Storybook pages are filled with images of stone cottages covered in ivy, making them appealing to the young and old alike. Who wouldn’t enjoy coming home to an old English cottage wrapped in ivy? Long, tender, green tendrils trailing down the side of a home can make for a lovely scene. Upon closer inspection of the crumbling mortar underneath, however, you might see that the old adage, “Looks can be deceiving” is true. If not attended to carefully, ivy can make for some real damage to homes.

Ivy in general is a very tenacious, invasive plant. Once it starts growing, it can be difficult to stop, and once it gets its claws into the cracks and crevices of your home’s exterior, it can be very hard to remove. Ivy has been known to push its way into the smallest of spaces in brick mortar, siding, stucco and more, penetrating walls and windows, invading rooms and peeking out from behind electrical sockets.

While it will push through cracks and crevices, ivy is not strong enough to make them. Solid, well-constructed surfaces such as masonry walls can handle it. Old, weak brick, dry-stacked walls, porous wood and any other areas prone to cracks and crevices, on the other hand, cannot. Such substances are highly susceptible to ivy, and once it takes hold and weaves its way throughout the structure, the damage can be vast, ranging from leaks to pest infestation to total loss.

Pulling down the ivy may not be the right fix either. While it will prevent further growth, it may also lead to even greater damage. Boards, bricks, chunks of paint and stucco and who knows what else have been known to come down with every strand of ivy pulled. Entire wood structures have fallen down once the ivy holding them together was removed.

Homeowners that suspect damage due to ivy should not undertake the removal of it themselves. They should hire a professional to determine the best way to remove the ivy with the least amount of damage possible. They might also be able to repair any resulting damage.

There is nothing wrong with having ivy in the landscape. It is best to contain it to well-constructed structures and keep it away from all gutters, trim and woodwork in general. Only then can homeowners rest assured that the ivy will not take a toll on the condition of their home.

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