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Getting completely rid of invasive vines

April 23, 2006

Is this possible? We moved in to an extremely neglected home and yard in December. We hacked everything back as best we could, but now the honeysuckle, poison ivy, english ivy, virginia creeper and some other vine I dont know the name of are coming back with a vengance. I dont know what to do to get rid of them completely besides pulling and pulling and pulling. I cant really round up that much bc they are in the middle of beds with shrubs that I am trying to resurrect.

Comments (38)

  • sugarhill

    I faced this problem about 8 years ago. Huge areas covered with honeysuckle and poison ivy. It took two years of Round Up to get rid of it. Round Up got rid of most of it the first year. I had to use Round Up again for the vines that came back the next spring. That got rid of everything except a honeysuckle vine growing through a beautiful Indica azalea. Obviously, I couln't use Round Up on it without killing the azalea. So one of my jobs every spring is to pull and hack at the honeysuckle growing through the azalea. Pulling it up is no solution, just a defensive action.
    I have neighbors who won't do anything about the honeysuckle and poison ivy along their property line (the same neighbors who when the trim their #%&&(#@ red tips throw the branches in my yard for me to clean up and then complain people in this neighborhood aren't friendly), so every year I get more honeysuckle and poison ivy along the edge of my property. Round Up in the spring kills it until more grows into my yard the next year. I don't like using chemicals, but it's what I found that works.

  • vsjo

    Here is what I have done. After the Roundup has done its job, use brush-b-gone. When the vines begin coming back, find the stem near the ground, cut it, then paint the stem with the brush-b-gone. This is about the only way to rid a vine that is growing through a desirable bush. You can use a spray bottle if the stem or trunk is large enough or not too close to plants that would be harmed. A sponge paint brush works well. I will soon be ridding my azaleas of honeysuckle; I am just waiting for them to finish blooming. I also moved into a very neglected garden. At least it is a garden with many, many plants. I am spending this spring just watching and waiting to see what all I have.

  • esh_ga

    I agree that Brush-b-Gone is the better product for woody vines (but many people refer to "round up" generically as any herbicide). I think the brand Round up also introduced a "woody vine" herbicide this year.

    vsjo's suggestion of cutting and then painting the stump is a good one when pulling is not an option. Annual control for 2-3 years (either pulling or spraying) will allow you to gain the upper hand; it is just not really possible to get it all in one year when existing plants must be considered. As long as you accept that it will take several years, you can tackle it with gusto.

    And obviously you are not alone! We have tons of honeysuckle too; one neighbor walked by as I was tackling the huge mound over the utility box and commented that it would "just come right back". Today that spot is beautiful shrub bed and I just hand pull the one or two sprouts that try to come back. The roots should run out of energy eventually!

    Different vines may need different approaches - search the web about the best ways to deal with english ivy as it has a waxy leaf that is very resistant to sprays.

  • eddie_ga_7a

    For a large vine you can cut it but leave a long piece to bend down and pin to the ground with the cut end immersed in a plastic cup with Roundup that has been buried level with the ground. This works for bigger stubborn vines like kudzu.

  • quirkyquercus

    Eddie, I haven't thought to do that. How long do you leave the herbicide in the cup for?

  • mairenn

    i saw someplace that for a great big poison ivy vine you can duct tape a milk jug full of weedkiller on to it. i am planning to try it - vine up a dead tree, the vine's about one of my fists thick, so i'm going to duct tape the jug to the tree. even if the tree were still alive, i think the duct tape would hurt it less than the poison ivy vine. the trick with a live tree would be making sure only the vine went into the milk jug, so you didn't get herbicide into the tree. I'll let you know how it comes out!

  • eddie_ga_7a

    I would leave the herbicide for as long as it takes, maybe a week or two.
    Another trick is to put on a pair of rubber gloves then put cotton gloves over that, dip your fingertips in Roundup and go out and gently touch the vines you want to get rid of that are entertwined with the plants you want to keep. It doesn't take much Roundup to do the job but you may want to add a bit of liquid detergent as a sticking agent. This may not be practical for you but I had a large bed of English ivy and the way I got rid of it was to scorch it with a flamethrower. There may be an article about this on my website.

  • eddie_ga_7a

    I can't believe I didn't think of this till now - There is a product that comes in a bottle like a ketchup dispenser and you simply squirt a little of the goo on the vine and it kills it. This product is called vine-x. You can google it and don't forget the dash.
    (I had to slightly change the Subject line above so the system would allow me to make two posts in a row)

  • girlgroupgirl

    Eddie is right about the round up in a cup. I did this over a year ago and that clump of kudzu neer did come back. Sucks it up like a straw, especially when it gets dry.

    I bought some weird "off brand" of killz all today from Rex nursery. The guy there said it is pretty potent.

    I've also read that you can get rid of the big vines of poison ivy by using huge needles (I saw some at the feed store) and injecting the vines. My only fear would be juice squirting out of the vine as I'm shoving the needle into it. But I'd love to try it. I have two trees with very thick vines on them. I spray the foliage but it comes back the next year...


  • agnespuffin

    The problem with vines like honeysuckle is that the roots are EVERYWHERE! So until you get ALL of the root, it will keep coming back. Everytime you see a new sprout, spray or paint it with a brush killer. Eventually enough will go down to kill all of the root. Then birds will bring back new seeds and you can do it all over again.

  • theconstantgardeners

    I found this entire thread VERY helpful. It also gave me allot of hope.
    We are going through a very similar situation. Kudzu and honeysuckle are our biggest foes,....and from what I've gathered,...combining the right methods and little stubborness can get you a long way. Good luck.

  • littlemissgreenthumb

    I remember reading on a thread here once that the little floral stem water things were great for this. Probably easier to use than a cup, plus no digging and pinning. Just get some from a florist, fill them up, cut a stem and pop it on. Best yet, no spills, no waste!

  • valcritter

    Can't identify this vine but you have to dig the bulb out and it may be attacted to many other bulbs. They look like yams and have a small amount of single roots coming out of the bulbs. The vine grows up to 20' in oak trees.
    For the other vines, Virginia creeper, I simply cut the vine and paint with the vine killer. That method doesn't work for the"yam" vine.
    Can anyone shed some light on this vine??

  • girlgroupgirl

    Your vine is smilax and it is native. Yes, it forms a bulb and you must get the bulb out completely to stop the vine. No "kill" will work on it. I find it very annoying but have dug them out and rid my yard of them.


  • esh_ga

    There are some smilax that don't form tubers, they just end in a knot. One thing I've been able to figure out is that if they end in a tuber, the base of the vine has dozens of tiny thorns, going right down into the ground. Soak the area before digging and be prepared to follow the vine through a few twists and turns. I've dug up ones that looked like baking potatoes! Supposedly the Native Americans ate them (but don't try it on my say-so).

    The one that ends in a knot is very bamboo looking (lustrous smooth green stems), with fewer (but bigger) thorns. The knot sends in shoots in several directions, so you may reach the knotty root from several vines. The underground roots have nodes, also very much similar to bamboo.

    I am blessed to have both species in my yard! Plus there a third one with very large thorns and a mottled stem. Not sure about it's root system yet ....

  • sispl1

    good advice. I have invasive honeysuckle on my land. trying to keep at bay what is creeping into the yard and the edge yard beds, the back woods has a bad case. My son whacks away at them as he can to try and keep them from choking out trees, but what a job. Will try the round up though I am normally organic; but this just isn't getting it. I figure it is not so horrid as the stuff was never supposed to be here in the first place. Deer eat some poison ivy but not enough. I like the straw like idea, but instead of a cup a bottle. more enclosed and easier to keep in I think. Those small flower reservoirs might not be enough to kill them all. Still think pulling them out helps some.

  • caseyf

    Try the Brush B Gone or RoundUp poison ivy control both control triclophor(sp) and it kills kudzu.poison ivy etc.More effective than just round up alone. A mix ofboth chemicals.. the glyco.in roundupand the try. workswell.. Thats why the round up poison ivy control is more effective than justroundup on some things. Good luck. I have a battle with an 1100 ft fenceline with a neighbor who had poison ivy, kudzu,honeysuckle, vitgina creeper etc and NEVER does anything about it.

  • Jolyn ReBecca Snider

    I have a vine on my entire property that has nasty thorns on it. The leaves are heart shaped and some of the roots ie:tubers are enormous. We've cut down old vines that are the diameter of my thumb. HOW do we eradicate this vine without digging every single tuber out. I'm talking bushels and bushels of these tubers from 7 acres of property. Somewhere I read some vines are edible for salads and the tubers can be dried for a starch flour. Any help would be appreciated. If anyone WANT the tubers... email me and we can make arrangements but bring a pickup truck.

    Note: Round up is not an option. We have a organic farm in NY and NY has a law that banns Round Up.

  • atl_veggie

    sounds like y'all are getting paid to sell weed killer

    a big kudzu vine is a lot easier to get rid of than a lot of little ones,

    just cut off the crown an it is history - that easy

    Jolyn, your vine sounds like smilax, supposedly the tubers are edible, I tried and find them extremely fiborous and bitter

    if you don't want to dig you can cut or mow where you can get to them, it will take a while, a long while, to deplore the storage roots, but eventualy the plant will die

  • joredford

    jolyn ,roundup is not banned in NY I buy it all the time. I have 200 feet by 30 feet of vines where do I start?

  • Buford_NE_GA_7A

    I'm trying to eradicate honey suckle, smilax (cat brier) and other invasive vines/plants from my yard. I applied the PI Roundup yesterday. I don't like to use RU, but this is getting ridiculous. I also have privet and some kind of plant that is coming up everywhere. A woody 'tree' like plant that spreads underground. I pull what I can, especially the seedlings, but now I'm trying to kill the source.

  • tealtealblue


    VInes in Michigan

  • Tim Givemeenergy

    @tealtealblue... Virginia creeper vine- careful it usually grows near poison ivy... which is funny because the Cherokee used their leaves to make a salve to cure poison ivy! As far as vine control, it depends if you have trees in the same area what chemicals you might choose. On good method is get old carpet removed from a house (it is permeable to allow water in but nothing can grow through) then cover that with pinestraw for better appearance! I use carpet in between rows in my blueberry patch, works like a charm and can usually find large free volumes on craigslist!

  • robertnixon

    I live in Oklahoma City and am over run with a vine called cocculus carolinus. I am wondering if there is any way to get rid of it.... how many years can it live without being planted again from seed...I have tried cutting the stem and painting with brush killer and that doesn't work very well either.. I am looking for ideas... RobertNixon at cox dot net

  • PRO
    Bailey Construction & Landscape Group, Inc

    Be careful when using products like roundup all the time because they can saturate the ground and contaminate the soil so that nothing will grow there. We have many customers that have had this issue with their lawns and grass will now no longer live. if that happens, you have to replace the soil. There are several alternatives to chemical weed killers like mixing vinegar, salt and dawn dish detergent believe it or not. You can also use baking soda and sometimes cornmeal. Yes, that sounds a little crazy, but you won't completely fry your yard and it's pretty inexpensive.

  • atl_veggie

    interesting, am I the only one here not running about with a spraybottle of poison but a shovel and a steak knife?

    it took me a while to dig and cut (almost) all kudzu on my property below the crown, serrated knife works best, once it has to start from scratch it is easy to control
    Smilax is not as easy to kill but will get weaker every time you cut it, when the ground is wet, pull up seedlings, separate the vine from the tuber and they are done
    honeysuckle is annoying but easy to pull up, poison ivy is even more annoying and bigger, take an axe or saw to big vines climbing trees and pull up roots as possible, it will vanish eventually
    the only thing you can keep at bay but not make go away is English ivy, but if you pull up serious ammounts and feed it through a chipper it will make great hot compost

    my property in Duluth is surrounded by overgrown plots, but mine is fairly vine-free

  • barbjean1213

    These suggestions are very helpful! I have a problem with a red and green vine full of stickers.

    This vine is taking over my yard. I've tried weed killer but it doesn't do very good. Does anyone know the name of this vine or how to get rid of it. I live in south Mississippi.

  • atl_veggie

    your description is a bit scetchy, look up smilax, here they come with green and red foliage

    and then clip and dig, dig, dig

  • barbjean1213

    Thank you for responding. I have come to believe that it is a wild blackberry vine, but it's popping up all over the place.

  • apprenticegardener

    Cover the shrubs with a plastic paint cloth (cheap and light) on a windless day. Weight the corners of the cloth down with rocks. Nuke the viney stuff with Roundup. Wait an hour or so. Remove and dispose of the cloth. Repeat as needed. Some folks use a trimmer to remove the leaves first and wait until new leaves start to emerge. Keep at it.

  • killerv

    those blackberry vines are hard to get rid of, they popup everywhere in my yard

    I know a landscaper that mixes deisel fuel, roundup, and dawn soap in a sprayer. The soap helps the mixture stick to the leaves. he swears it will kill ivy and vines with one application.

  • Lenny Dutton-Williams

    We've moved into a new house which has been left for a few years....and there is a big vine in the tree next to our house (neighbors yard)....and the vine seems to have covered all the ground in our garden (on top and underneath too)...so of the vines are thick, like an inch thick, and hard like a branch...

    Someone help me too?

    We've been hacking them away with a pick axe...but it's exhausting (Atlanta heat!)

  • Lenny Dutton-Williams

    I tried to post some photos...but haven't been allowed? (Maybe because I am new?)

  • Shaylene Mans

    can anyone tell me which type of vine this is. Just moved into a clearly neglected yard. There are also the same leaves growing up through the grass toward the house. Would like to get rid of it all!

  • Diane Anderson

    Please remember advise from a few persons above about chemicals, their buildup overtime and...round up is made by monsanto corp who made agent orange that killed my husband 4 yrs ago after being exposed to it 40 yrs ago.

  • genevap

    We had a vine that did not flower but the leaves look like wisteria leaves. My husband removed the plant and found roots for several feet around the area. He dug up as many as he could get to at the time. We have a small yard and the roots are still spreading after well over a month and now new plants are coming up various places in our yard, even between bricks. We are concerned about our sidewalk and nearby lawn. What are the suggestions for this mess??? Please help us. Also, just curious, do you this think this is some type of no flowering wisteria if there is such a plant? It grows exactly like one. Thank you!

  • lenoregraham

    I too have wisteria vines that have covered my yard and even climbed up the outside of my house. My problem is that I have a creek on my property that runs into a large lake that is quite famous in Georgia. I don't want to contaminate the lake with poisons that would probably kill the occupants of the lake and potentially cause harm to humans as well.

    These vines have taken over. I plan on a winter attack since they are already starting to turn color for their dormant season. All suggestions will be greatly appreciated. H E L P

  • Namrata Suresh

    @lenny I currently have the same problem- what ended up helping?

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