[Skip to Content]
University of Illinois Extension
Vines: Climbers & Twiners

Vines on Buildings

There are many thoughts and opinions on whether vines that are allowed to grow on buildings cause damage. This can be a yes or no answer. The vines in question are most likely those that support themselves by means of aerial roots or hold fasts that attach to the structure.

vines have not shown to cause damage to good, sound masonry, brick or stoneGenerally, vines have not shown to cause damage to good, sound masonry, brick or stone.  However, if there are loose joints or loose mortar, vines can get into such areas and loosen them up.  Another issue is vines can and will find openings around windows, roof tiles, frames, fascia, gutters, ventilation louvers and  shutters  and work their way behind and into such places and possibly push them away from the structure.  This type of damage is very easy to prevent by developing a program of timely pruning.  Removing stems that are around such features before they can cause damage results in no damage. 

Vines growing on wood siding or stucco structures may cause damage.  The damage they cause can be that of getting under the clapboards and pulling them away.  Also, because the vines grow directly on the surface of these structures they reduce air flow resulting in moisture retention that can harm stucco surfaces and cause wood decay.  They also can leave unsightly marks on the clapboards left behind by the aerial roots or hold fasts if the vines are removed.   They also make repainting impossible unless the vines are removed totally.    If vines are desired on such a surface it is suggested that some type of trellis or support be positioned 4-6 inches away from the building surface for the vines to attach to.  The resulting space between the trellis and building allows for air circulation and reduces moisture retention.   Some gardeners go so far as to hinge the trellis at the bottom so if painting is required the trellis can be folded down away from the building with the vine still attached.