Though it is commonly planted as groundcover or a climbing ornamental, ivy is most often bad for trees. It can quickly become aggressive and invasive, competing with other plants for water and nutrients. Its presence can also result in issues with tree stability and increase the likelihood of failure.
Ivy obscures the critical root area of trees, hiding common issues like decay. It can conceal defects in the trunk and branches as well. Further, ivy adds weight and wind resistance in the tree canopy and creates favorable conditions for the development of decay and foliar diseases.
Ivy can be eradicated by hand removal, judicious use of herbicides, or ideally a combination of the two. If complete removal is not an option, it should still be removed from the base and trunk of the tree to leave structural roots visible for inspection. A well-maintained groundcover of ivy is less likely to overtake landscape areas than ivy that is climbing on walls or trees.
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