of course.

Instructions for home remedies

A lot of work can be saved by using a home remedy. It consists of salt, soap and water. It should be noted that by law it must not be allowed to get onto sealed/paved floors, otherwise there may be severe fines. Salt also affects soil quality and can also kill neighboring plants if it gets on plant parts and/or roots.

This is how production and application work:

  • Add 60 milliliters of liquid soap, 1350 grams of normal table salt to four liters of water and stir until dissolved
  • Fill into garden spray pump or other spray container
  • Spray all parts of the plant above ground until dripping wet
  • Expose the roots in the soil and also spray generously
  • Repeat twice a week until dry
  • Pull off the shoots together with the adhesive roots, completely dig up the ground roots and dispose of everything
Tip: 250 milliliters of vinegar can be added to the mixture to increase the effect and thus destroy the ivy more quickly.


A lot of patience has to be applied to the destruction by starvation. The aim here is to take away the “will” from the Hedera helix to continue growing. The method is very tedious and cannot be done without regular work. That’s how it’s done:

  • Cut ivy as short as possible
  • Constantly and quickly shorten new shoot formations
  • It can take up to three/four years for ivy to stop growing and die
  • Attachment and ground roots are to be removed


A classic way of destroying the climbing plant is to dry it out. This only works for climbing specimens where the aerial parts are not in contact with the ground and consequently cannot form new roots there once the main root has been removed. However, the location of the ground root must be known in order to interrupt the supply to the shoots. How to proceed:

  • look for the main root
  • Expose the surface and cut off all outgoing shoots
  • Elevate cut ends to prevent ground contact
  • Remove root completely from soil or destroy (e.g. burn)
  • It is essential to pay attention to possible root remains and dispose of them
  • No more supply to the shoots, causing them to dry out
Note: Ivy grows enormously and new plants arise from even the smallest root residues. Disposal on the compost is therefore not advisable, because a little moisture is enough to bring the plant back to life.

Removal of the adhesive roots

If ivy is removed as a climbing plant, the remains of the adhesive roots usually remain on the ground. Various methods are possible to get rid of these, depending on the substrate:

  • Plastered and painted walls: Brush off with a high-pressure cleaner, sandblasting device or with a wire brush/hard brush
  • Wood: sand down or scrub with a soft brush
  • Clinker: no high-pressure cleaner because of damage to the joints – better remove with a scrubber or hire a specialist who can use various blasting methods with great effect

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