Viola Davis's stunning vertical planting secret is an ingenious way to maximize growing space in a small yard

The exterior of the actress's home is a masterclass in a gorgeous and effective growing technique – experts say it has benefits far beyond aesthetics

(Image credit: ABC via Getty Images)

A stunning home covered in climbing ivy immediately signals classic luxury. The timeless plant gives a stylishly wild, yet manicured feel, and it contrasts beautifully with a neutral painted home. Viola Davis and Julius Tennon's house perfectly embodies the allure of the look. According to experts, there's more than meets the eye.

An initial look at the home's garden idea shows greenery integrated with the exterior of the acting power couple's Spanish-revival style home. Short bushes surround the path to the door, and an olive tree backs to the left-most wall. Most notably, stunning English Ivy snakes across the entire facade of the home. The effect is absolutely beautiful, elegant, and striking.

'The exterior of Viola Davis's home shows the importance of gardening vertically,' says Thom Rutter, master gardener and content editor at Homes & Gardens. He continues: 'By growing some of the best evergreen climbers, such as English ivy, exterior walls, fences, and structures can be softened, acting as a living vertical garden.' Rather than subscribing to a strict separation between home and garden, Davis and Tennon's planting technique blends the two for an inviting look.

thomas rutter content editor at Homes & Gardens
Thom Rutter

Thomas is a Content Editor within the Gardens Team at Homes and Gardens. He has been working as a gardener and garden writer for several years. Whilst completing his Horticultural Traineeship at the Garden Museum, London, he was able to gain experience at many of the UK's world-famous gardens, including Sissinghurst, Lowther Castle, and Iford Manor. Following this, he worked for two private estates in Tuscany, Italy.

Beyond aesthetics, this planting secret has huge benefits for the actors' yard. Thom states: 'Climbing plants - including English ivy - are ideal if you want to encourage birds, bees and butterflies to your yard. These plants can be excellent plants for pollinators, providing shelter and food for wildlife in your local area.' This attraction will make the entire yard more beautiful.

Furthermore, Davis's vertical planting technique is a great way to make the most of a small garden. Thom says: 'While adding greenery to our walls and homes is attractive from an aesthetic point of view, it is also a clever way to maximize growing space in smaller yards. Using climbers and vining plants to adorn walls can dramatically increase the amounts of plantlife that can be grown in your space.'

If you are interested in adding this type of plant to your own home, there are several considerations to take into account. Thom advises: 'Ivy might have a bad reputation, but with a little care and maintenance, it can be kept in check. When considering how to prune ivy, this can be done at any time of year, removing long and arching stems that can grow at an extraordinary rate. I tend to prune ivy in late winter before birds nest in dense and safe areas.'

Bridging the gap between the yard and the home through innovative outdoor planting techniques is an elegant way to soften and warm the home. If you need proof, just look at Viola Davis and Julius Tennon's house.

Sophie Edwards
News Editor

Sophie is a London-based News Editor at Homes & Gardens, where she works on the Celebrity Style team. She is fascinated by the intersection of design and popular culture and is particularly excited when researching trends or interior history. Sophie is an avid pop culture fan. As an H&G editor, she has interviewed the likes of Martha Stewart, Hilary Duff, and the casts of Queer Eye and Selling Sunset. Before joining Future Publishing, Sophie worked as the Head of Content and Communications at Fig Linens and Home, a boutique luxury linens and furniture brand. She has also written features on exciting developments in the design world for Westport Magazine. Sophie has an MSc from the Oxford University Department of Anthropology and a BA in Creative Writing and Sociology from Sarah Lawrence College.