How to Kill Wild Grape Vines And Control Vines That Kill Trees

Last Updated on April 20, 2022 by Grow with Bovees

Grapes are cultivated for several good reasons. Most notably, for food, and making juice.

But what about wild grapes?

Grapes don’t grow on trees, but on vines, you often find these wild vines growing on trees, which can eventually kill affected trees.

There are 68 known species of grape vines that belong to the genus Vitis, but what are wild grapevines?

There are dozens of species of wild grape vines growing in all manner of places, like alongside fences, roadsides, river banks, and vacant urban lots.

Is The Wild Grape Vine Invasive?

Wild grape vines (Vitis spp), are technically not an invasive species since they are native to several areas, most notably the Hudson Valley and Pennsylvania.

Just like cultivated vines, wild vines are perennial woody, deciduous plants that showcase a voracious growth habit, which is one of the reasons why some people refer to them as common invasive weeds.

Wild grape vines grow easily, and are much higher and thicker than their cultivated cousins, and overtake other plant species, which is another reason they are classified as weeds.

How to Identify A Wild Grape Vine

All species of wild grape look pretty much the same, some are even edible, but are unpalatable, and some are even poisonous.

Both wild grape vines and cultivated grape vines grow large three-lobed leaves, and produce the same fruit, albeit smaller.

The leaves feature long, pointed tips that are serrated at the edges. Wild grape flowers that bloom in the early summer are tiny and white, and typically grow in clusters.

The wild grape leaves alternate on the stem, and resemble large maple leaves.

After the flowers bloom on these shrubs, they leave behind hard, green grapes, which some birds love to pick on as food, which in turn spreads the grape seed around late winter and early fall.

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The wild grape does not cling to the trunk of the tree, unlike poison-ivy and Virginia creeper, it uses its thin tendrils, much like a regular vine.

One of the biggest reasons for killing grapevines growing on your property, is that these aggressive vines can quickly become unmanageable, and a nuisance in your yard.

The vines will not tolerate heavy shade, but will rapidly climb the tallest tree to find the brightest sunlight.

If conditions are right, the vine growth can reach a rate of up to 2 or 3 feet every year, which will soon make life very difficult for any other plants or trees that support it.

Some Methods Of Wild Grape Vine Control

Wild grape vine control is especially important in areas where a new tree is planted and expected to thrive. They can soon overcome the new young saplings, preventing heavy timber harvest, so must not be allowed to get out of control.

Forest managers have been given specific forest management guidelines on how to eradicate wild grape vines.

How to Kill Grape Vine Roots

One of the easiest ways of killing them is by digging the entire stump out.

This may sound easy, but you also have to get rid of any tendrils that are left behind, because if they remain, they will continue their growth underground, and new shoots will re-emerge wherever they get a chance.

Non-chemical methods are the preferred way to get rid of grape vine tendrils or any other plants of invasive nature for that matter. The most effective way to smother the grapevine anchors is with printed black and white newspapers along with grass, leaves or other yard clippings.

To do this, dig deep into the ground around the base of the grapevine, wrap the wet paper around the root, and cover with the clippings. This will deprive them of oxygen, and will eventually cause the plant to die.

Use Salt As A Natural Weed Killer For This Insidious Weed

Another non-chemical method of killing grapevine root systems is by pouring salt on the freshly cut stump after cutting back the roots. You can also place a bucket over the stump of the invasive plant root to prevent any sunlight from reaching it.

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This method is effective, but it takes several weeks for the rootlets to die. Vinegar is a natural alternative to herbicides, and can diminish grape wine tendrils as well.

Mix around two cups of vinegar with a gallon of boiling water, and pour the solution over the grapevine roots. Let it rest for a few days, and repeat the process if necessary.

Will Bleach Kill Vines?

You can use a bleach and detergent solution to eradicate vines. This household remedy is a popular alternative to dangerous chemicals, and is easy to apply.

Fill a garden sprayer with household bleach, and add just two to three drops of liquid detergent to the bottle. Secure the cap tight, and shake well so that the bleach and detergent mix well.

Next, cover your favorable plants and nearby fruit located around the vines, as this solution will kill desirable trees too. After you’ve done that, hold the spray bottle roughly two to three inches away from the vines, and spray generously over the vines.

The bleach will kill the vines, and the detergent will help the bleach cling to the vines. Repeat this process for a few days if necessary.

Can I Use Roundup to Get Rid Of Wild Grape Vines?

Roundup is a glyphosate herbicide brush killer that can get rid of wild grape vines if applied correctly. This means that you have to spray it in the right quantity on the leaves, and in the spring growing season.

Spraying roundup will stunt the growth of leaves and young grapevine shoots, gradually killing the vines due to short functional leaf area. Use it again on any new grape vine sprouts that you see re-emerging after treatment.

Roundup will not kill a vine if applied in late spring or midsummer or winter, as it won’t reach the stump of the vines to kill them. To make the solution, mix 20 percent Roundup concentrate with 80 percent water, and spray over the leaves of the vines.

The roundup brand is well known, widely available, and can deal with not just grape vines, but with many other vegetation problem species as well.

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Remove The Wild Grape Vines Manually

You can remove the woody vines by using a little elbow grease by cutting them with a pruning saw, roughly four to five feet above the ground. But before you do so, make sure you put on a good pair of gloves, as wild grape vines may sometimes cause skin irritation.

If the grape vines are stuck to trees, don’t try pulling them as you may injure yourself or the trees.

The recommended way to cut vine stumps is with a hand saw, and not a chainsaw, as the vines are too small and unstable.

The thinner sections can be cut using pruning shears or lopping shears.

Cut vine stumps that you see just above the ground level, and then pull out as much root as you can with a digging tool or shovel.

You will probably not be able to dig out all the roots, because of the extensive root systems, but try to get out as much as you can.

After you pull them out, immediately treat them with a natural herbicide, or a commercial herbicide carefully, which should make sure that the buried root system will eventually die.

Dicamba is an effective herbicide spray when used on the foliage, or if the leaves are out of reach, the basal bark method can be used. Anime 2,4-D herbicide is also useful for treating the stumps. Weed b gon is another alternative. 

As always, during any herbicide applications, take all necessary precautions using appropriate PPE, and ensure that herbicide drift is minimized when using non-selective products.

Final Thoughts on How to Eradicate Wild Grape Vines

Killing wild grape vines does take a fair bit of effort and patience. You can apply any of the aforementioned control methods, but you will have to pull up the remaining rootlets that have anchored into the ground to prevent new shoots from appearing, and then apply some type of natural or chemical herbicide.

Be sure to protect any nearby tree or desired plant before using any chemicals and remember that the birds see their fruits as food.