Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

How to Remove Ivy from Walls


Ivy and walls seem to go hand in hand in landscape design, but it takes a good bit of maintenance to keep it pruned and tidy. And if you’ve ever pulled ivy off a wall, you know that the tiny roots adhere to the brick or siding like glue, leaving behind a maze of fuzzy tendrils that can leave your wall looking like a mess!

At my house, one wall of the porch is covered with ancient ivy tendrils from well before my time. I figure they’re a good worst-case scenario, since they’re dried out and stuck like glue, and the brick is textured, so they’re embedded deep inside the nooks and crannies.

Brick wall before. Those hairy tendrils stick like glue!

There’s no magic chemical or spray that will remove ivy from walls. It just takes lots of elbow grease or what we call around my house “a good old-fashioned Scrub-A-Rama.” In a nutshell, you have to scrub the ivy roots off with a brush, but the trick is to find an approach that’s strong enough to remove the ivy but not so strong that it damages your brick or paint.

Of course, smooth brick or siding is going to be much easier to clean than textured brick or stone. Depending on your situation, you may not be able to erase every strand, but you can certainly improve the overall appearance.

Ivy Removal Tips

To tackle this job at your house, follow these tips:

  • Removing Ivy: When removing ivy, pull it VERY gently off the wall, not worrying about the stems that break and stay stuck. If the roots have grown into cracks, you don’t want to damage your mortar or siding by yanking too hard.
  • Don’t Procrastinate: As I found with my porch, over time the roots will harden and be nearly impossible to remove. The sooner you can clean your brick, the better.
  • Scraping: Start by using a wooden or plastic scraper to work loose any whole roots and stems that are still attached, being careful not to damage the mortar.
  • Scrubbing: Once you’re down to just the hairy tendrils, it’s time for the scrub brush. Start with a nylon household scrubber and work loose as much dried material as you can – it will crumble better if the brush is dry. If there are still tendrils remaining, try loosening them with water and mild detergent. If the scrub brush isn’t doing the job, try progressing to a stiffer brush, or a scrubbing sponge. The stiffer the brush, the more likely you are to damage your wall, so take it easy! Test out your brush in an inconspicuous spot, to be sure it doesn’t scratch the surface.
  • Torching: If all else fails and you have a brick or masonry wall, you can try using a propane torch to burn away the remaining roots. This has a chance of scorching your brick, so test it first. Be sure to wear goggles and keep the flame away from wood or flammable materials.

Brick wall after. Don’t damage your brick, as I did here in my test!

I have to admit, cleaning this textured wall proved to be more trouble than it’s worth. A soft brush only removed about half of the tendrils, and a stiff brush removed the surface of the brick. Yes, it reached a point where brick was coming off, and ivy wasn’t!

Even flame couldn’t erase the tucked-in strands. In order to preserve my brick, I had to accept that unless I want to pick at those roots with a needle and magnifying glass (and even I’m not that crazy), some of those tendrils are just going to have to stay there.

Further Information

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7 Comments on “How to Remove Ivy from Walls”

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  1. DaleH Says:
    February 24th, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Regarding removing ivy from a concrete block wall: have you tried a power washer? I’m thinking about trying one but I would like a second “professional” opinion. Thanks.

  2. Lori Says:
    August 23rd, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    I used a power washer but prescraped as much off with a rake and brush as I possibly could and the power washer did not do too much. It is a bear no matter how you do it

  3. john Says:
    May 6th, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    By Chance i tested an h1610 powerwasher on my brick wall and could not believe how well it cleared each brick face and the roots inbetween, it also cleaned off all the green moss and with a little more foucus paint stains on some of the bricks, I was ready to cover the wall with a wood facing until i saw how great the brick now looks.

  4. jack Says:
    September 19th, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Be very careful removing ivy. I had a very serious poison ivy or sumac reaction which sent me to the e.r. The poisonous variety likes to hide between the English Ivy.

  5. DaleH Says:
    September 20th, 2013 at 8:36 am

    A follow up: My wall is painted cinder block instead of brick. I ended up by first pulling all of the ivy from the wall and then using a very powerful power washer to remove the remaining tendrils. The wall is over fifty years old and the mortar used to grout the joints was not mixed properly so I’m in the process of tuckpointing the bad grout lines that were dug out by the power washer. My next step is to prime all the paintable surfaces with exterior primer before I paint. I’m trying to get all this done before the snow flies. Wish me luck.

  6. Pam Says:
    October 6th, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    I kinda’ have the opposite problem from Ivy sticking to the wall. A couple of times I have moved the tips of some vines to point them in another direction. Afterward all the little roots turn brown and fall from the wall. I probably pulled the little roots at the end I moved, but what makes all the rest come loose and fall? Thanks.

  7. Carol Says:
    January 9th, 2014 at 11:14 am

    When I moved into my property my wall was pristine with no evidence of any ivy having been grown against the wall. A couple of years later, (last winter), I one day noticed fuzzy growths on my wall. That following spring friable, woody twig-like tendrils appeared out of the fuzzy growth. They looked just like the picture on this site, and seemed stuck on with super glue! I had it all removed later on that spring and thought it was all gone – until a couple of weeks ago (it’s now winter again), since when I’ve noticed patches of fuzzy growth re-surfacing out of the wall (no tendrils yet though)! A neighbour has just told me that the previous owner did have what looked like a Boston ivy plant growing up the wall, but she took it down. There isn’t an ivy plant or anything growing out of the ground, just these random patches. What I’d like to know is, is it at all possible for these fuzzy ivy growths/tendrils to re-propogate themselves out of walls without the support of any ground roots or visible ivy plant? Is there any chance that they could spread to surrounding bricks on the same wall, or will they stay confined to the area they’re spouting out of. Hopefully, the latter! Also, is there a chance that leaves could grown out of these isolated fuzzy growths. Any suggesions/answers would be much appreciated.

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