How to Remove Ivy and Replant a Small Slope

If I had a time machine, I would use it to stop the idiot who brought English ivy to the new world.

Here’s a small, semi-reasonable patch of ivy holding the ground together next to the driveway in my front yard. It has to go.

Small slope full of English ivy

Farther in the background you can see just a tiny slice of my ivy nightmare in the backyard. Eventually I killed that off, too, but I tackled this small patch first.

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Old-Fashioned Muscle and Leather Gloves

At this point in my ivy removal process, I hadn’t gotten very sophisticated. I started with nothing but old-fashioned muscle and a pair of leather gloves, ripping out every green and woody branch of ivy down to the root.

This was a dirty mess. I strained my back as I fought the decades-old roots until they finally released their grasp on this little stretch of land. Side note: I won’t be needing a gym membership. Ever.

Muscle works for small patches like this. If you have a bigger ivy problem, check out my tutorial for removing large amounts of ivy with solarization.

Erosion Control Ideas for a Small Slope

My next concern was holding that slope together to prevent the driveway from caving in. No big deal.

First I had to replace the ivy with some new greenery to take root. I laid out a tape measure so I could evenly space four candytuft plants. I love these plants. They stay green all year, they never seem to need any attention after they’re established and every spring they produce an abundance of little white flowers. I dug four holes near the top of the slope so they could drape over the edge and spread to fill in the lower section.

Using jute on a small slope

I rolled out jute to help hold the slope together until the plants could take root. Then I cut it to size with holes for the plants and used a mallet to pound in landscaping staples to keep the jute in place. Eventually the jute will disintegrate, but in the meantime it will prevent erosion while the plants grow.

Pine needle mulch on a small slope

Next I built up the slope with more dirt to hide and pack in the jute, followed by pine needles harvested from my side yard, where the trees provide a generous, sustainable supply. Pine needles intertwine and tend not to wash away, so I added them to provide extra strength to the slope. I took some extra measures because that angle looks awfully precarious to me, and I like having a driveway.

Beautify With Mulch

Finally I spread some black mulch and added fresh gravel around the base, then took this photo and admired my work. Tara: 1. Ivy: 0. We’ll meet again in the backyard.

Slope with candytuft flowers and new black mulch

Below there’s a sneak peek at the slope three years later. The candytuft filled in the space so I don’t have to freshen up the mulch very often, and check out the flowers greeting me every spring. Did I mention that I love candytuft?

Slope full of candytuft flowers
Candytuft after three years

Quick Guide: How to Remove Ivy and Replant a Small Slope

  1. Rip that ivy out, whether by brute force with your leather gloves, or with the help of a shovel. Get to the root, dump it in your yard debris bin and bid it adieu.
  2. Lay out a tape measure to evenly space your new plants. For a slope, I recommend a nice evergreen ground cover like candytuft.
  3. Roll out some jute netting to hold the slope together. Wielding your trusty mallet, pound landscaping staples into the ground to hold the jute.
  4. Pack some more mud/dirt over the jute to hide it and build up the slope as needed.
  5. Optional: add pine needle mulch if you have it, for a little extra hold. (Note: some plants don’t like the acidity of pine needles. My candytuft didn’t mind it.)
  6. Finish up with a pretty mulch and rocks or gravel at the base as desired. Drink a margarita and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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