- Growing English Ivy – How To Care For English Ivy Plant
- Growing English Ivy Plants
- How to Care for English Ivy
- Growing Fence-Friendly Vines: Do’s and Don’ts
- Vines that Aren’t Fence-Friendly
- Fence-Friendly Vines
- Quick Tips for Growing Vines
- Can’t Beat the Heat? Shop These Summer Essentials:
- Can you remove ivy from brickwork?
- Five reasons why ivy is important
- Tips For How To Kill English Ivy
- How to Kill English Ivy
- Removing Ivy from Trees
Growing English Ivy – How To Care For English Ivy Plant
English ivy plants (Hedera helix) are superb climbers, clinging to almost any surface by means of small roots that grow along the stems. English ivy care is a snap, so you can plant it in distant and hard-to-reach areas without worrying about maintenance.
Growing English Ivy Plants
Plant English ivy in a shady area with an organically rich soil. If your soil lacks organic matter, amend it with compost before planting. Space the plants 18 to 24 inches apart, or 1 foot apart for quicker coverage.
The vines grow 50 feet long or more, but don’t expect quick results in the beginning. The first year after planting, the vines grow very slowly, and in the second year they begin to put on noticeable growth. By the third year the plants take off, and quickly cover trellises, walls, fences, trees or anything else they encounter.
These plants are useful as well as attractive. Hide unsightly views by growing English ivy as a screen on a trellis or as a cover for unattractive walls and structures. Since it loves shade, the vines make an ideal ground cover under a tree where grass refuses to grow.
Indoors, grow English ivy in pots with a stake or other vertical structure for climbing, or in hanging baskets where it can tumble over the edges. You can also grow it in a pot with a shaped wire frame to create a topiary design. Variegated types are especially attractive when planted in this way.
How to Care for English Ivy
There’s very little involved with English ivy care. Water them often enough to keep the soil moist until the plants are established and growing. These vines grow best when they have plenty of moisture, but they tolerate dry conditions once established.
When grown as a ground cover, shear off the tops of the plants in spring to rejuvenate the vines and discourage rodents. The foliage regrows quickly.
English ivy seldom needs fertilizer, but if you don’t think your plants are growing as they should, spray them with half-strength liquid fertilizer.
Growing Fence-Friendly Vines: Do’s and Don’ts
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A structure covered in vines is one of the most classic and beautiful features you can add to your backyard. Vines climbing a fence not only enhance aesthetic value but make your yard more private. Unfortunately, vines can be as destructive as they are beautiful. They’re resourceful plants that crawl up structures in order to soak up as much sun as they can, and sometimes they hold on tight and bring the structure down. You need to make sure your fence is suitable for vines and also that you’ve chosen a vine that won’t cause damage. So, if your dreams have been full of sprawling ivy, not so fast! Here are some do’s and don’ts to consider before growing vines on your backyard fence.
Vines that Aren’t Fence-Friendly
The types of vines that are most likely to be unfriendly to your fence and your outdoor living space are fast-growing, woody vines and invasive species of vines. Though many of these are beautiful, such as hydrangea or English ivy, they can destroy your fence and shouldn’t even come near it.
Some woody vines are favorites of gardeners for good reason. Many of them, like wisteria or trumpet vine, bloom with bright, fragrant flowers that attract hummingbirds or butterflies. However, when these vines begin to spread over your wooden fence’s surface, they hold excess moisture against the wood. This opens the door for rot as well as fungus, bugs, and other hazards that can wreak havoc on your fence. The “wood” part of the woody vine’s anatomy can also cause a problem: the vine’s strong wooden roots can get between the slats of a wooden fence or into existing cracks and cause breakage, especially on moisture-softened wood. Rapid-growing woody vines in particular can therefore spell disaster for your fence.
Many a hapless homeowner has introduced a beautiful vine to their fence, and a short time later, they ended up fighting an ongoing war with a vine that turned out to be a member of an invasive species. Invasive species of vines are often related to native species, like American bittersweet’s relative oriental bittersweet. These unwelcome cousins of naturally-occurring vines have been known to overtake entire geographic regions, choking out ecosystems and individual gardens alike. Invasive species like chocolate vine, English ivy, wintercreeper, and Japanese honeysuckle pose a hazard not only to the environment but to the appearance of your outdoor space.
All of the problems that come with growing woody vines on your fence (the moisture and accompanying structural damage) are compounded by invasive species’ tendencies to grow rapidly on every inch of available space. This includes your fence, lawn, other plants and trees, and even your house if left completely unchecked. Once they take hold of your yard, it’s likely that the only way to get rid of an invasive species is with a series of controlled burns and applications of vine-killing chemicals, both of which are likely to damage to the beloved plants and trees you actually want to keep around.
The type of fence you own determines the type of vine you can safely grow on it. Even the gentlest vines hold moisture against the parts of your wooden fence they touch. However, aluminum and vinyl fences respond well to most types of vines since they are more durable and less vulnerable to environmental damage than wooden fences.
For Wooden Fences
If you have a wooden fence, most species of vines are likely to be treacherous to your fence’s longevity. The rotting, cracking, twisting, and other structural damage that vines can cause to your wooden fence mean that most species should be kept away.
The safest vines for wooden fences are annual, herbaceous (non-woody) vines. These vines’ stems can wrap around your wooden fence but won’t cause the types of structural damage that woody vines will. You can guide these vines to grow around fence posts or along your fence’s upper support beams, which will provide them with plenty of light while keeping them away from your fence’s more vulnerable slats.
Though they should be removed at the end of the growing season, annual vines like morning glory, moonflower, sweet pea, and climbing nasturtium all work well with wooden fences. These plants are airier than most woody vines, which minimizes any moisture trapped between the plant and the fence. These vines grow readily from seed and can reach lengths of 10 to 15 feet at the peak of the season. They do not provide much privacy, but they do produce flowers that are vibrant in color and sweet in fragrance, brightening up your summer garden and attracting butterflies and birds. Gardeners who like to vary their planting from year to year will enjoy the opportunity to plant new herbaceous vines each growing season.
For Vinyl Fences
Vinyl fences, which are made of hardy, weather-resistant material, can withstand almost anything, so the structural concerns that wooden fence owners have about growing vines on their fences mostly do not apply to vinyl fences.
Because of their durability, vinyl fences are ideal for homeowners who want their climbing vines to enhance the privacy of their spaces. Coral honeysuckle or clematis are perennial vines that climb vinyl fences readily. These plants provide a lot of coverage in a short period of time, and they can usually span the height of your fence within a single growing season.
Though even the strongman-type woody vines will have little structural effect on your vinyl fence, the plant can still trap moisture against your fence, and with moisture comes a whole host of organisms from algae to bugs. Thankfully, algae growth on your vinyl fence is no big deal. Vinyl is a non-porous surface that does not permit staining, making it easy to clean your vinyl fence.
Bugs, on the other hand, could pose a problem. The moisture, delicious plant matter, and tough structure of a bushy vine may seem like a courteous invitation for bugs looking to homestead, placing the other members of your garden in danger. Make sure to check on what bugs, if any, are fans of your chosen vine and take the proper steps against bug infestation to keep the rest of your outdoor space safe.
For Aluminum Fences
Aluminum fences are perhaps the most readily-beautified of all fences. Their durability and open-lattice framework provide an excellent foundation for a “living fence.” Wisteria, climbing hydrangea, rambling roses, and other heavy, strong woody vines that might overwhelm other fences are no match for aluminum, which withstands moisture and resists rust. Even grapevines grow enthusiastically on aluminum fences. These plants can provide full coverage within a few growing seasons, adding intense color and aroma to your space. The thorny stalks of some vines like bougainvillea might even further discourage intruders!
Quick Tips for Growing Vines
- Visit a plant nursery. Taking cuttings of random, pretty vines from wooded areas may leave you quickly rueing your decision and even your very existence if the vines turn out to be invasive. Plant nurseries do not frequently cultivate invasive species since they’re often banned from sale by state governments. However, even vines not considered invasive can overwhelm you and your garden. Nursery staff can provide you with a wealth of information about how you can ensure your chosen vine stays under control.
- Your vines have needs, too! Carefully research your vine’s sunlight, space, and soil requirements. While some vines are relatively low-maintenance, it’s often said that some vines sleep, then creep, then leap – an apt descriptor of how it may take several growing seasons of work to help your vine reach its fullest potential.
- Consider your alternatives. If you have a wooden fence but are dead-set on filling your garden with climbing hydrangea or wisteria, look into other methods of introducing these plants into your space without destroying your fence. Arbors and trellises often provide a good structure for flowering vines to cling to and allow you to keep your vine’s growth in check. Strategically placing these structures can also help you enhance privacy. Many people place a series of posts a few feet inside their fence line and a string wire or other supports between each post, then guide their vines along these wires. Doing so can give you the full, rich look of creeping, climbing vines without putting your fence in danger.
There’s a certain whimsical quality to English ivy. When its long vines drape over fences or spread across the sides of homes, it sets a scene that looks like the beginning of an enveloping story. And when English ivy is planted indoors, it’s just as intriguing. The sight of its symmetrical leaves pouring down from a hanging pot, for instance, feels playful—like the kind of imaginative detail a kid would want in an otherwise empty corner.
English Ivy Plant amazon.com $19.99
“English Ivy is a beautiful plant,” Joyce Mast, the resident Plant Mom at Bloomscape, says. “It’s also known as Hedera Helix, it’s native to Northern Europe and Western Asia.”
If you’re looking for greenery that has undeniable personality, whether it’s climbing outdoors or hanging indoors, this plant is it. Here’s how to make English ivy a lasting character in your book.
What You Should Know Before Planting English Ivy
Known as evergreen perennials that have sprouted since ancient times, English ivy has long been used as a textural element on natural and man-made surfaces. If it is set to grow horizontally, it can spread at least 15 feet wide and eight inches tall. And if it’s prepped to grow vertically, it can stretch more than 50 feet high.
“English Ivy thrives best in bright, indirect light,” Mast continues. “Its variegated leaves will become more pronounced and stunning with brighter light levels.”
Image SourceGetty Images
But if you don’t have sunny conditions to grow English ivy, don’t worry. The plant also does well in shade, which is why it’s named for England—a country that isn’t exactly known for sunny weather. Keep in mind, too, that this plant prefers humid conditions and consistent temperatures to keep its dark, verdant shade as vibrant as possible.
Growing English Ivy Outdoors and Indoors
“English ivy is a vigorous ground-cover plant,” Mast says, which is why it is a classic choice for spreading across gardens. It’s important to note, though, that planting and caring for it requires diligence, since the ivy can quickly take over the whole of a backyard. Use basic houseplant food to feed it biweekly in warmer months, and then fertilize it monthly in the cooler months. Also, be sure to prune the leaves regularly by cutting “below the leaf node” to keep its size as big as possible, Mast adds. That’s especially true if the ivy climbs up a tree trunk, since it can cause unnecessary weight and block sunlight.
Clare Jackson / EyeEmGetty Images
As for growing ivy up a wall, it’s best to be prepared. While it’s true that English ivy looks whimsical as it grows below a roof—and is equally stunning when attached to a pergola or trellis—it can also put a lot of weight on these structures. Holdfasts can help the ivy better adhere to a wall, but may also cause the surface to deteriorate or crumble if the ivy ever needs to be removed. The potential harm it can cause to homes has sprouted red flags for those who aren’t willing to take the risk, but the views could be worth it if you’re willing to put in the initial research and ongoing work.
The safest option, even if it may not be the most imaginative, is to grow English ivy in a pot, especially one that lets its leaves cascade over its edges. “It’s best to plant English Ivy in a pot that is either wide and shallow or a pot that can hold its roots,” Mast adds. “The roots do not burrow down deep into the soil, so if the soil is too deep it will not thrive.” Mast recommends misting the ivy up to three times per week, and washing it with lukewarm water every month to keep dust at bay.
“Ivy prefers to be kept on the drier side, so only water when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch,” she adds. “Make sure you water thoroughly, and that there is no standing water left in the saucer.”
With this advice, Mast hopes that English ivy will soon become a staple in your outdoor or indoor garden—as long as you follow her directions. “It is relatively easy to care for,” she says. “My biggest tip for being a successful Ivy plant owner is not to overwater. If you need to give your plant friend some extra love, mist it, don’t water it.
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Dead ivy: enemy to bare brick walls everywhere Photograph: SideLong/Flickr/Some rights reserved
Back in October a question from a reader to hit a nerve:
Q We stripped 30 years of ivy growth off the walls of our house, but it has left marks and the remnants of tiny tendrils, which no amount of wire brushing can shift. How can we remove them before we repaint the walls?
A I get many, many questions about this and I have avoided them until now, as ‘Abandon all hope!’ doesn’t make for a very enlightening answer. But the clamour has become deafening, so I will tell you what I know.
A wire brush, paint scraper or pressure washer just won’t do it. You are wasting your time and damaging your walls. It is all about time and patience. If you can live with the damage for a few years, those tenacious little blighters just may have shrivelled and rotted slightly, enough finally to succumb to the attentions of a firmly wielded wire brush. Painting over them now will not only look rubbish but will also seal them in for eternity, so resist, and settle in for the long haul.
Lots of you got in touch with your own fixes: George Brooke and another reader known only as Paul said a blowtorch did the trick, while Margaret Constable wielded a creme brulee torch, which is roughly the same thing, I guess. A stiff broom or a wire brush removes the ashes and the wall is clear.
But perhaps you have your own fiendish methods of eradicating ivy tendrils? Do share your suggestions in the comments below.
Can you remove ivy from brickwork?
Posted on: October 16th, 2014
Ivy can give homes and garden walls character and charm but not everyone wants their boundary fence or the façade of their home covered in green. Often we are asked by our customers ‘can you remove ivy from brickwork’. If you’ve inherited ivy from the former owner of your property or your ivy has completely got out of control and would prefer a clean slate it is possible to remove it. But be warned: it’s not easy or straightforward. Tree surgeons in brentwood Prince Tree Surgery
Some species of ivy, particularly English ivy, is very aggressive and given half a chance will exploit weaknesses in brickwork. The tiny roots can penetrate quite deeply into cracks and holes and this is part of the reason why they are so difficult to remove once established.
The leaves of English ivy are covered in a substance similar in texture to wax which acts as a barrier to herbicides, preventing them from seeping into the cells of the plant. If you’re considering using a herbicide as your first option, the challenge will be making sure the ivy is given maximum exposure to the herbicide to ensure some of it finds its way inside. One way is to spray the ivy during the winter as this ensures the herbicide doesn’t evaporate in the heat and has a longer opportunity to penetrate into the plant. A sunny winter day is ideal because this will create a better surface on the leaves rather than rain. Another useful technique is to make a cut in the stems of the ivy which will allow the chemicals access into the plant through the open wounds. Even if ivy is successfully killed in these ways, removing it completely from your brickwork is going to require some physical labour. Physically removing ivy can be an effective but care should be taken to ensure all of it is taken away. Ivy has a notoriously fast growth rate and can regrow from just tiny stem and root pieces left in the ground. recommended tree surgeons in brentwood Prince Tree Surgery Ivy attaches itself to brickwork like glue and it is virtually impossible to remove by hand all of the tiny tendrils which have grown into the cement. The only way to clean the area completely is to use a scraping instrument to loosen any stems or roots attached to the brickwork. Tug very gently at the roots as ivy that is deeply embedded into the brick can damage mortar when it is pulled free. After scraping the accessible roots, use a small, dry scrubbing brush to lift some of the dried roots. If they are particularly stubborn, use a little detergent and warm water and try again. If all else fails and you still have noticeable marks from ivy roots, consider using a propane torch to burn away the remaining roots. This is an incredibly tricky task not to mention dangerous so great care is needed. It’s important to test a patch of brickwork first to ensure you don’t leave scorch marks on the brickwork. You will also steer clear of any flammable materials on wood. I hope you found this article on ‘can you remove ivy from brickwork’ useful. While we wouldn’t want to deter anyone from planting ivy to bring character to their property or garden, we would advise homeowners to think carefully about whether they can keep up with the maintenance of this particular species.
Last week on Instagram, I posted a gorgeous ivy-covered home posing the question, “Has anyone ever lived in an ivy-covered home? I hear the ivy is damaging and would love to learn more.” The post generated over 6,000 likes and 135 comments! It seems most everyone loves the romance of these charming homes… but they can be high-maintenance. After reading all the comments, I thought it would be fun to summarize them here today and share a plethora of additional ivy-covered eye candy.
Source unknown. One Instagram reader commented that this home is down the street from her home in Boston.
Comments regarding problems with ivy included damage to bricks and to mortar between the bricks, as well as ivy finding its way into screens, cracks in windows, and spaces between wood siding. Apparently it can hold moisture against the house causing mortar to crumble. One person had to replace the mortar between the brick. Ivy can also adhere to stucco causing stucco to pull away from the house. Some comments suggested there was less of a problem in dry climates vs. damp, high humidity climates. However, others indicated that they had not had these issues.
A 1920s Dallas home, via Architectural Digest.
There were two things that were apparent in these comments. One: Ivy has to be maintained, i.e., trimmed at least a couple of times a year, kept away from screens and windows, and kept away from creeping into vents, etc. Two: One should choose the best type of ivy… Apparently some types of ivy are more damaging than others. English Ivy, Boston Ivy, Fig Ivy, and Virginia Creeper were suggested as less damaging alternatives.
A 1930s David Adler home in Lake Forest, Illinois. Source.
Another problem mentioned with ivy was the critters that it can attract. Rodents, spiders, birds and their nests, and bugs and insects in general are a few examples. One person described how a snake had crawled up the ivy onto the roof and into a vent going into the house. It got under the bed in a guest bedroom and caused quite a stir. Another said her ivy was used by squirrels as a super highway to the roof of their house where they caused damage. They cut the ivy back several feet from the roof and solved the problem. One person said that her ivy had become a breeding ground for big cockroaches.
The Oaks estate in Cohasset, Massachusetts, once owned by the heirs to the Dow Jones and Wall Street Journal fortunes. Source.
In spite of these potential problems with ivy, very few people indicated that the problems were so great that they had it removed from their homes. The sentiment seemed to be that it was worth the hassle. One person said that it takes a long time for it to do serious damage. “It just takes monitoring and maintenance to keep it in check.” Another said “there is always a price to pay for fashion.” Regarding the potential damage, another person said “but I don’t care, it is too beautiful.”
A French chateau in La Chapelle-sur-Dun.
A popular alternative, Virginia Creeper, can grow in sun to full shade, where soils are soggy to dry and even in lightly alkaline soils. The adaptability of the plant makes it suited for any site but care should be taken to keep it off wood siding and gutters. The vine climbs and adheres to vertical surfaces with aerial roots, and the weight of the plant could pull off boards and misalign gutters.
Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. Source.
Additional information on Creeping Fig can be read here, and visit here for more on English Ivy. These are two more alternatives that were mentioned. Another recommended alternative is Fig Vine. But some warn of the damage they can cause as well.
A 1910 Georgian in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Source.
Darien, Connecticut. Source.
Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. Source.
Palm Beach, Florida. Source.
Palm Beach, Florida. Source.
Hilfiger estate on Nantucket. Source.
An Italian country manor. Source.
Dallas, Texas (Highland Park). Source.
A River Oaks estate in Houston, Texas. Source.
Tulip Hill in Maryland, circa 18th century. Source.
A circa 1927 Greenwich, Connecticut real estate listing. Source.
Hidden Pond Farm, Morris County, New Jersey. Source.
Circa 1915 Rye, New York real estate listing. Source.
Circa 1920 Nashville, Tennessee real estate listing. Source.
Raleigh, North Carolina. Source.
Atlanta, Georgia (Buckhead). Source.
Ralph Lauren’s circa 1919 Bedford, New York estate. Source.
Sister Parish’s childhood home. Source.
A 17th century Hampshire vicarage, England. Source.
Atlanta, Georgia (Druid Hills). Source.
Climbing roses, also worth considering. Chesapeake Bay. Source.
There seems to be mixed reports on all suggested alternatives. I think the bottom line on all ivy type plants, even the alternatives, is that they can cause some damage, especially if they are not kept in check. But they are so beautiful that they are worth it! To see my Instagram post on the subject and all 135+ comments, please click here. I’d love your thoughts, please weigh in!
Five reasons why ivy is important
Ivy is a common sight throughout the UK, climbing up buildings and walls or through tree canopies. The woody-stemmed, evergreen self-clinging plant grows quickly, both as a climber and as a trailing, ground-cover plant.
There have been many discussions about the pros and cons of ivy among architectural conservationists, gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts.
Here are five reasons for you to abandon the loppers, sit back and enjoy the benefits of ivy.
1. Ivy doesn’t harm trees
The biggest myth concerning ivy is that it damages trees, but this isn’t necessarily true. Ivy is not a parasite – it lays down roots, meaning it doesn’t need to take sustenance from the tree. Ivy doesn’t suffocate or strangle a tree, but simply uses it to climb up in its endeavour to reach the light.
A negative effect that ivy can have on a healthy tree is reducing the tree’s capacity to produce energy. If ivy climbs through a tree’s canopy, it can smother the leafing branches, which would limit the tree’s ability to photosynthesise.
This alone isn’t enough to kill a tree, but ivy may target weakened trees. Ivy-clad trees that topple over in strong winds are usually diseased or in decline.
2. It’s an invaluable late-season nectar source
In autumn ivy has small yellow flowers, providing valuable nectar for an array of insects when few other pollinating flowers or sources of nectar are available.
Wasps, hornets, hoverflies, bumblebees, small tortoiseshells, peacock butterflies and red admirals all make use of ivy’s late-season bounty. The nectar provides essential reserves needed by the adult admiral butterfly to hibernate over winter.
3. Ivy provides year-round shelter
A dense evergreen ivy, such as Hedera helix, provides a continuous refuge for UK birds and other small animals in which they can hide, roost, nest and hibernate.
4. A winter lifeline for wildlife
Ivy is the plant equivalent of a 24/7 grocery store for animals. The dark berries provide an essential food source through the harsh winter months for many birds including blackbirds, thrushes and wood pigeons.
Ivy also has an additional benefit of serving as year-round ground cover. It roots at many points, with stems that cover a wide area. This notably reduces the effect of frost hardening the ground in winter months, which means animals can continue to forage in the leaf litter during bitter weather.
5. Ivy can protect buildings
The effect of ivy on historic monuments was such a significant issue that English Heritage carried out a three-year project with Oxford University to determine the true effects of ivy growing on walls.
The findings were good news for ivy-lovers: in winter ivy keeps walls 15% warmer than other parts of the building, and in summer walls were recorded to be 36% cooler. Ivy’s protective properties also preserves walls from frost, salt and pollution.
As with trees, if there is any existing damage to a structure, ivy will add to the problem as it roots into cracks and crevices. So unless your walls or trees are vulnerable, there’s no need to remove ivy.
Top image courtesy of Gareth Williams / flickr . Share your Autumn on the BBC Autumnwatch flickr group.
The UK and Ireland were visited by the Beast from the East in 2018 – freezing Arctic winds that dumped inches of snow and brought down temperatures to nearly fatal levels. Such temperatures are catastrophic for buildings as well, which experience severe mechanical damage due to frost. However, a new study by scientists from the University of Oxford shows that the rampant and invasive English ivy can act as a thermal blanket for buildings and protect them from frost, and thus, damage.
English ivy, scientifically known as Hedera helix, is an evergreen climbing plant. With the help of small roots on its stems, English ivy quickly grows and thickly covers walls, tree trunks, and any supporting structure it finds. A lesser-known fact is that English ivy can tolerate sub-zero temperatures up to −25 °C, and being evergreen, retains its foliage in such freezing weather.
Frost damage is a yearly headache for homeowners, and even more so for heritage conservationists, who are tasked with protecting historic buildings from extreme weather elements with limited personnel and funds. Buildings made of masonry material such as brickwork and building stone naturally absorb some moisture. In sub-zero temperatures, the water in these structures freezes and forms tiny ice crystals known as frost. Ice, as we know, occupies a greater volume than water, and consequently, frost exerts tremendous pressure on the walls, causing them to develop tiny cracks that grow bigger over time, ultimately leading to crumbling or collapse.
In this study, which is part of a larger research initiative by Historic England, the scientists grew ivy for three years on specially built limestone walls facing all four directions, at Wytham Woods, UK. Data loggers with sensors were fitted to the walls to record the temperature and local climatic conditions every hour. Thus, the scientists continuously monitored the walls over two winters from 2012 to 2014, and studied the impact of freezing weather and winds on the parts of the wall covered by ivy and those that were exposed.
Overall, the ivy cover reduced the walls’ exposure to sub-zero temperatures by nearly 26%, compared to the exposed walls. Further, the ivy-covered walls experienced these sub-zero temperatures for nearly three hours less than the exposed walls. The severity of frost was also less.
Continuous freeze–thaw cycles occurring due to extreme temperature fluctuations can inflict damage on structures. However, on average, for the ivy-covered walls, wall temperatures in the summer were nearly 17% cooler, whereas wall temperatures in the winter were 40% warmer. Using laboratory simulations of extreme weather conditions, the scientists discovered that ivy also acted as a thermal buffer, and reduced the rates of physical deterioration of the walls.
Ivy is widely considered to be a nuisance. With changing weather trends, though, looking at ivy from a fresh perspective and using it to our advantage will be increasingly important. It will also save the time and money invested each year in battling this invasive species. However, don’t let your ivy go wild just yet! Ivy is still a frenemy, and unchecked growth of its clinging and penetrating roots could do more physical damage to walls than frost. But this winter, perhaps try blanketing your walls with a smartly trimmed coat of ivy
Tips For How To Kill English Ivy
The same traits that make English ivy (Hedera helix) a wonderful ground cover can also make it a pain to remove from your yard. Ivy’s resilience and lush growth make killing English ivy or removing ivy from trees a difficult task, but not an impossible one. If you are wondering how to kill an ivy plant, you will find some help below.
How to Kill English Ivy
There are two ways how to kill English ivy. The first is with herbicides and the second is through manual labor.
Killing English Ivy with Herbicides
One of the reasons that killing English ivy is difficult is because the leaves of the plant are covered with a waxy substance that helps prevent herbicides from penetrating into the plant. So, in order to be effective at killing English ivy, you have to get through that barrier.
The first thing you can do to make herbicide more effective for removing ivy is to use it in the winter on a sunny day. The cool temperatures make sure that the spray does not evaporate quickly and gives the herbicide more time to penetrate into the plant. The sun helps keep the wax on the leaves more pliable and more easily penetrated.
The other thing you can do to make herbicide more effective in killing ivy is to lacerate or cut the plants’ stems. Using a weed whacker or other device on the plant that will damage the stems and then applying the herbicide will help the chemical penetrate into the plants through the wounds.
Removing English Ivy with Manual Labor
Digging and pulling up the English ivy plants can also be an effective way to remove ivy plants from your garden. When removing English ivy manually, you will want to make sure that you remove as much of the plant, both stems and roots, as possible as it can regrow from stem and root pieces left in the ground.
You can make digging and pulling the ivy out more effective by following the directions for applying herbicides after you remove the ivy by hand as best as possible.
Removing Ivy from Trees
A particularly tricky thing to do is to remove ivy from trees. Many people wonder will ivy damage trees? The answer is yes, eventually. Ivy damages the bark as it climbs and will eventually overtake even a mature tree, weakening branches through its weight and preventing light from penetrating leaves. Weakened plants and trees are more susceptible to problems like pests or disease. It is best to always remove the ivy from the tree and keep it away from the trunk of the tree, at least 3 to 4 feet, to prevent it from climbing up the tree again.
When removing ivy from trees, do not simply rip the ivy off the tree. The roots will be firmly hooked into the bark and pulling the plant off will also remove some of the bark and damage the tree.
Instead, starting at the base of the tree, cut an inch or two section out of the ivy stem and remove it. Carefully paint the cuts on the still attached stem with a full strength non-selective herbicide. Repeat the process every few feet up the stem of the ivy as high as you can reach. You may need to repeat this a few times before you fully kill the English ivy. Once the ivy has died, you can then take the stems off the tree as the roots will break away rather than cling to the tree.
Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are more environmentally friendly.