I’ve an ivy issue

June 30, 2010 | My Jottings

We have some ivy in our front yard that grows at the base of our chimney. It grows extremely fast. During one of my sleepless nights, instead of counting my respirations backward starting from the number seventy-three, I laid there and mentally calculated how fast this ivy grows. I know how fast it grows because I tear it down every fall, right to the ground. Then every spring it (here you can cue the theme music to Jaws) begins its relentless climb up the chimney once again, and in a little less than six months it grows over three stories high, which is roughly between one and two inches per day.

The ivy looks very quaint and is reminiscent of old, stately British manors, and most people comment on it favorably. But I have heard too many horror stories about what ivy can do if left unchecked. It can weasel its way through the mortar between bricks, if given enough years to work at it. It can grow underneath siding panels and get into the walls of one’s house. It can grow up a chimney and then when it finds the top, grow down into the chimney and come peeking out into your living room one morning while you’re sitting on your couch having coffee and reading the paper and say, “Good morning little darling! Here I am after all these years!” Except I have a feeling that if ivy could talk it wouldn’t be so cheerful. I think it would chuckle malevolently and hiss in a deep voice, “Well, what do you know, while you weren’t paying any attention, I’ve finally gained entry to your lovely little home, and now you’re going to live to regret it for the rest of your sad and tortured life……HAHAHAHAHAAAA!”

Anyway, here’s what the ivy on our chimney looks like as of this writing:

It’s almost halfway up. We still have all of July, August, September and October before I go outside one fine day and commence to bringing it to its knees. Or ankles. Or if I’m feeling powerful maybe I’ll bring this ivy to its toes. I’ll let you know in October.

Here’s another photo that sort of creeps me out a little bit. These photos enlarge if you click on them, so you’ll be able to clearly see how our quaint Mr. Ivy isn’t content to keep to the path and stay on the chimney. No. When he thinks (notice I’ve given him a male identity now – as I’m typing the threat has grown more pronounced in my mind and our ivy is no longer an it but a mister) I’m not looking, he starts growing toward the front porch, and slowly wends his way to the wooden porch ceiling:

Perhaps you can also see the remnants of Mr. Ivy’s attempts, years ago, to infiltrate the whole porch ceiling. This did not happen on my watch, but when the previous owners were living here. Look closely and you can see the little ivy suction cups left behind on the stone work and the ceiling. Mr. Ivy might have nothing to say about it when I decide each fall that he’s done with his creeping, but he certainly tries to leave enough of himself behind so that I don’t ever forget he’s been here.

Now, here’s a photo I took at the end of autumn, and you can see that the ivy grew all the way up to the top of the three+ story chimney, and then changed into beautiful breathtaking colors:

That’s why I don’t pull him out by the roots completely. Because kept in check, the ivy is lovely and delightful to look at, and adds charm to the house. But as soon as the last leaf falls and the Minnesota air turns chill enough to hint of coming snow flakes, these vines are coming down.

(I think a devotional could be done on this subject, likening ivy to the destructive habits and strongholds we allow in our lives. Sometimes we think those little dalliances are fairly innocuous and that we’ll just take care of them when they get a little out of hand. Sometimes sin even looks pretty and is pleasing to the eye. Where the analogy dies, however, is that with sin, we’re not supposed to just pull it down to the ground when it starts to take over our lives. We’re supposed to completely pull it out by the roots and be absolutely ruthless with it.)

Not only do I not want the ivy making its way under the siding, across the porch toward our front door, or crumbling the chimney mortar, but when I pull it down each year I tell myself I’m actively working to prevent our house from eventually looking like this:

Perhaps I should be so diligent in other areas of my life.


  1. Larry says:

    Hello Little Sister: 🙂

    I have been told that Satan looked lovely too, but Ivy can also be deceiving and a liar and is coming to destroy your home.

    Yes you can leave it till the fall each year, but every time it gets the chance to creep in to your roof, even just a little bit, it breaks down the defense and oops it is in and lifting your roof a little more for they next spring, I call it (in season):-(

    Or the time you leave it on your brick, and the roots hang on, they start going in and they must to be able to hold all that burden for it is not light. Think about the fact that each and every year, it is knocking down your brick and concrete defense, just like Satan would do if we give him a foot hold. Year after year the brick and concrete gets softer and begins to split open more and more.

    Yeh it looks sooooooooo pretty when it’s colors change in the fall, Satan is like that he too changes his colors to what ever he thinks will win us over. Ivy is just like that too, it is when you leave it up for the pretty fall colors that its roots that have established in the concrete and roof begin to expand thus opening everything even bigger for the next time.

    If you look more closely at the roof line and at your ceiling of your patio cover, you can see further proof, it is coming to destroy.

    Love you little Sis


  2. Just Julie says:

    I’m going to take cover right away, Lar. :O

  3. Patty (Rugersmom) says:

    Oh my!! When we bought our little raised ranch about 10ish years ago it was covered with ivy, to the point that it looked similar to your last photo. While we were looking at the house to buy it, the owners had the good sense to cut the ivy away from the windows or we would have felt as if we had entered a cave. Like you, I thought it was charming, until we tried to kill it. The first couple of years in the house when it got to the point that it was growing over the screens on the bedroom windows it would be cut back. When we pulled it away from the back of the house we found a wooden bar to hang tools on complete with a rake and shovel completely wrapped in ivy and unseen until we tore the ivy away. They could have hidden dead bodies there. It was no longer charming but an entity determined to overtake my home and hide it from me. Now most of the ivy is gone, but like your porch, the suction cups seem to stay forever. We have had the house power washed and still, there they are, taunting me and reminding me of what was there before. We are seriously looking at residing the house. And let me just warn you that if someone ever tells you that Morning Glories will be a lovely addition, stop them in their tracks. Two tiny little vines of Morning Glories have overtaken two flower beds. We try to pull them out but they won’t go away either. Sometimes it feels as if I am living in a bad Science Fiction movie! ;0)

  4. Just Julie says:

    Thank you for the heads up about morning glories Patty! After reading all of this I’m thinking about this ivy issue even more. 🙁

  5. Ember says:

    What you have there is not ivy, it’s Virginia Creeper (google for pics & info) and will not damage brickwork. However what it will do is create a lovely ladder for rats, and allow them to get in through the ventilation holes under the eaves and take up residence in your attic, if it grows to a height that allows them to jump from the top of the creeper to the eaves.
    Pretty though innit.

  6. Ember says:

    Mind you, you’re right about the suction cups on the wood, so maybe I’m being too confident about not damaging brickwork! You can check it out, that’s what the websites say.

  7. Just Julie says:

    Virginia Creeper! I’ve never heard of that. Thank you for telling me, Ember.


    Ruined roofs!

    Attic infestation!

    I’m gearing toward a goodbye to this plant pest….anyone want some clippings?

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