W&L to Perform Maintenance on Ivy Adorning University Chapel The iconic vines will receive significant pruning to ensure their overall health.
The iconic ivy vines covering the façade of University Chapel at Washington and Lee University are slated to receive significant pruning beginning Tuesday, May 30. The work is expected to be completed by June 2, but may extend into the following week if necessary.
According to W&L Grounds Supervisor Nick Yakish, this extensive maintenance is necessary to maintain the structural integrity of the vines. “Just as with any landscape, it needs to be renewed from time to time,” he said. “Without rejuvenation, the vines will fail under their own weight.”
The ivy, which was introduced to the exterior of the building in the late 1800s, has been similarly pruned on numerous occasions throughout the years. Today, the ivy has reached a depth of nearly 24 inches in some areas and requires significant maintenance to ensure the vines don’t detach from the building.
Yakish and the W&L grounds crew will perform the work by using power shears to remove the leafy layers, allowing them to inspect the condition of the vines. Any larger vines that may require removal will be excavated by hand. The chapel’s healthy vine structure will remain attached to its façade so that it may re-foliate and ultimately restore the building’s signature look. The speed with which the ivy recovers is dependent upon the current condition of the vines. Yakish hopes the vines will support some green growth by the fall, but it is important to note that the process takes time.
“The main goal is to ensure the vines’ structural integrity and attachment to the building,” said Yakish. “Not long after we cut the ivy, it will flush. The foliage will eventually return and the amount you see this fall will be in direct correlation to the number of vines that we have had to reduce.”
The maintenance was scheduled to occur following the university’s law and undergraduate Commencement activities so that the chapel’s vines could continue to provide a spectacular backdrop for the ceremonies.