species to cover ugly brick house Ottawa Ont

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by OttawaLaurie, May 3, 2013.

  1. OttawaLaurie

    OttawaLaurie New Member

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    My husband & I bought a terrific house on a fabulous lot, but the rear wall is an ugly red brick. We can't afford to re-clad the house, but want to cover up the brick. The house is a bungalow with a roof overhang of about 3'. The wall has a more or less southeasterly exposure, & only a few hours of sunlight in the morning. On top of that there's about three feet of decorative gravel along the edge of the house. We are wondering what we could plant, maybe in sturdy containers, that could spread & cover the wall and would survive cold Ottawa winters. I had been thinking of Boston Ivy. We would be grateful for any suggestions!
    Thanks,
    Laurie
     
  2. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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  3. Barbara Lloyd

    Barbara Lloyd Well-Known Member

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    For heavens sake DON'T USE ANY IVY!!! I agree completely with Sundrop. Virginia creeper Parthenocissus quinquefolia is great! It covers many brick or similar buildings in England and is pleasing to the eye in all seasons.
     
  4. WesternWilson

    WesternWilson Active Member 10 Years

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    I know ivy has an unfortunate tendency to travel to woodlands etc. but that cat is hugely out of the bag! And my views on ivy (boring, invasive) changed when I learned it is an important source of honeybee/pollinator forage...

    The Virginia Creeper is lovely, although I think it would look best if you placed a nice array of shrubs in front...varying form, colour and depth and with evergreens to anchor the space in winter. Dogwoods with coloured bark would look nice in the winter as well.

    As for the ugly brick, we have some spectacularly ugly brick facing our home as well. There is a new product on the market (at least in the USA) which is a skin of cultured stone ie. the stacked slate look, that you apply over ugly brick with a mortar.
     
  5. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    Ivy will also literally tear your bricks apart over the years. Is Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris) hardy in Ottawa? If so, it is a great choice, and very popular with bees and some other pollinating insects.
     
  6. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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  7. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    Could be! There's are pros & cons to most things. I can only speak from my professional and personal experience to say that English Ivy (Hedera helix) in BC will erode the surface & joints of brickwork & woodwork. It also gets behind brickwork, siding & soffits to separate the components. It also acts as a convenient "ladder" for rodents, insects, mammals and various other things to access the building envelope; & after pulling the exterior apart a bit, to gain access to the interior. It also has the habit of steathily growing up adjacent trees until it's noticed by the unwary after the tree is half-dead. When it is removed from exterior building surfaces, it leaves behind its "suckers" attached by their own version of crazy-glue which disfigure the surface permanently even after scraping & pressure-washing.

    BTW, what plant are these people actually talking about? I am pretty certain that the photo show a building covered in Parthenocissus!

    ...as you may have gathered....I don't like Hedera helix.
     
  8. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    I'll defer to your experience regarding building envelopes, but still find the article (and others like it) reasonably compelling, and worth considering. Won't concede the tree-killing aspect though: this one is definitely circumstantial, not causal...as per this article (which I'll admit a confirmation bias towards, as it sums up my thoughts/experience with ivy and trees):

    http://www.arborecology.co.uk/article_forf.htm

    Should be said, despite all this, I'm not a big fan of the stuff either, given the alternatives.
     
  9. OttawaLaurie

    OttawaLaurie New Member

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    Thank you all! So, ivy is out, Virginia Creeper is a designated weed in Ontario & I'm not sure about Engleman's Ivy. Climbing Hydrangea appears to be hardy to zone 4 & likes shade so should be ok here, although I've never seen it in Ottawa. Now the next question is, how deep & wide do the roots go? I think I'd prefer to plant them in containers rather than dig up the gravel around the edge of the house. Has anyone head of growing these plants in containers?
    Laurie
     
  10. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    Woodschmoe, your citations are from the UK! Hedera helix is a European/UK native species. In many other regions where it is an introduction English Ivy is classified as invasive, nuisance, noxious etc...including BC!

    In Eflora BC the entry for Hedera Helix (English Ivy) states "This species is listed by the Greater Vancouver Invasive Plant Council of (as one of) the twelve most problematic species in the Vancouver region". That's not my opinion, that's a quote.

    In Ontario - I don't know it's status.

    As to the roots of Climbing hyrdrangea, just from digging them up & moving them around, I would say it has fibrous spreading roots. I can't imagine it would cause any foundation or sidewalk lifting. In Ottawa the rate of growth will be quite slow anyway, so I wouldn't worry about it - personally.
     
  11. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    Yah, I know. I'm in a particular camp with regards to "native, invasive, nuisance, etc" (as already elaborated/discussed in earlier, more appropriate threads), so I see 'native range' (and a lot of these classifications) as dynamic over time, and hence look past the location of the source when considering those aspects of the article which apply to the plant in general. Even in it's 'native' range, it climbs and covers trees (as the article suggests), and this isn't determined to be the cause of tree death. And I've noticed fair numbers of birds and beneficial bugs (and rodents, and pests) living in it around here as well. I think the main points are transferable.

    Looks like the OP is off the ivy train anyhow, so it's moot to the thread regardless. This ivy sucker's detaching.
     
  12. Keke

    Keke Active Member 10 Years

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    If you grow in containers you decrease the hardiness of the plant in the container by up to an entire zone. When a plant is in the ground, the earth around the roots will act as an insulator. Case in point, I had frost damage at -5C to a well-grown (over 6' tall, 1" trunk) bay laurel here in the Lower Mainland while it was in a pot. I unpotted it and planted it in the same location. It handled -10C just fine -- altho I worried myself into a tizzy, not being home when the temperature dipped! In Ottawa, that amount of difference might be life and death.

    You can certainly pile bags of dry autumn leaves around the pots for insulation, but depending on your wind situation in that location it may not make any difference.
    keke
    (an ex-Easterner, and happy about it)
     
  13. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    Very true. Roots, in general, are less hardy than above-ground parts of the plant. When in containers roots are exposed to lower temperatures than in the ground.
     
  14. OttawaLaurie

    OttawaLaurie New Member

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    Ok. So I've decided on climbing hydrangea. I'll get my 18yr old son to dig out the gravel, and do the soil prep! Thank God for 18 yr olds & their strong backs! Now I have another problem. I want to get rid of the lawn in the front yard and plant perennials. The grubs have done most of the work for me already. But I have two beautiful maple trees, & two old, and dying fir trees. The fir trees have to go. Does anyone know how to identify tree roots so that I can protect the maple tree roots as I plant around the yard? I've also read that I can simply layer old newspapers & 6" of pine tree mulch over the root network and plant perennials into that. I am skeptical as it seems to me that the plants I want to add would need more than a bit of soil & pine mulch to live. As before, I would be happy for any comments or advice!
    Thank you all so much!
     
  15. Keke

    Keke Active Member 10 Years

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    Don't worry about the maple trees. If they are healthy they will grow more roots. Their roots don't usually go much beyond their drip lines anyway, unlike the conifers. It's just gonna be a struggle to get your perennials in through the roots!

    The other problem you'll have is that the maple roots will grow to the water you give the perennials. So watch for water stress on those perennials, especially over the summer.
    keke
     

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