Striking a balance with ivy on brick

Q. I have garden-variety ivy climbing on the brick walls of my two-year-old home. I've been told by some people that ivy is harmful and will quickly cause the brick and mortar to crack and crumble. Are they right? Elizabeth Roans Milton, Fla.

A. You're right in what you report about ivy.Some experts do indeed say that ivy on brickwork may shorten the life of the masonry up to 10 percent. But over the long pull that's not much at all.

Ivy has both an aesthetic and sentimental appeal, such as the ivy-covered walls of dear old alma mater.

Unfortunately, however, ivy encourages insetcts, rodents, and even birds to inhabit the vines. Such residents have some deleterious effect on the living quarters.

Why don't you strike a balance among the longevity of the brick, aesthetics, and sentiment?

Avoid forcefully tearing off the ivy, since stripping the tendrils will likely damage the brick and mortar even more than the ivy itself.

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