Common Issues with Exterior Wall Cladding- Part 4: Plants, Gardens, or Vines

It looks stunning- but vines growing on a home can be very harmful. This is also true of plants and gardens too close to the exterior wall cladding.

Gardens should not be built against houses such that earth is held against the siding. A raised planter with three sides and the building acting as the fourth side is a poor arrangement. Siding materials are not designed to be in contact with earth. The situation is worsened when people water their gardens and the soil is perpetually damp. This will surely damage the siding and the wall structure behind and below. Raised planters close to buildings should have four sides and should be set out roughly two inches from the siding.

Several types of vines and ivies grow on buildings. Some do more damage than others. All tend to hold moisture against walls and trim. All provide pest entry opportunities. Many people are prepared to live with these disadvantages to enjoy the cosmetic effect.

Masonry walls are more tolerant of vines that is wood siding. Vines should be kept away from all wood trim, including doors, windows, soffits, fascia, and gutters. Vines should be kept off aluminum siding. A wall covered with vines cannot be fully inspected. This includes the trim, soffit, and fascia. Vines are usually grown intentionally by the homeowner; however, some vines are invasive and the homeowner may lose control of the overgrowth. We’ve see vines go behind siding towards the bottom of the home and reappear close to the roof.

As discussed, the implications may include insect and pest entry and moisture deterioration to the wall because of slow drying. In severe cases, depending on the type of vines, root systems, or attachment nodes can damage siding or enter the building, often through trim areas, often providing a direct path for water into the building. Some vines can even damage masonry.

Most home inspectors evaluate vines on a case by case basis and pull them back in several areas to look for damage, particularly at the trim. We typically recommend removal of the vines, but it is important to note that it may be difficult to remove all traces of vines, especially from rough-textured stone, brick, or stucco.

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