Overgrown vines

(Question)

Hello, we recently moved into our house in Parkdale (Toronto). The backyard came with several sets of pretty overgrown vines. I can identify a honeysuckle and a Virginia creeper though I believe there’s at least one other as well. I’m at a loss as to how to prune them as they are quite large and tangled, and the honeysuckle is so heavy it’s starting to pull down its support on the fence (photo attached). Since we have a newborn we don’t have a lot of time at the moment for gardening so I’m looking for the easiest solution to either prune the vines ourselves or else hire someone with expertise. I’m worried about killing it by just cutting it back ourselves. Thanks for any advice!

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(Answer)

Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.

The other vine you have looks like a Silver Lace Vine (Fallopia baldschuanica syn. Polygonum baldschuanicum syn. P. aubertii). It is also known as Mile-a-Minute, so you know it is a vigorous grower! It is borderline invasive so rest assured, pruning will not kill it. Similarly, Honeysuckle (Lonicera) and Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) are both very aggressive vines that need a good prune to make them fit into their alloted spaces. Be bold: these are vines that can be cut to the ground and still come back with a vengence. Here is a guide on How to Prune Your Vines and Other Climbing Plants from the Brooklyn Botantic Garden; you will find plant-specific instructions in the middle of the article (the Silver Lace Vine is found at the end of the article, under Invasive, and no specific techniques are necessary).

While you do not absolutely need to hire an expert to prune these vines, it may still be a good idea in your case, given how extensively overgrown the vines are, especially around the utility lines. To find a certified arborist in your area, start here.

Good luck with taming the vines!