A majority of our summer evenings have been spent on a constant cycle of plant, water, prune, weed, repeat. We have a combination of established plants from previous tenants, garden refreshes done by us, and beds and gardens in the very beginning stages of planning and building. The ivy on our house falls into the established division.
We have four different varieties of ivy growing on our cottage, and Frank is constantly trimming and cleaning up the vines, removing them from window frames, making sure they’re growing where we want. It’s really a seasonal thing. Every three months, he heads out and keeps it trimmed up. Here’s a few rules for maintaining ivy we’ve learned in the process:
Rule 1: Ivy roots need to be shaded, but the leaves can handle full sun.
I’ve always thought ivy needed a lot of shade, and while that is true for some varieties, for others, they can stand a lot of sun and heat. Four of our six vines are growing in near full sun. They’re healthy and whole. The most important part is to shade the roots. You can do this with bricks, tiles, plants or mulch. I chose to use a combination of the two, plants and mulch. I like the way it looks, a little more groomed and settled.
Rule 2: Keep ivy off window frames.
We have wood framed windows, siding under our eaves, and metal gutters. So we keep the ivy off these parts of the house while letting it have free reign on the rest of the house.
Until moving here, I believed the common American assumption that ivy causes structural damage. That is and isn’t true. It does cause damage on building materials like siding (plastic or wood) and stucco. Neither of which are commonly used in Ireland. If you have a home built of stone, brick, or cement, you should be ok. But definitely consult a landscape or construction expert before planting!
Rule 3: Get friendly with little spiders.
We do have a lot more spiders in our house than in any previous dwelling. I’m not completely sure this is due to the ivy, as most of them are on the second floor where the ivy hasn’t quite reached. But I’m definitely more capable of sending a spider to its doom than I was before moving here.