Vine-Busting: Controlling Ivy and Other Climbing Plants Vine-Busting: Controlling Ivy and Other Climbing Plants

Vines are exuberantly vigorous plants always on the move and eager to usurp their place on the ground, over the trellis, up the tree and around the house. Climbing plants and vines are traditionally beloved by some gardeners for their nostalgic beauty, but many gardeners also dislike these plants for their aggressive growth patterns and sometimes destructive behavior. The key to lovely vines is control. The following text discusses how to control rampant climbers, along with one method to rid them from the garden altogether.

Essentially there are three types of climbers: clinging vines, twining vines and sprawling vines. All of these require a support structure (unless used for ground cover) and all of them must be given a generous dose of gardeners' tough love; in other words, prune away! Pruning is the most effective way to thwart the advance of your climbing plants. This is actually good for the health of your vine, not to mention the health of your structure - especially if it's your house.

The ideal thing is to avoid growing vines on your home or near trees they can harm. Vines are considerably destructive to trees and shrubs once they begin their growing, wrapping and squeezing patterns. Homes should not sport vines unless they are constructed of stone, brick or aluminum siding - and even then they may cause problems unless carefully monitored and kept in check by pruning.

Pruning will prevents rampant growth and keeps the vines from becoming too heavy for their support structure. In turn, vines remain beautiful, healthy and vibrant. The best time to prune flowering vines such as wisteria is right after the flowers drop. Prune grapevine or other fruiting climbers during winter (their dormant period). Of course, pruning, even vigorous pruning, can be done anytime or as soon as you notice their aggressive behavior.

Yet sometimes, especially in the case of ivy, removal is the best policy. Ivy can not only grow into cracks in your house and compromise the health of trees, it frequently shelters small pests like mice and slugs and retains a considerable amount of pollen and dust making it a hazardous plant for anyone with asthma or allergies. It may provide that appealing Victorian charm for your home, but it has a cost. Removing ivy can be a gardening nightmare because as a climbing plant, it is also a surviving plant.

Ivy eradication involves a simple routine of cutting and pulling. Chemicals are not recommended and herbicides have little to no effect on ivy, so the cut and pull routine must be repeated many, many times. Removing the bottom few feet of ivy first will have a powerful effect, though this alone will not stop it for very long. It all has to be removed, and it should never be used in the compost bin or you'll have an ivy covered heap to deal with. Dispose of ivy plants in sealed plastic garbage bags. Let them cook in the sun, thus sealing your ivy's fate.

If your ivy is in the tree tops, you may hire a professional or simply wait about three years for the ivy to die out once you've eradicated the bottom vines. People with bronchial problems should not deal with ivy removal as it can trigger a bronchial or asthma attack. Also, people with sensitive skin should wear long sleeves and gloves before pruning or removing ivy. Other aggressive vines may be removed this way as well. Patience and diligence is key.

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