Ivy has so much going for it. It climbs, it winds, it is good for ground cover. Ivy is tough, tolerant of all growing conditions, self clinging and great for wildlife.
Ivy will grow in difficult places, on poor soils, at the base of a wall, over sheds and shady corners. It will climb up wood fences, brick and stone walls, up pillars, trellis and trees. Many Ivies are shade tolerate, even of dry shade, which makes them especially useful. Variegated varieties brighten up dark corners. Ivy gets overlooked as a climbing plant, but in the right spot it can look very stylish, understated, but classic.
Also, despite its modest appearance, English Ivy is great for wildlife. It provides nectar, pollen and berries when food is short in autumn and winter, and shelter for birds, bats, insects and small mammals.
Ivy takes about a year to get established. Only mature Ivy plants flower as in the image right.
Illustrated above are: left, Ivy covering a wall, centre Ivy grown with Cotoneaster a tough, grow anywhere combination, and right, a mature English Ivy in flower providing food and shelter more wildlife. The Woodland Trust estimates that English Ivy supports up to 50 species of wildlife.
The RHS has undertaken research ( 2016-2018) about the merits of green facades. This research shows that green facades support more invertebrates, and further that the greater the depth of facade supports even more invertebrates. Most interestingly, that "the greatest abundance of invertebrates was a combination of Hedera helix (common ivy) and H. helix ‘Glacier’."
Generally speaking, Ivy will not damage brickwork in good condition but it can disrupt brickwork, which is in a poor state.