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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Quick Guide: How to Remove Ivy and Replant a Small Slope
- 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.
- Lay out a tape measure to evenly space your new plants. For a slope, I recommend a nice evergreen ground cover like candytuft.
- Roll out some jute netting to hold the slope together. Wielding your trusty mallet, pound landscaping staples into the ground to hold the jute.
- Pack some more mud/dirt over the jute to hide it and build up the slope as needed.
- 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.)
- 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.