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Vine and Tree Guidance

What To Do When Vines Climb Trees

As a general rule, fast-growing vines should be avoided or removed from trees if. The added weight and surface area from the vines increase the chances of limbs breaking and falling from wind, snow, and ice. Equally as important and most relevant in your case, some vines that start as a groundcover (such as ivy), form a dense mat covering the tree’s buttress or root flare. The vine often causes leaves and debris to pile up against the root collar and traps moisture against the trunk and root flare. This can cause many fungal and bacterial type diseases, as well as potential structural decay at the base of the tree. When densely covering the trunk, the vines can also cover up structural issues and make them invisible to the naked eye.

At a minimum, the Madison Shade Tree Board recommends that you have any trees with vines inspected yearly by a qualified tree care professional for any structural issues. For further protection, the vines should be removed from the trees. This can be accomplished by cutting and clearing the vines from ground level up to about the 3-foot level up the trunk. This will cause the vines to die but also expose the root flare for inspection and cleaning. Once the vines die, some tend to pull out of the trees with ease. Others can be removed by a tree care professional.

If there are additional questions, please contact the Shade Management Board at 973-593-3088.

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