You love the idea of your home covered in lush green vines. Houses covered in ivy look romantic,
picturesque, or classic, and the greenery makes the buildings stand out in their neighborhoods.
However, ivy isn’t for everyone. While ivy looks beautiful, it can damage your home-and if you change your
mind about ivy, it’s highly difficult to remove.
If you’re not sure if ivy is for you, keep reading. This blog will cover when ivy works, when it
doesn’t, and how to remove it if it’s already climbing all over your home.
When Is Ivy Okay?
Usually, you see ivy growing on homes with brick walls. If your house is not too old, has mortar between
the bricks, and is in good condition, the ivy will probably be fine. While ivy does sink roots into existing
cracks, it can’t usually make new fissures in the brick. Your solidly constructed walls should be able to
support the ivy without getting damaged.
When Is Ivy a Problem?
Generally, any wall that is not newer brick in good condition should not have ivy. Avoid the
- Siding. If you have any kind of siding, ivy is not for you. The roots will work their way
into the seams, widening them dangerously. Your siding could sustain a lot of damage.
- Old or damaged brick. If the brick or mortar is already weak, the ivy’s roots will further
deteriorate it. The roots could widen the cracks in the wall, allowing water to get in. Ivy is especially
dangerous for homes built before 1930.
- Dry-stacked stone or brick. If the stones or bricks in the wall around your yard are dry
stacked, meaning they are not held together by mortar, then ivy will be a problem. The roots will sink in
deep between the stones-if you try to remove the ivy, you could pull the wall down with it.
- Wood. If you have wooden walls or fences, keep ivy away-not only does ivy hold in
moisture, which can rot the wood, but it can also house pests that feed on wood.
- Stucco. While ivy will not cause structural damage to stucco, you’ll have a difficult time
if you ever want to get rid of the ivy. You might pull chunks of the stucco off with the vines. The same goes
for any kind of surface that’s painted over.
You may love how ivy looks, but don’t let it grow on your home if the walls are made of these materials.
How Can I Get Rid of Ivy?
If ivy already grows on your home or on a fence where it shouldn’t, you have a lot of work in
front of you. However, if you are dedicated, getting rid of ivy is possible. Once you have decided to remove
it, get started as soon as you can. Ivy grows fast, and the roots harden as they age-the longer you wait, the
more ivy you’ll have to deal with and the more difficult the roots will be to remove.
Your first step is to kill the vines. The ivy probably has roots in the ground, where it gets
the majority of its nutrients. You should dig out the roots in the ground or apply an herbicide like Roundup.
This solution should kill the vine, which will make it easier to remove. However, once it’s dead, don’t wait
longer than a couple of weeks to remove the vines-otherwise they’ll rot and further damage your home.
Next, you need to remove as much of the ivy as you can. Start by pulling on a vine-but don’t pull too
hard. If you yank, you could rip chunks of your wall out with the roots. Instead, pull steadily and gently,
and don’t worry too much about leaving roots behind. If the vine just won’t separate from the wall, sever the
vine from the roots with pruning shears.
Once you have the vines off your walls, you’ll have what looks like a fuzzy mat left behind. The roots
sink deep into cracks and crevices, so they are difficult to get out. You can try a few things, but there
isn’t a perfect solution:
- Experiment with several tools. Try using different scrub brushes, like softer nylon brushes or stiffer
wire brushes, or a paint scraper to scrub the roots off the wall.
- Use a pressure washer if you have something other than vinyl siding. Though vinyl would be damaged by
this method, surfaces like wood can handle this cleaning method.
- Try scorching walls made of brick. A propane torch could burn the roots away. However, you should not
attempt this method unless you’re sure you can do so safely-don’t burn your house down just to get rid of
With enough elbow grease, you should be able to get those fuzzy pieces of ivy root off your home.
Though you may successfully remove the ivy, your walls may get damaged in the process. If the ivy is well
established, the removal could be unavoidable. Contact American Building & Roofing. We can help you
figure out what kind of siding is best for your home and provide you with the materials you can install on
your own. With new siding, your house will get a fresh start free from those pesky ivy vines.