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Trimming wild grapevines

Living the Country Life Radio Program with Betsy Freese

Trouble for trees

Listen to this radio show (MP3 download) or read below.

Radio interview source: Dan Ernst, assistant state forester, Indiana Department of Natural Resources

I have wild grapes that grow around my bridal bushes. They also try to grow up into my lilacs. Wild grapevines grow rapidly, and are a pain to deal with. Last year, I spent a couple hours cutting them out.

Grapevines are a major problem in timberland because they twist and bend around trees, breaking tops and limbs. They also spread out and block sunlight from reaching the trees. Wild grapevines grow anywhere, but their favorite species to wind around is the valuable walnut tree.

Dan Ernst is the assistant state forester with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and says grapevines are controlled by cutting them off near the ground.

"Cut them off a foot or two above ground," Ernst says. "And if it's plenty shady, just cutting them off will take care of the vines, there's no reason to pull the vines out of the trees. If there's a fair amount of sunlight in the area the vine stumps will just go ahead and re-sprout, and you'll have grapevines again. In those kinds of situations you want to apply a chemical brush killer to kill the root system of the grape to prevent it from re-sprouting."

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