English ivy, though lush and beautiful and evocative of traditional English gardens, is a real nuisance when it comes to removal from walls. Once you pull the vines off the wall, tiny suckers that used to anchor the vines will remain. Removing these is what presents a problem for many homeowners, but there are a couple of ways to do it correctly. You can remove the suckers immediately after pulling the ivy off the wall. Another option is to wait two or three weeks after pulling off the ivy, then attack the remaining suckers.
Pull off any small pieces of ivy that remain on the wall. You will see the suckers that anchored the ivy to the wall.
Scrape the wall immediately to get rid of any remaining ivy debris. If the suckers will not come off and the wall is made of siding or another smooth surface, you can use an orbital sander to scrape the debris off. However, in doing this you will probably damage the paint and primer. In that case, you will have to reprime and repaint the wall.
Use a small propane torch right away on the suckers if any remain after scraping. Light the torch and briefly burn any remains. Exercise extreme caution when using the torch, especially if the wall is made of wood. Have the garden hose ready and spray the wall as soon as you burn the suckers. Now your wall should be free of suckers.
Pull off any ivy remaining on the wall. You will see the suckers that anchored the ivy to the wall.
Brush the wall vigorously with a stiff-bristle brush to remove any loose ivy remains.
Let the wall sit without doing anything to it for two or three weeks. This allows the suckers to dry out.
Brush the wall vigorously with a stiff-bristle brush and soapy water made from washing powder to remove the suckers. Rinse with garden hose. All the suckers should be gone.
- Always wear gloves and safety goggles to prevent injury from flying debris.
- Do not use a wire brush unless absolutely necessary; it may leave rust stains on the wall.
- Stay away from harsh chemicals or acids, which may damage the wall.
- Use a propane torch with care; in sunlight, you may not be able to see all of the flame. Also test the flame on an inconspicuous area in advance to make sure you will not scorch the wall.
- Place the ladder so that it is level and on firm ground. Always hold on to the ladder with one hand and avoid overreaching.
- Don't wait more than two or three weeks to attack the suckers using the second method. Left alone too long after the ivy is removed, they will get very hard. In this case it is nearly impossible to remove them without damage to the wall.