How to Grow Ivy Without Damaging Your Home

We’ve all driven past that charming country cottage or elegant estate. Frozen in time, they have a single striking accent in common: ivy. The ivy on mortar look is quaint and classic, but while pleasing to the eye, is it actually good for your home? If you’re wondering how to grow ivy, there are several important factors to consider before planting those seeds.

Planting Ivy Might Have Legal Repercussions

Certain cities, states and homeowner associations have banned the planting of creeping vines due to their rapid growth and negative effect on local agriculture. Oregon, for example, has banned English ivy. It’s also important to note that insurance companies have been known to refuse coverage on ivy-covered homes due to increased liability. Do your research to be sure that planting ivy won’t have unexpected consequences for you, your community or your home.

Ivy Thrives in Certain Conditions

The best walls for ivy are typically solid masonry. These thick walls are the ideal host, allowing creeping vines to work their way up and around. Just be sure to check for any cracks or loose bricks beforehand so you don’t risk damage to your home.

You should avoid growing ivy on your home altogether if it has:

Weakened brick: Any crumbling mortar, cracks, or loose bricks can be invaded by ivy roots, widening existing holes and allowing moisture to seep in.
Dry-stacked walls: Mortar-less stone walls naturally have additional nooks and crannies that are easily entered by ivy roots, which then become part of the wall itself. If you were ever to pull on the ivy, you would risk pulling out pieces of the wall itself.
Old brick: Mortar quality has improved over the years, so the older the brick, the more likely it is to be weakened by the elements. Homes built before 1930 are especially tricky because their lime-based mortar is softer than the more modern cement-based mortar.
Siding: Anything with a seam is vulnerable to probing ivy roots, and can cause damage both as it is growing and as it is being pulled off.
Stucco/Painted Surfaces: The primary issue with both surfaces is when the ivy is pulled off, it can cause chunks of paint or stucco to come along with it, as well as permanently discoloring the surface of the wall.

Type of Ivy Matters

There are two main types of ivy found on homes: Virginia creeper and Boston ivy. An alternative to ivy that is less aggressive is climbing roses, which add the greenery and texture without the high-maintenance upkeep. Avoid English ivy, a particularly invasive type that can quickly take over your house, yard and surrounding areas.

How to Actually Grow Ivy? Start Small, Trim Often

So you’ve decided that growing ivy is right for you and your home. We strongly recommend starting with just one plant and following its care directions precisely. You might be surprised how fast it will grow! If you do decide to plant more than one, make sure they are at least six feet apart. Vines will typically climb on their own, but if you’d like to help them along, you can gently lean them against the side of your house.

To protect your home from damage, remember to keep ivy away from wooden trim work, windows and gutters. Always prioritize your safety and seek a professional’s help when dealing with substantial heights and unfamiliar tools.

Call National Property Inspections for Advice

National Property Inspections’ trained experts can inspect your home and help you decide whether growing ivy is right for you. If you suspect damage from ivy and other creeping vines, our inspectors can provide you a detailed structural report and recommend next best steps. Find a home inspector near you by calling 1-800-333-9807.

Do you have a question about how to grow ivy? Let us know in the comments and visit National Property Inspections for more great resources!

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