There is no easy way to get rid of invading English Ivy.
On a recent sunny Saturday morning, staff at the Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) were using shovels and heavy gloves to tear out the infestation that covered the ground along the Creekside Nature Trail by Bertrand Creek in in Aldergrove.
Pots with native sword ferns were waiting to be planted in place of the invader.
LEPS Langley Stewardship Coordinator Lisa Dreves was one of the people using gardening tools to loosen up the ivy, then grabbing handfuls of the long, stringy roots and yanking on it, hard, to break its grip on the soil and dump it into disposable heavy paper wastebags.
“It does not want to come loose,” Dreves remarked.
“This will be a long term project. It will take a long time to get the ivy out of here.”
Dreves estimated it will require “several years” of effort to reclaim the Aldergrove site.
“We just keep on pulling.”
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, LEPS can’t bring in volunteers, which is why there was just a handful of people putting their backs into it on the day the Langley Advance Times dropped by.
“It’s all LEPS Staff because there are no pubic gatherings [allowed],” Dreves explained.
English ivy is a widely planted ornamental that arrived in North America during colonial times.
It is commonly planted to provide quick cover for walls and buildings, and as ground cover in commercial landscapes.
When it gets loose, and it often does, it can turn into a blanket that overwhelms native wildflowers, shrubs and trees through shading, smothering and associated harmful pathogens.
can completely engulf shrubs and encircles tree trunks of all sizes, leaving nothing uncovered. Shrubs shrouded in ivy may eventually die because light can’t reach their leaves. English ivy grows rapidly and needs very little light or water once it’s established, and even grows during the winter.