Removing ivy has its advantages and disadvantages.
Ivy flowers relatively late in the year and so is an important source of pollen. It is popular habitat for wildlife. Birds like to nest in it. According to the RSPB, peak nesting season is from March to August. It is illegal to disturb an active bird nest. Because of this, any work involving established ivy or trees with established ivy in them should ideally take place from September to February, while still taking care not to disturb active nests.
In an urban setting there are some important reasons for keeping ivy under control, and removing established ivy from trees. The most important reason is safety. Owners are required by law to ensure that people are not at risk from trees in their care. Established ivy makes it difficult to spot potentially dangerous defects in a tree. For example a tight union with included bark and decay, or a large cavity.
Another important reason for removing ivy is that it can be bad for the health of the tree. This is partly because established ivy in its arboreal form can compete with the tree’s leaves for sunlight. It can kill off whole branches and eventually the tree. It can also start to strangle the tree, eventually damaging the bark. Removing ivy from a tree can therefore give it a new lease of life. It will also make the tree seem less overbearing, and allow more light into nearby gardens and buildings.
The owners of the flats in the photo below asked us how we could give them more light. They also wanted to keep a screen from the road and flats across the road. There were three trees: two sycamores and one lime tree. All three trees had grown back from a previous pollard (heavy reduction, done by someone else). Both sycamores had established ivy. One of the sycamores was very close to the building. So the customer agreed with our proposal to:
- remove by dismantling the sycamore nearest the house.
- remove the ivy from the other sycamore.
- thin out the regrowth at the previous reduction points, i.e. the pollard points, on the remaining two trees.
Here is the result:
We can also remove ivy from walls and buildings, up to a certain height and with the right access.
If you’ve liked our work removing ivy, and you would like to discuss how we can help with your trees, hedges, or climbing plants, please get in touch.