I loathe ivy — particularly Algerian ivy. When it takes over an area, it defines where you can walk, unless you have on sturdy boots and are surefooted. Where we now live has 40-years of ivy growth. Up trees and fences and across the landscape. I began work on ivy killing in late May and am now down to 1000 sq ft or less.
First to go was ivy on the trees. Not cool. I cut the runners going to the ground; then, if the ivy was not all around the tree, pulled it off. For major tree infestations, I’ve left the ivy to die on the tree, as pulling it off could harm the tree. It is unsightly, but I value the trees.
Then, I went for ivy on the fences. Wretched stuff contributes mightily to the rapid demise of wood fences. One part of a fence had to be replaced and I see spots on other fences that need TLC.
That done, I started manual ivy removal on the back (2100 sq ft) and side yard (1900 sq ft). Yes, I measured it. I’ve used many techniques for the removal. A folding saw knife has been one of my best friends. So has a metal rake. I’ve also used Roundup to at least set it back. And my son-in-law has dug the roots up. Note that the total removal will likely require several seasons. Luckily, the leaf mulch in many of the areas has been very thick, so ivy removal has been easier there.
The problem with ivy is its persistence. Thus, I am reluctant to try to compost the ivy runners. My solution so far has been to bag it up when freshly cut (more flexible then) and place it out for the recyclers. My neighbors have marveled at the stack of bags offered up every two weeks.
What are we going to do to replace the ivy? Well, in some areas, we have plans for some fruit trees. Loquat, lemon, cherry, and nectarine or peach are current possibilities. We have lots of wild plum trees that provide excellent fruit for jams, so will not plant another plum.
Where the ivy has grown in heavy shade, we will let the trees (26 in the back yard) continue to provide a floor of leaf mulch. Shade plants have been added in some areas for color and texture: Tasmanian and Australian Tree ferns, camellias, azaleas, and hostas. We have been able to put up a ping pong table and are leaving space for a hoped-for-spa. Much better than ivy.
The side yard has almost as many trees and a sidewalk border of oleanders. The oleanders are necessary for privacy, but do raise issues of what to do near them. With more than enough space once the ivy is gone, we can build raised veggie beds that are safely away from oleander leafs and roots. A request from my daughter for a ginko will also be honored–as soon as I can get rid of the huge pile of removed dead tree limbs and treelets. Treelets? Yup, those trees that try to grow where they should not. No chance of enough sun or nutrients. We’ve removed about six of those.
The back of the side yard will be a good place for more camellias and ferns.
All of this gardening is aerobic for me. I’m sure I’m not using all of the muscles I need to, but Yoga starts again this week.