If you are anything like me, you drive circles around metro-Atlanta and have seen these signs posted,
“English Ivy Kills Trees”, but a question I am often asked is, “Does ivy actually “kill” trees?” Like most successful marketing, this sign is direct and makes a statement but there is some half truth to it. English ivy and similar vines like Wisteria and Kudzu are aggressive, fast-growing vines that can cover trees but they are not parasitic plants. These invasive vines use trees and shrubs as means to grow off the ground and find sunlight but they produce their own food through photosynthesis and are not actively using the tree’s resources.
Please don’t misunderstand me though- Ivy will kill trees….There are several problems with invasive vines when they mature and are very large: vines add a significant amount of weight to the tree, they cover up a tree’s leaves and can also hide serious problems on the tree’s root crown or trunk. All of these problems can cause serious detriment to a tree’s health and structural integrity so we recommend keeping vines off of your trees. Please keep in mind that the living part of the tree trunk is located directly under the bark so we don’t want to cut into the tree when removing vines. It isn’t always a job for a professional if the vines are small but PLEASE call your Boutte Tree arborist for options on how to keep ivy off your trees. J
One of our crews recently had a project for a builder that had all of the proper City of Atlanta tree removal permits but needed a quality tree removal company ASAP because there were some tricky trees near neighboring houses. The Boutte Tree team put together a removal plan in less than 24 hours and send one of our crews led by Jim Harris. All of the 80-100’ tall trees were going to be cut from the ground and skillfully aimed towards the middle of the empty lot. In order to make a precise notch in the front of the tree, Jim removed the massive English ivy vines that had completely encompassed the tree trunk. After removing the solid mat of vines, Jim discovered that the tree had extensive decay and was 60% hollow. How was this tree still standing? Fortunately, this tree was already scheduled for removal and the property was an empty lot because this tree was no longer safe to climb and remove traditionally if it was surrounded with an expensive landscape. Using his arboricultural and felling acumen, Jim and the crew safely removed the tree away from a busy street and power lines!
Even though it’s hard to say why this particular tree was rotten, ivy was hiding a serious issue and was one of the reasons this tree wasn’t identified years ago as a potential hazard. “Arboricultural Moral of the Story”- English Ivy Hurts Trees; removing vines is an important part of inspecting trees during health and risk assessments.