Ivy Growing On Fence: 4 Tips for Successful Planting and Maintenance

If you’re looking to add a touch of greenery to your garden or spruce up a room in your home, ivy growing on fence is an excellent choice.

ivy growing on fence

It’s so classic and incredibly versatile, transforming a dull border into a lively green wall. 

If you really want that fancy fence filled with dreamy ivy leaves, you might need more tricks than just intuitively leaving the plant in your yard (although ivy can pretty much survive through anyways). 

But you’d want a full blanket of ivy on your fence, not just stale branches with barely any leaf around (which only makes things rather spooky to look at!).

The good news is, your chance of success is relatively high even as all you know are the basics of growing ivy on fence, which I’m discussing in depth below. 

Ivy Growing On Fence: The 4 Basics

1. Choosing the Right One For You

If you’re considering growing ivy on your fence, you have two fantastic options: English ivy and Boston ivy.

ivy growing on fence
English Ivy

These are both popular types of climbing vines that can transform your fence into a lush green wonderland.

However, it’s essential to note that they are distinct plants with some notable differences you should be aware of.

English Ivy

English ivy (Hedera helix) is a perennial evergreen plant that belongs to the Araliaceae family. Originating from Europe and Asia, it can reach an impressive length of up to 100 feet (30 meters).

Its glossy dark green leaves are typically heart-shaped or oval, often featuring three to five lobes. English ivy produces small yellow-green flowers and purple-black berries.

It thrives in both sunny and shaded locations, favoring well-drained, moist soil. English ivy’s hardiness spans from USDA zones 4 to 9.

Boston Ivy

ivy growing on fence
Boston Ivy

On the other hand, Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) is a deciduous woody vine in the Vitaceae family, the same family as grapes.

Its native habitats include China, Japan, and Korea, and it can grow up to 50 feet (15 meters) in length.

Boston ivy boasts bright green leaves, usually triangular or three-lobed, with serrated edges.

It produces small green flowers and dark blue berries. Boston ivy can adapt to a range of soil types, thriving in both sun and shade. It’s hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8.

What’s The Deal

One of the most significant distinctions between English ivy and Boston ivy is their leaf color throughout the year.

English ivy maintains its lush green hue all year round, while Boston ivy undergoes seasonal color changes.

ivy growing on fence
Boston Ivy

During the fall, Boston ivy transitions from green to vibrant shades of red, orange, or purple, creating a breathtaking display of seasonal beauty.

In winter, Boston ivy loses its leaves, revealing bare stems. Another notable difference lies in their climbing mechanisms.

English ivy employs aerial rootlets that cling to any surface, potentially damaging it, while Boston ivy utilizes tendrils with adhesive disks at the tips, allowing for easy removal without leaving visible marks.

2. Choosing the Right Location

To ensure the flourishing growth of ivy, it’s imperative to identify the optimal planting location.

ivy growing on fence

Ivy, as a sun-loving plant, demands abundant sunlight for robust development.

If your intended fence covering spot resides in a shaded region, it becomes crucial to devise strategies for introducing adequate light or exploring alternative solutions.

Furthermore, a prerequisite for ivy’s thriving is a well-maintained fence.

This is because the tenacious tendrils of ivy can readily infiltrate any openings or fissures in the fence, potentially exerting undue pressure and leading to structural damage.

Thus, selecting an appropriate, well-lit location and maintaining the structural integrity of the fence are paramount considerations before embarking on your ivy planting endeavor.

3. Prepare the Fence

ivy growing on fence

Preparing the fence is a crucial step before planting ivy.

If the fence is new or recently painted, it’s best to wait a few months to avoid any potential toxicity from paint chemicals.

For older or weathered fences, cleaning them with mild detergent and water or a pressure washer will remove dirt, mildew, or moss, providing a clean surface for the ivy to attach to.

When planting ivy, dig a hole twice the size of the container if using potted ivy. Place the plant in the hole, firm the soil around it, and water thoroughly.

If using cuttings or layerings, create a small hole in the soil, place the cutting or layering inside, and firm the soil.

Remember that ivy can be planted at any time of the year, but spring or fall is generally the best time to do so.

After planting, train the ivy to climb the fence by attaching it with twine or plant ties. Make sure to secure the ivy in multiple places along the stem to provide a sturdy grip.

ivy growing on fence

4. Ivy Care

With a suitable location and proper care, your ivy should thrive. Ivy plants prefer partial to full shade and well-drained soil.

While they can tolerate drought once established, consistent moisture is ideal, especially during dry periods.

Applying slow-release fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season and monthly fertilization with a 10-10-10 mix or compost tea will encourage healthy growth.

To maintain control over the ivy’s spread, prune regularly and remove any shoots that grow outside of the designated area.

In colder climates, outdoor ivy may die back in winter but regrow in spring. By providing the right care, your ivy will create a beautiful cover for your fence.

Ivy Caution

ivy growing on fence

Ivy, by its nature, exhibits a proclivity for exuberant growth, and if left unchecked, it can manifest as an invasive force, potentially causing disruption to the aesthetic integrity of your fences, walls, and the well-being of adjacent vegetation.

Both English ivy and Boston ivy can pose risks to humans and animals, potentially causing skin irritation, allergic reactions, or poisoning if ingested.

Thus, it’s vital to plant them with caution and regularly manage their growth.


In conclusion, ivy is a versatile and popular plant that can bring a vibrant touch of green to any garden.

Growing ivy on a fence requires careful selection of the right ivy type, a sturdy fence, and proper care.

Lattice fences provide an excellent surface area for ivy to cling to.

By choosing the right ivy variety, training and pruning it regularly, and monitoring its invasive tendencies, you can create a stunning and healthy ivy fence.

Enjoy the beauty and tranquility that ivy adds to your outdoor space!