Will Boston Ivy harm my stucco siding?
August 1, 2012 10:26 AM   Subscribe

I have mature and well established Boston Ivy (not English Ivy) growing on the side and front of my stucco house. I am worried about damage to the stucco, but I am finding conflicting information about whether I should remove it. Does anyone have any clear guidance on this? More details inside.

The house was built in the 1930s. The ivy looks ancient and is well-established. The stucco is in good shape and appears to have been well maintained over the years. There are no visible cracks.

The problem is that when I look for information on ivy vs. stucco, I find conflicting information:

1) Remove it immediately as it will break down the stucco siding;

2) Stucco is too hardy to be damaged by Boston ivy if it is in good shape, leave it be but keep it trimmed so it doesn't get into soffits/vents/etc.

3) Boston Ivy can damage stucco but the harm caused by removing it is way worse than just leaving it alone.

Its beautiful and I would like to keep it, but not at the expense of having to get an old home re-stucco'd.

A lot of the confusion seems to stem from a misunderstanding of the difference between Boston Ivy vs. English Ivy. I have Boston Ivy. English Ivy has aerial rootlets that dig into cracks in a wall (or make new cracks if it can't find any). Boston Ivy has little gecko feet that stick to the surface of a wall (and isn't really an ivy in any event). Anecdotal horror stories or advice about English Ivy, though interesting, are not helpful!

What is my best choice in this? Does anyone have any conclusive advice?
posted by neksys to Home & Garden (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have a somewhat older house with, actually, both kinds of ivy on it. The stucco's okay, it's the wood trim that suffers, as the "gecko feet" leave marks when you pull the ivy off.

Of course it's impossible to fully remove the ivy unless you climb up on a ladder and use tweezers to tug dead bits out of the crevices of the stucco, but at least it grows back every year and covers up the mess it makes (we cut it back by at least half around midsummer when it starts trying to grow through the second-floor window screens).
posted by padraigin at 10:30 AM on August 1, 2012

I had Boston Ivy on my 1927 foursquare, covering the whole west side of the structure. It was well established by the time I moved in in 2000, and I removed it to paint the house several years later. It took a substantial amount of paint with it, but no stucco. In some locations on the house, particularly closest to the ground, the little gecko feet had to be power-washed off before painting could commence.

Because it was such a pain in the ass to prepare the house for painting, and because my paint guy said the ivy damaged some of our woodwork, I elected to remove all of the ivy. I now feel certain that the wood rot was associated not with the presence of the ivy but with some moisture control problems we had.

My experience is far from conclusive, but the house next door to mine, built the same year by the same developer, has so much Boston ivy that it looks like the outfield wall at Wrigley Field. That house's stucco is also is fine shape.
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 10:57 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

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