4 Ways Plants Can Destroy Your Home

Believe it or not, some plants cause damage to your home. The damage that they cause might not look too serious, but to repair it can cost thousands of dollars. This article discusses four ways that plants can damage homes and buildings.

1. Loosen Bricks and Destroy Siding

Climbing plants might look beautiful growing on the side of house or outbuilding, but beware, as some climbing plants are known to cause damage. In the hot seat are vines such as grapes, English ivy, common Ivy, Wisteria, and Bougainvillea.

These plants cause damage in a variety of ways:

Plants like grapes and ivy use small roots or tendrils to cling to surfaces. When these plants are young, they are very flexible, and they use their stem roots or tendrils to cling to vertical surfaces. That is not such a problem in the beginning, but over time, they grow and require more stability. Their stem roots and tendrils force their way into tight crevices causing brick and brick mortar to become loose, and in some situations, they can displace bricks.

2. Destroy Wood

On wooden surfaces, the vines snake under siding and into the walls of a building as a means of grasping onto the vertical surface. They can poke through to the inside causing damage to the inside of the house, and they can begin to feed on the wood siding and structural supports. Over the long-term, this can cause structural weaknesses in the building and create a place where water can infiltrate the walls.

3. Water Damage

As vines grow, they can lift boards and siding away from the wall supports and, if tall enough, from the roof too. Vines that are not controlled can break gutter systems, lift flashing, and distort roof tiles causing an opening where water can seep or leak into your home. The same is true when a vine lifts the siding away from the wall. That gap allows water to seep into the wall and then into the interior of the house where it can cause rotting, mold, mildew, and weaken support structures.

Common vines include:

  • English Ivy
  • Common Ivy
  • Bouganvillea
  • Wisteria
  • Grapes
  • Honeysuckle
  • Ficus
  • Jasmine
  • Climbing Roses
  • Virginia Creeper

In fact, there are many plants that climb. While climbing plants are beautiful, they are best kept away from homes and outbuildings. Place them in planters and let them grow up a trellis, pergola, arbor or gazebo.

4. Plants that Damage Foundations

When it comes to foundation damage, the culprit is usually tree roots. However, some plants like alkaline soil and will grow towards a foundation causing damage.

Trees such as Oak, Willow, and Poplar are trees that people love to plant near their homes and why not, they are great shade trees. The problem is that their root structure is close to the surface and spreads out at the same soil-height as your foundation. If you have a basement, tree roots will infiltrate the foundation and cause damage both in the foundations and secondarily from water infiltration.

Mimosa, Ginkgo, and elms spread by sending up suckers or runners. Those runners are an underground reproductive system, and if they are not removed, the new trees will destroy your home’s foundation.

Other plants to be wary of around your home include mosses. They secrete a chemical that can consume concrete. Mosses are not alone in this oddity; they are joined by algae and lichen too. These plants will eat your foundation, stone roofing, and happily, multiply.

Want to learn more about how plants damage your home? Maybe you want to do something about the plants around your home that might be causing damage? If so, just reach out to us with your questions or concerns.