Vines in trees
Vines in trees

Vines are an invasive plant that often cause problems with the health of your trees.  English ivy and other vines growing up the trunk and branches can choke off and eventually kill the host tree.  Additionally, in severe cases they may inhibit photosynthesis by blocking sunlight.  Vines add tremendous weight, especially when accompanied by ice and can break off branches or even contribute to toppling the tree over.

Vines trap moisture against the bark, creating an environment for decay, fungus and insect infestation.  Moreover, they make visual inspection of the trunk harder.  This can hide stress cracks, decay, cavities, fungus, and other health or structural problems.

Vines-covering-cavity-smaller
Cavity exposed under vines

How should you get the vines off your tree?  Glad you asked.  If you don’t do it the right way, you might cause even more problems.  A
common approach is to cut the vines near the base of the tree and simply pull the vines out.  But vines, by their very nature, tend to wrap around and cling to whatever they can get a hold of.  Pulling and tugging at recently cut vines tends to break branches and even pull bark off the tree.  Plus, it’s not an easy task to accomplish.

The recommended method is to cut out a two-foot section of the vines at the base of the tree.  This will cause the vine to die and prevent the bottom section from fusing back to the upper part.  With time, the vine will completely die and flake off the tree.  Once you’ve done this, it’s important to be diligent about keeping the vines from growing back up the trees.