Any Tips for Ivy

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Amy Jo, Mar 3, 2004.

  1. Amy Jo

    Amy Jo Well-Known Member

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    We're building a house this year. I've always loved the way that ivy looks growing up the side of a house, but my daughter said she's looked at houses where the ivy got under the vinyl siding and did a lot of damage... Anyone have tips on preventing ivy from becoming that kind of nuisance?
     
  2. cntrydude

    cntrydude Active Member

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    Amy,
    The main problem with Ivy is that it is a non-native plant. Even if you keep it away from your trees and other native plants, birds will eat the berries and deposit the seeds elsewhere. The vines will then invade and choke out other native vegetation and trees. Just my 2 cents.
     

  3. I read a report a few years ago that showed ivy actually preserves brickwork. The ivy sheds the rain and keeps the moisture away from the mortar joint.

    I certainly wouldn't let ivy grown on anything but brick. I hasten to add that it must be kept pruned from reaching the roof line too. I helped a neighbor reroof a few years ago and we found lots of ivy growing inside of the attic. The soffit is a weak point for entry.

    Ivy not native? Who in their right mind brought poison ivy and poison oak to this country?
     
  4. jack_c-ville

    jack_c-ville Well-Known Member

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    When people talk about ivy, it's usually English ivy. Poison ivy, Virginia creeper, etc. are not related.

    Ivy usually does more harm than good to brickwork. It's roothairs dig into the joints and slowly break the mortar apart. If you ever want to pull the ivy down years later, there's a chance that the whole wall will come with it.

    English ivy looks nice but it is a major pest. I have seen so many nice patches of woods - many acres at a time - ruined by english ivy that covers the understory plants and chokes them out, blocking light and preventing native plants from getting any kind of a start. Eventually it grows up large trees and kills them, too. It creates what is known as a 'monoculture.'

    Patches of ivy create an ideal environment for rats and mice. The shape of the leaves and shallow cavities formed on the ground by criss-crossing runners retain rainwater long enough to be a haven for breeding mosquitoes. The water does not evaporate quickly due to the shade of the leaves and lack of air circulation close to the ground.

    Nothing in the US eats it. Not deer, not insects and probably not goats either. Roundup cannot kill it because of the thick, waxy coating on the leaves. We do not have pests or viruses or funguses that have adapted to its presence and they cannot kill it. It is always the last thing to die in a drought. There is practically no way to get rid of this stuff once you invite it onto your land.

    Then it keeps spreading. It has so many runners under and above ground that you can't possibly get them all. Birds will carry the seeds to your neighbors property and into wilderness areas where nobody will even see it until many acres are ruined.

    In my last house, I had a neighbor who planted english ivy because it was a cheap, easy groundcover that he didn't have to mow. By the time we moved I was ready to strangle him because I spent about 5 hours a week fighting the invasion of his ivy over my property line. I had a wonderful garden that I spent a lot of time and money on and his alien species just did not stop trying to strangle it.

    Run like hell from that stuff. Consider using something like Virginia creeper, which is native to the US and looks very nice going up a wall.
     
  5. Highground

    Highground Well-Known Member

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    I read somewhere that insurance companies won't insure a house if it's got ivy on it. Ivy WILL damage it. Think about a trellis close enough to the house the ivy can climb on and you can keep it cut away from the house.
     
  6. RAC

    RAC Guest

    In some states it is considered a noxious nuisance plant, and you can be fined for having it. Please check into this in your area.

    That said, I saw in one of the Martha Stewart mags a while back the idea for a trellis that was hinged at the bottom so you could pull it away from the house when you needed to wash down the walls or paint.
     
  7. Amy Jo

    Amy Jo Well-Known Member

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    Wow... what a bummer! I think ivy is so beautiful, but I sure don't want it to be the only plant on my property! I'll look into virginia creeper, I think... Any other recommendations?
     
  8. Ana Bluebird

    Ana Bluebird Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Had a house in Virginia that had one side with this goregous ivy all over it. Looked good until we tried to control it. It went everywhere in no time at all. It did damage to the siding, the roof, and was impossible to kill. Nope, I would avoid it like the plague.
     
  9. MaKettle

    MaKettle Well-Known Member

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    Virginia creeper volunteered next to the house and began to burrow under the siding. How to keep ivy from harming the house. Round up.
     
  10. jessandcody

    jessandcody Well-Known Member

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    I agree with the trellis idea. I think Lowe's had them on sale for $10 each or make your own - they will cover in time! But Ivy is like honeysuckle - if you let it go, it will grow....everywhere.

    It does do a lot of damage but you can keep it under control with your trellises and a good pair of pruning shears.

    - Jess
     
  11. jack_c-ville

    jack_c-ville Well-Known Member

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    Round Up doesn't usually work on most ivy. The thick, waxy coating on the leaves that give them that glossy look act as a 2-way barrier. It keeps out chemicals such as Round Up (which only works by getting into the plants circulation system via leaves or cuts - not roots), while also slowing the process of evaporation of water through the leaves. That's also one of the reasons why ivy lasts through droughts without so much as a droop. Think about most plants that thrive in drought conditions. They all tend to have those thick, waxy coatings to limit water transfer.

    But that's the beauty of Virginia Creeper. It may climb like an ivy, but it's not really ivy. No thick coating on the leaves. So when it misbehaves you can get rid of it quickly and easily.