Vines / Ivy on a Montreal area home.

Climbing Vines on Brick: Much Ado About Nothing?

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Posted on August 17, 2017

This year’s Montreal and area Shakespeare in the park series featured Shakespeare’s comedy, Much Ado About Nothing.

The meaning of the title to this play, often misinterpreted, is about making a big fuss when there is nothing to fuss about. They play attempts to show that deceit is not inherently evil, but can be used as a means to both good and bad ends and that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between good and bad deception.

Vines / Ivy on Brick: Something or Nothing?

Are negative comments about vines on a home much ado about nothing? When a house is covered in vines, on one hand, the deceit of the beauty may woo the onlooker. While the grower’s intention is good, it is also, on some level, an act of deception. When covered in vines, it is impossible to see the quality of a home’s brick. Is the mortar holding up? Are there cracks? Are the vines blocking drainage systems?

But other times, the vines are covering a perfectly secure brick wall, and the owner has been diligent, trimming away the growth that may block electrical cables, drainage systems and other essentials.

However, that is more often than not the exception. As inspectors, we observe vines being used to cover up a distasteful façade, and that is something.

Is your concern for your vines much ado about nothing? Or is there, in fact, much ado about something after all?

Inspectors like to whine about vines. We might joke that the house is a very nice “green house,” but the truth is, we don’t believe residential houses are meant to be green.

Virginia creeper ivy vines and other climbing plants send little gripping roots into brick and wood. “They’ve never managed to create a super glue as strong as the suckers on ivy,” Ivan Mose reports. “The potential for damage to your brick, if there is any small crack, nook or cranny, is highly likely. In the long-term, the damage and costs for repointing, or repairing water damage can be very costly.”

Climbing Plants on a House Hold Water

When ivy creeps into brick, it often requires repointing and resurfacing, and the little round stains left by the suckers, once you try to remove them, is unsightly. From the point of view of building science, climbing plants on residential brick buildings are a very bad idea.

Climbing plants hold water – the number one enemy to your home. When you allow the plant to climb up your wall and help keep the water in to help the building in its process of decay, rot, and warping, you’ll find yourself deep in repairs before long.

The worst part is that most vines cover surface of the brick so that nobody actually notices cracked mortar before it’s much too late.

There have been reports that say vines can actually insulate the home and protect it from water, but we assume those homes have a very tight maintenance schedule. How often do you want to climb a ladder to make sure your gutters are clear? How many weekends do you want to spend clipping the vine to ensure it doesn’t pull down the hydro lines?

What’s more, vermin experts will be the first to tell you: vines are an open highway for mice. Welcome in! They are easy to hide behind, and vines actually help open the cracks in the home that make it possible for mice, ants and other creatures to enter.

BENEDICK: And, I pray thee now, tell me for which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?

BEATRICE For them all together; which maintained so politic a state of evil that they will not admit any good part to intermingle with them. But for which of my good parts did you first suffer love for me?

BENEDICK Suffer love! a good epithet! I do suffer love indeed, for I love thee against my will.

That too, is the story of vines. We fall in love with them and it is difficult to separate that love for logic – it may in fact be, a love against our will. Later in the play, William Shakespeare’s character, Benedick says, “For man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion.”

For the love of vines, we would agree with this assessment.

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