The Coalition knows of no method that fully kills kudzu with a single treatment. Multiple treatments over two or three years appear necessary. The possible exception is surgical crown removal, which might be accomplished in one year. In any case, persistence is required!

This web page provides an outline of methods available for small-property owners that are effective in tests conducted by the Coalition, or others. Use the outline as a "flow chart", and find the case that best describes your situation. The treatment methods are divided into two major cases: Kudzu is growing on your property (on the ground, or in trees), or kudzu is invading your property from a neighboring lot. Particular treatment methods are not listed in any particular order. There is no reason to use only one treatment method, as sometimes a combination of methods is appropriate. This outline does not address the use of large landscaping equipment, but if you are interested then see our web page about using a skid loader to remove kudzu.

Click on links (underlined text) below to see examples and illustrations located elsewhere on the web site. Also see our Kudzu Kalendar, which summarizes the stages of life of kudzu in our part of South Carolina. The calendar suggests the best times to carry out different defense and offense activities ("know your enemy").

  1. Kudzu is growing on your property in an area that is surrounded by a kudzu-free area. That is, the kudzu is isolated on your property. In this case take the offensive and eliminate the kudzu!
    1. Kudzu is growing on the ground.
      1. Immediate and permanent ground kill is desired.
        1. Surgically remove root crowns. Use effective hand tools to simplify work.
      2. Eventual and permanent ground kill is acceptable.
        1. Keep mowing the kudzu, or
        2. manually strip off new (green) vines and buds from woody vines every week or two to starve the roots until the plant dies (manual defoliation), or
        3. use a string trimmer like an edger to strip off new (green) vines and buds from woody vines every week or two to starve the roots until the plant dies (mechanical defoliation), or
        4. heavily mulch (1 to 2 feet high) using fresh grass clippings (especially useful on slopes or property corners), or
        5. use plastic sheeting to kill kudzu by heat (the greenhouse effect, solarization), or
        6. use grazing animals (goats, sheep, cows, horses), or
        7. apply Roundup® (glyphosate) repeatedly during growing season to kill foliage whenever new growth appears. This method is a chemical version of "stripping" (items 2 and 3 above). Note that this chemical is lethal to all plants, and it kills on contact. Spray with care! Do not use near sources of water (lakes, ponds, streams, and so on) and do not use when rain is expected within 48 hours. In its wet form, Roundup® can kill water life and contaminate water supplies and aquifers. Once it has dried, for at least 24 hours, this chemical normally breaks down, and ceases to act as an herbicide in a week or two.
    2. Kudzu has invaded trees.
      1. Cut down "scaffolding" (low-hanging vines and branches) as high as you can reach, and clean up ground debris or trash, which give kudzu a route up into trees ("gapping"). Let cut vines dry during growing season before pulling them down to minimize tree damage. And,
      2. use one of the other above methods for removing ground-kudzu to kill vines that are rooted near the trees.
  2. Kudzu is coming across your property line from a neighboring property, over which you have no control. In this case only defensive methods are possible! Your first step must be to kill any kudzu that has taken root on your property using the above methods. Then proceed as follows.
    1. Every week during growing season carefully bend/turn-back vines at the property line so they grow away from your property. Avoid breaking vines, and do not cut vines, as this stimulates the sprouting of more vines! Sometimes a dense ground covering of vines can be rolled-up like a mat to a property line. And/or
    2. put up a kudzu barrier.
      1. Make a 2 feet high, 4 foot wide barrier wall of fresh grass clippings. Other materials (pine mulch, wood chips) do not work as well. Add fresh clippings to the pile whenever vines begin crossing the barrier as the organic material begins to compost into soil, which enables kudzu to root. And/or,
      2. construct a fence that does not allow vines to pass under it, through it, or over it (at least 5 feet high, and 4 inches below ground). Avoid fence features that offer vine-climbing opportunities: Kudzu climbs by wrapping around anything less than about 8 inches in diameter.

Good luck! If you would like "hands on" experience, check out our education web page, which describes Kudzu Kollege and other Coalition training activities. And feel free to contact us if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions.