One of the worst issues affecting our home landscapes are weeds.

In short, the strict definition of a weed is a plant growing where it is not wanted. With the recent rains, weeds have become quite problematic and require constant vigilance for control. One of the most troublesome are weedy vines. They can take over desirable plants rapidly and are challenging to remove.

Many species of vines can be troublesome such as greenbrier, poison ivy, kudzu, Japanese honeysuckle, Virginia creeper, English ivy, crossvine, to name a few. Some, like the English ivy, have ornamental values and are planted widely. Sometimes people purchase properties where these vines are out of control or neglect the ones they currently own. They are rambling through flower beds, growing up trees and shrubs, and climbing up anything they can hold them.

The implementation of a multitude of tactics can bring these vines under control. In some cases, try maintaining the one you want to remove. English ivy and cross vines can be brought under control where they can serve as ornamentals. Many of these vines can take years to become problematic. Even kudzu takes a long time to take over a tree canopy.

Ask yourself the following questions: What will replace the green mass when it’s gone? Is the vine really ‘that big of a problem?’ Can it be brought down to a manageable size if pruned?

If you’re adamant about removing the plant, there are two ways to do

it: physically or with herbicides. The effort of pulling up the vine will vary with the plant. A well-established wisteria can be hard to remove, requiring the use of heavy equipment. Poison ivy can be hazardous due to its ability to cause skin irritation. Others can be easily removed, such as cross vines and Virginia creeper.

If you’re not opposed to using herbicides, combining the two control measures can be the best plan of attack. Many vines, such as wisteria, kudzu, and English ivy, can be partially controlled. Cut the vines a few inches above the ground and painting the freshly cut stem with Roundup or one that contains the active ingredient triclopyr, such as Bio-Advanced Brush Killer Plus, Ortho Brush-B-GON Poison Ivy and Brush Killer, or others. Please follow all label directions when using pesticides.

To the cut stem near the ground, apply an herbicide with a paintbrush right after you cut it. The degree of control will depend on the time of year (fall is better) and the plant species. If the vine starts to regrow, wait until the shoots are 6 to 12 inches long, then treat. Some vines can be controlled by painting Roundup on the leaves while carefully avoiding touching the desirable plant. Several Roundup wipe products are available for this purpose.

Many weedy vines are troublesome, and their control presents a challenge for caring for the home landscape. With some persistence, these weeds can be kept out of your desirable plants.

Timothy Daly is an Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension Agent with UGA Extension Gwinnett.


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