As I mentioned before, this home was bought by my grandparents over 40 years ago. Almost that far back, my uncle has been fighting the vines that have been invading the back yard.
There are several different kinds. I don’t know what they all are. One of them is the Japanese climbing fern. Don’t let the nice name fool you. It might be somewhat attractive (it was introduced in the US in the ’30s as an ornamental), but this plant is swallowing forests. You would think it’s related to kudzu. It has made it around to the front garden, too.
I remember my uncle out there in the summers, pulling the vines out of the ligustrum hedge that holds the little levee at the back of the yard in place. It was hard work. Then my grandfather fell ill, and his fight with the vines subsided, and the vines became stronger. Add to that the years of caring for my grandmother while holding down a full-time job, then the last several years since my grandmother’s stroke, and finally her death a year and a half ago, and you can imagine the inroads the vines have made.
Not only are they suffocating the hedge at the back, they have invaded the plants at the sides, all the way to the sides of the house. They have sent many, many runners out into the yard, which produce new sprouts like flags standing up in the grass, then they fall over and start crawling across the yard.
I started searching for something that might kill them, and ended up with Roundup Poison Ivy Plus Tough Brush Killer. There’s poison ivy in that hedge, too, so we’ll see if this kills it. Anyhow, I bought a gallon spray bottle of the stuff, and started spraying vines. Several days later, they started to droop. This is what they look like now:
The bright green at the top of the vines is the vines on the back of the hedge that I have not reached yet. You get on a ladder, and it looks like a sea. Like you will go back there, and it will swallow you, and nobody will ever see you again.
You can see that there is a strip of dead grass in front of the vines (you can’t even see the ligustrums, can you?). I knew there was a chance of this. I used a tarp as a drop cloth, but the grass was affected anyway as leaves fell off the vines as they died. The poison is systemic. It is absorbed by the leaves and travels through the plant to the root, which it kills. The vines on the back, while connected by runners, also have their own root systems, so they have survived so far.
It even seems to be affecting the palmettos that I sprayed. Let’s hope.
The grass is a small price to pay, and will grow back.
I was afraid the poison might drip from the vines to the ligustrums, and kill them as well. The vines were so thick, though, that the ligustrums appear unharmed. A clump of English dogwood was not so fortunate. It isn’t dead, but it’s lost most of its leaves. I don’t know if it will make it. It probably would have been good to try to get the vines out of the dogwood first, lay them on a tarp, and spray them there.
So now it’s on to the vines in the yard. My uncle brought home some cardboard squares from work that each have a hole in the center. I’ve been using these to protect the grass as much as possible. I pull a vine through the hole, spray it, and go to the next one. When I’m at the last square, I remove the first one and place it. I have them numbered so I can tell which I’ve used most recently, and which have vines that have probably stopped dripping.
I don’t know how effective this fight will be. The runners may continue to send up new shoots. I hope that with perseverence, we will kill all these vines!