English Ivy Removal

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English ivy

WMTP Tree Protection Project

English Ivy Removal From Local Trees

Hands-on Campaign to Urgently Remove English Ivy That Threatens Thousands of Local Trees


Thousands of mature healthy trees locally are threatened with premature death by English ivy and its variant Atlantic/Boston ivy. (For simplicity, we’ll only write “English ivy” below.)
English ivy is not native to the Pacific Northwest but thrives here — especially along the edges of parks, trails, Greenways, open spaces, and roads.
Many home and commercial sites also have extensive amounts of English ivy. For decades English ivy has been sold and promoted by nurseries and landscapers as a quick, easy groundcover solution since it’s so aggressive! Little did they realize the huge negative implications of that!
Here’s the problem: While rapidly spreading on the ground, English Ivy opportunistically climbs the trunks of any tree in its path and becomes a slow, silent tree killer. Every tree burdened with English Ivy will prematurely die in a small number of years — no exceptions!

Our 3-Year (2023-2025) Ivy Removal Goal

a) Save at least 80% of the English ivy-threatened trees within Bellingham, Ferndale, Blaine, Lynden, and in Whatcom County parks.

b) Educate local landowners about English ivy to help them save hundreds of more trees throughout Whatcom County.

Our results to date:
WMTP has saved more than 1,000 trees from premature death from English ivy!

For current progress & locations, see our cool interactive map!
English ivy removal from mature trees is a very direct, positive climate action to ensure our local trees can continue to provide carbon capture, habitat support, cooling and flood mitigation, and other climate resiliency benefits that are increasingly essential in our new climate era.
Click any link below to see each facet of WMTP’s locally-unprecedented English ivy removal effort:

English Ivy Mapping

WMTP Volunteers with “ivy eyes” have been walking local parks, Greenways, neighborhoods, roadways and right-of-ways to find clusters of English ivy on trees.
To date we’ve located over 2,500 mature trees that are threatened by ivy, as you can see in our awesome Ivy Removal Progress Map. It’s interactive — click to zoom in and look around!
English Ivy Removal Map for Whatcom County | Whatcom Million Trees Project
This map and its linked database helps us to monitor our progress, plan future work parties, and know where to periodically re-check trees to ensure English ivy has not returned onto them.
Now we are filling in data gaps and working outward with our mapping effort. For example, we are starting to canvas Whatcom County parks, a process will continue into 2024. We suspect we’ll map thousands more affected mature trees over time within Whatcom County.
Know of an ivy-burdened tree cluster we haven’t mapped yet? Please contact us, stating the approximate location and quantity of affected trees! (Here are simple steps to copy/paste a map pin of the ivy’s location from your phone.)

Ivy Removal Work Parties

Since mid-2022 (except during late Fall-Winter, our tree planting season) we’ve held near-weekly WMTP work parties to remove English ivy from mature trees. Typically 15-25 volunteers armed with hand clippers and loppers work enthusiastically and satisfyingly to save these trees.
Ivy Removal Work Party | Whatcom Million Trees Project
Join us at one of these fun ivy removal events! It’s easy, all-ages work (no tree climbing or special skills needed) As a bonus, you’ll learn how to clear ivy properly from your own yard, too!

WMTP Guide to English Ivy Removal

After much research and field testing, our proven English ivy removal technique is very effective and is relatively easy too! It’s useful not only for WMTP work parties but for individuals to remove English ivy from trees in their yards. Download our one-page WMTP English Ivy Removal Steps PDF for the step-by-step details.
In a nutshell, we carefully remove English ivy on each tree trunk from shoulder height down. All higher strands will die and fall off over several months.
We also clear English ivy in a 6′ diameter on the ground around each tree’s base, giving the tree at least a few years before English ivy may climb again. (In public spaces, later waves of work parties by us or others will push English ivy even further away from the tree trunks.)
Ivy cuttings are “air-composted” on-site on top of other ground ivy and bushes, if possible. Otherwise, it’s bagged and removed for curbside pickup and industrial composting at Green Earth Technology in Lynden. (Note: Most home composters will not fully kill ivy.)

Community Education About English Ivy

Most people locally don’t realize that English ivy will prematurely kill virtually every tree it climbs. To build greater awareness, WMTP continues to give ivy-removal presentations in local libraries, neighborhood associations, clubs, and other venues. Plus we feature it often in our social media and in news media coverage.
Want us to speak to your group? Please ask us — we’ll be happy to!
We also have a home-printable English Ivy Mailbox Flyer that you can give to a neighbor (or slip into their mailbox or door frame) who you notice has English ivy threatened trees.
English Ivy Mailbox Flyer | Whatcom Million Trees Project
Most homeowners can remove English ivy themselves or with minimal guidance from WMTP. Go Ivy Teams!

Local Nursery Advocacy

Many local nurseries (retail or wholesale) still SELL English ivy! We are holding discussions to persuade them to no longer sell English ivy and to instead suggest to customers native alternatives for ground cover. Note that such a switch will create NO revenue loss to a nursery — in fact, a nursery may gain revenue because more seedlings of less aggressive alternative ground cover might be purchased!

Will No Longer Sell English Ivy:

Still Needs Convincing:

My Garden, Bellingham
Fred Meyer (both stores)
Home Depot, Bellingham
Van Wingerden Greenhouses, Blaine
Vander Giessen Nursery, Lynden
Christiansen’s Nursery (Skagit)

Note: Don’t see your favorite nursery above? That’s because they didn’t sell English ivy previously.

Please help with this advocacy effort. The next time you visit your favorite nursery, kindly ask the staff to no longer sell it! If they have already agreed to do that, as shown above, let them know you appreciate that decision and then reward them with your business! And spread the word to your friends and neighbors.

Statewide Nursery No-Sell List

We want to compel unconvinced local nurseries — in fact, ALL nurseries throughout Washington state — to no longer sell English ivy. English ivy causes millions of dollars of damage in Washington, negatively impacting virtually every community’s climate resiliency. Yet nurseries are STILL allowed to sell English ivy while other invasives cannot be sold.

Here’s who decides what any nursery can or cannot sell in our state: the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA).

Please sign our petition urging the WSDA to add English ivy & Atlantic/Boston ivy to their Prohibited Plants and Seeds List.
Advocacy to Save Trees | Whatcom Million Trees Project
The WSDA list prohibits nurseries and other stores in Washington from selling harmful plant species. Every Spring, an obscure committee within the WSDA considers additions to the list. At that time, we will present our petition signatures and testify in-person to the Board. It may take a few tries until we succeed, but we’ll persist and intend to succeed!

Volunteer Opportunities

Want to join any of our cool tree-saving efforts above? Please let us know!
Want to volunteer in a future WMTP ivy removal work party? Meet other tree-lovers, enjoy fresh air, have fun, and contribute to a an important cause. Please join our work party contact list!

Related Links/Resources

WMTP’s English Ivy Removal Progress in Whatcom County
English Ivy Removal Steps
English Ivy Mailbox Flyer for Neighbors
Petition to Prohibit the Sale of English Ivy in Washington State

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Whatcom Million Trees Project

Bellingham, WA, USA
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