Are vines on masonry wall OK?

Todays local newspaper (Chicago Tribune House & Home section) stated that “ivy planted on a brick wall or chimney poses no threat at all , unless the wall has structural flaws already, such as soft or loose mortar”. Do you agree with this? I thought that no vegitation on a wall is beneficial to the wall. :D:(

Its arguable…

IMHO, I don’t like it, because just like water and plants can eventually breakdown a granite mountain, they will do the same to bricks and mortar (only faster). The plants will hold moisture that will wick through the bricks, in the winter it will freeze and crack. Not to mention it makes a great highway for vermin to make their way into the home.

After you get interviewed from some newspapers, you will understand not to believe what you read is entirely true. Sad but true.

Not good. Over time, will cause damage.

This is a great question, but probably no definative answer??

In the northwest, vegatation near or touching the house is considered a no, no

In California, you see quite commonly, vegitation next to the house, and all sorts of vine like vegatation up the walls of stucco homes.

So, what is the “rule of thumb” or opinions of “do you call out vegation/vines on houses”?? If so, why?

Hope to hear your thoughts soon, before I get paronoid and go out and cut that nice looking,flowering, sweet smelling, vine from my stucco!

This article might help shed some light on the subject.

Hope it helps.

Marcel :):smiley:

Plants on stucco is bad Ju Ju

Did he really say “no threat at all” or is that paraphrasing?

If he said “no threat at all,” that begs the question, “threat to what?”

If he means that the ivy and its roots won’t damage the brick and mortar, he’s dead wrong. The time frame for the damage occurring depends on the type of ivy. English ivy can be extremely destructive, as can the philodendrons. Poison ivy not so much, but it has other problems that one has to deal with.

I haven’t seen any vines growing on stucco walls in my neck of the woods, but I have seen many vines growing on lattice work next to stucco walls to provide that effect.

Thanks to all for the comments. I put quotes around his exact words.

Link to the article,0,1046199.story

Seems to be written by a “plant guy”.

Not only does ivy send roots into the structure (especially soft mortar) it is a conduit for WDI. It’s one of the easiest ways for wood destroying insects to enter the house structure.

I don’t recall ever finding an Ivy (and other climbing type vine) wall that wasn’t being damaged by the plant. So my opinion based on that is that clinging vines** will **(not might) damage the wall over time.

From the article I’d say the author is big on vines and way short on building science.

But I’ve had clients who loved the vines and were perfectly happy to ignore my opinion on this. A few have eventually had to make repairs but so far no one has tried to say I didn’t make it clear that vines on house wall is a bad idea.

In our area, bad. Masonry needs to dry. We have a wet, humid climate in the Chicago area and vines and ivy do not allow for proper drying.

I always call it out.

Wonder how I could contact this guy?

Sean Conway is host of the TV show “Cultivating Life,” which airs Saturdays on WGN-America. His Web site is cultivating


I am currently visiting in the central valley of Calif., and I do see vines not only on lattice but attaching to stucco. Also experienced that in Wa. State.

Either way, I see it as a conduit for potential WDO problems.

When I lived in Del Mar, cut all the ivey away from the house, as it was finding its way into the walls. A lot of work and round up, kept it a bay.

So, if you inspect a house with vines growing up the side of the house, or vegitation close to the house, do you call it out?

In Wa. state, vegitation close to the house, or touching the house a considered a conduit for termites or carpenter ants. Most of the houses up there are “wood” sidding, as VS California stucco.

Yet, the house I inheritated from my parents, built in 1941, with all sorts of bushes planted next to the house, the house came out clean as to termites. Was a surprise to me!!

Any thoughts, anyone?

I don’t make it a significant issue (don’t put it in the summary) but do point it out like so:

“Vines are overgrowing the house walls and although they are attractive they can introduce pests and rodents and accelerate deterioration of the brick and mortar. Therefore, you may wish to consider having them removed.”

This 1935/2001 central Texas stucco home last week had ivy growing inside around the windows, you bet I pointed it out: