How to Kill Vines

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How to Kill Vines

Three Methods:Removing the Vines ManuallyUsing Non-Toxic Materials to Kill the VinesApplying a Systemic HerbicideCommunity Q&A

Removing vines from your garden can be challenging, but there are many different strategies to try! You can kill vines by cutting them down and removing their root systems, or by smothering them with mulch. Vinegar and boiling water are also good, non-toxic options for getting rid of vines. For stubborn, persistent vines, use a systemic herbicide to attack the roots and destroy them for good!


Removing the Vines Manually

  1. 1
    Cover up to protect your skin from the vines. Some species of vines, such as English ivy, may cause irritation to your skin. Protect yourself by wearing long sleeves, pants, and shoes to cover your skin when you handle vines. You should also wear thick gardening gloves.[1]

    • Proper attire may also protect you from scratches and bug bites while you work.
  2. 2
    Pry away climbing vines from trees or buildings with a sturdy, flat tool. To avoid damage to the trees or other surfaces they are clinging to, remove vines by using a long, flat object to pry it away. Gently insert a screwdriver, crowbar, or similar tool between each vine and the surface it is clinging to. Slowly pull the vine up and away.[2]

    • If you are removing vines from a tree, pull them off slowly to avoid damaging the tree’s bark.
  3. 3
    Cut away vines with pruning shears or a pruning saw. Cut off climbing vines at a height of 3–5 feet (0.91–1.52 m). Remove the vines underneath the cut, leaving the top parts to eventually die off without a connection to their root system. Use pruning shears or a razor tooth pruning saw to sever the vines, depending on their thickness.[3]

    • Dispose of all vine cuttings right away as new plants can grow easily from cut stems.
  4. 4
    Pull or dig the base of the vines out of the ground by hand. If the vine is still fairly small, you should be able to track down the roots. Pull the roots out by hand or use a shovel or trowel to dig the root system out completely. Remove the underground roots, bulbs, and tubers completely to effectively kill the vines.[4]

    • For best results, do this when the soil is moist and soft. You will be able to move more of the dirt around this way, giving you better access to the root system.
    • Note that you might need to dig out vine seedlings regularly for a few months or years to keep the problem under control.
  5. 5
    Mow vines growing on the ground to kill them easily. Groundcover vines can be controlled by cutting them down with a lawn mower. Use a gas-powered machine that will be powerful enough to cut through tough vines instead of just rolling over them. Doing this at least 3-4 times a year will slowly kill the spreading vine.[5]

    • Electric or rotary mowers are more likely to run over vines than to cut them.
    • If you want to reduce the hard labor of killing vines, this is the best option to try.


Using Non-Toxic Materials to Kill the Vines

  1. 1
    Smother the vine with mulch. Vines require light, water, and air to survive and grow. Cover the vine with mulch, which is made up of any materials you can use to cover the area where the vines grow. Cover the area thoroughly to deprive the vines of enough light, sun, and air to kill them off within a few weeks.[6]

    • Try to use biodegradable mulch materials like grass cuttings, tree bark, old newspaper, or dead leaves so that they can decompose into the soil after killing the vines.
    • Alternatively, you can cover the vines with plastic sheeting. This will rob the plant of oxygen and build up intense heat, which is likely kill off the vine after a few weeks.
  2. 2
    Spray the vines with a vinegar mixture. Fill a spray bottle or garden sprayer with a mixture of 80% water and 20% white vinegar. Douse the vines with the mixture. Check their condition after 2-3 days and pull out any dead vines. Repeat the process if necessary.[7]

    • Be careful to avoid spraying other plants with the mixture.
  3. 3
    Pour boiling water onto the root crown of the vines. Cut away the bulk of the surface vines with pruning shears and discard them. Use a shovel or trowel to dig into the ground until you reach the vine root. Pour 3–4 cups (0.71–0.95 L) of boiling water directly onto the top of the root system, where the roots meet the base of the plant. [8]


Applying a Systemic Herbicide

  1. 1
    Buy a triclopyr herbicide to kill thick, woody vines. Systemic herbicides enter the vines’ circulatory system through their leaves, then kill off their roots. Use a triclopyr herbicide, the strongest type of systemic herbicide, to kill vines that are strong and thick. This will penetrate the tough exterior of the vines easily.[9]

    • Buy herbicide at a local garden center or hardware store.
  2. 2
    Use a glyphosate herbicide to tackle herbaceous vines. Vines that are fine and plant-like can be removed with a milder systemic herbicide. Apply a glyphosate herbicide to the vine leaves to be absorbed into the circulatory system. Herbaceous vines are not as durable as woody vines and can be killed without need for a more intense poison.[10]
  3. 3
    Spray isolated vine leaves with systemic herbicide. If you are killing vine leaves on the ground or on a building that are not touching other plants, spray them with herbicide. Apply enough herbicide to completely wet the foliage of the vine. Avoid dousing the leaves enough to cause runoff onto the ground, which may damage the soil and the roots of nearby plants.[11]

    • Do not spray vines growing on trees or other plants.
    • It may take several weeks or months to kill the vines depending on their thickness and how developed their root system is.
    • Multiple applications may be necessary.
  4. 4
    Cover your other plants with plastic bags or plastic sheeting while you spray. Protect your garden from vine-killing chemicals by covering them completely with thick plastic. To protect their roots, cover the soil surrounding them as much as possible. Ground the plastic with large rocks, bricks, or stakes while you spray.[12]

    • Remove the plastic 2-3 hours after applying the herbicide.
  5. 5
    Cut away large vines and treat the stumps with herbicide. Larger, well-established vines are likely to be intertwined with other plants or firmly planted on building or trees. Cut away these vines with a pruning saw or shears and leave a 3–5 inches (7.6–12.7 cm) stump. Apply an undiluted triclopyr herbicide directly to the freshly cut stump.[13]

    • The treated stump should die within a week or 2 after the herbicide attacks the root system.

Community Q&A


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  • I’ve just moved into an abandoned house. It was left abandoned for five years, and the vines are pretty deep into the ground. How would I go about removing these the fastest way possible?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Cut the vines to the ground before clearing them since some vines have special pads that they attach to structures, which can cause damage to buildings if simply ripped off. They must be allowed to die before you attempt to remove them. Removing vines can be very labour intensive.

  • I have an invasive vine with white flowering trumpets that is enveloping my bushes. How do I combat this?
    wikiHow Contributor
    You likely have a species of morning glory or bindweed in your shrubs. Simply do your best pulling them out of the shrub by hand, and make sure you pull their roots out.

  • How can I clear 40 foot long wisteria runners and 40 year old wisteria stump without killing my grass?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Cut all of the vines at the ground to kill them. Remove any new sprouts that pop up until it is completely dead. If you want to remove the stump, you can attempt to dig it out with a shovel. Fill in the hole with topsoil and add grass seed if repairing a lawn.

  • How do I kill wild plant growing on one side of wall of terrace without harming the walls?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Cut the stem(s) of the plant at the ground. If it does not pull off easily, it may have adhesion pads, which means you should let the cut plant dry up and die before trying again to remove it.

  • Can I pour bleach on the root of a vine?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Do not pour bleach — it will burn the area around the weed. Simply make a solution of 2 lemons (juiced) and 1 cup vinegar mixed together in a spray bottle. Spray or pour that on the root to kill it.

  • I came home from the mountains to find my vinca almost completely smothered by a vine that stinks, wraps around everything, and has a ball shaped root. Can you tell me what it is?
    wikiHow Contributor
    It’s called stink vine. I’ve tried everything and nothing works. I’m going to try a product called CelsiusWD. It’s expensive, but worth a try.

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    Things You’ll Need

    Physically Removing the Vines

    • Gloves
    • Protective clothing
    • Trowel or shovel
    • Pruning shears or pruning saw
    • Lawn mower

    Using Non-Toxic Materials to Kill the Vines

    • Mulch
    • Plastic sheeting
    • Vinegar
    • Boiling water

    Using a Systemic Herbicide

    • Systemic herbicide (glyphosate or triclopyr)
    • Plastic bags or sheeting
    • Rocks or bricks
    • Pruning saw or shears


    • Do not put vine cuttings in your compost pile as they will take root and grow there.
    • Clean your tools with rubbing alcohol after using them.

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