While beautiful to look at ivy can become a nuisance.

How to Remove Old Vines From Brick

by Matt Smolsky

While old vines such as ivy look beautiful against a brick background, behind that beauty could be growing damage to your bricks. The vines themselves won't grow into the masonry and cause damage. Instead, the plant's tendrils can transfer and hold moisture on the walls, causing damage during freeze-thaw cycles. Of course, vines such as ivy also protect brick from water and can help reduce the temperature in your house. If you decide to remove them, take care not to damage the brick in the process.

Cut the vines from the wall using garden shears. Do not pull the vines. Ivy sends tendrils into the brick which attach via tiny suckers. If left undisturbed, the tendrils themselves aren't likely to damage the brick. But pulling the ivy off may cause you to take off mortar and pieces of brick as well, which could result in a re-pointing job.

Allow the remaining ivy to dry out and die. It will take about two or three weeks.

Scrape the wall with a wooden or plastic scraper to work loose the tendrils stuck to the wall, but be careful not to damage the mortar or the brick.

Scrub the last remaining tendrils with a nylon scrubber and a mild detergent. A mixture of laundry detergent and water should do. Start at the top with the softest bristled brush possible, using progressively stiffer fiber bristles for the hard to remove ivy. Using a too-stiff brush could remove the surface of the brisk, so be careful not to damage the brick or mortar. Rinse the brick with a garden hose.

Items you will need

  • Garden shears
  • Garden gloves
  • Wooden or plastic scraper
  • Bucket
  • Laundry detergent
  • Soft bristle scrubber
  • Stiff fiber bristle scrubber
  • Garden hose


  • You may have to live with some ivy tendrils stuck to the brick. Chances are, not all of it will come off. Aggressive scrubbing or a too-stiff brush can damage the brick. If you find yourself scrubbing off brick and mortar along with ivy, it's probably time to stop scrubbing.

About the Author

Matt Smolsky has been writing for more than 25 years. He wrote news, sports and feature stories for the "Omaha World-Herald" and other publications and has continued on in direct marketing and general advertising. He now writes for the web as well. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and journalism from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images