If you have a brick home, here's a one-time green thumb fix that will have a long-term effect on your air conditioning bills: Plant some ivy at the base of your house. Ivy vines that are allowed to crawl up the brick walls of your house provide a natural buffer between your home and the hot sun. The ivy plant absorbs heat and feeds on the sun's rays, and it thrives with almost no upkeep after you plant it. Just make sure your brick is well-mortared and in good condition; ivy’s roots can further deteriorate old or damaged brick.
ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION