The DOs and DON’Ts of Wall Ivy

If you’ve ever driven through a vine-covered stone tunnel or passed an ivy-blanketed garden fence, and thought to yourself, “How lovely!”, and had even the tiniest interest in creating a similar look in your yard or around your home, then this post is something you’ll want to read. While they may indeed look “lovely”, wall and fence vines can have some pretty detrimental effects on the structure they’re encroaching if the proper vine isn’t used. According to, vines climb through a variety of methods: mechanically, by using tendrils, suction-type cups and piercing roots.

The two main types of ivy people grow are Boston Ivy and English Ivy. The latter is notorious for the type of structural havoc we’re referring to. If you allow it to grow up a wall or home side, it will use its little roots to claw into whatever material its climbing and eventually destroy it…imagine water expanding in a crack or a tree’s roots lifting a sidewalk. If English Ivy is allowed to grow up a tree, it will kill that, too. Needless to say, its damages can be pretty costly.

Boston ivy on the other hand looks great climbing up walls and uses suckers so it actually doesn’t damage what it climbs on, though it can ruin painted surfaces. Unlike the English Ivy, its not evergreen and will turn pretty colors and drop leaves in the fall — perhaps the trade off of having it not destroy your walls?