No School and Trimming the Ivy

The Peel District School Board secondary school teachers went on strike on Monday May 4 which means that Megan and Alun are not in school.  Mostly, they have just been doing as they please, however, I asked them to spend 30 minutes yesterday and today, and each day until we are done, cleaning up the English Ivy on our chimney.

The ivy was there when we moved in.  It has generally stayed green year round.  I trim it one to three times a year depending on how organized I am.  The more often I trim it, the easier and quicker the job.  However, that entails getting the ladder out of the basement and taking the time to trim and dispose of the trimmings.  When I do it on a timely basis, it also means that it doesn’t grow up through the soffit and under the roof shingles.

I set up this picture four years ago when I got Trystan and Owen to help with the chore.  I licensed the image to Getty Images and it has sold several times.

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The last two winters were exceptionally cold and long.  The ivy was covered in dead leaves each spring.  In 2014, I just let the new growth grow through the dead stuff.  This year, it is even worse, so I decided we should cut it right down to the ground.  English Ivy grows like a weed, so it is unlikely that I will kill it by cutting it right down, and in future perhaps I will try to trim it before it gets to a height requiring a ladder.

When I trimmed it in the past I would just trim the top part as in the picture above to keep it away from the soffit and roof.  I have never cut out the old growth in the bottom half.

Megan, Alun and I spent about 45 minutes yesterday with large bypass pruners, for cutting the branches that are thicker than my thumb, screwdrivers to pry the smaller branches away from the way, and a crowbar to pry away the larger branches.  The years old branches stick to the brick with incredible tenacity.


I didn’t think to take a picture before we began so in this picture above we have already cleared the ivy that went around the corner of the porch toward the door and the ivy in front of Megan on the ladder.  As much as Alun hates helping out with this type of thing I think he was enjoying wielding the crowbar.

We had to wear dust masks and safety glasses as there is a huge amount of dust when you pull the ivy away from the bricks.  I have never found a dust mask/safety glass combination work without the glasses steaming up and me feeling like I am breathing in oven hot air.  Ugh.  Here is what it looked like when we finished working yesterday.


We filled four garbage cans.


Today we spend about 45 minutes again.  I figure we are about half done getting it off the wall.  Then another session or two to get all the dead stuff out of the bed.

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Our new doors and windows are in.  Compare this picture to the first.  The final piece of work is being done tonight as I write this post.  I will blog about that experience in the future.

We found a nest at the top of the chimney on the left.  There were no eggs in it.

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We didn’t have any more garbage cans and this stuff in hard to get into the paper bags without  cutting it up into smaller pieces, so for now we just stacked it beside the full cans from yesterday.

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I bet Megan and Alun would rather have been in school than helping out with this activity.  It’s now been a full week since the teachers went out on strike.  Durham Region teachers have now been out three weeks.  I haven’t heard anything to indicate that the strike will be resolved any time soon so I will probably have them home to help again next week.  Hmmm, what else needs to be done?

Trystan’s and Owen’s teachers are working to rule starting next week so for the time being, at least, they will continue going to school.



About Lisa Stokes

I am a stay-at-home mother of four whose hobbies include photography, quilting and cycling. I have recently started to advocate for better cycling infrastructure in my community. I am the photographer at the Brampton Quilters' Guild.
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