I have what seems to be Wild Grape Vines killing off my hedges. Is there any other recourse besides uprooting them all? Would clipping them down and spraying stump rot be another possibility?
The shortest answer is no. I have grape vines all over the property, and they will re-sprout from any stems underground, and from any roots thicker than 1/4" in diameter. The best method to remove them, in my experience, is to trim all excess vegetation in the hedge bushes 8" from the ground, down, with the crowns cleaned out, and cut everything else out to the ground level every few weeks. Tearing the roots out in moderation may help, but excessive digging will greatly weaken the hedge. This will be difficult at the beginning, but it looks great and well cared for when your done, and the vines underneath will eventually weaken due to the loss of photosynthesis. Also, putting a two foot wide strip of water-penetrable plastic down under each side of the hedge, leaving space for the bushes, and then adding a three inch layer of dyed wood chips helps greatly in keeping down weeds, and also looks great. Again, this is labor-intensive at the beginning, but eventually will come down to adding a new layer of mulch yearly, and cutting off all alien vegetation at ground level, plus the maintenance of the hedge itself.
Let me just say to begin: I... HATE... GRAPEVINE. While it's considered a decorative plant by many, for me it's become an insidious weed that resist my best efforts to eradicate it from my yard. I want to get rid of it because the previous homeowner didn't take care of it, and as a result its unchecked growth has resulted in my deck sprouting new shoots up between the boards all through the spring and summer, one of my fences having been systematically dismantled by vines creeping between structural members, and one of my trees looking like a scene from a haunted forest. It grows anywhere and everywhere it's allowed to, and except for a limited time during early summer when it flowers, it honestly doesn't look all that great (just a big green mess over whatever it's covering; with its 3-leaflet pattern it resembles poison ivy, and would you want THAT in your back yard?).
So, how to kill it. In the olden days, 2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T) mixed in fuel oil was recommended by the Forestry service to clear grapevine from tree stands. That's how hardy this stuff is, that you'd need to use the banned highly-toxic half of Agent Orange mixed with diesel fuel to have the best success. Weed-B-Gon (there are several formulations; look for ones containing 2,4-D and/or Triclopyr among the active ingredients) is effective at controlling young grapevine shoots and "beating back" overgrowth, but grapevine is "modular" enough that spraying it on outlying shoots will not kill the plant altogether. These chemicals are also uncommonly effective at killing "woody" plants, including grapevine but probably also the shrub they've infested.
The best solution I've found is physical dismemberment coupled with surgical herbicide use. To really kill it, you have to find the main root, sever it close to the ground, then poison what's left (otherwise the root will grow new shoots). So, I would recommend buying a concentrate product containing Triclopyr, cutting the vine off about 2 to 3 inches above the ground, and then painting the concentrated mixture onto both sides of the cut vine. Also watch out for basal roots. Grapevine can throw one of these down wherever it touches earth, allowing that part of the plant to continue to thrive long after you've found and killed the main root system;
Once the vine has died off, you now have a bunch of ugly withered vine in your shrub. The temptation may be to simply rip it out. Don't do this if you value the shrub. Grapevine uses a combination of adhesive tendrils and a twisty vine growth to attach itself to its climbing frame (be that another plant, a fence or trellis, or a brick wall). The adhesive remains long after the plant has died, and the vine itself is uncommonly sturdy. The best way to remove it is to cut it out. With a pair of pruning shears (and maybe a pair of bypass loppers for the heavier cuts) sever every Y-joint in the vine's structure that you can see, before gently but firmly pulling these disconnected pieces out. Never yank; if it doesn't lift out, cut away what you've been able to physically remove from the shrub and then go back in to pull more of it out.
If you are patient enough to do it, I think its worth going through with a pair of small hand pruners (Fishers makes a very small pair for indoor floral work) and cutting free the tendrils wrapped around stalks of shrubs and branches. If you DON'T do this, they dry & harden and become more difficult to remove, often cutting into the soft tissue/bark of young branches and disfiguring/impairing it's growth.
For harder trees like oaks they dry out and can usually be ripped off later, but younger plantings not so much. That along with the herbicide on the stems close to the ground should knock them out.
If your soil is soft after a rain, I have had plenty of success tearing out extensive roots. That usually means it's permanently removed, or at least gone for that season. Birds LOVE those grapes, and trust me, they will be back if you live in any sort of rural setting.
Lastly, if you have land, go ahead and leave some wild grape growing where is doesn't matter. For example, I have huge patches of Phragmites where the Wild grape shades it out, and provides food for birds.
Wild grapevine is a highly aggressive invasive plant that smothers and kills all plant life it covers. I've tried spraying RoundUp on the leaves but it doesn't really seem to do much. Have been told by an arborist to find the "mother root" and cut one root stem, leaving a 3' length. Fill a wide mouth jug (old juice or laundry bottle should work) with RoundUp or other toxic liquid and jam the 3' root into the bottle, tape it up securely with duct tape and leave it. The root should absorb this liquid and hopefully kill a good portion of the plant. I have yet to do this myself as I'm trying to tackle this plant by cutting, pulling and digging up the roots.
- Tie a ribbon around the neck of each vine you wish to eliminate
- Each time small cousins come to visit, get them out there and show how to rub off the shoots.
- Each time they rub off a multiple of 5 they get to say "WooHoo" and then the number.
- If the number is not divisible by 5 then they get pelted with dead leaves.
- If the number is divisible by 5 and someone pelts them with dead leaves then they get pelted instead.
- The older the cousins, the more advanced the arithmetic.
You keep your vines under control, they learn arithmetic.
I have one acre of mature trees and three acres of a young woodlands that was a field when I moved in 20 years ago. 20 years ago I attacked every vine (grapevine, poison ivy, etc.) with shears and round up with great success. Then about 10 years ago mid-Michigan suffered an Emerald Ash Borer invasion. I've since been ignoring the ivy and dealing with dead ash trees. Last fall I returned my attention to vine growth on my property and found it has gone crazy. I waited until winter was here to better identify the vines, and have spent about 4 weeks ripping out 10 thousand feet (20 thousand feet? More?) of vines. I know I have not eradicated every vine. I still have a lot of work to do. I think that next fall, I will reintroduce Round Up to my routine. It's a lot of work doing forestry maintenance on my property, but it's worth it having a park for a backyard. After the vines are brought to heel, I need to start on the thorn bushes and thickets of wild raspberries.