Plants/Vegetation/Vines - Growing on front of house

SnoopyBMay 23, 2005

I don't know if this is the right place to post this but...

We looked at a house where there was a flower garden in the front and huge pine tree blocknig the front window and some kind of plants/vines growing up the side of the house around the window.

I know it would be okay to remove the tree but what about the plants/vines attached to the wall?

Has anyone ever had this? Is it expensive to have it removed? Will there be any damage?


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You didn't say (or perhaps you don't know) what kind of plants are growing up the side of the house .... Some are complete pests, some can be lived with quite well.

Plus it makes a difference what kind of outside material (wood, brick, stucco, etc.)

Removing the plants/vines is always an option, though depending on what kind of plant you may have more, or less, of a job about it.

OTOH, you may not need to remove them, you could choose to just curtail or manage their growth.

It is always a trade off between the aesthetics of the vine-covered cottage vs. ease of care and protection of the structure itself.

I live in a clapboard building and allow Virginia Creeper to have its way partly up a portion of the north side. Periodically I pull it down and let it begin to grow upward again.

Problems it creates: time it takes to occasionally thin it to keep it under control; little bumps of vegetative matter where it has attached itself (it's that kind of climber); discoloration along the wood siding in lines just where the vines grow (this is accumulation of atmospheric dirt that doesn't get washed off by rain); possibility of tendrils growing under siding (I keep it in control to avoid this); and it is necessary to remove the vine and do a little extra scraping before repainting every 15 years or so.

Advantages of this vine for me: it softens the fairly stark look of that particular wall and visually connects it with gardens below; it provides nesting habitat for birds just outside my bathroom window by the bathrtub; it amuses me. Except of course, on the day I have to spend to cut it down, pull it off and scrape off the little attachment pieces, then it's a bore. That day occurs only a couple of times per decade; the thinning takes an hour once per growing season. The rest of the time I enjoy the vine and the creatures that live in it, so it seems like a reasonable trade-off for me.


1 Like    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 12:31PM
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The house is brick masonry. I don't know what kind of plant/vine it is. This is in the Northeast.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 2:14PM
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let's hope it isn't poison ivy then. Try to ID the plant.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2005 at 9:05AM
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Is the plant fastening itself to the house by "sticker pads" or by sending little shoots into the masonry?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 7:52AM
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Make sure that you have a clause in the purchase contract that holds back some money from the seller for repair to the bricks under the vines.

Some of them can really wreck the mortar.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 9:39AM
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We used to have ivy and pachasandra all around our brick ranch...the ivy covered 3 sides of the house, creeping up the chimney. My father used to trim it back several times a year, but after he passed away, I did not want the hassle. My BF and I spent a LOT of time getting rid of all of it - it was horrible...the amount of dust and pollen was not to be believed. The ivy that climbed to the chimney had rooted itself under some of the shingles, and created damage. It had also covered the entire underside of the patio underhang. The whole house is covered in those little sticky thingies (7 years later!) and there are still little stems attached to a lot of them.

We are going to re-point the brick this summer, hopefully, and the roof definitely needs to be re-done. I would definitely have someone inspect for any damage before you buy...

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 11:38AM
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Remove the vines. I thought they looked good too until I rec'd an unwelcome guest, a roof rat. These brown rodents will climb the vines and seek an entry, unless of course you have a tight roof withought any holes.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 2:42PM
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Hi all. We just started moving into our house and have a similar problem- we jus bought a 1920 brick house in upstate NY. On the front is a dead vine (no leaves, dry and flaky) and on the other side of the house a live vine (possibly ivy- but not sure). The dead vine has a thick base (about an inch) and seems to be stuck pretty hard; I'm not sure how it was killed. The live one is also stuck pretty good in the mortar and bricks.

How are these (dead and alive) removed? I assume I might need a professional to do it- how costly is this? Is there any reason to want to keep these (the live one)?


    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 8:48PM
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Vine removal : I'd do as much of the work myself as I could. The cost of removing vines from a structure is pure labor and the job can be time consuming.

Use a hand pruner to snip vines, a lopper for heavier woody growth and if it's really wide at the base, a pruning saw. At about chest height clip through a group of adjacent vines and start wiggling and teasing and tugging it away (upward) from the building. You should be able to pull off a fairly long length, it'll usually break higher up. If one won't budge just go to the next. If you can reach any more from a small step ladder, the porch, etc. go for it. After that, clear it down to the ground. If you want to you can then remove some of the clinging plant material with a plastic spackle tool or stiff brush or whatever will work on your exterior without causing damage.

Now come the things that you pay for - removal of vines that you couldn't reach, having someone haul away the debris if you can't dump it yourself, repairs to any exterior damage caused by the vine and maybe pressure wash.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 9:53AM
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Thanks. I did find a web site that suggests that leaving them alone might be safe, but pruning them is advised (which I assume just means cutting the leaves and trimming the roots back from windows?). Nevertheless, I am thining I will follow your advice and do it bit by bit, starting with the live vines. (I don't think that crumbling brick is charming- at least not on a house I am living in!)

thanks again

- Mike

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 8:36PM
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Creeping fig is supposed to be a safe climber -- lightweight, doesn't damage mortar or wood. It lies almost flat against the house so doesn't require thinning -- just trimming if you want a neater look.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 4:26PM
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has anyone ever tried boiling water to kill off ivy? Does it work?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 5:56PM
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Haven't tried it, but I think it would only kill top growth and the root/rootlets would remain viable.

I had a vine growing into my windows that I removed by chopping all growth down to ground level and brushing on "brush-B-gone" immediately on the fresh cuts.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 1:58PM
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thanks for the reply roses4me, I tried the boiling water and so far no really effect. However I did find this after a quick search on the interweb, it seems to offer some good advice.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Kill Ivy

    Bookmark   September 16, 2007 at 1:22PM
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