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Spread the word: Ivy has many good qualities

Date published: 4/14/2014

Spread the word: Ivy has many good qualities

The March 24 article titled "Student project aimed at removing campus ivy" reveals how unappreciated this "invasive" plant is.

Although ivy should be removed from buildings because it damages bricks and mortar (and should also be removed from trees, which it can kill), there are many positive features of ivy that most people are not aware of.

I have been using ivy for decades to cover much of my backyard. Here are a number of aspects of ivy that I have come to know:

1. Ivy makes excellent ground cover, which holds soil in place and grows well in both shade and sun.

2. Ivy is easy to plant.

3. Ivy doesn't require watering.

4. Having ivy eliminates the need to cut lawns (big time and money saver) and reduces noise and exhaust fumes from gas mowers.

5. There's no need to fertilize ivy. Many people fertilize grass lawns, and thus tons of fertilizer is washed away and ends up in the Chesapeake Bay.

6. Ivy stays green all year; it is a paler green in winter.

7. There is no need to rake leaves off ivy in the fall. These leaves will slowly decay and crumble during the winter and help fertilize the ivy.

8. One necessary task is to trim the ivy back in order to keep it just where you want it. Takes very little time compared to cutting grass lawns.

9. It is not a good idea to plant ivy on lawns that are frequently walked on or where graduation takes place. The growth of ivy is too high in these circumstances.

The students and others at the University of Mary Washington should consider the many desirable attributes of ivy and, rather than removing it, aim at spreading beautiful ivy across much of the campus.

Thomas Johnson

Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences, UMW