There’s something about a vine-clad home or vine-draped garden that conveys a sense of country comfort and charm and a lush green Ivy trellis or colourful Wisteria can boost your home’s appeal if it’s kept in isolation and well-maintained. Unfortunately though, most vines are invasive or destructive and can overrun gardens and surrounding areas like a spreading disease, choking out native plants and trees, destroying soil nutrients and even damaging structures!
Unless you are an avid gardener (or employ one), vines can quickly become a tangled nightmare, so it’s a good idea to make a decision as to whether you’re going to put in the hard work to keep your vines, or have them removed. If you’ve decided on vine removal, there are a number of ways to do it, such as:
Pulling up young vines
If the problem vine is very young, it can be effective to simply pull them up by the roots. This method is not guaranteed, as it only works on very immature plants that are just getting established or those that have not laid down tubers or bulbils. If you try this, it’s very important to bag up and remove any plant material you pull up, as the vine can re-establish itself via contact with the ground (see below), dropped seeds or bulbs.
Vines are true survivors, making the physical removal of them extremely difficult in most cases. Many people don’t realise that some vines grow aerial bulbils, which are plant buds that are used by the plant as a storage for food and look like little round tubers, potatoes or fleshy nuts growing along the vine’s length between the leaves and stems (in an area called the axel). Vines that develop bulbils are truly amazing – even if you sever their stem at ground level, they can actually live for up to two years by surviving on the nutrients from their bulbils! To make matters worse, if one of these vines are cut and the plant matter or bulbils maintain contact with the ground, they can re-develop a root system and usually grow more vigorously.
Consequently, if you’re going to attempt to remove a vine by hand, it’s very important to properly dispose of all plant material away from any soil. It’s also important to ensure that minimal disruption to the vine is caused, as shaking and pulling down vines will cause bulbils to drop to the ground and regrow. If you can’t avoid this, it’s a good idea to lay plastic sheeting or tarps down to collect any falling plant matter. Another problem with physical removal is that many vines have underground tubers that are extremely difficult to remove, so if this is not done thoroughly, the plant will just regrow.
Scrape and Paint with Herbicide
This is currently one of the best methods for removing vines where regrowth may be an issue, but it’s also a pain in the neck to do. The method involves cutting every single vine stem that’s growing from the soil, scraping the sides of each stem from the cut down – as well as up as far as possible – and then painting the exposed cuts and scrapes with herbicide. It’s best to complete this job in Summer or Autumn, as this ensures that the herbicide will be quickly taken up and distributed by the plant.
Leaf spraying with Herbicide
This method isn’t as effective as the scrape and paint method on many vines, but a few vines are quickly eliminated by spraying their leaves with herbicide. Another issue with leaf spraying is that it may kill other surrounding plants or host trees, of the vine is climbing a tree. If you choose this method, be sure to adhere to all safety advice on the herbicide’s label, as most herbicides are very toxic.
A new method of vine removal – for Madeira Vine specifically – has recently been discovered. The beetle species, Plectonycha correntina, kills Madeira Vines by devouring the leaves, thereby eliminating the vine’s ability to photosynthesise. This beetle has now been approved for release in Australia, so if you have a Madeira Vine, you can contact the weeds officer in your local council.
Call in a Professional
Finally, the absolute easiest method for removing vines is to call in a professional who can do it for you. If you’re hoping for a pain free and affordable solution to your vine problem, then contact the Canberra Tree Lopping team on (02) 6188 6019. You can sit back and relax while we get rid of your vine, then clean up afterwards.