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I own a very long hedge which is the boundary between us and a long narrow shared drive. The hedge was originally a field hedge beside a loke or track. It has trees and loads of flowering ivy in it with some hathorn and other trees. Height 7ft. 

Question is around 50% of the hedge is now ivy which has grown over the hawthorns. The ivy is mature and flowers and provides great privacy in back garden.

Problem is I don't know if I should try and take the ivy out? I have done this in the parts where the hawthorn was visible and not swamped with ivy. This created holes in the hedge base which I have replanted with hawthorn wips and copper beech.

Any advice? I like the evergreen ivy and privacy in the back garden. Should i just take the ivy out where the hawthorn is visible which is mainly in my front garden? Hedge is trimmed neatly.

We also have this type of dilemma Rebecca - more ivy than hedge.  Originally there was ivy growing up two sides of the big house here too, but that all fell down one terrible storm in the early 1960's and all that is left now is the stump which is about 1 foot across and at ground level.

I don't know the answer to your question, but I do know that ivy attracts plenty of wildlife, nesting birds, ivy bees and butterflies. When you remove this you will be are upsetting the balance of nature in your garden for a few years.  However ivy has a tendency to regrow, unless you can dig out all the roots without disturbing the hawthorn and other plants in the hedge.

A photo of your hedge would be useful for us to comment more fully.

I don't really see what you would gain by removing the ivy. Sounds like you like it, and it's an excellent wildlife plant especially when it's in the mature flowering & fruiting stage as you have. It isn't as if you need it to be keeping sheep/cattle in. I expect it's also a lot easier to keep maintained than hawthorn would be.

I'd keep it. If it's looking like smothering a tree (say) you can cut the stems around the base of the tree trunk and leave it to die back, rather than trying to pull it out and disturbing everything. Cut it with hedge trimmers a couple of times a year to stop it reaching out and galloping across the rest of your garden. But as has been said, it's a great wildlife plant, it sounds like yours is attractive and healthy and doing great service as a visual boundary. Don't convince yourself it has to come out because it's a weed. The hawthorns are as much weed as the ivy. They'll rub along fine together.

It's not broke - no need to fix it 

Obelixx

Another vote for keeping the ivy here.

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Obelixx says:

Another vote for keeping the ivy here.

See original post

 Absolutely agree and that was what I was  going to write before I saw Obelixx's post.  Mature ivy is one of the most wildlife friendly plants you can have in your garden.

Thanks everyone. I'll try and post a photo of part of if another day. I notice my neighbour has stripped the ivy out of part of the hedge alongside the rack to his house. He cut it back so hard that side that a section of the hedge died and had to be replanted :'(

The ivy will eventually kill the hawthorn but ivy it's self makes a great hedge you can just add some fencing to keep it upright or as they do here grow it up the wire for putting in reinforced concrete. make a good narrow privacy hedge that doesn't require too much trimming.

Skandi says:

The ivy will eventually kill the hawthorn but ivy it's self makes a great hedge you can just add some fencing to keep it upright or as they do here grow it up the wire for putting in reinforced concrete. make a good narrow privacy hedge that doesn't require too much trimming.

See original post

 It's growing all over old trees and a hawthorn hedge which is around 12" thick.

Obelixx

The ivy won't kill the trees but it can add wind resistance when it gets high up and that could lead to them blowing over.  It feeds itself from its own root system and uses the aerial roots just for support.   Here's what the RHS says - https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=192

I'd agree with Obelixx re the Ivy - the damage from wind is more likely to be a problem.  Ivy can be managed within a natural hedge - just means a bit of foresight and work

The common ivy is such a good plant for a natural garden - nesting sites, roosts and a food source. too.

The problem with our ivy in the hedge is that it has managed to spread (as ivy does) into our lawn and has taken hold. I would do whatever I could to prevent that happening if I were you Rebecca.

I would not remove it from the hedge as it is an ideal wind break as mentioned above. Just remove all the ivy runners, say 3 or 4 times a year (it shouldn't take long with a decent pair of secateurs and a bit of hand pulling out of as much root as possible). 

I still think the advantages of the ivy far outweigh removing it completely. As for growing up tree trunks, I prefer to snip the ivy as low down the base of the trunk as possible.

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Firefly0

I have an eight foot ivy hedge and manage it, as suggested above, by taking out runners and bringing it in a bit a couple of times a year. You can thin it by taking out some main stems, if needed. I would say to put ivy management on the regular to do list -  a little work now and then keeps the ivy tasks from being overwhelming. In my experience an old ivy hedge can become a self-supporting structure in itself - robust and unlikely to blow over (unlike if it grows up a tree). The main stems in my ivy hedge are as thick as my wrist and not going anywhere.

Thank you everyone. I do prune back runners and have just completed plugging all the holes with hawthorn whips and replanted native hedge where the neigbour cut it back.

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