I have some wall-climbing plants in my external wall, I believe those are ivies (clearly not sure, pic below). enter image description here

I neglected my terrace for some years and I want to clean it up. It involves removing those ivies. I already used some vinegar on the roots to kill it (seems like it worked a bit, considering how dead most of it looks).

This week, I tried to "physically" remove them : tear them from the wall, cut them from the roots and throw everything in the local landfill. Issue being, I couldn't remove them. They are too stuck onto the wall.

Do you have any advice on how to remove them with minimal damages to the wall ?

(Also, I know there are poison ivies... How can I identify if those are poisonous ?)

  • 1
    Ivy has specialized "stickers" that actually produce acid that digs holes into the wall. You are likely to be faced with the ivy actually gripping into little divots it has excavated. If you don't get good advice here, possibly the do-it-yourself type forums will give you some alternative advice.
    – Boba Fit
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 17:18
  • American and Asian Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans or Toxicodendron orientale, respectively)have three separate leaflets, roughly in the shape of bat wings; I do not see these in your photo.
    – Jurp
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 1:54
  • Just chiming in as a new contributor to give you personal insight. Here in rural Europe we have a ton of ivy growing on façades, the same kind as yours. Rest assured that it's not toxic - but it can be extremely hard to kill. My family recently acquired an old garden that was completely overrun with ivy. After cutting every vine to the ground, it grew back quickly. My dad used a tiller to remove the topsoil and some still grew back. People used to use roundup, but I strongly advise against (extremely harmful to the environment). Your best bet is to cut it, and cut any new shoots.
    – C. Crt
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 13:28
  • Hedera Helix, English Ivy, is moderately toxic if eaten. It only very rarely causes dermatitis/eczema in rare cases. It is not like poison ivies, which cause painful burns and blisters, but English Ivy has been known to cause rashes of dry skin etc in people who are susceptible to such things. To put this in perspective, kids run through English ivy in the UK all the time and no adult would think of stopping them because of this.
    – Dan
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 15:26
  • "I already used some vinegar on the roots to kill it" - I've found that it's much easier to remove when it is still "alive". When it dies it hardens (harder to detach from the wall) and becomes more brittle (breaks off in little pieces). When still alive you can usually detach one end without too much trouble and pull off lengths of the stuff.
    – MrWhite
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 21:29

2 Answers 2


Welcome to Gardening & Landscapes.

What you have there is Hedera Helix - plain old 'English" ivy and the bane of every Brit with an overgrown garden.

Killing the root will have very little effect upon this plant since each little root it throws out is capable of supporting quite a decent length of ivy.

I have no idea where you are from, but poison ivy looks very different to this 'regular' ivy and does not grow in the UK and Europe and seems limited to the Americas for some reason.

I have had to remove countless metres of this stuff in my life and the easiest place to start is at the stump that is buried in the soil and with a screwdriver, secateurs and a paint scraper , pull away a sizeable piece at a time. If you start at the stump, you are more likely to pull off a bigger length than starting at the top.

As you work upwards, you will probably pull off some sizeable chunks leaving only a few strands for you to use a paint scraper and a screwdriver to prize off the wall but do not leave any of the stalks in place since they can self propagate easily from half way up a wall.

Once you have removed all the stems/stalks there will probably be a few left over roots and if you allow them to dry for a few days, you can use a wire brush to get them off the stucco/render and then repaint it all with some gritty masonry paint.

Then all you have to do is keep cutting back any new shoots from the stump and your troubles will be over. I cannot imagine vinegar will assure a permanent death to this plant and if you are feeling big and strong, you can dig up the stump and root but it will be rather woody after being given so much room to expand.

This ivy is not toxic but there will be many little bugs living in amongst the leaf litter so wear gloves if you are squeamish and/or worried about damaging a nail.

Just make sure you remove all living stems from behind the shutter - the stems can sustain beyond 4m of growth in the dark. In my last house it had worked its way in via an air brick and then under my floorboards and popped up by the door to my lounge !

If you have a organic waste recycling system where you live, check with your council but in the UK, it is perfectly possible to put it in the Green Waste bins for hot composting by the councils.

  • Thanks for your advice ! I'll try it on my next free day.
    – Mouke
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 21:02
  • 1
    Killing ivy is like trying to kill Dracula. You aren't going to succeed
    – Valorum
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 22:30
  • Good thing it's not poison ivy - just thinking of dealing with it in that quantity makes me cringe. Urushiol can stick around for years and still be active. Commented May 21, 2023 at 23:41
  • Strictly speaking, English Ivy is in fact mildly toxic to humans, and in an unlucky few it can even cause contact dermatitis similar to (but not as severe as) that caused by Toxicodendron species. Commented May 22, 2023 at 1:21
  • If you're in an area where the herbicide triclopyr is legal, cut the ivy about 8 inches from the base of the vine, then paint the top of the stub and all sides down to the base. This WILL kill the vine. I've done it several times. Remember to wear gloves and, if possible, eye protection when working with triclopyr.
    – Jurp
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 1:56

Based on what I can see in the picture, this is Hedera helix, better known as ‘English ivy’. The general shape of the leaves and their clearly visible palmate veination combined with the climbing habit and the extremely strong attachment to the wall is rather distinctive. You can further confirm by watching for flowering in the late summer through to late autumn (the flowers are not highly noticeable, each one is tiny and pale yellowish-green, clustered in umbels a few centimeters across) and then fruiting in late winter (fruits are clusters of small berries, either purplish-black or orangish-yellow depending on the subspecies), as well as being evergreen throughout the winter.

Removal is covered well by Nikki’s answer so I will not repeat it here.

Hedera species are mildly toxic to humans. Contact is generally harmless, except for a small percentage of the population who are extremely sensitive to falcarinol. Affected individuals develop contact dermatitis, possibly severe but generally not debilitating, and may also be sensitive to carrots and ginseng (which also contain falcarinol).

For reference, Toxicodendron species (such as poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, but also including laquer trees and the South American manzanillo) are rather different. The leaves are pinnately compound (paired leaflets on opposing sides of the stem, possibly with a singular one at the end), typically with an odd number of leaflets with individual leaflets being of highly variable shape, and are almost never varigated. Toxicodendron species are also deciduous (even the vining species), the vining species typically have distinctively hairy vines, and the fruits are small white or gray berries (in general, if something has white berries, it’s almost certainly poisonous, the only notable exception to this rule is some varieties of gooseberry).

Additionally, if you are in Europe, it is highly unlikely you will encounter any of the vining Toxicodendron species, as they are not native and AFAIK have never been intentionally cultivated (unlike some of the trees in the genus, which unfortunately have been cultivated outside of their original range for ornamental purposes).

  • American poison ivy is actually quite a beautiful ground cover - excellent spring foliage color, fantastic scarlet fall foliage, graceful texture, and useful for hiding leggy trees. if only it didn't have that darned poison thing going for it :)
    – Jurp
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 2:01

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