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I've seen this argument go back and forth, but I love the look of ivy covered walls and I've heard it's great "natural insulation".

Will English ivy destroy the stucco and if so, is there one that will climb that won't destroy the stucco?

FWIW: I'm in zone 11

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There are some vines that you can grow up a trellis in front of the wall. – J. Musser Aug 26 '14 at 17:14
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Yes, it will destroy the stucco - Hedera varieties root into whatever they're on, so bricks, wood, mortar, stucco, they'll root into it. This doesn't necessarily mean serious problems unless and until you want to remove excess growth, at which point it will pull the stucco off the wall. Parthenocissus varieties (P. henryana, P. tricuspidata and the like) won't cause similar damage, provided the mortar or bricks or stucco are, preferably, newly finished (as in new build homes) or are in extremely good repair.

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You're right. Ivy hurts more wall materials than not, and stucco is fairly soft. I let it climb solid rock walls, but not gravel siding, stucco, or the like. – J. Musser Aug 26 '14 at 16:50
Ivy covered buildings are picturesque, but the damage is nasty. It fosters mold and rot on wood even when covered with a coat of paint, rips the paint off after while leading to more rot and can eventually spall stucco. Brick is more impervious until it finds weak points. I've had to deal firsthand with the cleanup and would determine that it drops the property value by 10-25% for resale when the inspector starts looking at the damage. You're better off just adding the insulation, it will have a better R value and doesn't compromise the building envelope by growing into stuff. – Fiasco Labs Aug 26 '14 at 19:05
@FiascoLabs you had me at "Drops property value..." Thanks everyone for your input... It looks like I'll definately be keeping this as a ground cover – Rikon Aug 26 '14 at 19:59

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