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How to Kill Vines

Four Parts:Know the EnemyPhysical Control MeasuresChemical ControlTreating Established Vines

Vines are often invasive and can be especially difficult to kill. Persistence is key, but of course, it also helps to know which methods of physical and chemical removal prove most effective against these weeds.

Part 1
Know the Enemy

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    Know what to expect. Vines are often one of the hardest weeds to get rid of. They grow quickly and tend to root themselves into other areas as they grow, so they can quickly take over new areas and attach themselves to trees, buildings, and other plants.
    • You will almost never get rid of vines in one shot. Once you start the fight, you need to be prepared for a long, drawn out battle against these weeds.
    • You might have more success if you use multiple methods of control. For instance, the combination of physical removal plus chemical control often sees more results than the use of only one of these options.
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    Determine the exact vine species. Most vines behave in similar ways, so the same basic techniques can be used no matter which vine species you are dealing with. If you are having exceptional difficulty, though, take the time to find out which vine species you are dealing with. Doing so may provide you with additional insight on how to kill them off.
    • You could ask a landscape professional for an opinion or post pictures online, via social media or yard and garden forums, for the opinion of others who may have dealt with similar issues in the past.
    • Wisteria vines are easily identified by the fragrant and small purple, pink, and white flowers that appear on the vine in the spring or mid to late summer. They are notably aggressive vines.
    • Kudzu vines are another aggressive type of vine. This species also has purple blooms, but its flowers smell sweeter than wisteria blooms if not quite as strong. The vine itself can grow as much as 1 foot (30.5 cm) in one day.
    • Trumpet vines are invasive and can be difficult, but they are not quite as persistent as kudzu and other more aggressive species. You can usually identify them by their trumpet-shaped blooms.
    • Blackberry vines are easy to identify by their fruit. Even these vines are considered noxious weeds, though, since wild blackberry vines can quickly spread into other areas and steal resources from other plants.

Part 2
Physical Control Measures

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    Pull or dig the vines out 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.
    • 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.
    • Dig out the entire root system, including any below-ground roots, bulbs, tubers, or rhizomes. If you do not get everything, some of the leftover root system may take hold in the soil and start growing again.
    • Note that you might need to dig out vine seedlings regularly for a few months or years to keep the problem under control.
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    Cut away any surface vines. Even though digging the roots out is an essential step if you want to kill a vine completely, you also need to cut off and remove any vines clinging to buildings, fences, trees, or other surfaces.
    • If you leave these above-surface elements alive, it is possible that the vine will establish new roots and continue to grow and spread.
    • Do not compost the vines after cutting them away. By adding them to an outdoor compost, you may end up mixing roots into the compost, and when that compost gets used in the future, it might end up causing a renewed vine problem.
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    Do not cut vines and leave it at that. You might be tempted to think that cutting the vines at the base can solve your problem, but as long as the root remains, the vine will live. Moreover, cutting a vine back may actually stimulate faster, more active growth depending on the species.
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    Smother the vine. Many vine species require large amounts of light and oxygen. If you cover the vine with grass clippings or mulch, you might be able to deprive it of enough light and air to eventually kill it off. Make sure that the layer of mulch is thorough, though, and that none of the vine can be seen peeking through.[1]
    • Similarly, you could cover the vines with plastic sheeting. This will rob the plant of air but not light. Unlike other coverings, plastic sheeting can quickly build up intense heat, which could also kill off the vine.
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    Use animals. If you have a lot of land and the resources to care for animals, consider using goats or livestock to kill the vines. Goats are notably voracious eaters, so they are generally able to hold vines at bay and prevent them from expanding any further.
    • Make sure that the vines in your area will not be toxic to the animals before using this as an option.
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    Pour boiling water onto the vines. For vines that are not quite so invasive, you might be able to kill new shoots or cut vines by pouring boiling water onto them. This may not give you dramatic results, but it can be used as an alternative to chemical herbicides.[2]
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    Consider hiring a landscaping crew. If you want to use physical control but do not have the stamina to do so, you should think about hiring a professional crew to do that majority of the work at the start.
    • Note that you will still need to follow up periodically to remove any random seedlings trying to grow. This can be done by a professional crew, but it is fairly easy compared to the initial bulk of work, so you might be able to do it yourself without issue.

Part 3
Chemical Control

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    Evaluate the area. The chemical herbicides most effective against vines are generally non-selective, so they can kill plants you want to keep if you are not careful enough. If there is literally no way for you to treat the vine without killing your other plants, you may want to stick with physical control measures alone.
    • If the vines are near other plants but not actually on them, you might be able to adequately protect those plants by covering them with plastic sheets or bags.
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    Spray with a systemic herbicide. Use about a quarter of a bottle a quart or smaller in size. Choose a systemic herbicide labeled for use against vines. You need to use enough herbicide to completely wet the foliage of the vine. Be careful, though, since applying too much herbicide can cause runoff into the ground and may damage the soil and nearby plants.
    • There are a couple schools of thought concerning the best time to spray. Some argue that you can do so immediately, with the current vine intact. Others argue that you need to cut the vine back, allow it to re-sprout, then spray the new, immature growth.
    • You only need to soak the foliage of the vines. The chemicals are absorbed by the leaves and enter into the plant's circulation. Once inside, the poison travels down to the roots and kills the vine completely.
    • If you have weedy vines, look for glyphosate or triclopyr. For woody vines, stick with triclopyr, but go for glyphosate when used against herbaceous vines.
    • You might also consider using a herbicide with some combination of Dicamba or 2,4-D. Note that these tend to be even more dangerous to use.
    • Note that even powerful herbicides may not be fully effective against some vines, like kudzu.
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    Add water, but make the mix strength about 5 times what you would spray.You want the bottle to be about half full of mix.
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    Find a safe place on the ground next to the vine. You are going to leave the bottle there, and you don't want it kicked over or broken.
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    Find a fresh shoot that will reach the bottle without breaking the stems or find more than one shoot! Sometimes you have to pull some of the vine down to give you some spare length in the shoot, because, in the next step, you are going to put the shoot of the vine into the bottle.
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    Put the vine shoots into the bottle. You want it to stay in the bottle, so you can't be pulling a shoot that wants to spring back somewhere else.
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    Let it sit. In a week or two or three, the vine will die. Leave the shoot in the bottle even after the shoot dies, as the vine will continue to soak up the herbicide, and you can continue to kill connected vine runners.

Part 4
Treating Established Vines

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    Identify situations when standard chemical control cannot be used. If you have large, established vines that sprawl over trees, shrubs, buildings, or fences, you will be unable to spray chemical herbicides in the usual manner without affecting the surrounding landscape.
    • There is, however, a way that you can use chemicals to kill vines like these. It is commonly referred to as the "cut vine" method.[3]
    • This method tends to be most successful if done in the fall.
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    Cut the vine. Use sharp pruning shears to cut the vine off near the base, leaving about 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10 cm) of vine coming out of the ground.
    • The stump you leave behind should be fairly short, but there needs to be enough for you to access without much difficulty.
    • Some vines can be cut using pruning shears, while others may require you to use a pruning saw.
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    Apply herbicide to the stump. Treat the cut portion of the stump with undiluted triclopyr. Apply enough to coat the entire cut.
    • Work quickly. You need to apply the herbicide while the cut is still fresh.
    • Treating the stump with herbicide prevents it from re-sprouting. The vine will also absorb the chemical through the cut, and once this chemical is absorbed, it will travel into the root system and kill the vine at its base.
    • For especially persistent vines, like wisteria, you can use a drilling technique. After revealing a stump, drill a 1-inch (2.5-cm) hole into the stump and any remaining vines using a 1/8-inch (3-mm) drill bit. The holes should be about 1/4-inch (6-mm) apart. Apply the herbicide to both the cut stump and the holes.[4]
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    Clear away the rest of the vine. Usually, the portion of the vine that is intertwined in your fence, tree, or bushes will die off since it has been disconnected from the root system. Once this portion of the vine begins to wither, you can easily clear it out by hand.
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    Be persistent. This technique is usually highly successful, but you may still need to treat the area multiple times of the vine has taken root in multiple locations.
    • There is also some risk that the vines can grow back even after you treat them the first time. You are fighting an ongoing battle, so you should be prepared to treat any reappearing vines as soon as you spot the first new growth.


  • Once you clear vines off your land, your best strategy is to keep any outside vines from creeping back in. Build a tall fence or similar barrier, and make sure that the barrier extends at least 4 inches (10 cm) deep into the ground. You could also build barriers out of grass clippings or other mulches.
  • After clearing vines from an area, it is often a good idea to plant hardy, heavy vegetation in its place if possible. Doing so can prevent new seedlings from establishing themselves.[5]


  • Use thick gloves when pulling up vines and working with herbicides.
  • Wash your clothes immediately.
    • Wash your entire skin surface twice with plenty of soap, paying special attention to face, arms, and legs. You must do this within twenty minutes of contacting the poison plant. Do not miss any area.
    • Dispose of the cuttings in a way that will not cause others to come in contact with them. 'Do not burn poison ivy, oak, or sumac—ever. Smoke carrying the oil from these cuttings (urushiol) can cause an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals whereby their respiratory system can be affected, even to the extent that it is life-threatening.
  • Make sure to rule out the poison species before starting vine removal. If the vine is poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, take special precautions:
    • Avoid contacting any part of the plants.
    • Cleanse all tools in their entirety (including handles).

Things You'll Need

Note: Not all items will be needed for all methods of removal.

  • Gloves
  • Trowel or shovel
  • Pruning shears and pruning saw
  • Boiling water
  • Goats
  • Systemic herbicide (glyphosate or triclopyr)
  • Mulch
  • Plastic sheeting

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