Having problems keeping public assets free of graffiti? Try covering them with ivy! That’s what the City of Lynwood, Calif., did two years ago. The city installed fake ivy to walls in four different locations and hasn’t had vandalism issues since.

“These were areas that crews were removing graffiti from daily, but the ivy hasn’t been touched,” says Deborah Jackson, public relations director for the city.

Graffiti artists typically don’t target walls with ivy on them — probably because the ivy will die, ruining their work.

The product Lynwood used, Ivy-It, is engineered plastic ivy made out of recycled polyethylene. “You would never know they aren’t real vines,” says Jackson. But unlike real ivy, it never dies and doesn’t require watering or maintenance. It can be placed in areas that are hard to water, such as underpasses.

Ivy-It founder Sergio Martinez says the ivy is engineered with a locking system, so it can’t be pulled off. Since it’s made of 100% recycled material, it’s also a green solution.

“It’s a quick fix for areas that cities want to protect,” says Martinez. “Cities like it because it deters graffiti.”

It can also help save municipalities money. Sandra Sagert, community preservation manager for the City of Anaheim, Calif., says “the city saved $8,500 annually in graffiti removal supplies and labor. The wall (we have covered) has not been tagged since it was covered with Ivy-It.”

The company typically works with municipalities, utilities, DOTs, school districts, and other entities to protect sites commonly hit by graffiti artists such as underpasses, mechanical boxes, and areas with chain-link fences. If you’re in California, Ivy-It will install the product for you. The company plans to expand its service area into New York, Arizona, and the Midwest, as well as Canada, England, and Mexico. If you’re not in any of these places, not to worry — you can install Ivy-It on your own.

The ivy can be cut and sculpted into any shape and size, and installation is quick and easy through a secure anchoring system. The anchoring method depends on the type of surface you are covering. For block walls, concrete, and stucco, use wall anchors or fasteners. For wood, use screws or washers. For chain-link or wrought-iron fences, use UV-resistant zip ties.

Kelley Lindsey