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Wednesday - March 19, 2014

From: Davidsonville, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Shrubs
Title: Getting rid of non-native, invasive English Ivy from Davidsonville MD
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Just moved and need to rid the well established Ivy planted on the steep slope area around the back and side of the house as it is taking over the bushes on the top and trees in forested area at bottom of the ten foot high slope. What is best removal method(s) on a slope? And what is best low to ground groundcover for a forested slope area near the house to stop soil erosion, in Davidsonville, MD? Would like easy, hardy, pretty, evergreen. Thinking vinca minor?? Or perhaps something with berries for birds? Help!


Hedera helix, English Ivy, is native to Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa. This article from the Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group pretty much covers all the ways we know of to combat the plant. None of them are permanent, especially if there is a stand of the plant still adjacent to your property. You will have to watch for it all the time, as it can regrow from just a small cutting left on the ground.

We recommend using a disposable sponge brush and paint the herbicide on the cut root quickly - within five minutes of cutting - because the stem will try to heal over quickly to protect the roots, which is exactly what you are trying to kill. DO NOT spray the herbicide nor wipe any of it on the tree trunk you are trying to rescue. The herbicide might not succeed in killing the whole tree, but then, we don't want to find out, do we?

Now, what do we think about vinca minor?  Vinca minor is a species of flowering plant native to central and southern Europe, from Portugal and France north to the Netherlands and the Baltic States, east to the Caucasus, and also southwestern Asia in Turkey. It is sometimes found to be invasive in parts of North America. You would be trading one non-native, invasive plant for another. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but also to the area in which they are being grown; in your case, Anne Arundel Co., Maryland. 

We are finally able to recommend a plant that we have been hunting a home for quite a while - mostly because we love its name - Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick). However, if you follow that plant link to our webpage on it, you will find it is evergreen, low-growing, can do well in full sun, part shade and shade, and has berries on it for the birds. This is not a lawn plant, but then, neither is English ivy nor vinca minor. It is native to Maryland and sturdy in all weather. Notice the third picture from our Image Gallery, below, with the nice green leaves peeking out of snow.


From the Image Gallery

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

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