There is one mistake you really, and I mean really, don’t want to make in your landscape. You absolutely do not want to plant the wrong type of ivy for the wrong reason. Very bad things can happen.
First a word on vines…
Vines climb through a variety of methods, and it is important for you to know what they are and how they work.
1. Mechanically This is where a vine twists or turns around some support or framework naturally. Through a natural process the vine senses a nearby structure, and wraps around it. Examples of this type of vine include kiwi and clematis.
2. Tendrils Some vines grip mechanically, but through special growths called tendrils that grow out of the vines. They reach out seeking supports and then wrap around them. Examples of this type include grapes and cucumbers.
3. Suckers Some vines grip surfaces with suction cup like devices that adhere, even to flat surfaces. This category includes boston ivy.
4. Roots Some vines have roots that dig into surfaces to secure them, most ground cover vines work this way. Examples include english ivy, sweet potatoes.
So, about ivy
The two main types of ivy people grow are boston ivy and english ivy. If you allow english ivy to grow up a wall it will do so, and it will use roots, and the roots will dig into your wood, masonry, stone, or concrete, and tear it apart eventually like water expanding in a crack or a tree’s roots lifting a sidewalk. It can destroy the side of your building, a very costly mistake. English ivy is a ground cover, a great ground cover, but do not let it climb on things you want to preserve. If it you let it climb a tree it’ll also tear off the bark and kill the tree. It is evergreen though, which is why people may be drawn to it.
Boston ivy on the other hand looks great climbing up walls, my wall in the picture has a yellowish cultivar climbing up it, which I chose to be different and because it was shady I thought it would brighten up the wall to use a lighter colored plant. Because boston ivy uses suckers it doesn’t really damage what it climbs on, though it can hurt painted surfaces. Boston ivy is not evergreen, it will turn pretty colors and drop leaves in the fall, the trade off of having it not destroy your walls.
When you’re at the garden center and looking at ivy they’re not labeled as such, and many people have made the mistake of training english ivy up a wall, including yours truly many years ago, don’t make the same mistake.