Ivy

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Stravaig
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I think I read somewhere that ivy should be hacked back. Just reclaimed our house after 4-5 years of letting it out. We have two trees. a BIG horsechestnut and a palm tree which starlings seem to like. Both their trunks are thick with ivy. I guess that needs to be hacked back or removed. Not sure why.

What harm does it do? And, as Christmas is fast approaching, why is there a song (The Holly and the Ivy) in praise of the stuff if it is a pest?

From our PoV, the trees are bigger pests than the ivy. The horsechestnut for it's annual thick carpet of conkers and dropped leaves and the palm tree because it doesn't seem to grow anything useful for us personally but drops plenty of dead leaves (palm fronds?) which are unsightly and require time and effort to clear away.

I do like greenery and trees but I would have planted a fruit tree of some sort, eg apple, and maybe a palm tree that provided something of some use to us. Dunno if a useful palm tree would grow in this country but the warming climate - maybe. Nah I would't plant a palm. Dates and coconuts would grow too tall. Apparently I had a fig tree in my garden in Iraq. I never even noticed it until a colleague asked if I minded if he picked some. :D
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oldherbaceous
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Although Ivy is brilliant for wildlife, but in time it will swamp anything and everything….even large old trees will succumb to it after a few decades!
Kind Regards, Old Herbaceous.

There's no fool like an old fool.
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Primrose
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I,d be inclined to bite the bullet on both trees and ivy Straivaig and once you,ve then got an open space decide whether you like it or whether perhaps some miniature fruit trees would provide some future supplies for your culinary efforts. . Given that it will take a few years before they become very productive you may just want a garden which is easier to manage without a lot of care and attention.

Thick ivy could eventually strangle your trees to a slow death but if you want a quicker way of killing it off get a hacksaw and cut through all the lower stems near the base of the trunk . That will cause all the ivy further up to die. It will look brown and ugly but at least will halt it in its tracks, although if the ivy flowers in winter a lot of insects will lose their food source.and a place in which they hibernate.

As always, some you win and some you lose when it comes to nature.

I read somewhere that Queen Victoria hated seeing ivy growing around the trunks of trees and forced all her gardeners in her country estates to have it cut away but no reason was given for why it should be removed. Perhaps it was a fear tat the trees would eventually be strangled to death by it.
Stravaig
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I can't even get into the garden these days, never mind do anything in it. It's up steep steps and doesn't have a handrail.
We'd need to hire a gardener from time to time and husband can do some of the smaller jobs. But he has a full-time job and is often away.
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Primrose
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In that case Stravaig, I guess it,s even more sensible to see your tall trees gone in my view. If you,re effectively going to be housebound for much of the time, it,s important to have as much light and sunlight getting into your rooms as possible to keep you cheerful! (I speak as somebody whose autumn & winter morning sunlight is now blocked by an adjacent neighbour's ever taller growing trees).
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I have a palm tree that is infested with ivy, but it does not come from the roots but runs along the fence from the school behind & found it's way over to my tree at the top. I was going to get the tree cut down completely but two things stopped me: a) I don't want all the children staring through the fence & winding up the dog & b) I was told that if you do cut it down it just regrows but with lots more branches & lots more fruit with it, that fills up the garden bin in no time. One year I got lucky with the school trimming their side back & I chatted to the guy doing it & he got into his little lift thing & snipped off the top & reached over & got most of it off from my side as well. They don't have that now & just walk along.

I have just pulled down as much ivy as possible with the rake so tomorrow will be tidying that up & I will be having a browse at the little local mag for gardeners to see if they will clear what I can't reach. Not hopeful though as I have had gardeners in to quote previously & they were not happy with the height (8'), & the risk of using their battery trimmer without a firm surface. I would have thought they would have planks to support the ladder along with a 2nd person to hold the ladder but seems most are solo & gardening to them is mowing the lawn.
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Primrose
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That,s the problem with getting tall hedges and the like trimmed back. Most commercial "gardeners" have these electric hedge trimmers and they,re really not sturdy enough to tackle more mature growth.

Our next door neighbour wanted an 8 foot hedge drastically reduced in height. The contractor only cut about a foot of its height saying his machine wasn't strong enough to cut mature wood and about two mont later the hedge is back at the same height again.

Seems to me with hedges you have to take drastic action before the slender twigs start thickening up to become thick branches!
Stravaig
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Westi, I can relate to your "gardening = mowing the lawn" comment. When the house was being managed by a lettings agent while we were away, we said we wanted a gardener. We were ready to pay well for it but no, apparently that was "impossible". The so-called gardeners used to charge £100 a time to mow the 'lawn' and it's not a large garden by any stretch of the imagination. Cushy nunber for the grass cutters.

Another time we were charged £20 for "installation of toilet brush". I queried it and got some BS reply about workmens' time. I replied that I would have simply given the tenants a couple of quid to go across the road and buy one for 74p. They could have had a whole year's supply for £20.

When we did eventually get the house back we found that they had indeed "installed" a 74p one. :roll: Another thing is that we paid quite a lot for a new shower, which we they chose not us and the workmen mounted it on the wrong wall, and not on the wall where the shower was previously mounted so now the water shoots out bounces off the base tray of the shower and soaks the window and floor. Also, you'd have to be around 6 feet to benefit from how the shower can be adjusted and I'm less than 5 feet. OK, so at least the place wasn't trashed. There are other niggles.

We were only an email away but the longer they managed the property the more autonomy they took for granted they had without consulting us. We always used to stay for at least some time in August (othewise a void) but when we said that we'd pick up the keys on whatever date we discovered that he'd already ageed to let it to the tenant for that month. This was without our knowledge never mind our consent. Later we discovered that we only got half the month's rent because there was only one tenant there for the August. I know things could be a lot worse but things like that just niggle.
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