Cedar Hedges and Vines

(Question)

Hi; I have 65 feet of 40 year old cedar hedges, about10 feet tall. For the last two years my neighbours vines have started growing over the hedges, they now cover about a third and are creeping their way along the top. Will the vines kill my hedges and if so what can I do about it? They are too tall for me to pull them off and my neighbour does not care. Thanks.

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master gardeners with your inquiry.

You do not mention what kind of vine is growing on your cedar hedge. Not all vines do harm to trees, however fast growing vines such as English Ivy (Hedera helix), Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata), Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), Chocolate vine ( Akebia quinta) should be removed. Vines can cause structural problems to the trees.  The added weight can break branches along with the vine catching more wind, snow or ice than the tree is used to receiving, possibly causing it to topple. Some vines that start as a groundcover (such as ivy), form a dense mat covering the tree’s  root flare. The vine often causes leaves and debris to pile up against the root collar and traps moisture against the trunk. This can cause many fungal and bacterial type diseases, as well as potential structural decay at the base of the tree. These vines also have the capability of shading out the tree’s leaves, adding weight and even girdling (strangling) the tree’s trunk.

You mention that the cedar hedge is too tall for you to deal with yourself. Instead, you may wish to contact a certified arborist in your area to help with this problem. Here is the link to the Ontario branch of the International Society of Arboriculture.