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Ivy on Walls


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I have long argued that ivy rooted in the ground and only growing up the wall doesn't damage masonry, to which my brothers and sisters usually argue to the contrary. I'll once again argue that's it's improperly maintained masonry, masonry defects, atmospheric pollutants, or other influences that allow ivy to "properly" root in walls and damage them, and the ground rooted ivy just happens to be a casual bystander getting the blame.

I've now got someone on my side.

Plant Ivy Now!

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Most all my clients think contrary to you. I see so little ivy-related damage, though, that I'm with you.

I read once that the Masonry Institute claims ivy will decrease the lifespan of masonry by 10%. So, those ivy-covered castles from hundreds of years ago only got another couple centuries or so left. Pity.

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Around my area, ivy pulls houses down.

But those are wooden houses. It leaves ugly marks on stucco.

There is a campaign here to kill English ivy that is found growing on trees in the wild. It is an invader, but I don't see it actually killing the larger trees. It keeps deer happy through the winter. They keep our hedge along the road trimmed pretty good.

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Harvard University, creator of The Ivy League has pulled the ivy off of all but a few ceremonial buildings. Who am I to argue? I universally recommend removing the ivy if for no other reason than it covers the wall, making maintenance all but impossible.

Very Little Upside + Plenty of Downside = Easy Decision.

Call me a Philistine,

Jimmy

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Hey, everyone will do what they want.....I don't care. The elites at Harvard pay good money for their experts to tell them what to do.

I just look at hundreds of ivy covered walls every year, and have yet to see one damaged by ivy. I see ivy taking advantage of damaged masonry, but no masonry damaged ivy.

The damage I do see is the usual stuff, i.e., caused by humans using incompatible mortar.

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I just look at hundreds of ivy covered walls every year, and have yet to see one damaged by ivy. I see ivy taking advantage of damaged masonry, but no masonry damaged ivy.

I just inspect hundreds of ivy-covered masonry walls every year for 25 years and find significant damage more often than not. The masonry walls I see are extremely well constructed - laid up with lime-based bedding mortar that allow tendrils to easily penetrate. This is in addition to the damage to other building components.

http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advic ... ment.shtml

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What....you pulling rank?

Chicago is a masonry city, with some of the finest lime based mortar construction in the world. I look at way more old masonry than any other type of construction. I'd wager I've seen at least as much as you, or you as much as me. We've both been at it for the same amount of time....actually, I got you by a few years, but who cares?

Writing about it on Old House Web doesn't mean it's true, nor does my experience mean I'm right.

Folks with a lot more credentials than either of us agree with both of us.

Like every other thing that challenges a home inspectors preconceptions, folks are disinclined to believe it.

I liked the article; it was well researched and didn't conflict with anything I've seen.

Tell them they're wrong. They might welcome your insight.

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Hi,

I don' t know what species of ivy we have here. In fact, I know very little about fauna. I do know though that whatever the stuff here is it definitely damages masonry. I've found the stuff grown through the sides of chimneys as thick as my wrist. I remember one house where it had intertwined itself into the parapet and balustrade of a round brick porch and when the owners cut it away the porch literally collapsed 'cuz the ivy had literally been holding it up.

There is another kind of ivy here with smaller leaves with white edges that doesn't seem to harm anything but whatever the dark native stuff is it kicks the little ivy's figurative ass.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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So Kurt, what's the big difference between here and there, between my experience with this stuff and yours? What exact species is in your hood that coexists with it's host? I could see the possibility that Virginia creeper or Boston ivy not causing too many issues for up to a century. What ivy do you have, that densely covers a masonry wall and still allows moisture to dry? You've never seen plaster turn to powder on the interior of ivy covered walls?

I was involved (in my early years) on masonry restoration, under the guidance of a top masonry preservation consultant. We were specifically dealing with several important masonry buildings, suffering from the effects of being covered in ivy, that a famous landscape architect specified in the early 1930s. That kind of experience shows how to identify the damaging effects of ivy. Monitoring little electronic sensors for all of three years only tells researchers what they want it to tell them.

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I merely found the article interesting and informative. Folks dismiss that which doesn't conform with their experience, and find interesting that which supports their experience. I merely found the article interesting.

There are more variables involved than immediately apparent, or are discussed here. Red herring assumptions abound. Lots of instances where ivy takes advantage of fundamentally unsound masonry, so people blame the ivy. Fundamentally unsound can mean chemical composition, among other things. Masonry isn't just mud and bricks and all the same.

Like I said, tell the folks in England they're wrong. Maybe they'll be interested in your experience.

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  • 1 year later...

Set the ivy roots into mortar aside for a moment. Bricks absorb moisture and expand over their life, correct? Ivy can trap moisture against the brick that might otherwise evaporate. I see the general moisture issue as much of a concern as root damage. Expanding bricks are going to move. Gaps open up, more water comes in......and so on.

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Set the ivy roots into mortar aside for a moment. Bricks absorb moisture and expand over their life, correct? Ivy can trap moisture against the brick that might otherwise evaporate. I see the general moisture issue as much of a concern as root damage. Expanding bricks are going to move. Gaps open up, more water comes in......and so on.

Yes, that can happen, and often does. That's masonry from about 1960 on.

OTOH, if you live in an olde school masonry city, you get to see the other side where real masons knew how to match brick to mortar, install coping and flashing, or otherwise assemble walls that show no discernible wear after >125 years. I see walls like this >100 years, buried in ivy, and nary an issue.

The original mortar (perfectly creamy lime putty) on my house is in essentially perfect condition after 92 years; not a hint of cracks or issues, and barely any weathering. Autogenous healing. It's the new stuff someone put on in 1960-something that's the problem; thankfully there's not much of it.

All the problems seem to come from not matching brick to mortar. Architects and engineers just love new high compressive strength mortar; it's always the problem, because most of the time it's too hard for whatever brick they're using.

Old masonry, done right, is magic. New stuff, not so much.

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  • 5 months later...

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