5 Reasons You Should Remove Ivy From Your Trees

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5 Reasons You Should Remove Ivy From Your Trees

Many people believe that ivy growing on a tree or even on your home makes your house look slightly more stately than it did before. It adds romance and beauty to your trees, helping your yard stand out. Sometimes, the ivy will even turn colors in the fall, creating a more autumnal feel to your yard.

It still isn’t worth it. Ivy is extremely dangerous for your trees. Sometimes the plant itself isn’t the problem, it is just the fact that the ivy is there in the first place. You have to be careful about where you grow ivy and you can eliminate it, though you will have to fight against the ivy over some time.

The next time you are thinking about what you can do in your yard, here are a few reasons you might want to consider removing ivy from your trees:

5. Hinder Safety Inspections

  • You won’t be able to see any breaks or hazards on the bark of the tree
  • May not spot issues until it is too late to treat them
  • Camouflages obvious signs of problems that help to identify problems

One of the biggest problems with ivy is that you won’t be able to inspect your trees. The ivy camouflages with the bark, hiding any problems and making your tree seem healthy. Ivy is so hardy that it won’t die, even if the tree is dying. Ivy will also hide breaks, diseases, infestations, rot, and other problems that you need to catch early to effectively treat.

Per Arbor Ecology, “Although rarely a problem to the tree, a dense covering of ivy over the trunk and throughout the crown of a mature specimen can inhibit essential safety checks, by limiting a visual inspection of the trunk and main branches. 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.”

While it might not be appropriate to eliminate ivy in a woodland setting, you should do it when you have trees in your yard.

4. Harms Bark

  • Reduces airflow that can naturally clean the debris from the tree
  • Stops photosynthesis and the process of gaining nutrients
  • Extremely harmful for decorative barks, especially soft ones

People who have trees that have decorative bark probably don’t want ivy on their trees anyway, but if you aren’t particularly connected to the trees, you should still eliminate the ivy. All types of bark will suffer when they are covered with ivy, mostly because airflow, water, and even sunlight are extremely important to the natural care of the tree.

The Tree Steward Program states, “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.:

If your tree seems to be struggling, consider removing a majority of the ivy so it looks better.

3. It Steals Nutrients From Your Trees

  • Food can come from the same source
  • Stops tree from producing own tree
  • Water goes to the Ivy first

When you plant ivy near or even on a tree, you have to know that both of the plants will compete for nutrients, water, and sunlight. Ivy spreads extremely quickly because it overpowers almost everything around it, taking nutrients and water from everything else without care. The worst part is that as it takes more nutrients, it gets stronger and takes even more.

If you want to keep your trees healthy, you have to give them the best chance to get the nutrients that you can – including by removing competition. Per the Royal Horticultural Society, “If the branch canopy becomes thin and allows sufficient light to enter, the ivy will develop into its arboreal form. Fraxinus(ash) and Larix (larch), are both trees with a naturally thin, open crown so they may suffer heavy infestation. For this reason, ivy on ash and larch trees is often controlled.”

2. Higher Risk of Breakage

  • Ivy can get extremely heavy
  • Healthy trees are just as susceptible as older trees
  • Extremely dangerous in summer and during ice storms

If your tree looks healthy and like it isn’t really competing with the ivy for nutrients, it might not be. However, the tree itself might have a lot of stress that you don’t see. Like humans, trees don’t really show the signs of stress until they are ready to snap. Ivy can be heavy, especially when it is tightly packed. The added weight will pull down on the tree and can even cause it to break during a storm, according to Home Guides.

A few little pieces of ivy really won’t do much to weigh down the tree, but you have to be careful if you get any more than that. Ivy will wrap and grow as much as you allow it to, taking over buildings and trees and posing a  lot of danger to anything it touches.

1. Can Bring Pests to Your Yard

  • Many pests like ivy because of how sturdy it is
  • Weakened trees from ivy allow pests to make homes inside of it
  • Ivy makes infestations difficult to spot.

One of the biggest problems that all tree professionals see is pests. Pests need homes just like anyone else, but they tend to find them in the worst places. For pests, anything that is easy to find, has nutrients, and has space for homes works extremely well. Trees offer all of that and more, which is why pests are drawn to trees. When a tree has a lot of ivy on it, they are weak and pests are easily able to take over.

Per the website 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.”

Need help removing ivy from your trees?

At Hamm’s Tree Service, we work with the tools and skills to eliminate ivy from your trees so that they have the best chance to be happy and healthy. We understand that it can be difficult to accept that something natural shouldn’t be where it is, but ivy, as beautiful as it is, shouldn’t be on your trees. Do not let the problem get worse – give our team a call today at (919) 641-3064 to determine what the next steps should be – we can even give you some tips on how to use your ivy somewhere else.

Header photo courtesy of Damian Moore on Flickr!

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