Gardener vs. Ivy

Operation Ivy, phase two, upon completion.

The owners of the apartment building just to the west of our garden must have planted ivy on the chain link fence years ago. All the good light is on our side, so of course the ivy is eager to nose its way into the garden. It’s no exaggeration that ivy is one of the banes of my existence, and every time I visit my local nursery, I’m amazed to see that this plant is still sold. Shouldn’t invasive, impossible-to-get-rid-of plants be illegal?

Last weekend, armed with my trusty Felco pruners and an array of shovels and rakes, I faced the jungle. And none too soon. One of the things I hate about ivy is that if you let up, even for a few months, it comes back stronger than before. It doesn’t seem to matter how harshly you cut it back, or how thoroughly you try to dig it up. It always re-sprouts.

Though I might be tempted to use chemical herbicides when it comes to both ivy and Bermuda grass, Kelly won’t hear of it. My only recourse, it seems, is to attempt to exhaust the ivy before it exhausts me.

I first tackled the ivy several months ago. Fearful that the neighbors might object, I left a little growing on our side of the fence. Like I said, the ivy desperately wants to be on our side of the fence, where it can bask in the sun. Growth on the neighbors’ side is stunted at best. This time I wasn’t so generous. Any ivy on our side got cut, and I amassed three large piles along the driveway.

I have to say, the vine is looking more scraggly and yellowed than before my first attack, and I’m hopeful (perhaps prematurely) that my efforts will ultimately pay off. I discovered much to my regret, however, that the ivy has managed to work its way into the bases of both a palm tree and a suckering redwood. It has also taken root in a few places well away from the fence on our side.

Six 'Misty' and 'Sunshine Blue' await transplanting.

The battle is far from over, but I’m determined. Lest you question my use of vocabulary related to war, this stretch of garden will soon be home to new bare root blueberry bushes, as well as the first (and only) apple trees I ever grafted. I’m loath to plant my babies in a place where they could well be smothered down the road, but I’m also running out of space for all the things I want to grow. The ivy must go.

4 Responses to Gardener vs. Ivy

  1. Well, I’d trade in ivy for blueberries any day. Have you considered huckleberries? I know that my brother has grown them in the same growing region in which you live. There’s nothing like a good huckleberry (or blueberry) pie!

    • Huckleberries are yummy, but sooo tiny! I remember trying to fill a small pail with huckleberries when I lived in Humboldt county and getting fed up with how long they took to pick. Still, I have to agree that there’s nothing quite like a huckleberry pie.

  2. I can related to your ivy war. One of my neighbors has both ivy *and* bamboo on the other side of the fence — and unfortunately, neither of those pesky plants respect the property line! It is a continual struggle to keep them in check, especially the bamboo, and I am always on the lookout for creative ways to stem their growth.

    • Ivy and bamboo?!!! Egads. Your situation makes me feel downright fortunate. Have you checked out the UC Davis Integrated Pest Management page on woody weeds? Here’s the link, if you’re interested: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74142.html

      The fact that most of the bamboo is on your neighbor’s side of the fence puts you at a distinct disadvantage. I wonder if some kind of root barrier might help?

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