Q: I have an overgrown English ivy growing up my fireplace. Some of the vine is very woody and hard to pull off by hand. What is the easiest way to remove it? — Karen, Syracuse, New York

A: Roger replies: The tendrils that attach ivy are tremendously strong. I have described previously how to handle ivy removal from brick. But if the vine is very large, I would cut it at the bottom, leave it there for a year, then pull it off. This should weaken the attachment. My other recommendation is to start from the top and work down. Once you get the top started, the vine will sometimes pull off or you can slide a thin blade behind it, cut, and pull.
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